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August 21, 2013

Song of the South at Worldcon
Posted by Patrick at 09:20 AM * 608 comments

Dear World Science Fiction Convention: It’s fine to show Walt Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South as part of your program of interesting anime and animation not easily found on DVD or Netflix. It’s an interesting piece of work! And we’re grown-ups (and bright young people). We can look at controversial, problematic works and have intelligent conversations about them.

But this is not the smartest way you could be describing it, on your web page and in the printed program set for distribution at the con:

Song of the South is a 1946 American live-action/animated musical film produced by Walt Disney. The film is based on the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. The live actors provide a sentimental frame story, in which Uncle Remus relates the folk tales of the adventures of Br’er Rabbit and his friends. These anthropomorphic animal characters appear in animation. The hit song from the film was “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, which won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song and is frequently used as part of Disney’s montage themes, has become widely used in popular culture. The film inspired the Disney theme park attraction Splash Mountain. The film has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States because of the subject matter, which Disney executives thought might be viewed by some as politically incorrect and racist toward black people, and is therefore subject to much controversy.
Let’s be clear about something that this squib oddly fails to note. Song of the South’s racism isn’t some elusive, hard-to-pin-down subtext that Disney executives fret might be “viewed by some.” Song of the South is a blatantly, relentlessly, spectacularly racist piece of work.

It’s true, as Mike Glyer notes, that the film had some defenders among African-American journalists on its first release. It’s also true that it’s a movie replete with scenes full of (as Slate puts it) “embarrassingly racist” live-action portrayals of “smilin’, Massah-servin’ black folk.” Noting the film’s “offensively ‘idyllic’ master-slave relationship,” Time magazine said in 2009 that “there’s no denying the fact that by today’s standards, the film is rather racist.” And with typical bluntness, Cracked observes about the film’s singin’-and-dancin’ former slaves that “it’s as if someone made a children’s musical about Jews in post-WWII Germany that had a number titled ‘Hey! Nothing Bad Has Happened to Us, Ever.’”

This being the case, it would have been wise to plainly acknowledge it, instead of saying only that the film is out of circulation because “Disney executives thought might be viewed by some as politically incorrect.” (Bonus points for deploying our tired old friend “politically incorrect.” Yes, Disney executives are notoriously anxious about being dragged by Maoists into sessions of forced self-criticism. Why, you can barely get down the street in Hollywood for all the Red Guards trying to kidnap you.)

Bottom line: Given recent events in the SF world, for any Worldcon (much less one happening in a state that’s currently actively working to disenfranchise African-Americans) to screen this famously racist film while being disingenuous about its nature…is, to say the least, unwise. Showing it? Sure. Showing it while failing to plainly acknowledge its problems? Not your dumbest decision ever, dear Worldcon, but not exactly your smartest, either.

Next time we wonder why organized science-fiction fandom is so very, very white, even more so than adjacent precincts of the geek world like comics fandom or gaming, maybe we’ll recall this little piece of cluelessness. Which isn’t extraordinary. And that’s the problem.

UPDATE (Wednesday evening, 21 August): LoneStarCon 3 have announced that they won’t be showing the film. “We accept that while we fully intended to show the film in context, this was not adequately explained in the text published on our website and in our Pocket Program. Moreover, to continue showing the film in the light of the public concern expressed over the last few hours would send entirely the wrong messages about our event’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. We will therefore no longer be presenting this film as part of our program. […] We got this wrong, and we apologize unreservedly to anyone who has been offended, concerned, or in any way been given cause to doubt the welcome that LoneStarCon 3 will extend to all of our members next week.”

Comments on Song of the South at Worldcon:
#1 ::: Frederic Bush ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:44 AM:

The squib is cut and paste verbatim from Wikipedia.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:46 AM:

Also, as I pointed out to Patrick, showing it in the relatively kid-heavy animation track, is...bad optics. As a parent, I'd find it a surprising and disturbing addition to the general run of anime, Chuck Jones & Warner Brothers shorts, and obscure European works about children in Paris.

(Yes, yes, thanks, taking responsibility for my own kids' viewing, the con is not a babysitter, yes. But putting the spiked punch, however well-labeled, next to the Kool-Aid and apple juice, is still not appropriate.)

#3 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:49 AM:

Not to mention attributing the Uncle Remus stories to Joel Chandler Harris, who may have published them, but sure as hell didn't make them up.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:50 AM:

I'm glad Abi made the point she did in #2. First because she's a parent and has more standing to say that; second, because I considered saying something of the sort, but couldn't figure out how to do so without diffusing the main point I wanted to make.

Frederic, #1 -- If that's the case, then this is even more negligent on Worldcon's part.

#5 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:05 AM:

Speaking as a former member of Texas fandom:

OH MY GOD, Y'ALL, WHAT ARE YOU *THINKING*?? At least schedule a panel, with AT MOST ZERO WHITE PEOPLE ON IT, to talk about why it's being shown and whether there's any value left to it. (I'm inclined to say no, given that one of my not-terribly-progressive, grew-up-with-Jim-Crow family members told me it was one of the most racist movies they'd ever seen.)

I say this as a white Southerner who grew up with family versions of Uncle Remus stories. By transcribing them, Harris was trying to show White people that Black culture, um, existed. And it's good to see how the original African stories changed to reflect the diaspora. But showing the movie, by itself, as part of a Worldcon programming track? NO.

#6 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:13 AM:

Oh, dear.

What TexAnne said, without the 'former member of Texas fandom' part.

Words fail me to the point where I can barely even get out the local cri de cœur "Well, bless their hearts, what they were thinking."

#7 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:47 AM:

Frederic, #1: Holy cats, they took Wikipedia as their primary source material? Instant flunk.

abi, #2: One easy way to diffuse that issue would be to show it late at night, in the after-prime-time slot when one might reasonably expect children to be in bed. So of course they're snowing it... at noon.

Also, what TexAnne said, as a current, active member of Texas fandom. And my comments about that mealy-mouthed "politically incorrect" bullshit are not suitable for publication, even online.

#8 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:08 AM:

"Time magazine said in 2009 that “there’s no denying the fact that by today’s standards, the film is rather racist.”

Here's another of those little inaccuracies that allow the big lies to go unnoticed.

One does not need to apply "today's standards" in order to find the film racist. The film was racist by the standards of the day in which it was filmed. It is racist by 19th century standards. It is racist by the standards of slave-owners.

They would have recognized the racism immediately: the depiction of one race as manifestly inferior, both intellectually and physically, to another race.

In fact, that was the point: to spread and celebrate racist ideology and stereotypes. The racism was the point! Not a bug; a feature!

Now: maybe modern standards are less willing to find racism charming and entertaining. Maybe our sense of what is offensive has changed. But "by today's standards, this film is offensive" is a different claim from, "by today's standards, this film is racist."

To suggest that only today's standards mark this as racist is to suggest that those who label it racist are guilty of some anachronism or anti-historical blindness.

Nope. The more you know about history, the more you know that this film was always racist.

#9 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:17 AM:

Oldster, #8: Yes, the Slate piece I linked to made the same point. First, plenty of people in 1946 thought the film was demeaning. Second, Disney thought he was "toning down" the racism of Harris's stories. Props to him for good (if muddled) intentions, but the fact that the film he made was the result of those attempts kind of demonstrates how blind people can be.

#10 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:19 AM:

shoulda read the link, sorry.

#11 ::: Frederic Bush ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:22 AM:

Well, I edited that Wikipedia opening paragraph. We'll see how long that lasts.

#12 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:34 AM:

Edits from today still standing. It's only been half an hour, though.

#13 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:46 AM:

This phrase:

These anthropomorphic animal characters

makes me suddenly aware that there has probably been a long discourse about the film in furry fandom. (Dare I call it a "dog-whistle?")

A long-unseen Disney film with talking animals must be irresistible, but then there's that racism. Bet this has been kicked around in furry fanzines and forums for years. How do they think about it?

#14 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:48 AM:

Wow, I'm...boggled.

I recall seeing the film at a drive in, once, as a kid, so the racism then escaped me, but I'm not totally blind to it.

#15 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:51 AM:

I'm somewhat surprised Disney has allowed this. As far as I can tell it hasn't been released by Disney for home viewing.

#16 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:54 AM:

Patrick writes:

Next time we wonder why organized science-fiction fandom is so very, very white, even more so than adjacent precincts of the geek world like comics fandom or gaming, maybe we’ll recall this little piece of cluelessness.

You want to see white? Attend Oshkosh some summer.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:55 AM:

Disney has in circulation Dumbo a film I find to be quite racist; it's just that instead of jive-talking black people the stage negroes are crows.

Song of the South celebrates a racial order that was barbaric and inhuman, presenting its victims as happy slaves who deserved to be in their inferior place. If the concom can't see that, they're truly blind. Unless they are, of course, either clueless or actively endorsing the message.

Either of those raises the question of how welcome I will be at the con.

#18 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Excuse me whilst I echo the rage of the other Texan fans, over here. This is A Problem, LonestarCon3, and you'd best get to fixing it right soon, now.

#19 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:06 PM:

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister - FWIW, at the 1974 Worldcon, Discon II, Dumbo was shown rather late at night. There were complaints from parents that it was way too late for their kids to see it. The person running films responded "That's the point."

#20 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:10 PM:

My parents sent me to see this movie when I was a kid in the 1970s. I sneaked into a Barbara Streisand movie instead. So I've never seen it, but I've read a lot about it.

Texas fandom is not making itself look good—and boy do they need to be separating themselves from the PTB there. Align yourselves with Wendy Davis, Texans, not with Rick Perry! (As every single person I know from Texas has done, btw, especially in fandom. I think copying the blurb was probably lazy and incompetent, but it's really a mystery to me why they're showing this film at all, especially without the kind of mitigating behavior TexAnne recommends at #5.)

Saying it "might be viewed by some as politically incorrect" is code for "the author of this sentence is a flaming racist bigot." Copying it verbatim doesn't say anything better about the copier.

Frederic 11: Thanks. We'll see, indeed. The racist jerks who wrote the original will probably swoop in.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:20 PM:

Fragano, #17:

Song of the South celebrates a racial order that was barbaric and inhuman, presenting its victims as happy slaves who deserved to be in their inferior place. If the concom can't see that, they're truly blind. Unless they are, of course, either clueless or actively endorsing the message.
Either of those raises the question of how welcome I will be at the con.
Dunno whether it matters to you, but just based on my own experience of large, all-volunteer convention committees, including Worldcons -- and without any specific knowledge of this year's group -- I would be surprised if one in twenty concom members is even aware that this film is on the program. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if quite a few of them, once aware, immediately grasped that the way it's being shown is problematic.

Worldcons aren't corporate presentations; they're all-volunteer organizations, and usually the best way to get good work out of volunteers is to give them a lot of latitude and don't micromanage them. Occasionally that means something goes pear-shaped, and this may be one of those times.

I'm not saying this in order to let LoneStarCon off the hook. I agree that the management level of this concom should probably address this issue, and quickly. If they blow it off, or decide not to take seriously the fact that they're transmitting a signal that demonstrably says to a non-zero number of persons of color that they're not welcome, it will not be a glorious moment in the history of the Worldcon.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:22 PM:

Xopher, #20: Texas fandom is not making itself look good

Come on, you've been around long enough to know that no Worldcon is exclusively the work of a single local crowd. To the extent that there even exists something you could call "Texas fandom" (as opposed to Dallas-Fort Worth fandom, Houston fandom, Austin fandom, etc), it consists of people super-involved in this Worldcon, people ignoring this Worldcon, and people who wish this Worldcon was someplace else.

#23 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:26 PM:

I wonder if anyone will let the Mouse know what's going on?

And how did they get their hands on a print of the film?

#24 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:33 PM:

Patrick 22: True. Make that "LoneStarCon is not making itself look good."

I want to know who the hell did make this decision. Especially scheduling it at noon.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:50 PM:

Patrick #21: I appreciate that the con is a volunteer operation. It does, as you point out, have a management. That management is supposed to see things like this, which might become problems, and take action regarding them. My feeling is that had some idiot decided to put, say, Jud Süss or Deep Throat on the programme (disregarding the fact that neither has an sf/fnal element that I'm aware of) I think there would have been a huge stink raised by the concom and it would have been off the programme before you could say "Jack Robinson".

#26 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:52 PM:

All that LoneStarCon needs to do to turn this fail into a huge win would be to add a couple of black guys with a "PAUSE" button and a microphone, and have them add snippets of commentary as appropriate. Done right, it could be hilarious.

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:56 PM:

I'm less interesting in finding and shaming Designated Guilty Parties than I am in getting across the point that, as a subculture, it's time we stepped up our game on these issues.

Too much emphasis on naming-and-shaming allows us to behave as if racism is fundamentally a moral failure of individuals, like sloth or envy, instead of a system in which we're all embedded.

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 12:58 PM:

Fragano -- I don't know that there isn't a stink going on inside the concom. I only found out about this a few hours ago myself, from browsing the PDF of the pocket program.

Your point is a good one. Yes.

#29 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:04 PM:

mjfgates@26:
Done right, it could be hilarious.

And instructive.

#30 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Something curious - _Song of the South_ was apparently shown two years ago at Renovation [1], hosted by a Mr. Thomas Safer. The program committee page for LoneStarCon3 [2] lists a Thomas Safer as one of the co-heads of the Anime program. Does anyone know if they are the same Mr. Safer? Or remember what his presentation two years ago was about? I don't know if it is the same Thomas Safer in both cases, but the coincidence is striking.

[1] http://www.renovationsf.org/cartoons.php
[2] http://www.lonestarcon3.org/committee/index.shtml

#31 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:14 PM:

It's entirely possible that whoever rented this film has never seen it. As to how they got it, I expect they rented it from a distributor, like anyone else. Most home videos have big notices "Licensed for private home viewing only," so this would have to be a commercial version.

Not to derail the thread, Deep Throat does indeed have an SF/F element in it. Gur lbhat ynql'f pyvgbevf vf va ure guebng engure guna va gur hfhny ybpngvba.

#32 ::: Josh Cochran ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:49 PM:

Song of the South isn't available on DVD in the US, last I heard. My stepdad thinks it's just wonderful (I cringe, believe me) and had to buy a copy subtitled in Japanese from overseas to get it a few years back. So probably not available from a distributor.

#33 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:53 PM:

Is it available on film?

#34 ::: Josh Cochran ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:55 PM:

Considering Disney's strong desire to keep it under wraps, I'd be surprised.

#35 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:05 PM:

I'm in the UK, and I have a few distinct recollections of this movie. It has been shown on British TV in my lifetime, and oh boy, do the live action bits stick like shit to the sole of your shoe.

The animated bits did get into Disney compilation TV shows, and didn't stick out anything like as much. I remember seeing the live-action Uncle Remus character interacting with the animation. When you get down to it, the plots of those stories fit folk-tale patterns, but the characters and the language used is inextricably racist.

It just wasn't that obvious for somebody brought up in rural Lincolnshire, half a world away, and 40+ years ago.

And I remember that mix of live-action with animation being talked about as the big thing in Mary Poppins, which suggests that the Mouse was already feeling a bit guilty about Song of the South.

And, unlike the crows in Dumbo. it's the whole damn movie.

I can remember The Black And White Minstrel Show being on the BBC. That's how old I am. What I was surprised to learn, a year or two back, and shouldn't have been, was that such blackface minstrel shows were once very respectable entertainment. There were none of the salacious songs and performances seen in the lower class music halls. They were the Donnie and Marie Osmond of their day.

Over the years, I had some rather confusing signals from my parents on such things. I might still be uncomfortably open to the idea that the Disney movies are of their time, and can skate over the implications of the way those crows talk. And their crows. How can you not notice?

(The movie Sun Valley Serenade has the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing hits such as Chattanooga Choo-Choo, which has dodgy enough lyrics, and the band performance is followed by a repeat as a dance number by black performers that can be easily snipped out of the reel. The Nicholas Brothers are good, but it's a different world feeling, like a stage set rather than the apparent realism of the movie the white folks are in. 8 minutes, both versions, on YouTube)

I'm probably missing some racist cues in Casablanca, but compared to this stuff, Sam at the piano is a model of color-blind casting. Did projectionists in the Deep South try to cut out that song?

#36 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:10 PM:

I wonder if old film versions are still floating around. Was it re-released into theaters at some point after its initial release? I have unclear memories of seeing the movie when I was very small, so probably early 70s, at a drive-in theater. Of course, I could be remembering wrong, conflating events/movies, or parts of the movie might have been lifted from the original and used in a montage of Disney shorts. I remember the Zippededoodah song and the animated Brer Rabbit sections, that's all.

#37 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:14 PM:

#36: Yes, I believe it had a couple of limited theatrical releases in the 1970s and/or 1980s.

#38 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:16 PM:

If it's not licensed for public distribution in the US, would reporting LoneStarCon's intention of doing so to Disney have any effect? Does anyone know?

I mean now, to stop them, rather than after, to punish them.

Would that even be a good thing to do? I'm uncertain.

#39 ::: Josh Cochran ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:16 PM:

Kate, I clearly remember seeing it in a theater when I was growing up in Texas in the 80s. Probably the late 80s, based on which theater I saw it in. So it's been out there MUCH more recently than its initial release and somewhat more recently than the 70s.

#40 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Xopher, 38: Well, we'll find out...people have been including @DisneyPictures in their tweets on the matter. I do hope the concom doesn't get sued into oblivion...but I kinda feel like they deserve it. If only because the @LoneStarCon account's last tweet was 4 hrs ago, and I find it hard to believe they haven't noticed the shitstorm.

#41 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:29 PM:

a search for Thomas Safer only turns up the Chicon program which describes him as a person who has a huge collection of cartoons nobody else has. My suspicion is that it was actually his choice at both conventions to show this film, and that his explanation is that it's a rare movie nobody gets to see otherwise, and that he will never admit to having an agenda in repeatedly pushing this.

I had always had the impression that this movie came out in the mid-fifties, because there was a lot of scandalized talk about it when I was a small child. It's really hard for me to understand how a person could be aware of the movie without being aware of what it does.

#42 ::: Dan Boone ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:29 PM:

I actually saw this as a child in the late 1970s in a small-town illegal speakeasy (but I repeat myself) that kept on the good side of the locals by hosting a weekly community movie night. (It was a very small town.) Movies were rented in 16mm reels from a mail-order distributor who had a nice printed catalog; the process for selecting titles was highly informal and turned up some very odd results indeed. (I also recall seeing Road to Morocco and a 3-hour Rolling Stones concert movie in this venue.)

At that point in my life I had literally never seen a black person, but the racism in that film was commented upon around the family dinner table the next day.

#43 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Yes, it had a release in the mid-eighties. I remember because it got a lot of hype and my then four year old son wanted to see it to judge for himself, and I just wasn't comfortable with giving money to it. It was an interesting conversation though, with my son arguing for his need to see things for himself, and resulted in me not censoring other stuff as time went on.

#44 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:33 PM:

The NARO theatre in Norfolk, VA, showed it back in the 80s, once. I got lost driving down and arrived in time for the last 45 minutes and paid full price to see it anyway, figuring I might never have another chance.

I've seen the whole thing since then, though my attempts to get the Japanese laserdisk never worked out. The animation's great, but the live-action parts are soporific.

I agree that things like this should be shown, but with proper distancing and historifying apparatus. Even the proposed MST3K-like treatment suggested earlier would do the trick.

#45 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:35 PM:

Tweeted by @wrdnrd just now: "Dear commenters on @pnh's point on @makinglight. PLEASE STOP TRYING TO MAKE THIS JUST A TEXAS PROBLEM."

Good point. I observed that it would be sensible for LoneStarCon to be especially alive to racial issues given the fact that the state government currently seems to be fighting North Carolina for the position of State Most Determined To Reimpose Jim Crow Voting Laws. But I don't remotely think that racism is exclusively a Texas problem, or a Southern problem.

#46 ::: Deirdre Saoirse Moen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:36 PM:

My recollection is that it had theatrical releases in the US in both the 60s and 70s (and apparently later per others' comments). I saw it in the 60s, but was old enough to duck out in the 70s when my sister was taken to see it. Now I wish I'd gone then because I'd have picked up on the issues more at that age.

But then, at that time, Sambo's restaurants in the US were Little Black Sambo-themed, and controversy was only beginning to stir over that. And, until it did, I didn't know it was racist.

Song of the South was apparently aired in Britain as recently as 2010. I found this page discussing video quality of various versions: http://atlas.kennesaw.edu/~dhirschl/song_of_the_south/ -- the poster of that page is all about preserving classic animation.

If this were being shown as a part of a commentary about animation history with problematic content, then I'd be all for it. But at noon on Saturday (a prime Worldcon time slot when kids would likely be present) with no commentary?

That's not okay.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:41 PM:

I think it's worth not ascribing an agenda to anyone in the absence of evidence. Whether the same person was responsible for the choice to show it at Renovation and LoneStarCon; who that was; why s/he chose to do so? Let's get facts before we leap to motivations.

And even then, as PNH says in 27:

Too much emphasis on naming-and-shaming allows us to behave as if racism is fundamentally a moral failure of individuals, like sloth or envy, instead of a system in which we're all embedded.

#48 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:44 PM:

I'm pretty sure I saw this presented at an elementary school assembly as a reward for "good citizenship" in Utah back in the early 80's. It was on whatever format of actual film that was distributed to schools at the time, rather than on VHS. Like Kate above, I admit it may have been on a Disney compilation because I don't remember much of it. It made me mildly uncomfortable at the time, but then so did the nature documentary showing a bird laying an egg. I'm pretty sure my parents would have kicked up a fuss, or at the very least, given me some context for it if they had been aware that the film was showing.

As an adult, just the existence of the "Happy Slave" trope is enough for me to not want to dig any deeper for further examples of racism. That's quite enough. I hope the concom acts to either contextualize the showing of that film or remove it altogether. I can't see it as anything other than hostile.

#49 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Bill, 13: I've only been watching furry fandom for a decade or so, but I've never seen it come up. (Which is not to say that it might not have, long before my time!) It's frankly a lousy movie, when you get down to it--the live action bits star a really dreadful child actor who spends 80% of the movie running screaming through the woods in a nightgown--and it just doesn't push any of the furry buttons. My experience, limited though it may be, is that furry fandom tends to prefer worlds where EVERYBODY is an animal--Disney's Robin Hood, Lion King, etc. (Even the Jungle Book doesn't come up too often comparatively. Mind you, neither does Bambi...)

Frankly, it's a sub-par movie that makes everybody horribly uncomfortable. I think its primary value may be as a cautionary example.

#51 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Per IMDB:

Song of the South had theatrical releases in the USA in 1946, 1980, and 1986. I would have seen it at the NARO Expanded Cinema in Norfolk, an art house, when I was stationed there in the 'eighties. I saw pretty much everything they showed.

#52 ::: Josh Cochran ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:15 PM:

Yeah, the '86 release would have been the one I saw. I was thinking I was about ten, so '86 would be right on the money. I can still picture the theater I saw it in like it was yesterday. It was a 4 screen theater in the middle of a shopping center at the corner of Pioneer Parkway & Collins in Arlington, Texas. At the time they also rented movies in the lobby. I remember seeing Platoon there the same year with my dad and being so disturbed I asked to leave early.

#53 ::: Deirdre Saoirse Moen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:20 PM:

I know I didn't see it in 1956 (not that old) nor in the 1970s, so it looks like the showing I saw wasn't part of the re-release schedule.

My grandmother often took me to showings of movies at a theater that showed things out of the normal release cycle back then, so I think that's where I saw it. My recollection is that I saw it fairly close in time to Mary Poppins, which I saw several times in its initial release. I know I saw it before the release of Sound of Music because I remember saying I liked Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah better than I liked some of the songs in Sound of Music. I remember my grandmother being embarrassed I said such a thing in public, but of course I didn't understand it at the time, being five or six.

#54 ::: JimF ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:26 PM:

A small clarification -- film prints, as physical objects, for most of the history of the medium, been bought and sold -- distributors have bought them, television stations have bought them, museums, have bought them, etc., and have maintained collections of them. When those collections have been deaccessioned, they've wound up in private hands (sometimes sold, sometimes given away, sometimes -- as recently with a huge library of HK films in Oakland -- scavenged from dumpsters). There are people who collect 35mm prints the way, you know, people collect pulps.

If someone *owns* a 35mm or 16mm print, they can do whatever they like with *that print* -- including showing it in public -- without approval from whoever owns the IP; the right of exhibition inheres in the print. They can't make a dupe negative -- "****copy****right", remember, but they can run it through any projector they like. So complaining to Disney probably has zero point.

If you live in a town with a theater that runs a "film noir festival" every so often, you've probably seen collectors' prints of films that haven't been in distributors' catalogs -- and may not have had screenable prints in the studios' vaults -- in decades. Collectors' prints have also been important in film restoration, as they may not have been repeatedly scissored to accommodate a variety of commercial-break schedules.

#55 ::: Cat Kimbriel ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:29 PM:

I just popped out of an editing daze and saw this over on Twitter. WTH?

Here are the people heading up things on LoneStarCon3:

http://www.lonestarcon3.org/committee/index.shtml

I am not working with the con--the massively sick and trying to die gig means I missed the bid and working on most everything, although I plan to show up. But I will say this--the bits and pieces I keep hearing are TX fans being shouldered out by people from other parts of the country. I don't recognize most of these people.

Film Festival is listed as: Nat Saenz, Staff: Inge Saenz

Film credentials/film festivals show up when I search on him. Not Texans, unless expats?

How will the people in charge respond, and how quickly? Will leave this topic open...

#56 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:30 PM:

Aha, I bet I saw it in the 1973 rerelease with Aristocats, which was a movie I passionately loved until I saw it again as a teen and realized how awful it was. I would have been not quite four years old assuming a summer release. That would explain why I remember so little about it and why I don't remember my brother watching it with me--he would have been barely two, and I know the first movie he ever saw was Dumbo when he was three*.

When I was more into animation a decade+ ago, I recall there being quite a lot of arguments about Song of the South and whether it should be released on video. At the time I was on the side of "release it but with a thoughtful explanation to run before the actual movie explaining the history and racism." Now I think Disney's right to keep it in the vault. I'm flabbergasted that LoneStarCon is showing it at noon on Saturday without commentary. What are they thinking?

When I saw the movie as a kid I didn't question anything in the movie and I don't remember Mom talking to me about it after. It's possible she did and it didn't stick with me the way the talking animals onscreen did. More likely Mom ignored the movie, probably reading if we did see it in a drive-in (where she'd have enough light to read by). She hated cartoons.

*The family story is that in the car going home from Dumbo, my brother said, "Mom, I feel funny." Then he started sobbing. Mom always felt terrible that she had engineered his first full-on experience of the emotion sadness.

#57 ::: Abby N ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Just F y'all's I, the LSC3 concomm has, as of a few hours ago, noticed and (mostly) been horrified. Programming clarified (on the staff list) that this is scheduled to be accompanied by a historical-context discussion, and the folks whose problem this is (chairs and programming) are considering whether to pull it entirely, clarify the listing on the website, increase the surrounding commentary, etc.

(Speaking as an LSC3 minion who didn't know it was being shown until this morning, and an occasionally cluelessly-racist white girl from the northeast.)

#58 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:36 PM:

UrsulaV @49

Furry fandom in diverse enough in its interests and motive (some aspects being outright creepy to me) that I wouldn't take bets on likely furry interest in this movie. Though I think your point about the preference for all-furry worlds is a good one.

The particular furry community I hang out with does tend to mock this sort of racism. Though, with it being centred on an analogue of the 1930s, racist bad guys are ten a penny. But it's one of those furry worlds with a diverse range of species. It's hard to map Black-White or Aryan-Jew racism onto the mix. A skunk is pretty distinctive, I've seen several in stories, but they're not all anything. And none of 'em are low-class comic relief.

There might be a tendency for them to be non-WASP: I see skunks used as a Jewish Doctor, an Hispanic professional soldier, and a cute Cajun girl with a talent for bank robbery and aviation engineering.

Some folk in the group make me uncomfortable with their stories, but it's more a sort of not-my-kink sexism than racism.

#59 ::: Abby N ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Cat Kimbriel # 55:

Just to clarify, *Song of the South* is currently scheduled under the Animation track of Programming, not the Film Festival. Mary Dumas and Thomas Safer are the track managers.

#60 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:48 PM:

I have a vague memory of seeing this in the theaters as a kid, paired with The Aristocats*. According to Wikipedia, that would’ve been in 1973, when I was seven. I don’t remember it very well.

Abi, @2, mentions “Chuck Jones & Warner Brothers shorts”. Are they showing old short-form cartoons as well, as part of this animation-you-rarely-see theme? Because some of those old cartoons are pretty racist. I saw a bunch of censored Warner Bros and Disney shorts at NYC’s Cinema Village theater back in the ’90s. “Clean Pastures” was met with shocked silence by the audience, until someone shouted out “That sucked!” and we all laughed.

Which brings up another point: Some people have been wondering if Disney will step in and stop this showing. Just because a movie hasn’t been released for the home video market doesn’t mean Disney will come down like a cartoon anvil on the head of anyone who shows it. It just means you can’t walk into a regular video store and buy it.

* “Wow, that’s, um, a heck of a movie you just described. What do you pair it up with?”

#61 ::: Cat Kimbriel ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 03:48 PM:

#59

Thanks, Abby N, I haven't made it to the program yet, just downloaded. The names are familiar but don't think I have met them.

#62 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:01 PM:

Antonia @58: Oh, I'd never say there's a single monolithic furry fandom, but I've got to say, this one hasn't crossed my radar while I've been involved. (And all that means is that I haven't seen it--there could be a thriving Song of the South furry community lurking somewhere and they just haven't crossed my path!)

Most cartoon animal movies, though, you at least get some fan art of showing up now and again--we could wallpaper a battleship with Balto clones--and most of my knowledge of furrydom is on the art side. I used to mod Yerf back in the day and I still do furry con art shows, and I can't think of the last time I saw Song of the South fan art show up there. (Which again, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, just that for whatever reason, I haven't tripped over it.)

#63 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:05 PM:

mjfgates@26:
Done right, it could be hilarious.

Or turn it into a drinking game with the caveat that all of the drinks consumed will non-alcoholic in nature lest the audience get hammered and pass out within the first 30 minutes. And yes, I saw it in my campus theater when I was a freshman in college.

My thought is to make the blindly racist physically uncomfortable if not mentally uncomfortable.

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:13 PM:

I think Safer is a collector, among other things. LA-area, so outside of Worldcon, most people wouldn't meet him.

#65 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:14 PM:

I remember sitting on top of a car watching Song and Aristocats at a drive in, which must have been in '73 - I would have been 8, or so. Liked the songs, don't remember the plot at all.

#66 ::: joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:16 PM:

Lucy@41: It may not be so much agenda as privilege. He may "not see the problem" with it, because "of course" non-white people get treated badly in old films.

(This is not an excuse but an ignorance-not-malice explanation. Though I think by this point he should have managed to get the memo about how racist the film is, no matter how much he loves the animation.)

#67 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:19 PM:

Any sufficiently advanced ignorance is indistinguishable from malice.

And the "knew or should have known" thing applies here. If he should have known, his moral responsibility is the same as if he did.

#68 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:21 PM:

The sub-discussion about furry fandom made me curious, so I went over to DeviantArt and did some searching. There is indeed a fair amount of Song of the South-based art there, and one comment thread that made me want to bash heads together* -- but of course one can't say whether or not any of these artists are involved with furry fandom.

OTOH, I also found this interpretation of Brer Rabbit, which is damned impressive. Although after reading the Benjamin January books, I see him as Compair Lapin instead.

(Note: I did my searching while not logged in, because I have the "show me adult content" setting on my account and I Did Not Want To Know.)


* Full of "Disney sucks for not releasing this movie" and "I've seen it, and there's nothing offensive about it" type whining.

#69 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Moderation Note:

We are not going to further speculate on the thought processes of someone who (a) may or may not be the person who decided to show the film, (b) hasn't said anything anywhere that I can see, (c) may or may not have made this decision alone (a con is a cooperative endavor), and (d) is not the real problem.

If the decision to show this movie at this con were the sole example of racism in our community, it might be relevant to focus on identifying the person who made it. But this is a bigger problem, and naming names and speculating about the motivation of the named isn't going to help that problem.

Also, I'm going to get testy if people keep it up. Finger-pointing testy. Name-naming testy. Vowel-removing testy. Drop it.

#70 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Unconfirmed tweet says it's been pulled.

#71 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Lee, 68: Which just goes to show that just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it's not there! (Mind you, mostly what I'm getting searching "Song of the South" at dA is South Park, but there's definitely a few scattered in there.)

That Brer Rabbit, by the by, is by Kenket, who is agonizingly talented and makes me tear my hair out with envy. Check out the rest of her stuff if you get a chance--it's pretty much all amazing.

#72 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:38 PM:

Sorry, abi. You're right of course.

#73 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:41 PM:

In an effort to turn this into an educational experience (and also because I will be a programming minion for my local con next year)...

If there were a programming track and/or programming item called "Racism and Us" and/or "Sexism and Us," and/or "Harassment and Us" what movies would be included as the most egregious of their kind? Beginning with Song of the South. The "Us" would be fandom as a whole.

#74 ::: Vixy ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:42 PM:

Re #54: "If someone *owns* a 35mm or 16mm print, they can do whatever they like with *that print* -- including showing it in public -- without approval from whoever owns the IP; the right of exhibition inheres in the print. They can't make a dupe negative -- "****copy****right", remember, but they can run it through any projector they like."

Are you sure that's true? As I understand it, if you are making money off it, that's also a violation of their copyright. If you had to pay money to get into the space where I'm showing a film, it's a screening that I'm making money from. And if I didn't get a screening license, I'm violating copyright.

If it were shown in the parking lot, say, that would be one thing, but in a convention space...

Can someone with legal knowledge please clarify?

#75 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:48 PM:

As I just now posted on Twitter, I just now got email from Colin Harris, who's working for LoneStarCon chair Randall Shepherd.

He says they're pulling the film entirely; a statement will go up "within the next hour."

More:

"It was indeed the case that the film was being presented in context with an introduction and discussion but it's also the case that this was not properly explained, and to continue showing the film in light of the comments being made would send entirely the wrong messages.

"Please feel free to let people know that we are withdrawing the film - we're putting our hand up here and acknowledging that we've got it wrong, but we need people to be just a little understanding that it takes a couple of hours to make a management decision and promulgate it in a professional way."

Seems reasonable to me. As I've repeatedly observed, this is a volunteer operation, and most of these volunteers have day jobs.

#76 ::: Josh Cochran ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Great response and good job to them for taking responsibility quickly and directly.

#77 ::: Scott Edelman ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:52 PM:

Roger Ebert, who came of out science fiction fandom, had this to say about Song of the South:

"I am against censorship and believe that no films or books should be burned or banned but film school study is one thing and a general release is another. Any new Disney film immediately becomes part of the consciousness of almost every child in America, and I would not want to be a black child going to school in the weeks after SONG OF THE SOUTH was first seen by my classmates. Peter Schneider, chairman of the Disney Studios, tells me that the studio has decided to continue to hold the film out of release."

And:

"Disney has made a corporate decision to hold SONG OF THE SOUTH from release because of its stereotyping of some of the African-American characters, and I have expressed sympathy with that position because the film is directed primarily toward children who see films literally. I would not want to be an African-American child at a screening of the film but I would support its screening for mature audiences."

I saw -- and was made queasy by -- Song of the South during the 1980 rerelease. Context is needed even more today.

#78 ::: Scott Edelman ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Ah, my previous post was made before the announcement of the withdrawal of the film from screening.

A good decision.

#79 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Patrick: I saw it in the theater, sometime in the very late '70s, early '80s. As to Kate Shaw's wondering about "lost" prints, not likely. Having been a projectionist, and knowing what the costs are; Disney was either keeping prints (possible) or paying for new prints from the "answer prints". In any case, Uncle Walt is jealous of his things and a "lost" print would have to be accounted for.

How attentive Disney was to keeping all prints is an open question. Prints have often been bought when films were leaving release (because the studio/distributor didn't see any money to made from storing them), so it's possible that Disney did that, but given the way they controlled things I don't know.

Tom Safer is an LA area fan, and this is in his area of interest (rare cartoons, etc.). I know him, in passing, and don't think there is malice in it; and am more prone to thinking the folks putting the program together weren't parsing the effect of that description.

#80 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:00 PM:

Good on LoneStarCon for pulling it. Sounds like what they were planning was better than we thought anyway, and this is even better.

#81 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:01 PM:

Fragano beat me to it: Dumbo--which came out five years before SONG OF THE SOUTH--has crows talking black jive and shows what the Disneyites of the day really thought about black people. So no surprise.

Only surprise is that WorldCon played it as a children's track movie.

Jane

#82 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:06 PM:

Terry @79:

I haven't removed your comment about Tom Safer, because although you're speculating about his motivations, it is at least on the charitable side and from some personal acquaintance.

But beyond this point, I will remove comments that name names or speculate on the motivations of individuals without evidence. It may take me some hours, because I have to go to bed, but don't make me get up in the morning and use the names of our beloved commentariat as curse words.

This is no longer a legitimate topic of conversation on this thread.

#83 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:09 PM:

I saw it in the theater as a very young child in the early 70s. My impression was that the frame was pretty boring and useless except for Uncle Remus singing "Zippety-Do-Da" and it was a lot better when it got to the animation.

As an adult, I got bootleg of the Japanese videotape and watched it with a couple friends. The animation still held up, but the frame was still boring but now the racism was extra apparent.

As for whether kids should be able to see it, if the kids read at all into the history of our beloved genre, they'll encounter far more racist things and either have to decide that they agree with the racism or just roll their eyes, view the book as a document of its time, and go on with the story.

I mean, read the Dr. Doolittle books and look at the bit with Prince Bumpo. Read The Patchwork Girl of Oz and take an extra grain of salt for the Tottenhots, not to mention Vic the phonograph playing his song about "Mah coal-black Lulu." Then skip forward to the first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the Oompa-Loompas are a tribe of African pygmies being paid in cocoa beans--and there's a metaphor for you--and Charlie himself asks Mr. Wonka if the Ooompa-Loompas are made out of chocolate.

At some point kids are going to notice that some of the art and literature created in the past was pretty damn racist. Having a panel discussion beforehand to discuss Song of the South is a good idea, but there will be people walking into the movie who missed that. If you want to look at it critically, probably best to have the discussion afterward.

#84 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Many years ago -- when Arisia was at the Park Plaza hotel, I seem to remember, which is many years ago indeed -- the program included a silent version of The Wizard of Oz, which I dropped in on, expecting to see a snippet of one of L. Frank Baum's own films.

Instead of that, it was another version by a rival filmmaker from some years later, featuring rather too much blackface minstrelry. I think I lasted all of 5 minutes before fleeing in horror.

I seem to remember hunting down a committee member to express my horror, and they were very surprised because all they knew of the showing was that it was The Wizard of Oz, and how awful could that be?

As they say, the past is a different country... and sometimes we don't get to understand enough about that country until we study up on it more than casually.

I actually would be sorry if SotS gets pulled entirely from the program, instead of being bookended by programming putting it into context. Were I attending the convention (sigh, alas) I'd most likely try to view it and consequent panel discussion(s), if only because then I'd be informed by my own experience of its attitudes and artistic worth and able to voice my own opinion in the future.

#85 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:18 PM:

JimF @54-- I'm guessing you are not a lawyer?

IANAL either, but I do deal with public performance rights tangentially at my job. It's in higher ed, not convention running, so I'm happy to see some documentation otherwise, but in general, the right to publicly show something (as opposed to show it to friends at home) is not associated with the right of ownership. This is one of the clearer explanations. The MPAA has a good one as well here (but I fully appreciate that many folks have a gut-check reaction against the MPAA).

#86 ::: Vixy ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:18 PM:

Further to #54: a lawyer of my acquaintance says that no right to publicly display adheres to possession of the print. "The right of public display is one of the bundle of rights listed in the copyright statute."

#87 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:34 PM:

PNH @ 27: "Too much emphasis on naming-and-shaming allows us to behave as if racism is fundamentally a moral failure of individuals, like sloth or envy, instead of a system in which we're all embedded."

Because yes.

#88 ::: Arete ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Continuing the thread of when we first saw the film... I was three during the '86 revival. I actually do remember this film, but that's more that there was a child's Disney story book that contained all the Br'er stories (and Hiawatha and... a bunch.) that I was read and read myself once I was old enough. Reading it, I would remember the film. That said? If you got the Disney channel during the '80s and early '90s, they frequently played 'music videos' - clips of the songs from various Disney movies, INCLUDING Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. Also, I went to Disneyworld a couple years later, where the log flume - still in operation - follows Br'er Rabbit's briar patch escapades.

I have no clue if my parents talked to me about what was wrong with the film; given how they actively sought to make sure my sister and I knew racism was wrong, they probably did. I just don't remember it.

Do I want to see it again? Yes. But in the same way I want to see "Birth of a Nation" - with context and appreciation for society's changes, even as we still have far to go.

#89 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:38 PM:

I'm the "lawyer of Vixy's acquaintance" from @86.

Here's my take, in very brief...

Quoting 17 USC § 106, which states what rights are part of copyright:

"Subject to [certain exceptions, such as fair use; more on these in a second], the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

...

(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly."

In other words: If you own the copyright on, for example, a film, you have the exclusive right to show it publicly or authorize other people to do so, with the same degree of control (exceptions, well, excepted) as concerns making a copy.

JimF has suggested that there is some sort of right embedded in ownership of a copy of a 16mm or 35mm film to display publicly, as distinct from copyright. Put simply, I've never heard of that.

Neither has anybody else, either, I gather, or else resources like this one wouldn't need to exist to explain that if you're showing something to "someone other than family or social acquaintances," that's a public performance and you need a license.

If you can't copy it without a license, you can't publicly display it without a license. Copyright protects both equally.

Now, exceptions. None of the exceptions listed say that there is such an inherent right, either. You're welcome to look through them if you like, but the legalese is so thick you can't even cut it with a knife:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/chapter-1

Check out section 110 for "Exemption of certain performances and displays," which seems the most likely candidate. But I don't see it in there, and it would seem a pretty huge gaping hole. Undermines a lot of the advantage of owning a copyright on a movie, after all, if anybody who owns a copy can put it up in a movie theater.

As to our favorite exception, fair use, let's just say I don't buy it. But that's another lecture. That said, Vixy @ 74 misspoke as well, a very common misspeaking, that money makes a difference. That's a fair use topic, to which the answer is, "not necessarily." Fair use doctrine does not say "if it's noncommercial it's fair use." It's much, much more complicated than that.

As to whether Disney would smack around LoneStarCon: Probably could, probably wouldn't. Even the Mouse has limits, if only because lawyers cost money and time and energy and PR issues.

#90 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:40 PM:

As I just now remarked on Twitter, this is an illustration of an old principle -- if you want lots and lots of information from the net, post misinformation.

(Caution: do not take this too literally.)

#91 ::: Bill Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:44 PM:

I just had an idea. Since I will be at Worldcon as a vendor and my last novel was very much concerned with the history of minstrelsy, I would be more than happy to talk about said history, Harris, and Song of the South and help to put them all in their historical contexts. It may be a surprisingly refreshing conversation. I sure do hope the invitation is extended.

#92 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 05:52 PM:

Incidentally, shameless plug time, I have (along with Paul Herman, John Wardale, and Richard Morgan) a panel at LoneStarCon about "The Current State of US Copyright Law." So if my essay up there didn't put you to sleep, check us out! Sunday, 4 PM, room 007A.

Description:

"Fair use. Fan fiction, fan art, fan vid. Mashups. Creative Commons. Sonny Bono. Mickey Mouse Act. Torrents. Confused about how copyright works, and how fannish interests intersect with it? How to protect what you have created and yet encourage others to build upon it? And what you're doing that might get you in trouble? Come and find out about the current state of copyright law, what works and what doesn't, what it can do, and what it can't."

It's most of the way down this page. (I can't link to the item, just the day and track.)

#93 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:02 PM:

I hope this isn't too much of a sidetrack, and if it is I'll happily take it to the open thread.

I've been thinking about Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah; I had no idea where it came from until today. In my complete ignorance of the context, I've always thought of it as nothing more than a jolly little tune, although it is certainly possible that I haven't heard all the words. Even our own national anthem has verses that nobody ever sings these days because they're so excruciatingly embarrassing, after all.

So my question is: is the song racist in itself, or is it only racist if you happen to know the context?

It's a serious question. It took me over twenty years to discover why the very devout Catholic deputy head at my school gave me such an odd look on hearing me whistling "Lillibullero", which I in my innocence had thought of as nothing more than a jaunty tune. (I'm pretty sure the deputy head knew that, but it must still have grated, which was not at all my intention.) Similarly, in the days when I spent a lot of time knocking around with folk singers, I was very taken aback to be informed by one of them politely but firmly that he wouldn't sing a particular one because it was an IRA song. I was aware that he was an Ulster Protestant, but the song in question had nothing in it that obviously tied it to either side of the divide; you would have had to know its history, and evidently he did.

Context can be everything sometimes.

#94 ::: Glenn ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:05 PM:

The film will not be shown.

http://www.lonestarcon3.org/program/animation.shtml

#95 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:06 PM:

Here's LoneStarCon 3's statement:

August 21 - Statement re. Song of the South

LoneStarCon 3 had previously announced a presentation of Disney's Song of the Southh, to be shown in conjunction with a talk about the period when the film was made, the historical reality of the time, and the changing perspectives of the film in the light of the Civil Rights movement.

We accept that while we fully intended to show the film in context, this was not adequately explained in the text published on our website and in our Pocket Program. Moreover, to continue showing the film in the light of the public concern expressed over the last few hours would send entirely the wrong messages about our event's commitment to diversity and inclusion. We will therefore no longer be presenting this film as part of our program.

We got this wrong, and we apologize unreservedly to anyone who has been offended, concerned, or in any way been given cause to doubt the welcome that LoneStarCon 3 will extend to all of our members next week.

#96 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:08 PM:

For posting the concom's official statement. Strawberry slush?

#97 ::: Weirdmage ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Is it safe to assume that someone bought the distribution rights to Song of the South x number of years ago, and still has it, and that it has actually been licenced to be shown at Worldcon? Or could it be that someone has assumed, as came up earlier in this tread, that there is "no problem" with showing films in public?
Seems like there needs to be some work put into insuring that everything that is shown is actually shown legally. Hopefully someone has already done this, or I suspect the list of movies at LoneStarCon will be a bit shorter than what the program actually says...

#98 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:26 PM:

All of the words of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah are here. It's one stanza and one chorus. As shown, it has dialect spelling, but when spoken or sung there's no inherent spelling--the singer has a southern accent.

Here, context is everything.

James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus, died two years after the film was made, of a heart attack, way too young at 44. He was the first male African American to receive an Oscar.

Bobby Driscoll, who played the white male child lead, came to a bad end. He died alone, anonymous, and penniless in an abandoned East Village apartment. He's buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in New York City. His family didn't find out he was dead for over a year after he died.

#99 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:30 PM:

Jim @ 98: thanks - so I definitely have heard all the words, then. I'm looking at another metaphorical IRA song.

#100 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:19 PM:

I saw the movie when I was five years old, during the 40th anniversary re-release.

I was a kid who absolutely loved storytelling and folk tales. I had a tape of Br'er Rabbit stories and a tape of Anansi stories, and tons of books of myths and stories from various cultures (though I'm not completely sure I had those tapes before I saw the movie). So when the re-release came, my parents took me to see it.

The impression five-year-old-me got was "Uncle Remus was a good storyteller and singer, and those were good stories." I carried that impression with me for years, and often wondered why they hadn't released the movie on video. I was in college before I was made aware of all the really problematic stuff that five-year-old me hadn't processed. I share Ebert's opinion on it now.

Years later, my mom told me that she was fairly mortified driving home after seeing the movie, but considering that I didn't seem to have taken the wrong message from it, she left it alone. I'm pretty sure it was instrumental in cementing my love for all the various African trickster stories, so it's hard for me to categorically say that the movie is completely valueless, even now - though again, I'd agree that it would be a very bad idea to show it without explaining its problems and historical context.

Since then, all I've seen of the film are the animated segments and the clip that is just the song. I can see how someone with similar experiences could see the film on the schedule and not immediately recoil. It's good that they've fixed it now, but I cringe a little knowing teenage me might well have made the same mistake.

#101 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:22 PM:

Mongoose, would you happen to recall the name of that IRA song you were warned of?

#102 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:31 PM:

UrsulaV, #71: If you search on "Brer Rabbit" you get a lot more, and less extraneous stuff. I did notice the number of South Park items in the "Song of the South" results, which I suspect comes from the phrase being searched as OR rather than AND.

Patrick, #75: Bravo! As I've said before in the context of customer service, anyone can make a mistake; it's how people deal with it when the mistake is reported that says who they really are.

#103 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Patrick #75: That's a good thing. I think the con's response is moderate and sensible.

I've spent hours feeling very upset and alienated about this whole mess. I've spent years pointing out to young people that, regardless of how things were "back in the day" there were people who opposed those injustices and made it clear that they were wrong. Reviving that kind of idyllic vision of racial hierarchy is the kind of thing guaranteed to set my teeth on edge.

Also: Jim #31, I thought about that after I posted.

#104 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:58 PM:

Bobby Driscoll's early death was a tragedy. He was one of the few child actors of the 50s who doesn't make my teeth ache today. It's one reason I was always hoping the movie would be better than it was. See him in THE WINDOW for an Oscar-worthy performance.

I must have known that Baskett had passed on too soon as well, but was surprised on reading it just now. If he'd lived, would he have been ground up by the Disney machine like Cliff Edwards was? And how is it that African Americans only used to get Oscars for their appearances in pictures we're all mostly ashamed to look at now?

Turner Classic Movies had a day honoring Hattie McDaniel this week, and advertised movies she was in as if she was the co-star and not the occasionally sassy servant over and over. Willie Best, who co-star Bob Hope said was the funniest actor he'd appeared with, spent most of his career looking scared at fake ghosts, and for a while was billed as "Sleep-n-Eat." It looks for all the world like if it hadn't been for movies that were patronizing at best and slanderous at worst black actors would have had to wait for Oscar Micheaux to get on screen.

It's an over-simplification, of course, and even the films made by black entrepreneurs ended up telling the same jokes in the same way (as did a comic strip I happened to find in a newspaper by and for African Americans from the teens or twenties), but it's at least 80% true, and probably more. Non-inane people of color were outside the comfort range of the majority of the audience in all media.

(On radio, even the Mercury Theatre used Joseph Cotten in blackvoice to portray a minor character in an otherwise delightful adaptation of Booth Tarkington's Seventeen. But they had to pee in it.)

By the way, the most ugly racist cartoon I can point to was ANGEL PUSS by Chuck Jones.

#105 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:09 PM:

I'm pretty sure the last time I've seen it was the 1980 release.

For someone that asked, I believe Disney did have a cut-down version with only the animated segments and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" available for schools in the 1960s/70s.

The animated segments aren't really the problem, and probably why Disney felt comfortable basing Splash Mountain on them.

The reason nobody really remembers anything about the live-action sections apart from the racism is because it's really boring. Kid gets in trouble, Uncle Remus dispenses a moral via animated story. Repeat. That's pretty much it.

The film is set post-Civil War, so the black people aren't slaves. However, you'd never really realize that watching it. There a particularly cringe-worth scene where Remus talks with the kids' grandmother like two old friends. Given their age, you have to realize that she probably used to own him (he told stories to her kids).

There are lots of reviews/articles about the film but by coincidence I was reading this one last night. Pretty good, depending on your like of snark.

I don't actually have a problem with showing this film (or the WB banned ones) as long as there is some discussion along with it, not just as part of a block of animation.

That said, I'm pretty sure there's no legal way to show it. It's possible they could get their hands on one of the legit European or Japanese VHS releases, but there's still the screening rights. More likely it would be a bootleg copy anyway.

#106 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:17 PM:

With respect to Clean Pastures, there was a fannish parody of Green Pastures called Purple Pastures.

It was by Terry Carr writing as "Carl Brandon". IIRC it still had a racism problem.

I'm not sure how to feel about the name of Carl Brandon being linked to it.

#107 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:51 PM:

All of the words of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah are here. It's one stanza and one chorus. As shown, it has dialect spelling, but when spoken or sung there's no inherent spelling--the singer has a southern accent.

In the ending scene on Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom, they're written as "it's the truth, it's actual, everything's satisfactual!"

#108 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:48 PM:

I appreciate the fact that they intended to screen it as part of a discussion, and I appreciate the fact that in the light of the event, they didn't get defensive about it, but recognized that having got off on the wrong foot, they couldn't easily hold that discussion now.

They deserve recognition for responding cleanly and quickly.

#109 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:07 PM:

#105 Alan Hamilton

Following up on the link you posted, and linked from that review, we find yet another review of Song of the South, with snark.


#110 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:19 PM:

Alan Hamilton @105

Thanks a lot for linking to that article. It really helps me reconcile my good memories with the reality of the movie.

One of the difficulties is that James Baskett's performance is really great. And it bothers me that we might be close to deciding "no, this performance can never be seen again, because of all the problematic stuff it's associated with."

This is super hard to talk about, and I'm really glad that Making Light exists as a place where we can talk about it.

#111 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Just to be clear, I am completely opposed to anyone who says "this performance can never be seen again."

#112 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:41 PM:

Oh yeah, I'm a big fan of the Nostalgia Chick. "Song of the South is offensive because it perpetuates the stereotype that black people are boring."

I do imagine the kids squirming in their seats during the live-action parts, impatient for the next cartoon to start.

#113 ::: Dan Boone ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:33 PM:

"I do imagine the kids squirming in their seats during the live-action parts, impatient for the next cartoon to start."

That's exactly what I did in 1970-whatever.

#114 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Lucy 108: Yes. Exactly.

Mongoose 93: Roberta MacAvoy had that problem when she went to Northern Ireland to visit Walt Willis. She played a song on her harp (I think it was "The Star of County Down") that turned out to have political implications she didn't intend or even know about.

#115 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:00 AM:

I wish to point out: This isn't "long unseen", nor is it "banned". It's just "not released on home video, in the USA".

The video is trivially available on the internet, because it's had VHS and Laserdisc and DVD releases for DECADES, just not in the USA.

It's not a rare movie. It's not a hard to find movie. It's a movie that is difficult to purchase legally from the rights holder in the USA, which is completely different from being rare or hard to watch.

#116 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:51 AM:

Bill Campbell @91, What's the title of your new novel? I MUST GET A COPY. (And I do believe I found your blog, and am looking at getting the other books mentioned there, too.)

It's not something I talk about much, because I escaped from that past life for a reason, but I grew up attending minstrel shows, as I had a family member (white) who performed in blackface. I have photographs. I would be really interested in hear you talk about any and all of this stuff, and look forward to reading your book, because I don't have words for it all myself, by a long shot.

#117 ::: elise has been snatched by the gnomes again ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:52 AM:

Halp?

#118 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 02:27 AM:

I first saw "Song of the South" sometime around 1954-55 when I was 8 or 9. My parents were somewhat upset by the racism, and tried to explain why to me after the movie; as several people have commented, the live action scenes are simultaneously racist and boring, so it wasn't hard for me to accept that I should ignore them. I saw "Dumbo" about the same time, give or take a few years, and had less problem with that, as I recall.

Because I've been a lover and student of animation for a long time, and was out of work for two fairly long periods in the oughties, I rented and watched a lot of animations, Disney & others, including both "Song of the South" and "Dumbo". The racism is indeed appalling, but not at all subtle, so if you're interested in the technical aspects of the films, it's not hard for an adult to tune it out, or examine it as an example of the bigotry of the time.

One aspect of "Dumbo" struck me: the racist representation of black people as jive-taking crows is very condescending (though these are "Magic Negro" crows who can confer wisdom on the hero, though they themselves lack agency to use it), but unionized workers are shown in a positive light at the beginning of the film. This supports my opinion that, though some theorists insist that racism and classism are not separate, the relationship between them is more complex than meets the eye.

Oh, and if you're truly seeking the bottom of the barrel in terms of racist cartoons, there were a number of them made in the 1930s with Sambo-like characters who looked and acted like the uncontrollable savages that white people had been claiming for hundreds of years inhabited Africa. Some of them still appear on cable TV in the afternoon, when kids come home from school; a fact which should alarm every parent.

#119 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:19 AM:

Another 10-year-old at the 1986 showing. Didn't process the racism at all; then again, I was, regrettably, not raised with a very nuanced understanding of racism. Mostly what I remember about the film are the animated characters, the songs, and the little boy getting run down by a bull. Twice.

Seems to me I spent a disproportionate amount of the in-theater portion of my '80s childhood being terrified by bulls.

#120 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:28 AM:

elise @116

Here's a link to a report on the TV documentary that incidentally covered the late-Victorian minstrel shows.

BBC Who Do You Think You Are on John Bishop

I have no idea how you would go about seeing the episode in the USA.

#121 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:24 AM:

Pasting 'BBC Who Do You Think You Are on John Bishop' into Youtube worked for me.

BTW, I saw the recent Minnie Driver one, interesting coverage of Brit WW2 PTSD treatment, as well as a bit of music hall.

#122 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:00 AM:

Jim @ 101, Xopher @ 114: sadly no, or I would have named it. It was certainly something that seemed perfectly innocent, but it wasn't "The Star of the County Down" (which is, again, a cracking tune, and I had no idea either that it had any political implications).

What I do know is that there are probably a number of Irish songs around which sound innocent and aren't, and not always because they were written innocently and then adopted in a particular context. Some of them are quite deliberately coded, for the simple reason that it became illegal to sing rebel songs in British-occupied Ireland, so ways round had to be found. The example everyone quotes is "Four Green Fields", which is a fairly obvious allegory, but one which probably had enough plausible deniability to get past a jury. I expect there are several more which are much less transparent.

#123 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:10 AM:

Allan Beatty #106: Glancing at your first link, I note that they draw a parallel between the Carl Brandon and James Tiptree. The problem I see with that is that Tiptree was a fictional man penned by a woman, while Brandon was a fictional black man penned by two white men. Looks to me like Brandon is punching the wrong direction there....

#124 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 08:36 AM:

On cartoon representations of black people, particularly the Big Dumb Savage ones: my roommate watched those all the time as a kid and it was only as an adult that she realized the gorillish characters were meant to be human. I once confused a (not very good) history professor when we looked at a political cartoon with one black man and one Irish man; I asked him what the caricature racism for Irish was, since I was familiar enough with the black figure's racist portrayal, and he just didn't understand the question. Only later did I realize the Irish figure looked familiar because of the cartoons I had watched as a kid.

I think I may have seen the 1986 Song of the South in theatres. I think. I have a memory of being outside a theatre having just seen Snow White or something, and I remember remembering that I saw Zippedy-Doo-Dah in a theatre, so... something there might be accurate. It is not outside the realm of possibility and I have another memory dated to that age.

#125 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 08:59 AM:

I think I must have seen the version of Song of the South that had only the animated pieces and songs, long ago. I admit that, before this discussion, seeing it listed in a program would not have pinged my "San Antonio, we have a problem" radar.

#126 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:52 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 118 -

My grandfather's band, The Royal Samoans, was featured in one of those egregiously racist cartoons. It was a Betty Boop where the dog when to some South Seas Isle for something and was pursued by terrifying bone-in-nose cannibals. The Royal Samoans had some live action performance and there was rotoscoping around them. It's the only recording we have of him, and yet if someone wants to see it I give them all sorts of warnings about racism.

Several years ago when one of my bozo uncles met my mother, he expressed disbelief that she could be part Samoan, in that "she doesn't have a bone through her nose or anything!" This was a college educated man who was only half joking. Mom was incensed, but it took her awhile to put figure out that all the racist stuff she had thought fairly harmless growing up could possibly apply to her.

#127 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:02 AM:

This movie kills me. And the reason it does because when I saw this movie as a kid, I loved it so very, very much.

I saw it at some point in the 70s (and on a tangent I had assumed well into my adult life that it was filmed and released in the 70s, because when I saw it as a kid it was in a theatre and I assumed it was being shown for the first time). It was before I was 10, and I'm pretty sure it was before I was 8 but I can't swear to it. Anyway, the point is I adored that movie.

When I was a kid, this was my takeaway from Song of the South:

1. The cartoons were hilarious.

2. Uncle Remus was the hero of the movie. Well, the adult hero. He cared about kids, listened to them, told them stories, and helped them deal with their problems. This was what, I thought at the time, all adults should be.

3. Sort of an add-on to #2, I remember wishing at the time he could actually be my uncle. Not that I had anything against the uncles I actually have. I just thought he was that awesome.

4. None of the other adults were worth much. They were all mean in general, very mean to Uncle Remus, and while they came around in the end all that meant was that Uncle Remus didn't have to leave. They were still idiots in my book.

So that's the inner conflict I have every time this movie comes up: I can't ignore the criticism surrounding the movie because, well, it's not wrong. The stereotypes are there. The racism is there. Adult-me sees that and there's not a point I can argue against.

But I also can't deny child-me's experience of the movie. For all the racism and stereotypes that were there, they were apparently discarded by child-me out of hand--Uncle Remus was still the hero of the movie, the best of the adults by far, the most worthy, and so on.

So I'm sort of screwed whenever this discussion comes up. I have an emotional attachment to a movie that is genuinely racist because the kid I was didn't see that, he saw the part that was directly relevant to him. And the part that was directly relevant to him was strong enough that I still feel that attachment today, so that I have to take a moment and sort everything out in my head when the topic of the movie comes up.

Perhaps, if I were to see the movie today, as an adult, that would solve the problem. I expect I would see the racism and stereotyping more clearly and it might effectively beat back kid-me's experience. That said, I really don't want to do that. I want kid-me to remember the movie he remembers, let him cherish it, and move on. So this is probably the only time I'll talk about the movie in a public forum. :)

#128 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:11 PM:

No one has a problem with censorship when it's something they find offensive.

When this year's Worldcon has ended, Texas will still be trying to disenfranchise brown people.

When we moved back to the South, in the late Sixties-early Seventies, Birth of a Nation would still be brought back into theaters in election years.

#129 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:22 PM:

Various stray observations:

I've seen some fair bit of SotS, but if I ever saw the whole thing it was when I was very young (early/mid 1960s) and I definitely missed he 1980s theatrical releases. There's a couple of the animated bits that show up pretty commonly on Disney compilation discs. The Dumbo crows, on the other hand, I see all the time because my youngest played that one to death. And as far as that movie is concerned, they are hardly the most egregious stereotype shown; indeed, they don't register on my kids at all as black except intellectually (they are major history nerds), because just don't act anything like the black subculture my kids are rubbed in--and which loads them up with completely different stereotypes. If you don't know the code, and you don't live in the right place, you don't have what you need to interpret them as black.

I'm almost young enough and raised in the wrong part of the country to (mis)read them the same way. On the other hand, I had the weirdly gleeful experience of seeing Finian's Rainbow for the first time in my grandmother's living room. In Charlotte, NC. Her social aspirations were too high to let any kind of overt racism show, but one could tell, and the experience of having dinner with her in the retirement palace's restaurant and being waited on by a fellow who was very obviously a black college student from out of the area was easily the most off-key social situation I have ever been party to in my entire life. The two of them simply did not have the slightest clue how to interact with each other.

I have seen a couple of short clips of the live action sections of SotS, and my reaction to them is frank embarrassment: not so much over the racial stereotypes, as the dreadful script and acting.

And if you really want frightful exercises in stereotypes: early Tintin comics. Even the cleaned-up version of Tintin in America is bizarre; the first version of Tintin in the Congo is just jaw-droppingly repugnant.

#130 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:32 PM:

Christopher B. Wright @127--

If you have not already met them, allow me to introduce you to the Suck Fairy, and her siblings, the Racism Fairy, the Sexism Fairy, and the Homophobia Fairy. Then there's the Message Fairy and the Trope Fairy, and no doubt others among that ilk.

Seeing what they can do to something you loved is pretty grim.

#131 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 02:19 PM:

Richard, #128: The relevance of your first sentence to the topic is unclear to me. Would you mind unpacking that a bit more?

#132 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 02:47 PM:

re 114: Well, the tune means pretty much anything, considering how many different folk texts it was used for, and then we get into the hymns.... Of course one version of the text implies that Derry is part of Ireland.

#133 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Derry is, and always has been, part of Ireland. It's in Northern Ireland politically, and was made part of an administrative unit with London, hence the name Londonderry, which is, of course, a travesty. (The tune of Danny Boy is sometimes called "Londonderry Air," to which I say "Londonderry Air your English butt.")

#134 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:17 PM:

C. Wingate's post @129 resonates with me - the idea of growing up with racist stereotypes all around you but not recognizing them as such because you haven't made the link between them and the real live people they do such injustice to.

It was a very long time before the "art" on the walls of a friend's house - basically, New Orleans nostalgia pieces showing very caricatured black men stirring pots of seafood or blowing trumpets, of the sort you can still buy in just about any Decatur Street souvenir shop although possibly the artwork has been toned down a bit since - had anything to do with my real life friends.

Which makes those posters no less racist, but the racist attitudes informing their creation (and, probably, my friend's parents choice of artwork for their walls) never made it down to me. No one out-and-out said, "This is a representation of how we think about black people," so I didn't grow up viewing anyone through that lens. The idea of doing so would have been as ridiculous to me as seeing women through the lens of cubist portraits, or rabbits through the lens of Bugs Bunny.

It's this weird phenomenon that I take hope from, whenever I despair that racism will ever effing die. All the parents on my block were - and still all - fairly racist, or at the very least held racist views they didn't recognize as such. But they either knew better to say it aloud in front of other people's children, or, in my parents' case, their self-identification of "not-racist" was enough to keep them from saying or agreeing with the outright ugly things that their narrow idea of "racist" covered. Meanwhile, 10-year-old me was going to a school where Racism Is BAD, Mkay? was what was taught, and with more and more sophistication as we got towards high school that I could finally look back and say, "SotS was horrifying! How did I miss that 'slaves and indentured servants are happy and love their Massas' crap? And those posters at my friend's house with the cartoonishly big lips and huge white teeth, what the hell?!"

(And, much later, "Damn, I love this little diner, but it's really painful looking up from my breakfast at all those pictures of caricatured French chefs everywhere...)

A political climate that makes open transmission of racism to the next generation a less-than-comfortable thing to do leads to a next generation that receives a lot less indoctrination in racism, is what I'm saying.

#135 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:20 PM:

Myself, a moment ago:

"It was a very long time before the "art" on the walls of a friend's house...."

There should be an "I realized" between "before" and "the". Obviously I'm not trying to say it was a very long time before the art became racist, but rather before I realized it was.

I think I got distracted by my own parentheticals there.

#136 ::: Matthew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:31 PM:

Xopher@133: That's not entirely accurate, though. The town of Derry was destroyed in 1608 by Cahir O'Doherty, after which a new city was built by the English settlers across the river from the previous site. That new city was named Londonderry because of the financial backing of the City of London's livery companies.

As far as I can tell, everyone continued to call the place Derry until the 1960s when the name became a symbolic focus of the Northern Irish conflict. Even strongly Unionist/Loyalist organizations from the area used "Derry" in their names.

#137 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:36 PM:

Matthew, you do see what I did there, right?

#138 ::: Holli ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:45 PM:

Song of the South has only barely been in theaters within my lifetime, and I don't think I've seen anything but snippets of the animated portions. But I know enough about it to side-eye anyone who thinks it can be enjoyed uncritically; I'm glad the con made the right decision so quickly.

I've definitely heard "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" played on the store soundtrack in a Starbucks within the last year, which was a weird experience. When I commented on it, I got a blank look from the barista, but agreement that it was inappropriate from the person in line behind me, an older black man who knew the context perfectly well.

It shouldn't be surprising how much media is tainted by racism that was perfectly unremarkable at the time, but somehow I keep being startled. The first time I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's was a notable example, as was the time I found a book of Winsor McKay reprints at a thrift store.

#139 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Nichole @134: A political climate that makes open transmission of racism to the next generation a less-than-comfortable thing to do leads to a next generation that receives a lot less indoctrination in racism, is what I'm saying.

I remember strongly a little bit of dialogue from the TV series "True Blood", from two or three seasons ago. A (grown) son was fighting with his really noxious mother, and called her out on all her various and manifest bigotries. He catalogued a host of them from religions to sexuality, and she nodded unphased, but when he said something like "and you don't like black people" she looked anxious and hissed "we don't say that!" or words to that effect. Note that she didn't deny the bigotry, but even she recognized that racial bigotry (unlike, for example, her prejudice against Catholics) was unacceptable to display in public.

I remember commenting to my husband that the tv show portrayed a small step, but a very, very important one that (I think) actually occurs in Real Life: when bigotry (of any sort) becomes socially unacceptible, even bigots won't display bigotry in public... and therefore it's not modelled as strongly for their kids, and the kids grow up less bigotted.

Which is a longwinded way to say "what you said."

#140 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:17 PM:

Hoyt Fortenberry and his horrible mother Maxine, who somehow continues to survive events that have killed off many more deserving characters.

#141 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:42 PM:

Xopher @ 137: at least one person saw what you did there. I did!

#142 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:44 PM:

Thank you, Mongoose. It would be awful to do that whole setup-and-delivery and have no one get it.

#143 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:45 PM:

Me, too, Xopher.

#144 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:47 PM:

I've been talking to a bunch of people about SotS, and I've been noticing something interesting, that's also reflected in some comments in this thread.

Almost everyone I've spoken to who saw the film as a younger kid (10 or under) absorbed similar messages: 1) Uncle Remus is the best, most honorable person in the movie. 2) The way the white adults treat him is terrible. 3) African-american culture is cool and deserves respect.

Even more extreme than that, I've spoken to two people who saw the movie during the 70s re-release, and who consider Song of the South to be one of the pieces of media that taught them not to be afraid of black people.

Now, this is an incredibly skewed sample, comprised primarily of nerds, people in STEM fields, and people from blue states. I'd be interested in hearing if other people had different experiences.

One of the many problematic aspects of the movie is that the bad stuff that happens to Uncle Remus infantilizes him and removes his agency. But by doing that, they created a bunch of situations where younger kids would identify with the way he was being treated, and instinctually process it as wrong.

So far, I haven't spoken to anyone who saw it when they were young and internalized the message "black people were happy during post-war Jim Crow era" over the message "how white adults treat people like Uncle Remus is wrong." And while this is from the admittedly biased sample of "opinions nerds are willing to say out loud or type on the internet," but it's still interesting to think about. It's possible that worries about kids being exposed to this and absorbing all the racist messages don't reflect the reality of how lots of kids process the film... it may be teens and adults we should be more worried about.

#145 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:53 PM:

The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Festival of Music of Ireland, aka the All-Ireland music competitions) just concluded in Derry (Doire). The Irish are pretty sure that County Derry and the Province of Ulster are part of Ireland, just not part of the Republic of Ireland. The city where it was held was officially listed as Derry-Londonderry, and AFAIK, no one threw a fit.

#146 ::: Tracie is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 04:56 PM:

Here, let me get you tea and some cakes. Surely you're famished.

#147 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Xopher, #142: Oh, I caught the shaggy-dog-ness; I was just not altogether certain whether the entire setup was a gag, or if you were using real historical details that just happened to come together appropriately. I also didn't know that "Londonderry Air" was another name for "Oh Danny Boy", and now I do, so I've learned something new today. :-)

Leah, #144: That's fascinating, and I too would like to see more data on the topic -- perhaps even a formal study. I never saw the whole movie that I can remember -- I was too young for the first round of theatrical releases, and too old for the next one -- so I have no data to contribute, even anecdotally.

#148 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Xopher @142, I got it, but only after I said it out loud...

#149 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:32 PM:

It's not so much that "Londonderry Air" is another name for "Danny Boy"; it's more that both songs have the same tune, but different words. I don't think I have ever heard anyone sing the Londonderry Air, whereas I've heard "Danny Boy" no end of times, but I know it has different words because my mother has them printed in an ancient volume called the News Chronicle Song Book. I don't know exactly how old, but it was looking pretty battered even forty-plus years ago when I was a child.

This is pretty common with Irish folk songs; two or even more songs share a tune. I can think of at least one tune shared by three songs: "McCafferty", "The Croppy Boy", and some love song I've only ever heard once but wasn't either of them. Makes it easier to remember the chords, I suppose.

#150 ::: Matthew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:52 PM:

Xopher: Ah! I wondered after I wrote, but didn't think of it before!

#151 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:59 PM:

A few years back, my handbell quartet was asked to play at a wedding. Among the pieces the bride considered was a tune called "O Waly Waly", which I understand has some lovely marriage lyrics written by somebody or other. But I know it as "The Water Is Wide", and to me, it's a song about true love proving to be false.

I'm glad she settled on something else that we already knew; it would have been challenging enough to play that with the minimal rehearsal time we had, much less while trying to keep a straight face....

#152 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 06:21 PM:

If you don't mind indulging my whimsy here, I once came up with a classification system for Irish songs:

1. I am in love.
2. I am in trouble.
3. I am in the IRA (or, alternatively, I am definitely *not* in the IRA).
4. I am inebriated.

This seems to cover most of them, although several fall into more than one category.

#153 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 06:44 PM:

Tunes are named separately from the lyrics sung to them. This is particularly true of hymns and folk tunes, where lyrics can be sung to many tunes and tunes have many sets of lyrics.

This is why that one guy (formerly of the Blind Boys of Alabama) sang Amazing Grace to "House of the Rising Sun" that one time, apparently without realizing it. And has given rise to the late-night convention amusement of "wrong-tuning" where we sing Clementine to "Ode to Joy" and so forth.

And when hymn composers write a new one, they have to give the tune a name. When our church commissioned a hymn, the lyrics were "Too Often God" ("Too often, God, your name is used..."), but the tune is called "Curtiss."

#154 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 06:45 PM:

So, Mongoose, "I'm drowning my sorrows because I fell in love with a girl in the IRA but refused to join, and now they're going to kill me" would cover all the bases?

#155 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 06:56 PM:

The wedding lyrics for O Waly Waly are by Brian Wren, and an older set by William Vaughn Jenkins.

#156 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:08 PM:

Xopher: Is this like the archetypal country song someone once proposed that would begin "It was rainin' the night my Ma got out of prison?"

(Paul Hogan ended a similar endeavor with "...and me dog died.")

#157 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:20 PM:

I thought it was "I wrecked my truck, my dog died, and I just got out of jail."

I used to say that the stereotypical pop song was "Oh, baby, I'm an emotional cripple and parasite, and I need to drain your life away so I can be happy."

#158 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 07:55 PM:

Too often, God, this tune is used
And scansion borrowed clear
So goes the fate of folk songs that
Are popular, I fear

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
But how o'erplayed the tune
Now earworm dire has burrowed deep
In the house of the rising sun.

#159 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 08:03 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little #158: <giggle> "A Filksinger's Lament?"

#160 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:40 PM:

The Fireside Book of Folk Songs has the Londonderry Air in it with words beginning "My gentle harp, once more I waken/The sweetness of thy slumb'ring strain/In tears our last farewell was taken/And now in tears we meet again." Is that "The Londonderry Air," or yet another piece to the same tune?

#161 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 09:53 PM:

I'm still not fully recovered from hearing Garrison Keillor sing "Amazing Grace" to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club theme. "A-M-A! Z-I-N-G! G-R-A-C-E!"

I can't actually hear it any other way in my head now.

#162 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:06 PM:

Xopher, #153: Is that the filk-circle game where you pick a song (preferably in ballad meter) and then everyone takes turns seeing what else they can sing to -- or sometimes shoehorn into -- that tune? (The Barney theme done TTTO "House of the Rising Sun" was particularly memorable.)

#163 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:17 PM:

HelenS, as far as I know "Londonderry Air" is the name of the tune, and if there is ALSO a lyric with that name, I know nothing of it.

Lee, no, but that sure sounds like fun!

#164 ::: Morris Keesan ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 10:44 PM:

I agree with Xopher: "[London]Derry Air" is the name of the tune. The giveaway clue to that is the word "air". When Irish traditional musicians play the tune of a song, without singing the lyrics, they refer to this as the air.

#165 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:10 PM:

I'm waiting for the remake: Quentin Tarantino's Song of the South, starring Samuel L. Jackson.

#166 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 11:33 PM:

Gnawing on a minor point of Dave Bell's -- the Nicholas Brothers generally seemed to be from a different world. They erupt from a more energetic plane, possibly also the native haunt of Cab Calloway. (In, for instance, _Stormy Weather_.) It makes me so happy that they lived long enough to teach some of the Jacksons. Continuity of art!

How strange dancing is going to be now that it doesn't have to transfer only from living body to living body. I don't know if we know yet if it will change faster or more slowly.

#167 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:04 AM:

I'm sure I saw Song of the South as a kid in the late '70s, somehow— I couldn't have been more than 7 or 8. My dad had read me a lot of the Uncle Remus stories— and did a pretty good job of putting them in context, insofar as I could understand that— so I was kind of excited about a whole movie of them. And after about five minutes I had this sinking feeling, like... I wasn't offended exactly, it was just like listening to someone try to tell a joke and they're so obviously telling it wrong, and you just sit there waiting for them to give up.

#168 ::: jennygadget ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:18 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 118

"One aspect of "Dumbo" struck me: the racist representation of black people as jive-taking crows is very condescending...but unionized workers are shown in a positive light at the beginning of the film."

Are you talking about the Roustabout song? Because if so, NO. I don't consider lyrics like "We never learned to read or write" or "When we get our pay, we throw our money all away" to be "positive" portrayals of anyone. (Also, the Roustabouts don't really seem unionized to me.)

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:56 AM:

I also saw SofS in the 1970s re-release.

I was a tween, I guess. I remember wondering exactly what station in life the black folks in the film occupied. Was this the South before the war? That seemed a trifle repugnant to me; I felt a little relieved when Uncle Remus announced his decision to leave, which suggested he wasn't property.

The cartoon segments didn't impress me, as I recall.

#170 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:16 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ 165... Me, I'm waiting for del Toro's "Song of the South Pacific Rim", starring Idris Elba.

#171 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:25 AM:

jennygadget @168: The story I'd heard was there was a bitter strike at Disney studios during the production of Dumbo. A lot of animators worked at the studio through the lean years of the war, and rightly felt they were owed something in return when the studio began to prosper again following the war.

Supposedly some of the clowns in Dumbo are based on the union leaders. There is a bit of dialog where the clowns are talking about the success of the new act, and resolve "Let's hit the boss up for more money!"

#172 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:41 AM:

Wiki's entry for Joel Chandler Harris indicates he was a supporter of racial reconciliation post-Civil War. After "Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings" was published in 1880 he apparently didn't like the publicity: Of the press and attention Walter Hines Page noted, "Joe Harris does not appreciate Joel Chandler Harris." Page was a contemporary of Harris, a journalist and diplomat who served as ambassador to the UK during The Great War.

#173 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:13 AM:

Serge @170

The movie never quite makes clear what those US Navy ratings are doing when they are not dancing and singing, but there are other clues that a flying-boat squadron are based there, so you could certainly map "There is Nothing Like a Dame" onto the base personnel of Pacific Rim. It might fall apart pretty quickly, the USN and other military forces have changed a lot since the days when the only work for women was as nurses and office clerks.

Here in Britain, at the exact same time, women were in all three armed services, manning AA batteries, fixing aircraft, and loading ammunition on warships.

They were doing a lot of stuff in industry as well, and it's been argued that one of the weaknesses of the Nazi system was their blind spot on what women could do. Britain mobilised the whole population. Germany, for much of the war, only mobilised half.

And the USA had something of the same sort of weakness over the blacks. They were doing vital work in such areas as transport, but the segregation was there, despite their exemplary history of combat service.

There is a certain sort of political person who might, when push comes to shove, suppress their bigotry, but they soon forget what happened. We have seen it here in Britain, when, not so long ago, a Sikh appeared in the Guards, taking his ceremonial post outside Buckingham Palace.

The usual suspects started wailing.

#174 ::: Phlop ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:40 AM:

Dave Bell @170: It may just be because of what's on my shopping list, but the image of women manning AA batteries took a few moments to sort itself out properly in my head.

#175 ::: Phlop ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:41 AM:

And for 170, read 173. Adds working brain to shopping list.

#176 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:16 AM:

Xopher @ 154: very much so! I never did find an actual song which fitted all four categories, but I did manage one which fitted three, this being "Bold Robert Emmett". (Robert Emmett is a rebel who is in jail and about to be executed, and he insists on seeing his sweetheart. The song doesn't say whether or not he gets his wish.)

Nicole @ 158: *applause*

HelenS @ 160: that doesn't sound as though it would scan naturally. I can see how the words could be fitted to the tune (you'd have to repeat certain phrases), but they clearly weren't written for it. The words my mother has begin "In Derry vale...", but I can't remember any more apart from one reference to "the Foyle's dark waters" which may be in the second verse. Not a lot, but I am reaching forty years back here.

Phlop @ 174: you're not the only person who did a double take over the AA batteries. Now I have an amusing mental image to take shopping with me, which is excellent, because I hate shopping with a passion.

#177 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 06:54 AM:

Mongoose @176: Those lyrics are, unsurprisingly, called "In Derry Vale". They were written by W. G. Rothery so that the melody could have a set of lyrics that were actually about Derry, but post-date the Air itself by some considerable period.

#178 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:23 AM:

Another thing to note: although the Air itself is very definitely a traditional Irish melody, the lyrics to Danny Boy equally definitely are not -- they were written in 1910 by Frederic Weatherly, an Englishman who never set foot in Ireland in his life, and were subsequently modified to fit the Air after his sister-in-law sent him a copy.

#179 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:47 AM:

Dave: thank you for both of those. *squirrels facts away in memory*

#180 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:13 AM:

As for the AA batteries, there are AAA batteries too.

In the WW2 defence of Great Britain the official line was that the soldiers who actually pulled the trigger were men. but since the Royal Artillery makes a point of gun crews being trained to do all the jobs involved in firing the gun I think the division is pretty thin. If Bombardier Bert was slow getting to his post, nobody would wait for his official trigger finger.

And the way that this stuff worked, with women tracking the target and operating the predictor, they had more to do with hitting the target than anything Bombardier Bert was doing at the gun.

#181 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:23 AM:

re 118/168: Waiddaminnit, there's a turn of phrase here which indicates something interesting going on. Bruce, you referred to "the racist representation of black people as jive-taking crows"; but within the context of the movie story, it's actually the depiction of crows as talking like jive-talking black people. So if you don't know about calling black people "crows" and don't understand that this is a imitation of how black people are stereotypically supposed to talk and act, is it still racist? After all, in the context of the story, the crows are the good guys; only Dumbo's mother and the Timothy (the mouse) are put in a more positive light in their relationship to Dumbo. I'm sure that for my youngest they're just funny-talking, happy-go-lucky, well, crows. Which I expect does nothing to take the curse off SotS's live sequences.....

#182 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:25 AM:

I have to say one thing though: even I am old enough to get a very strange reading out of the casting of Jud Fry as a black fellow in an otherwise white cast.

#183 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:58 AM:

C. Wingate, 181: Yes. Because I can assure you that Blacks haven't forgotten.

#184 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:59 AM:

C. Wingate, 181: Yes. Because I can assure you that Blacks haven't forgotten.

#185 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:00 AM:

A double-post of a kind I've never seen before: a "file not found" with a long string of gibberish in the URL.

#186 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:27 AM:

Dave @173

Did the Sikh Guard at Buckingham Palace wear a bearskin turban?

#187 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:45 AM:

The way I see the crow sequence in Dumbo it's a white guy who goes on a bender and wakes up in Harlem, and the locals' reaction to him ("What are you doing way up here?").

Charlie #182:

Are you talking about a performance of Oklahoma? That's certainly an ... interesting ... casting choice.

#188 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 11:14 AM:

TexAnne, this comes across to me as a resolve to make sure that this material stays offensive forever. After all, what you say isn't literally true: I'm quite certain that my youngest son's black classmates cannot remember, because they cannot even be taught it. And therefore, if it cease being taught, is that meaning lost? Can the Dumbo crows ever be just crows? Or to go a step further, speaking of "just crows": there's a bunch of crows in one of the "Little Bear" videos, who do what crows do: they show up and good-naturely decide to eat the corn growing in Mother Bear's garden. Minarik and Sendak were from Denmark and Brooklyn, respectively; Little Bear lives up in some vague north land. Are these crows racist?

Mind you, I'm not saying this to deny the reality of Texas now. But I don't live in Texas, or anywhere else in the real south, and like my father I am possessed of a certain resolution never to do so. Really, even Charles County Maryland is too far south for me. And there is unquestionably a lot of racism about blacks around here, but it certainly doesn't look like a bunch of crows out for a good-time stroll.

I'm too young to remember Jim Crow; my first memories of race as an issue are of the riots in DC after MLK's assassination. So I can only remember about it; I can't ever remember it. I also sit in a cultural crack in white people so as to be intensely aware of white cultural stereotypes, so that the part of The Princess and the Frog that shocked me was the way they got away with the manifestly crude Deliverance-like depiction of the bayou-dwelling white hicks. So I'm always wondering, are we ever going to let go of this stuff?

And mind you, I'm not absolutely disagreeing with you. It's just that I come to this looking at it as some sort of alien culture. Or to put it in another perspective: even knowing the history, even knowing that the crows speaking in a deep south black patois, I think I must have seen the movie about ten times before I made the connection between "crows" and "Jim Crow". Maybe I'm being too optimistic about this, but I think it is possible to strip away the negative connotations, at least some of the time.

#189 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 11:22 AM:

Jennygadget@168: Are you talking about the Roustabout song? Because if so, NO. I don't consider lyrics like "We never learned to read or write" or "When we get our pay, we throw our money all away" to be "positive" portrayals of anyone.

I've always considered that the roustabouts' song in Dumbo was meant to be read as deeply ironic, because the style of the artwork accompanying it is very Soviet-realism in nature, in distinct contrast to the style of the rest of the movie.

(Of course, the problem with deep irony that relies upon an awareness of some other country's political artwork is that a lot of people aren't going to pick up on it. But then, a lot of people just aren't good with irony, period -- there's always somebody in the English Lit class who misses the point of Swift's A Modest Proposal.)

Dave Bell@173: ...the USN and other military forces have changed a lot since the days when the only work for women was as nurses and office clerks.

Well, not quite the only work . . . otherwise, my mother wouldn't have been doing things like working on repairing B-1 bombers during her days in the WAAF.

#190 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 11:23 AM:

re 187: Yep, at my son's high school they did Oklahoma where the only black in a named role played Jud. (I think there were a couple of black cowboys or farmers too.) They had done some interesting color/gender-blind casting before; it was either earlier that your or the year just before in which they did Hamlet in which Polonius was played by a black girl and Hamlet switched halfway through from being a blood white guy to a brunette gal. But for someone my age who grew up on the old movies putting a black guy in as Jud changed the complexion of the Jud-Curly relationship a LOT, and mind you, Curly's bullying is for me personally already a problem in allowing me to sympathize with him. They also mounted a completely full production (including the ballet; they had an enormous reservoir of talent to draw on in those days), so we got Jud's song about being alone in his room, which again takes on a completely different character. At least they didn't cast one of the Middle Eastern kids as Ali Hakim.

#191 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 11:31 AM:

C Wingate @188:
So I'm always wondering, are we ever going to let go of this stuff?

Yes, probably, but (a) not in your lifetime, or mine, and (b) not at any time that you or I can choose.

The people who get to say when the issue is done are the people who are being hurt by it. Jim Crow is still in living memory. And the damage being done to African Americans by people who want that time back is happening now, in today's America. I think it's a little soon for us to pretend that this stuff is history. It's not history to everyone yet; it's still real life to your fellow human beings (and fellow Americans), even if you don't happen to live near them.

By way of counterexample, the term "Irish confetti" is now so meaningless as to require a footnote*. "Getting one's Irish up" is nearly there. But that's over a century and a half from the vast migration of the Irish to America during the Potato Famine. I learned those terms in books, though my maiden name is Foley.

The phrase "going Dutch" is pretty well OK now; "Double Dutch" is inoffensive, and "If that's true, then I'm a Dutchman" is quaint. But the wars that coined those phrases were in the 17th and 18th centuries, and now I have to explain them to my Dutch friends.

When African American children all over the country turn to their parents and say, "What's Jim Crow? I read about it in my history book," and the parents say, "Beats me. Let's look it up," we can start to call time on this stuff. People, and peoples, heal in the time it takes them to heal.

Also, caring that they're in pain speeds the healing process. Being visibly careful does too. Saying, "are we done yet? Surely we're done now", not so much.

-----
* It's a brick

#192 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:17 PM:

The Air from County Derry (an early title for The Londonderry Air) is an air; that is to say, it is a tune, without words. Airs and tunes may also have words set to them, but if performed without words, they are not songs. Danny Boy is a song, words sung to a tune or air. Something that amuses Irish traditional musicians is how Americans, and American performers of Irish traditional music specifically, refer to [dance] tunes as songs.

I am not too proud to play Danny Boy. The tune is beautiful and the words are emotionally affecting. Sure, it's been done nearly to death, but no matter -- it's the song they cannot kill. And I never know why someone requests it. It could be the only vaguely Irish thing they know. More often, it's because they're 89 or 69 years old and all their old Army buddies have passed away, or their brother is a firefighter, or their daughter is stationed in Afghanistan. I could never be too proud to play it.

#193 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:20 PM:

That is an amazing interpretation of Oklahoma. I've often thought similar casting should be done with Jay Gatsby. Boy howdy, does that change the stories around.

#195 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:31 PM:

C. Wingate, 188: Fragano posted IN THIS THREAD. Twitter was ablaze with fury. I congratulate you on your purity, but some of us live in the real world.

#196 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Jim @ 187:
That's exactly my reading of that scene in Dumbo too - "What are *you* two guys doing up *here*?" - but of course it didn't occur to me until I saw the film in my 30s (as a parent.)

#197 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:40 PM:

It's practically an Onion headline. Can't We Just Let Go of Worrying About Racism, Comfortable White Guy Asks.

#198 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:50 PM:

And by the way, he said, I too am descended (on both sides!) from Appalachians who meet most of the criteria for being called "hillbillies." Including some first-cousin marriages. (More than I knew when I wrote that post.) So I've also had occasion to flinch at certain stereotypes in pop culture.

It's not the same. People in 2013 don't look at me and immediately register that my North American ancestors were subsistence farmers and hill people.

#199 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:52 PM:

C. Wingate #188: I spend a lot of time telling my students that things have got better over the past half-century. Then I read a posting like yours and I wonder why I bother. The crows in Dumbo aren't "just crows". There's a reason why my father wouldn't let me or my brothers watch The Black and White Minstrel Show* when I was a child. Sometimes, as Randall Garrett more or less wrote, the symbol is the thing itself.

One day such depictions will be confined to their proper place, which is in a museum, and people will go and gape in wonder at how their ancestors could have been so cruel and could have used their talents in ways that were so belittling to their fellow humans. Docents will explain to shocked youngsters the nature of a system in which humans were divided into what the wise LeGuin called pseudo-species so that the many could fight each other for the benefit of the few. And the world will be a better place. Sadly, we are not there yet. We won't get there by calling for people to stop paying attention to manifestations of racism (or sexism, or anti-Semitism, or homophobia, or transphobia, or any other means by which one kind of human is made to hate others).

* Lenny Henry's subversive use of it as his route to stardom is a thing of wonder, but it's a story of a different kind.

#200 ::: Fragano Ledgister is a babe in Gnomeland ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 12:53 PM:

I'm all out of goodies for their Gnomish Lownesses, but if the wish were father to the thought I'd gift them a nice big mug of my favourite tisane.

#201 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:00 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 157:
I used to say that the stereotypical pop song was "Oh, baby, I'm an emotional cripple and parasite, and I need to drain your life away so I can be happy."

No, it's "I'm an emotional cripple and parasite, and I need to drain your life away so I can be happy -- now doesn't that turn you on?"

#202 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:06 PM:

TexAnne, Texas is not the limits of the real world, much as it would like to think otherwise. And sure as hell is better than living in Texas (at least if you believe the old general) I do not want living here to be like living in Texas. And living here is not like living in Texas, even though hyperdiverse eastern Montgomery County is still in its way a very racist place.

Here's how I read what you're telling me about my life: that I have to be saddled with the asshole white south forever, and all its consequents, not only because people like them won't let it go, but because people like you won't let it go. I started this subthread with the observation that, in the movie itself, the crows are just crows, and that the interpretation as something else comes from outside; and your response as I hear it is, "and I'm going to do my best to make sure that this interpretation gets smeared on there forever and that it is never forgotten." I'm hoping for things to improve, and you reaction reads to me as "not if I can help it."

I am not in the least trying to be one of those apologists who wants to say that the old racism is gone. Good God, I would never want to live in such a place. But what I've been trying to say here is that even for one as old as I (I'm flipping 53, for heaven's sake) it's already something of an alien thing. My sense is that for my children it is even more so; they have nothing to go by except book words. In this I see hope that one day they'll be, maybe for everyone, just a bunch of dialect-talking crows.

My father escaped from Charlotte, and maybe you can escape from Texas. It's not the real world that the rest of us are stuck in the deep south forever; indeed, a few of us never lived there at all.

#203 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Debra Doyle @ 189... One of my fondest memories of waiting in line for San Francisco's premiere of Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing" happened when an uncouth person decided to double-park in front of the theater. A British old lady in front of my wife and I made a comment about wishing she had a hammer so that she could break each and every lights of the car. After getting into a chat with her, I learned she'd been a gas-warfare instructor during WW2.

#204 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:11 PM:

C. Wingate, 202: Rather than make Abi have to disemvowel me, I'm going to say that this comment is one of the rudest pieces of condescension I have ever seen directed to me, and move out of the conversation...

...after I point out that FRAGANO POSTED AGAIN, TWO COMMENTS ABOVE YOU. Are you interested in learning, or merely scoring points off the poor ignorant racist Texan?

#205 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Looking back up the thread, I see Xopher (at #133) saying that the Irish city of Derry was at some point "made part of an administrative unit with London," hence the name-change to Londonderry.

I know that it's a fought-over place name, with Unionists insisting it should be forever Londonderry and others wanting it officially changed back to Derry. But I don't find anything in a cursory web search about the place being "made part of an administrative unit with London," unless you mean the really big "administrative unit" called various names with the word "kingdom" in them. Clarify?

#206 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Okay, reading more of the thread, I realize that Xopher's post was a joke of some sort, although I still don't get how the "administrative unit" part was necessary for the "derreire" pun. Never mind...

#207 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:21 PM:

C. Wingate, #188: So I'm always wondering, are we ever going to let go of this stuff?

The letting-go by black people will happen a lot faster when white people let go of it. Or have you not been noticing that overt, vicious anti-black racism is fashionable again? I live in a state where Confederacy-worship is not only common but completely socially acceptable, and where the state legislature has seized the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act to implement restrictions specifically designed to prevent the urban poor* from voting (thereby proving that the Supreme Court was dead wrong about that clause being "no longer necessary"). And I'm sure there are a lot of other white people here who are equally appalled by this shit, but those assholes keep getting elected. So no, WE haven't let go of it yet, and it's therefore unfair (and a racist thing to say in and of itself) to ask black people to do so.

Dave B., #194: Fascinating, and thank you for posting that link. However, based on the pictures in the article, I would not have called that a "luxuriant beard"** -- perhaps the term was intended as contrast with his clean-shaven compatriots. I was aware that Sikhs are not supposed to shave; is there an exception made for beard-trimming?


* This is the latest dog-whistle for "fuckin' n*****s and s***s". The fact that some white trash is going to get caught in the same net is merely lagniappe; everyone knows what the actual targets are.

** This is what I think of as a "luxuriant beard".

#208 ::: Lee, be-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:22 PM:

Probably for an odd-looking link. I have some plumcots, if Their Lownesses are interested...

#209 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:33 PM:

C Wingate @202:

Texas is not the limits of the real world, much as it would like to think otherwise. And sure as hell is better than living in Texas (at least if you believe the old general) I do not want living here to be like living in Texas. And living here is not like living in Texas, even though hyperdiverse eastern Montgomery County is still in its way a very racist place.

Nevertheless, Texas is in the real world, and people from Texas are all around us. As are people from many other places that are also not as far out of our racist past as we would all like them to be.

Some of them are going to meet your children. Some of them are going to meet you. And will the reception they get, if they trust you enough to talk about the difficulties they've faced, be "that was a long time ago and in a different place. Surely you can get over it."

Because there are people from there, and places like there, in this thread right now, and that's what you're saying to them.

Here's how I read what you're telling me about my life

Dude. This is not about you. This is about other people. Maybe show some evidence of that, if you don't want to look like a self-centered jerk.

that I have to be saddled with the asshole white south forever, and all its consequents, not only because people like them won't let it go, but because people like you won't let it go.

The people who are really saddled with the asshole white south are the people watching the VRA be rolled back, listening to their parents talk about George Wallace and their grandparents grieve about lynchings, and looking at their sons and wondering how to protect them from being shot or jailed.

You have to miss out on a movie. Or watch it and think about its implications, instead of just watching it and chewing popcorn. Or not, and be thought poorly of. None of those fates is really that bad.

I started this subthread with the observation that, in the movie itself, the crows are just crows, and that the interpretation as something else comes from outside

Bullshit. It's baked in there. The dialect alone proves it.

and your response as I hear it is, "and I'm going to do my best to make sure that this interpretation gets smeared on there forever and that it is never forgotten." I'm hoping for things to improve, and you reaction reads to me as "not if I can help it."

Double bullshit with bullshit sauce. TexAnne, Fragano, Patrick and I have all said, "We'd love for it to be better. But it isn't yet."

I am not in the least trying to be one of those apologists who wants to say that the old racism is gone.

Well, congratulations on your effortless success, then.

Good God, I would never want to live in such a place.

There are plenty of parts of Texas that are quite pleasant. And plenty of parts of not-Texas that are horrifically racist. And many parts of Texas and not-Texas that, while not horrifically racist, are still not OK. And people come from both Texas and not-Texas to other places bringing their histories with them, and interact with people on the basis of those histories.

But what I've been trying to say here is that even for one as old as I (I'm flipping 53, for heaven's sake) it's already something of an alien thing. My sense is that for my children it is even more so; they have nothing to go by except book words. In this I see hope that one day they'll be, maybe for everyone, just a bunch of dialect-talking crows.

We all hope that. But what we hope for and what is real are not, alas, the same. It may be alien to you. Yay. But it's not alien to people you will meet in your life, and it wouldn't kill you (or even damage you!) to be sensitive to that.

My father escaped from Charlotte, and maybe you can escape from Texas. It's not the real world that the rest of us are stuck in the deep south forever; indeed, a few of us never lived there at all.

And yet, despite that, we're still living in a society where it really sucks to be black. Maybe it's more complicated than "I'm not in Texas so this isn't a problem."

Do better, please.

#210 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:35 PM:

Dave 177-8: Aren't the Danny Boy lyrics about the Potato Famine? I'm surprised they're that late.

Also, IIUC the Derry Air (tune) is the oldest known tune in Western Europe (more because of the difficulty of dating tunes generally, I suspect).

Patrick 205: Hmm. I read that somewhere that I now can't find. Probably it's wrong. What I recall is that it was made officially part of London, but I can't find any reference to that now.

#211 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:39 PM:

Fragano, to my son, the crows are just crows. It is impossible for anyone to make it any other way; he is incapable of having the racial interpretation imparted to him. You don't know him well enough to offer a contrary opinion in the matter.

And I'm beginning to wonder about the communication issues in this discussion as well. You and TexAnne seem to be taking the tack that, of course someone like myself ought to understand this. What I'm saying is, no, I don't understand it, because it's alien to my experience. My interpretation of the difference is a sense of hope that at least some of these things can lose their meanings, while yours seems to be that I am an invalid or incompetent or dishonest interpreter of my own life experience, or that I'm some sort of mutant irrelevant to normal human life, because I don't draw the necessary adverse conclusion. And as I am tending to assume that you and TexAnne are somewhat older than I am, it reads to me as saying because I am of the wrong age and place, my observations are summarily dismissable because you know my life better than I do. You ought to accept my experience in this for what it is instead of attacking me for having it, and saying that "what it is is irrelevant and worthless" does not come across as a great deal of respect for me as a unique human being.

#212 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Lee 207: IIUC Sikh men are not supposed to cut their hair or beards at all, ever. The turbans are mostly hair, and I've occasionally seen older Sikh men with their beards and mustaches looped around and up into the turban.

#213 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:53 PM:

abi @ 809... people from Texas are all around us

"Listen to me! Please listen! If you don't, if you won't, if you fail to understand, then the same incredible terror that's menacing me WILL STRIKE AT YOU!"

It sounds better in Kevin Mccarthy's voice.
:-)

#214 ::: Doug Hudson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:55 PM:

C. Wingate @211, that "I don't understand it?" That's called privilege.

And complaining that YOU are the one being oppressed, because you don't want to acknowledge that the crows in Dumbo are racist?

That's called digging your hole deeper.

#215 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 01:58 PM:

How to tell the crows aren't just crows: Real crows don't talk, or wear spats, or smoke cigars, or sing and dance.

The reason beast fables exist is that the beasts aren't just beasts, whether they're a fox who wants some grapes or a crow who ain't never seen an elephant fly.

#216 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:01 PM:

Xopher #210

I'd been under the impression that "Deck the Halls" was the oldest known tune in western Europe.

#217 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:03 PM:

C Wingate @211:
[Fragano] and TexAnne seem to be taking the tack that, of course someone like myself ought to understand this. What I'm saying is, no, I don't understand it, because it's alien to my experience.

Many things are alien to our experience. The appropriate thing to do when that occurs is listen to the experiences of others, not simply steamroller on as though we are the arbiters of all that is.

Have you ever been to China? Have you walked along the Great Wall, and leaned on the parapet to look out over the landscape? Odds are you haven't. Do you still believe that there is a Great Wall? My bet is that you do.

My interpretation of the difference is a sense of hope that at least some of these things can lose their meanings, while yours seems to be that I am an invalid or incompetent or dishonest interpreter of my own life experience, or that I'm some sort of mutant irrelevant to normal human life, because I don't draw the necessary adverse conclusion.

No one here has denied that these things can lose their meaning. And I would say that Fragano @199 has expressed a pretty damn strong amount of hope. But you're the only one who asserts that they have, because you haven't personally experienced things that cause you to understand that they do, indeed, still hurt other people.

And as I am tending to assume that you and TexAnne are somewhat older than I am, it reads to me as saying because I am of the wrong age and place, my observations are summarily dismissable because you know my life better than I do.

I know TexAnne is not older than you are. I don't know about Fragano. You're a decade older than me, however.

And although you have your life and your observations, you don't see everything. You're white. There's a whole load of crap that you don't experience as a result. (I don't either. But I'm female, and I've quoted some of the crap I get, and had male friends do a classic jawdrop that this happens to human beings in this day and age. And, given that, I know to listen to people who have other experiences than I do.)

You ought to accept my experience in this for what it is instead of attacking me for having it, and saying that "what it is is irrelevant and worthless" does not come across as a great deal of respect for me as a unique human being.

Your experience is your experience. But you're trying to say that something isn't there because you don't see it. In doing so, you're denying the experience —and failing to respect—other people.

And, bluntly, you're used to being able to do that. Lucky you. I have some ideas why that is, but you won't like them.

But that doesn't make you right.

#218 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Actually, TexAnne is quite younger, and she looks like Fanny Ardant.

#219 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Glenn, #193: Very much so, and it's now been added to my list for a hypothetical "season of subversive theater". The other 2 current entries are: (1) "The Story of Ruth" in a mid-1800s setting, with Ruth being cast as black; (2) "The Taming of the Shrew" done straight instead of comedy.

C. Wingate, #202: Holy crap. Did you not read ANY of the other responses posted to you?

Whether you like it or not, Texas (and the rest of the Deep South as well, where things are no better and sometimes worse) IS part of the world you live in. You can't just brush it off because, "Oh, well, it's not like that around HERE." And what I hear you saying in this post is that the real-life experiences of People Who Are Not You don't count. (Nor would this be the first time; you are repeatedly amazingly tone-deaf to issues arising from any kind of privilege.) I think this is an appropriate place to remind you of the First Rule of Holes.

#220 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:09 PM:

C. Wingate, I am 45.

I am not attacking you for having a different experience. I am attacking you for being unwilling to acknowledge that my experience is real. (Or, pre-disemvoweled for the moderators' convenience, "bng a smg sshl.") You are as pure as the driven snow! Hurray for you! Now stop bothering me while I'm washing the dirt off. Just because *you* don't need soap doesn't mean *nobody* does.

And for your information, the most overt face-to-face racism I've experienced in decades was in Boston, one month ago: a cabbie told me that an apartment I was looking at was "unsafe, you know, it's too close to the black part of town." The guy said it in the same tone of voice he used for "yeah, it snows a lot."

#221 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:11 PM:

Before Charlton Heston made it into movies, he worked on the stage, and was in a production of "Romeo & Juliet" done along racial lines, opposite his buddy Brock Peters.

#222 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Also, C. Wingate, we're not attacking you. We are calmly telling you what is wrong with your premises. Nobody here has used strong language, except for me, and I disemvoweled myself. I bet you feel like a martyr at the bottom of a pile-on! But I ask you to consider the possibility that maybe you're just wrong.

#223 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:23 PM:

TexAnne @222:
Nobody here has used strong language, except for me, and I disemvoweled myself.

Well, I did use "bullshit" three times, "crap" twice, and "damn" once. And "jerk", but that was as in, "look like one".

I bet you feel like a martyr at the bottom of a pile-on! But I ask you to consider the possibility that maybe you're just wrong.

Yes, please do, Mr Wingate. And it's not the end of the world if you are wrong. It's the first step to becoming right, and knowing the world better. Even if in this case it means knowing that things are worse than you'd hoped they were.

#224 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:24 PM:

Abi, when you talk about the dialect, here's the reaction I get: around here you get black people who talk like "black people", and you get black people who speak like white people, and you get black people who speak like Africans and Trinidadians; and if you watch enough PBS you will eventually run across a black person with an Oxbridge accent. And when you say, "it's the dialect", my reaction is, "so you're saying that there's going to be a problem until everybody starts talking like (California) white people?" You do know that in these parts someone with a deep south or Texas accent is an ignorant hick, right? My father determinedly ground off his accent to the degree that there are only a few of his mannerisms that betray that he comes from an older south. Do you really want to be saying that the way forward is for black people to shuck off their reviled subculture and start acting more like white people? If the dialect is the problem, then that's the only way forward: getting rid of it.

#225 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Abi, TexAnne, C.Wingate (et.al.)

Your discussion reminds me of this post by John Scalzi http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

#226 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:34 PM:

TexAnne, I experience it as an attack, and I don't care about the lack of pejoratives. You imply that my experience is worthless and that what I see around me isn't there, and I don't see how that isn't an attack. Of course, since my experience apparently doesn't count, the fact that I experience the interaction as an attack doesn't count either.

Really, my point in this was the expression of a hope that, because I feel things getting better, that things might get better. And you and several other people proceeded to shit all over that hope by dismissing my life as irrelevant. Could you at least try to see that?

#227 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:36 PM:

But, you know, just to play along with this a bit: since you're saying your disagreeing with my premises, can you spell out what you think they are? It feel to me as though these "premises" are nothing but your prejudices about me.

#228 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:39 PM:

Scalzi know nothing of the five straight years of my life where I expected to get verbally or physically abused at least five out of every seven days of the week, so he can bloody well f*ck off about the difficulty of my life.

#229 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:40 PM:

C Wingate @224:
Abi, when you talk about the dialect, here's the reaction I get: around here you get black people who talk like "black people", and you get black people who speak like white people, and you get black people who speak like Africans and Trinidadians; and if you watch enough PBS you will eventually run across a black person with an Oxbridge accent. And when you say, "it's the dialect", my reaction is, "so you're saying that there's going to be a problem until everybody starts talking like (California) white people?" You do know that in these parts someone with a deep south or Texas accent is an ignorant hick, right? My father determinedly ground off his accent to the degree that there are only a few of his mannerisms that betray that he comes from an older south. Do you really want to be saying that the way forward is for black people to shuck off their reviled subculture and start acting more like white people? If the dialect is the problem, then that's the only way forward: getting rid of it.

No, there will be a problem until being black is not a problem. If all black people used the Queen's English, complete with whom and the subjunctive in all the right places, guess what accent and diction would become deprecated?

Basically, you can't divorce the dialect from its associations and analyze it in the abstract. References and stereotypes don't work like that.

Also, I note that your father was able to shed his family history by adjusting his speech patterns. While that's harder than not having a deprecated family history, I also note that, as Patrick said above, [p]eople in 2013 don't look at me and immediately register that my North American ancestors were subsistence farmers and hill people. Blacks don't have that out.

#230 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:49 PM:

About 20 years ago in Texas (west Texas, where my parents and I were living at the time) there were people who felt that a Hispanic nurse shouldn't have been able to buy a house without also being a drug dealer. (This was in a city with the only big hospital for fifty miles in any direction. And a lot of Hispanics.)
I am not at all surprised by the voting laws being passed in Texas. I wish I were.

#231 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:50 PM:

"Scalzi knows nothing of the five straight years of my life where I expected to get verbally or physically abused at least five out of every seven days of the week, so he can bloody well f*ck off about the difficulty of my life."

Many of the straight white guys hereabouts had similar patches in our childhood. It sucks. And yet in adulthood we have no trouble whatsoever recognizing the truth of Scalzi's observation.

It's not how you feel about it; it's about how the world works.

#232 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:50 PM:

I don't know what the oldest known tune in Western Europe is, but I would hazard a guess at "The Armed Man". I do know exactly who I can ask, though, and I'll go off and do that, because you've got me curious.

About the racism thing. This is not something I enjoy talking about, but I think I should say something here. I'm not American. In this country, we do unfortunately still have racism, but it is not baked in the way it is in the USA, because we've never had a wholesale culture of slavery here. (As a nation, we're as guilty as hell for setting up that culture in the USA, but that's not quite what I'm talking about. British slave traders went to Africa, collected slaves, sold them in the USA, bought sugar and tobacco, and came home. Very few slaves were brought back to the UK.)

Not being American, then, there's an awful lot I don't know and don't understand. I can't fully get a handle on why so many Americans oppose President Obama simply because of his race, rather than his policies. I'm not familiar with a lot of the vocabulary of American racism. I have no idea who Jim Crow was. But, on the other hand, if I see that someone is upset, offended, or otherwise ruffled by something, I make a mental note to avoid it. I don't have to know who Jim Crow was to be aware that it's racist, and if I mention it (him?) I'm going to upset American people of colour. It's exactly the same as not talking about drowning in front of someone who had a close relative who drowned. It's just tact; if you know something's likely to rough up the conversation, you keep off the subject, unless there is some very good reason for talking about it that is agreed by all parties.

Right - off to find out about that tune. I'm not sure how long it will take my contact to reply, because he's a busy chap, but I'll let you know as soon as he does.

#233 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:51 PM:

abi @ 229

If all black people used the Queen's English, complete with whom and the subjunctive in all the right places, guess what accent and diction would become deprecated?

Right. I agree with that.

But in that world, the crows in Dumbo wouldn't be identifiably black people.

It would be like listening to my father's joke skits in Cruzan. I can't tell which are the black people, and which the white--they all sound like Cruzans. Were I myself from St Croix, the distinction would be glaringly obvious. (I'm told that non-American English speakers have the same issue with Southerners--black and white Southerners are immediately distinct to my ear, but they both sound like Southerners to most Indians.)

#234 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:52 PM:

C. Wingate, let me tell you something that all good moderators know:

Users who say they're "colorblind as far as race is concerned" are always white. That's because nonwhites don't get to pretend that racism is no longer an issue. They know better.

If you -- a white guy -- pretend racism isn't still a problem, and make decisions and take actions based on that belief, nothing very bad will happen to you. But if nonwhites do that, it won't take long for the world to forcibly remind them otherwise.

Have you ever read John Scalzi's piece on what it means to be poor? What you're doing is the equivalent of lecturing people like that about how they shouldn't spend all their time worrying about money because our society is too materialistic.

I'm getting the impression that you enjoy the privilege of getting to pretend that racism isn't a problem, because you're complaining that you're not being allowed to do so in comfort.

We'll know it's time to put all that behind us when the nonwhites in our community tell us that racism is no longer a problem. Until then, you may assume that racial issues are still with us, and that people who aren't you are actively suffering as a result.

While we're on the subject, here's another thing good moderators know: you can reasonably assume that anyone who replies to an argument about hate speech with "I'm a First Amendment absolutist" is white, male, straight, has no major health or disability issues, and has never had occasion to doubt their membership in or access to affluent, educated mainstream society.

For them, First-Amendment absolutism means people should be able to use any words they want without risk of disapproval or other social penalty. They think that's a good idea because there are no words for people like them that are the equivalent of The Four Words You Can't Say on Sites I Moderate. For people who don't share their privilege, the effect of those words falls somewhere between "uncomfortable" and "a standing threat." They may stick around in a venue where those words are being used, but they will never be certain of their welcome.

Think of Song of the South as one single very big, very complicated word that has unmistakable overtones. I don't think it's a lot to ask that casual racism not be an accepted or unexamined feature of our discourse.

#235 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:53 PM:

C Wingate @226:
my point in this was the expression of a hope that, because I feel things getting better, that things might get better. And you and several other people proceeded to shit all over that hope by dismissing my life as irrelevant. Could you at least try to see that?

That was not the point that you expressed. What you have said, repeatedly, in many ways, is that because you don't see racism, you don't have to believe it's real. Then, when other people have said that your experience may not be fully descriptive of the world, you complain that they're disrespecting you.

An actual black person on this thread has said that that is not accurate. An actual person from Texas has pointed out that the problem is wider than Texas, and used an actual example from her real life outwith Texas.

They, and I, and Patrick, have also repeatedly and fervently expressed the hope that one day we will be beyond this. But we have all acknowledged that we are not beyond it yet. And your reaction is that we're shitting all over you because we don't agree that the problem is solved. As though our hope, and the various kinds of work we've done on the topic, mean nothing.

It's rather like me expressing my opinions about brain surgery or calculus (subjects about which I have very little knowledge), and then becoming increasingly pissed off when actual brain surgeons or calculus professors, or even just people who have read a few books on the subject, tell me that those opinions are wrong.

I'm sorry that you feel hurt and sidelined. But you said things that are not only not true, but that erase other people's more directly relevant experience.

#236 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:58 PM:

SamChevre @233:
But in that world, the crows in Dumbo wouldn't be identifiably black people.

Sure they would. Because then they'd have been talking the Queen's English, all whom and subjunctified and full of fancy-pants ghetto unsplit infinitives.

#237 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 02:58 PM:

C. 228: Scalzi know nothing of the five straight years of my life where I expected to get verbally or physically abused at least five out of every seven days of the week, so he can bloody well f*ck off about the difficulty of my life.

OK, you didn't read that article, so I'll just tell you that he covers the fact that there are certainly other hardships like class and handicap.

But if you're straight, white, and male, you have the sexual orientation, race, and sex sliders all pushed all the way to the Easy setting. You could still have sliders set Hard on Physical Ability, Economic Class, Sanity of Parents, etc. But all those are even harder if you have harder settings on the first three sliders.

This is called "intersectionality." Something everyone who isn't in ALL the possible deprecated categories (impossible, so everyone) needs to understand.

abi 229: Blacks don't have that out.

Absolutely, and in general I'm probably better off for being able to pass (at least as long as I don't open my mouth). But being a stealth minority isn't an unmixed good. (And again, being black and gay-passing-for-straight is harder than being white and gay-passing-for-straight.)

Teresa 234: Four words? I know of three: the C, F, and N words. What's the fourth one? I'm sure I'll agree, I just don't know it.

#238 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Re TNH's remarks at #234. Funny thing is, I identify as a "First Amendment absolutist" myself. But I'm a First Amendment absolutist he knows that what it says is that "Congress shall make no law," etc. Not "Teresa Nielsen Hayden shall never tell you you're being an asshole."

#239 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:05 PM:

C. Wingate, I am not denying that your experience is real, I am denying that it is *the only possible experience.* That is, in fact, the premise to which I take exception.

I will say that the phrase "black people who talk like white people" makes me twitchy. Black people talk like themselves. There's not one single Black experience, any more than there's one single White experience. Furthermore, if you tell Black people to lose whatever accent their parents gave them, you are telling them to give up an anchor to their history. And if that's what you're telling a slave's descendant, you're...not really thinking about things.

#240 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:08 PM:

Well, Patrick, good point. But there's a difference between people who are, for example, politically incorrect, and people who say "I'm politically incorrect." The former may be bigots; the latter virtually always are, and are self-valorizing.

So coming into a comment thread and announcing that you're a First Amendment Absolutist implies that you believe the FA has your second definition, rather than your first one. This connotation is now so strong that you'd have to qualify (as you did here) in order not to be misunderstood.

#241 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:08 PM:

C. Wingate @228:

Scalzi know nothing of the five straight years of my life where I expected to get verbally or physically abused at least five out of every seven days of the week, so he can bloody well f*ck off about the difficulty of my life.
I had more than five years that were like that, on top of the class- and category-based issues in my life. I know the same is true of some nonwhite Fluorospherians.

You guys. I swear. There's no privilege you defend more bitterly than that right you think you have to pretend that you don't enjoy certain privileges. You do, and the rest of us know it. Admitting it shouldn't be such a hard thing to do.

#242 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:09 PM:

abi @ 236

Right, in a Dumbo made in the Queen's English world, the crows speak the Queen's English.

But the Dumbo made in our world wouldn't read as racist to the average watcher. (That's what I understood C. Wingate to be hoping--that the stereotypes would lose currency to the extent that things that were obviously racist originally would require scholarship to identify that fact, enabling them to be enjoyed by people who oppose racism.)

#243 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Xopher @237: Cnxv. I've had a couple of occasions where UK commenters looked at my list of three words and said I had to add a fourth. I wouldn't have spotted it on my own, but they soberly and earnestly explained that where they come from, it has the same hurled-brick effect as the first three.

#244 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:21 PM:

When attempting to examine my own unacknowledged privilege - say, my growing up fairly poor - I often ask myself "How would being Black have made it better?" The answer, of course, is it wouldn't. Every shitty experience I had as a poor white person would have been even worse as a poor black person. Voila - unearned privilege!

#245 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:22 PM:

SamChevre, #242 -- "enabling them to be enjoyed by people who oppose racism"

This is a tangent. But you know, I "enjoy" Dumbo just fine. It's got some great stuff in it!

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't think I've been saying that anybody shouldn't enjoy anything. Song of the South. The Lord of the Rings. Pound's Cantos, for heaven's sake. ("The ant's a centaur in his dragon world. Pull down thy vanity!")

Lots of art is full of stupid attitudes -- racism, anti-Semitism, other forms of human foolishness. Just because people criticize it doesn't mean nobody's allowed to enjoy it. The story that's stupid in one way might be valuable in another.

The very first sentence of my original post said "it's fine to show Song of the South". And I meant that. My objection was showing it, right now in the history of the SF community, with almost no context, and the fact that the context provided didn't straightforwardly say "it's got a bunch of really racist stuff in it."

I mention all this in order to say, let's not slide into the assumption that the argument is over what people are and aren't "allowed" to "enjoy."

#246 ::: Doug Hudson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:23 PM:

I think part of the reason the responses to C. Wingate have had a tinge of anger is that his arguments are just so typical.

In fact, I think the reactions of a person being confronted with their privilege can be mapped fairly well to the stages of grief:

1) denial--I'm not privileged
2) anger--how dare you accuse me of being privileged!

(a lot of people stop at 2, unfortunately)
3) bargaining--well, maybe I'm privileged, but you're being privileged too!
4) depression--this is hopeless, I'll never be able to overcome my privilege (or) I'll never be able to earn underprivileged groups trust
5) acceptance-- I'm privileged, and that's okay as long as I try to minimize the impact of my privilege on other people.

Optimally people can reach the 5th stage, but arguing with people at 1 and 2 can be extremely tiresome.

(Of course, even people at the 5th stage can screw up and need reminders...)

#247 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:24 PM:

Xopher, #240 -- I think I get what you're saying. You'll note that I'm not in the habit of saying "I'm a First Amendment absolutist" as a way of telling people they have no right to tell me when I'm being rude.

#248 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Patrick @ 245

My thought would have been better expressed as "uncritically enjoyed." (I was thinking of the setting in which I'd most likely watch a Disney movie, which is with my pre-schoolers; ability to enjoy stuff while remembering how and why it's problematic is an ability which they definitely lack.)

#249 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Teresa 243: I, too, would never have thought of that one and had no idea it had that kind of force in the UK.

Patrick 247: Not at all. I apologize for any hint of implication that you are.

#250 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:35 PM:

SamChevre @242: I'll believe we've reached that happy state when Velma, Nora, Fragano, et al. tell me so.

I've had more than a few conversations with men in comics who just plain couldn't see why anyone would object to women being drawn in Hawkeye Initiative poses. I still think they should have listened when I said "The minute I see female characters drawn like that, I know on a gut level that this comic isn't really meant for me -- I'm just being allowed to buy copies anyway." It wasn't their experience, but it sure was mine.

We all live in different versions of the informational universe. I can't see insisting that the one I live in just happens to contain all the truly important and significant information.

#251 ::: joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:39 PM:

abi - Sorry; I simply wanted to mention how not thinking about privilege can make otherwise nice people do really stupid and insensitive things. I think I may have just done it myself.

I apologize for my clumsiness and will try not to repeat it.

#252 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:40 PM:

And SamChevre again @248: Yes. Just so.

#253 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Fragano @ 17, janeyolen @ 81, C. Wingate @ multiple:
Leaving aside crows for the moment, it's worth noting that in Dumbo the black workers putting up the circus are shown to have hands, feet, legs, torsos, and heads, but no faces.

#254 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:48 PM:

This is a bit of a tangent, but from Patrick's #245 and SamChevre's #248, I've been finding that a lot of things I enjoyed uncritically when I was younger I can't enjoy uncritically any more. The current version of this is the Bond movies - I started watching them fairly young, and have a certain degree of nostalgia for them, but rewatching them now, with some awareness of their myriad flaws (like, cough, the flagrant misogynist behavior, or the belief that consent doesn't matter, or the idea that everything needs to die, among others), makes me cringe. The Amazing Girlfriend and I have been watching them recently, and we both wind up yelling at the TV with some regularity. This doesn't mean that we don't watch the movies and find some aspects of them enjoyable (a good chase scene is entertaining) - but we do so knowing that they're badly flawed and cannot be uncritically enjoyed.

#255 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:49 PM:

TNH @234:

While we're on the subject, here's another thing good moderators know: you can reasonably assume that anyone who replies to an argument about hate speech with "I'm a First Amendment absolutist" is white, male, straight, has no major health or disability issues, and has never had occasion to doubt their membership in or access to affluent, educated mainstream society.

Exactly. I have been in exactly that argument on another forum; when I pointed out to the gentleman in question that his ability to view racist or homophobic statements as abstract political arguments (and thus, worthy of protection on the site) was a reflection of his privilege, he was absolutely furious, and told me that I was attacking him "for who he was", which was forbidden on that site as a personal attack.

#256 ::: Doug Hudson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:51 PM:

Xopher @ 249, I'm an American, and I first came across that word in the comic Hellblazer. The characters that used it were hateful skinheads, and the vileness behind it seemed to ooze off the page. It was one of my first exposures to truly hateful racism (sheltered life, you bet), and it left a deep impression.

Come to think of it, Hellblazer was also my first exposure to gay bashing, and (as a kid) it made me angry and upset, why were the skinheads hurting a nice old man?

Hmm, Hellblazer helped me be a better person. Take that, Wertham!

#257 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 03:59 PM:

Dave, back at 194

While I admit I was kind of hoping he wore a bearskin turban (because bearskin turban!), I'm pleased he was issued a "war turban" as uniform for the occasion. It certainly fits in well with his fellow Guardsman's headwear, if a bit less furry. Until now, I hadn't been aware of the existence of war turbans, so I've learned something.

#258 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:04 PM:

Xopher@249, I'd say it's that British racism has had a focus on SE Asians that its US equivalent hasn't.

#259 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:05 PM:

The mention of Scalzi's "easiest setting", and Xopher's expansion about all the different sliders, and C. Wingate's description of how hard ze had it in the past reminded me of something many people who object to the "easiest setting" idea seem to miss:

Playing a game on the "easiest setting", it's still possible to take damage. It's even still possible to lose the game. That you lost is not proof that the sliders don't exist.

#260 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:29 PM:

Song of the South, and a lot of other stuff from that era, sucks. Maybe, with such things as the crows in Dumbo, some of the cues are breaking (not that pop videos don't promulgate a rather disparaging style of black culture: the details have shifted but it's still the old combination of black skin with wild dancing and scandalous language).

The cues in Song of the South aren't subtle. We maybe wouldn't have the Br'er Rabbit stories without the framing of Uncle Remus, but they don't depend on that framing. They don't seem to depend on the story-teller's accent.

They're still rural stories. They wouldn't work if you told them in the literary voice of M.R. James. But, as Disney re-told them, they are still dragged down by the shackles of slavery.

#261 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:42 PM:

C. Wingate: You obviously didn't read the Scalzi article, but summarily dismissed it on the basis of the title visible in the URL. So here are the most relevant bits:

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up. If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

IOW, those default easier settings accrue even to straight white men who are poor, or rural, or stereotypically Southern, or blue-collar, or assholes. They accrue to George Zimmerman.* They accrue to Texanne's taxi driver. And they accrue to you, whether you want to accept that or not. It's not something you have any control over; it's just the way the world IS.

You say you hear other people dismissing your personal experience. Has it occurred to you that they're angry because they hear you dismissing theirs, over and over again? Your father "escaped" from his background. There are a lot of people who don't have that option, and brushing them off with the implication of "well, why don't you just move somewhere else then?" is unbelievably condescending -- and also denies the reality that this stuff happens everywhere in America. Yes, even in your beloved hometown, although you don't see it because you don't have to. Perhaps you should start looking, rather than blithely assuming that "it doesn't happen to me" is the same thing as "it doesn't happen here".

SamChevre, #242: You have a valid point, but then you take it in the wrong direction. The solution isn't to try to whitewash the problematic parts out of things, it's to learn how to enjoy problematic things without making yourself into part of the problem.


* And forghodsake, don't make a fool of yourself AGAIN by playing the "Zimmerman isn't white, he's Hispanic" card. In the context of this discussion, he's not black, and that's the issue.

#262 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:52 PM:

The one and only time I went to a Disney park was about 20 years ago, when Worldcon was sited in Orlando.

I am pretty sure that even then "Song of the South" was not available on VHS. But the movie's characters, and a few lines from it, were featured in a rather good water ride. The log-flume-cars featured little bunny-head hood ornaments.

* * *
So . . . what exactly is the song of the south? "Zippa-dee-doo-dah?"

#263 ::: jennygadget ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 04:58 PM:

Not knowing which group of people the crows in Dumbo are meant to represent doesn't automatically make their depiction unproblematic. Even if you wanted to ignore the actual lived experiences of black people (and why the hell would you want to do that?) it's very clear that the crows are Other. They aren't just the same animal, they are very clearly a Type. And their mere existence in the movie will always support the idea of Us and Them, even once we've "let go of this stuff."

I, too, didn't think of the crows as problematic when I was a child watching Dumbo. I thought they were funny. But I also saw them as a Them, because that's how they are depicted. And that's problematic even if I didn't recognize so at the time.

So, no. the crows in Dumbo will never be "be just crows." Because Disney didn't MAKE them "just crows", with individual personalities instead of group flaws, because that's not how Disney thought of them.

#264 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Compare them to the vultures in Disney's The Jungle Book. They're also birds, also different, also very specifically attired (with mod haircuts), also accented (but British). Other, but not othered in the same way. They're funny, and part of their funniness is their otherness, but it's not racial—instead, it's national. Possibly generational (I think they're supposed to remind you of the Beatles or the Stones, but it's not specific enough to be sure.)

Even though their accents are British, their main song is in an extremely American style: barbershop. I suspect it's a very white American style, but I'm not sure of that. I know the barbershop groups I've heard were white, but as I'm also white that doesn't mean a whole lot.

So Disney is following a pattern here, but it's realized quite differently in The Jungle Book than in Dumbo.

#265 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 05:53 PM:

"SNERK!" Jim, that peanut butter cookie would have hurt going up and out my nose. I managed to keep it in my mouth.

But tee hee anyway.

#266 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 06:19 PM:

C. Wingate @ 228

The only thing that comes to mind at this point is "Miles, are you trying to one-up my dead?" (Bujold, A Civil Campaign)

#267 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 06:29 PM:

That comment of mine about "Dumbo" ended up as a driveby; I've been away from ML since posting it. It's disconcerting to come back and find that it seems to have been the cause of a rancorous discussion about privilege. I apologize for my part in starting that up. I hope it's clear that I think that we most definitely do not now and will not real soon now live in a "colorblind" society, and that even people who aren't familiar with the particular stereotype represented by the jive crows will get some of the other clues (black skin, for instance) that identify the group of people who are being denigrated (appropriate, and evocative word, that, I think I'll stop using it) by the representation.

JennyGadget commented on my statement that the class prejudice is not presented as is the racial prejudice in "Dumbo". It's been about 10 years since I saw it last, and I may have been wrong about that; the images in the beginning of the movie seem to have been conflated in my memory with ones from books in my childhood which did show things differently. I'll have to watch it again to see.

We've had the discussion about how currently unacceptable prejudices should be taken into account when evaluating past works of art before. IMO it's got to be a personal decision: my appreciation of Kipling is certainly affected by the antisemitism of "The Light That Failed"; if you're not Jewish, you don't have to care about that, but should recognize my right to my reaction, and not feel your reaction is somehow more right. At the same time, when Fragano pointed me to a quote of Trollope that described black people as subhuman, I was appalled and disgusted and decided not to read Trollope anymore: our reactions are not necessarily based on whether our own oxen are the ones being gored.

nerdycellist: I think I saw that cartoon with your grandfather. It's a particularly egregious example of the type. My condolences to your family for being treated like that.

#268 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 06:46 PM:

C. Wingate #211: I'm glad that your son sees the crows as just crows. Innocence is a wonderful thing. That does not, however, affect the overall reality.

#269 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 06:50 PM:

PNH #198

A bit of a side-trip: Much of the characteristic appearance and activity of the stereotypical "hillbilly" closely resembles the signs and symptoms of chronic malnutrition.

#270 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:01 PM:

Teresa @ #234: I'm an old straight white guy without any serious disabilities, and I'm a First Amendment absolutist. But all that means is that the gummint shouldn't censor speech, not that the public shouldn't condemn it.

#271 ::: bob mcmanus ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:30 PM:

Well, whatever on SotS and Crows

But the Scalzi is really irritating, because it really isn't about helping the least fortunate, who are not doing well recently and would be more benefited by a class analysis, but about protecting the most fortunate, who as we see, have been doing very well indeed.

Scalzi is really telling the troll running through the Amazon canyons at breakneck speed that Will Smith's kid Jaden, the Obama daughters, and Chelsea Clinton, because of their bodies, have worked ten times as hard as he ever will (because their sliders are set to max) and the white male precariat must just STFU and bend his knee.

I don't need this.

#272 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:32 PM:

C. Wingate #211: I'm almost as old as you, and I grew up in an area where from my point of view, there weren't enough blacks for me to get a proper model of racism. (Being on the autistic spectrum probably helped there.) But I grew up, and lived in other places. When I walked on to Harvard's campus for the commencement, out of something like 400 incoming students, there were 8 blacks. By the end of the day, there were 7, because the parents of one of them had been "escorted" out of Harvard Yard by the campus police. I was deeply naive and slow to pick up on subtleties, but I listened to people, and over time, I learned. I learned how the protection of the law didn't cover everybody, and that people were still dying over racism and other prejudices. Much later, I learned what a "sundown town" was... and that I'd grown up in one. My RL friends have never been many, but over the years, a few of them were black, and I learned something about what they'd faced, and the damage it had done to them. And even today, I still learn about these things -- both about the pain, and about the heroism and courage that stands against it. And I learned, too, that a lot of people didn't care about any of that... they didn't have to care.

You are older than me -- when I was born, you were already approaching the age of reason. In all those decades, have you never looked outside your own tribe, or listened to the people outside the walls? Yes, you have your own experience, and I'm sure you value it highly. But your experience is not more important than that of the cabbie who drove you to the airport, or the beggar by the side of the road, or the maid who cleaned your hotel room. To steal a quote from another context: "You lived what anybody gets.... You got a lifetime. No more, no less."

#273 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:38 PM:

Pixar's Cars isn't as bad as Dumbo, but it is racist in the same way. I'm not sure there's a way to avoid it when giving racial characteristics to nonhuman characters, and not giving them racial characteristics generally means everyone's white under the animation. But it is possible to give different characteristics and in different combinations.

And yes, at some point, what is racist now will not be racist. As I said above, my roommate grew up watching big-angry-savages in cartoons and she was in college before she realized they were meant to be human and not whatever Goofy is. But it doesn't mean there won't be more and different racism. "We don't say that, ever," will cover the obvious slurs so kids don't hear them and never learn their meanings or use them, but, Those people are different," will last longer.

Dumbo and Cars, like Song of the South, are symptoms and sources of infection of a deeper disease.

#274 ::: bob mcmanus ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:42 PM:

Or to put it another way, Scalzi would deny it, but this is neo-liberalism at its peak.

Now that women and minorities have their shot at the boardrooms and big bucks, did you think they would let any damn socialist take their hard-won privileges away?

#275 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 07:52 PM:

Abi, when you said, "What you have said, repeatedly, in many ways, is that because you don't see racism, you don't have to believe it's real," you have shown a complete lack of comprehension of what I said. I see racism all the time; if you'll go back and read what I said in the Zimmerman thread, Lee, I hope you'll understand that I thought his actions were racially motivated and cause for a voluntary manslaughter charge. I see racism in my own behavior around blacks on the street. I have lower class southern relatives, for crying out loud. It was you and all the others who amplified my observation of my immediate vicinity into an all-encompassing claim about what every white male feels. I never said that; I have spent much of this argument objecting you putting those words in my mouth. And I have confidence that I'm not that poor in expressing my thoughts.

Racism, and more importantly the social position of the black underclass, is an obvious reality, and all those right wingers who deny it or more insidiously claim that it is deserved are evil people. I shouldn't have to state this for you give me the benefit of the doubt that I believe it. You could have just taken for granted that I hate racism and every other sort of prejudice, and tried to interpret what I said in that light. Instead it's just turning into a battle about political orthodoxy. To me the juxtaposition between what has been achieved and what remains to be eradicated is not explained by the theory of privilege; no amount of simply stating that it exists is going to overcome that. Racism is manifestly real, but it does not seem to me to exist in the form that the theory of privilege claims. Deal with that, and quit tagging me a ignoramus and a bigot because I don't subscribe to that dogma.

#276 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:01 PM:

Fragano, my son gains innocence through being too mentally retarded to take instruction on the prejudices he is supposed to be picking up. So don't be too grateful about that on my behalf.

#277 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:01 PM:

bob @ 274
Remember the first rule of holes?
Please apply it.

#278 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:29 PM:

I don't know if I'm an Absoluteist, but I do believe in free speech and the rest of the First Amendment.

However.

I also remember being told that Freedom of Speech (and, by association the rest of the First Amendment) is like swinging a fist, and the right to swing my fist ends where someone else nose begins. Which is why various comedians and public figures get punished when they make racially charged statements and/or jokes. There's apparently a hard and fast rule in comedy: You may punch up, but you can never punch down.

The real question is where does one's nose really begin?

I also recall a discussion on a listserve almost 15 years ago between a die-hard pacifist and a career military soldier. One of the bigger sticking points is what the pacifist considered non-violent and peaceful, the solder took as a threat and/or an escalation of hostilities. This particular discussion about race reminds me a lot of that one. It turns out some noses extend far beyond bodily limits.

Mongoose @ 232 Will it help you understand when I say that (being an American) America has a cultural fondness for the underdogs and the rebels? We're especially happy when the underdog/rebel becomes the successful hero by overthrowing tyranny among other things? That is, we're happy until someone shows/says/makes unavoidable that they/we/I am the oppressor that needs to be overcome? Some people have violent reactions to that kind of revelation.

FWIW, (this is solely my opinion about the political backlash against Obama) Obama is, like it or not, factually or not, a race* representative**. He's the underdog who overcame more than just being black and became An Ultimate Hero. So the guilty-feeling-and-defensive-about-it are expecting all manner of repercussions in the coming years/political cycles/generations. Added to that, is the fact that he's not holding a racial grudge and isn't trying to destroy the politicians who buy into the "White is Right Racism" groupthink. I suspect his most vocal opponents are either 1) waiting for him to stab them in the back and are acting pre-emptively or 2) Believe that consensus building is actually a sign of weakness and if they succeed now, they will go back to being Heroes of America.

I've noticed a distressing tendency that the candidate who tells the best story wins the political races in this country of mine. Mind you, it doesn't have to be a true story as long as it's good enough to infect others' imaginations.

* During the first time he ran for president, I remember a political talking head pointing out that Obama was acceptable to the white politicians in his party because he had no personal, familial or political experience with the race riots of the '60s and the rights fights that took place in decades following them.

**I also remember a few African-American political commentators saying Obama wasn't Black enough to carry the minority vote. That kind of commentary ended when it came out Obama's father was A Deadbeat Dad and that his Mid-West/Kansan Grandparents raised him when his Mother was off Making The World A Better Place. And that the only reason she didn't drag him with her was because she wanted to give him the advantage of having an American education.

#279 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:40 PM:

Jeez, I sure don't check in often enough. It's hell, being a jet-setter.

Nichole @134 and Cassy B. @139, that's what I observed in my quarter century in Georgia, Texas, and Virginia. Whether or not parents were bigots, they expressed it much less, and the generation after them was far more open. By the time we left Virginia in '5, it seemed to me (anecdatally) that mixed couples were all over the place with nobody particularly noticing, and most bunches of kids with more than, say, three, tended to represent at least two races.

Oh. The crows in DUMBO. At least one of them is voiced by white cat Cliff Edwards, who recorded a ton of delightful novelty records as Ukelele Ike (he spelled Ukulele wrong, but it's part of his name there)(many sides available at Archive Org) and was known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket both before and after DUMBO.

Minstrels. There's a whole topic. I think blackface (and later, Irishface) were ways that white people allowed themselves to vicariously experience emotions they otherwise suppressed. "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" was written by a minstrel who'd never been to Virginia. Sounds phony, except that Bland was a young black man who wore the burnt cork on stage (and you thought Victor/Victoria was complicated), and he was inspired to write the song after hearing an old former slave, near the end of his life, lament about the place he lived when he was young and strong. With all its contradictions and paradoxes, I think it's the perfect song for the Old Dominion.

C. Wingate @211: Different kids see different things. I once asked a co-worker who'd taken her four-year-old to RETURN TO OZ what he thought of the electroshock scene, and she said he was fine with it. He thought Dorothy was wearing headphones.

#280 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:54 PM:

Rob Rusick @171: More information on the Disney strike can be found at my flickr page. I scanned photos and drawings from the NYC lefty tabloid PM (a fine paper it was) with picket line pictures and cartoons about the event by the striking artists. My scans, which came from photocopies I pulled at William & Mary, have actually ended up in the Disney Family Museum. They wrote and asked me for them.

Dave Bell @180: For that matter, there are AAAA cells, though the corner drugstore is unlikely to have them. Wikipedia confirms a story I heard that there are six of them inside 9-volt transistor radio batteries (which makes the 9v a battery, rather than a cell. of course).

Cally Soukup @186: I don't know if the Sikh palace guard wore a turban, but it's not generally known that the regular guards actually wear hives on their heads. They collect royal jelly and bring it to the Queen. (Surely, Sherman, you've heard of Beefeeders!)

#281 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Age is not an excuse for accepting the bigotry you were born into. I'm older than all but a few of the people here; I was 67 last month. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, which at the time had a large black population confined largely to areas of the city not populated by the whites.

Like a lot of people of lesser privilege, I can pass for white, and so have enjoyed their privilege in most situations. As I've grown older, though, I've gotten less content with the consequences of that privilege for other people, and I've tried to act as mindful of it as possible. Sometimes I fail (I failed just this morning to remember that Pvt. Manning asked to be referred to as "she") and when I do, I apologize as soon as I realize the error, and remind myself to do better in the future.

As far as I can see, it's not possible to renounce privilege. Society will still try to give it to you, and you will get it by default. Rather than feel bad about that, or feel defensive, the best thing you can do is to be an ally of those who have less privilege.

#282 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 08:56 PM:

For a year, I had to listen to KUAD on the bus ride to and from school. This was the country-western station in Windsor, CO, and it was the early 70s. Everything they played was either bellicose or lachrymose, and the latter predominated. It seemed like they were all about being in a lonely bus station at three in the morning, calling with the last dime to say "Sorry you done broke my heart." They'd have interesting instrumental beginnings, then the damn singer would open his gob and start whining again. (There was something worse than the songs, though, and that was their comedy. Every day, "Ajax Liquor Store" by Hudson and Landry. God.)

I know Londonderry Air (Irish Tune from County Derry) as going "Would God I were the tender apple blossom…" I translated it to monosyllabic words a few years back on LJ, and it came out pretty well, I think.

Tracie @192, I agree about Danny Boy. I used to scorn the Weatherly lyrics in favor of authenticity, but one day I heard a high-voiced man sing it in dialect on A Prairie Home Companion, and I was crying in the car. I can't sing the second verse without losing at least my voice.

Xopher @210, Jim Macdonald @216: I thought the oldest tune was Sumer is icumen in, but that's just for written music (ca 1260). Deck the Halls was first notated around 1750, and was possibly older. Both tunes have the distinction of having been sung in Pogo (one with many sets of words) by Walt Kelly (who animated parts of DUMBO: THREAD CLOSURE!).

#283 ::: bob mcmanus ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:04 PM:

277:Ok, thanks.

I was out looking for some numbers, and read in a long analytical article that women in Harvard's MBA class of 2010, although 36 per cent of the class, only received 30 per cent of the honors.

I. Was. Just. Devastated.

Probably worse than Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

I can't go on. See you never.

#284 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:32 PM:

Xopher #210: the Danny Boy lyrics are not about the potato famine, or any other identifiable event. The author left the circumstances and the gender, age, and relationship to Danny deliberately ambiguous. It's about someone/anyone going away, then returning to find something/everything changed.

The Londonderry Air is by no means the oldest known European tune. Its first appearance in print was in 1855, having been collected somewhat earlier. Some people claim it is related to the harp air Aisling an Ógfhir (The Young Man's Dream, which was collected at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival). The two tunes do have some of the same notes, but Aisling has much more in common with the American hymn tune Nettleton (Come Thou Fount of Ev'ry Blessing). I play the two tunes in medley.

Deck the Halls was first published in the late 18th century. There are some who claim the tune is of great antiquity, but it is unlikely to be earlier than 16th century. No good musicological or historical reasons are offered for this belief.

L'homme arme is older, but still way out of the running for oldest European tune. Mid-15th century. It's one of the top 10 tunes of the renaissance, being used in masses, motets, and other compositions into the current century.

My venerable Historical Anthology of Music has some chant from the early 10th century (hardly toe-tappers) and a 1st century CE Greek drinking song that appeared with musical notation on a tombstone.

/pedant

#285 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:38 PM:

"A" and "B" batteries also exist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_sizes#Less_common_batteries

. . . but you won't find them on the Eveready display at the supermarket.

#286 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:43 PM:

The hole in your logic, bob mcmanus, is that you're taking the most privileged subsets of broadly underprivileged groups and using them to represent the whole of those groups. "Will Smith's kid Jaden, the Obama daughters, and Chelsea Clinton," not to mention the women recently enrolled in Harvard MBA programs, are living with wealth, fame and status of various sorts that give them high levels of privilege, largely (but not entirely) counteracting any disadvantages they receive from their races and genders. However, these are outliers at the high end of the privilege curve. The following statements are both false and disingenuous:

"Because a few extremely wealthy and famous black people exist in the world, racism is over and no black person will ever be bothered by the memory of racism again."

"Because some American women have the opportunity to study at Harvard and win slightly fewer awards than the men do, all American women have identical employment and pay rates to American men."

If you are a white man in America, you are a member of a group that has, on average, more privilege than nonwhites and non-males in America. That doesn't make you richer than Jaden Smith. It just makes you less likely to be shot walking back from the convenience store than Trayvon Martin.

#287 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:52 PM:

C. Wingate @275: Abi isn't the only one who read your earlier comments in ways that don't fit with what you say in your most recent comment.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "theory of privilege"; you seem to be objecting to something you think other people are saying, but it's not clear what it is you're objecting to. One aspect of that seems to be that you feel you've been the victim of prejudice, and you feel that the idea of "privilege" denies that experience, is that correct? Are you familiar with the idea of "intersectionality of privilege"? That there are all different kinds of privilege, and even though some are generally stronger than others, it's still possible for a possessor of some kinds of privilege to be horribly mis-treated because of a lack of another kind of privilege.

#288 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 09:56 PM:

Rymenhild, I think you're being overly generous when you refer to the hole in bob mcmanus's logic. And anyone who enters the conversation with "Well, whatever on [subject of conversation]" doesn't inspire much confidence in their willingness to engage with said conversation.

That said, I'm still trying to figure out what "the troll running through the Amazon canyons" is referring to.

#289 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:08 PM:

I think bob was upset that his pet injustice, Which Effects Us All, is being ignored.

#290 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:28 PM:

Cally Soukup @#257
In Canada a few years back, there was major to-do about the first Sikh mountie. In the picture I saw, he was wearing a navy blue standard turban with his scarlet dress uniform,an exact match of turban to pants. I thought he looked exceptionally sharp and classy. Some white Canadians saw him as an affront to national tradition or some such.

#291 ::: Henry Troup visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:29 PM:

We have excellent peaches tonight.

#292 ::: jennygadget ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:32 PM:

"The hole in your logic, bob mcmanus, is that you're taking the most privileged subsets of broadly underprivileged groups and using them to represent the whole of those groups."

You know what else? Anna Paquin and Haley Joel Osment never got told "I'm going to call you Annie" by an interviewer who couldn't be bothered to learn their name. Neither were they called a gendered slur by the host of the Oscars, while on stage, the same night they were being honored.

Just because you don't see the insults and discrimination, just because they don't knock Oscar nominated black, child actresses all the way down to a slavery level existence, that certainly doesn't mean they don't exist.

#293 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:40 PM:

Cally Soukup @ 257,
I found a picture of Sgt. Baltej Singh Dhillon, the first turbaned RCMP officer in a different turban at a site called Sikh Chic.

#294 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Mongoose @232: I have no idea who Jim Crow was.

Originally, “Jim Crow” was the stage name of a minstrel performer — that is, a white guy in blackface — who was popular in the early 19th century. Later, it because a sort of general name for black people, and then after slavery ended, it was the name for a collection of laws designed to keep blacks powerless.

It’s also the name of the leader of those five crows in Dumbo.

#295 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:09 AM:

re 287: I was hated and abused, not for a class I belonged to, but for what I personally was. So I never felt the object of prejudice except to the degree that hating clumsy, socially awkward, unattractive, dorky kids counts as prejudice. Honestly I don't think I ever analyzed it that far at the time.

I don't want to drag the argument about privilege out much further, but I'll give it one more abbreviated try. Basically, I have two issues with it: first, that of social class, which by the time Scalzi finally gets to addressing it in the comments, he blows off with a lame anachronism. Upper middle class is the default not-as-hard setting; Scalzi is incurious as to whether this makes more difference than race or gender or sexuality, and without seeing actual stats over time I'm loathe to just accept some pundit's word on the matter. But even accepting the statistic claims, "privilege" is, when all is said and done, a reification of the outcome into a cause. Why do white males have better outcomes? Well, because they have better outcomes, and therefore it must be something wrong with them, or at least wrong with their environment. Well, OK, maybe, but what? Calling it privilege doesn't give it an etiology (in the sense of a mechanism that makes it happen), and it does identify it with the more manifest class privilege whose etiology is obvious. And it is easily read as implying that the solution requires taking privilege away, thus enabling the class warfare narrative that is part and parcel of conservative rhetoric these days.

re 272: Dave, I thought this was already answered: my point from the beginning is that, mostly this is stuff I read about. I don't deny what I read, but there comes a point where I have to reconcile what I know is going on out there with what is happening in my immediate vicinity. The tendency to talk about it here in terms that are way too close to the way late medieval people talked about natural science is, to say the least, uncomfortable; privilege comes across to me as being like the ether, or phlogiston.

#296 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:29 AM:

bob 271: Yeah, as long as you read the part that annoys you, and not the part that talks about the greater complexity and intersectionality, well then you're going to be annoyed. And also you're either ignoring what's been said upthread or commented without bothering to read it.

Either one is kinda stupid.

Or maybe you're just drunk-commenting. I suppose that's possible too. After all, it is your first comment since 2007.

Kip 282: "Sumer Is Icumen In" is the oldest part song.

bob 283: I can't go on. See you never.

Watch that door, it swings shut on you.

Tracie 284: I don't know anything about the tune of "Deck the Halls," but an examination of the lyrics suggests that it's pre-Christian in origin, though the language (despite the archaic use of 'troll') isn't that old; there's no mention of Christmas in it at all.

Rymenhild 286: Nice, though I have to agree with Jeremy. bob mcmanus presented a veritable Swiss cheese of logic, only without any discernable cheese. It's Fox News logic, which is to say, not logic at all.

Jeremy 288: I'm still trying to figure out what "the troll running through the Amazon canyons" is referring to.

I assumed he was referring to himself, though...Amazon canyons? That's really the part that made me wonder if he was simply drunk.

C. 295: So I never felt the object of prejudice except to the degree that hating clumsy, socially awkward, unattractive, dorky kids counts as prejudice.

It does. It absolutely fucking does. NONE of those are a good reason for abusing someone, and picking on such kids is fucking bigoted fucking bullying and has to be stopped.

Why do white males have better outcomes? Well, because they have better outcomes, and therefore it must be something wrong with them, or at least wrong with their environment.

And what else would you postulate? That white males are really just intrinsically better? I don't see what other alternatives there are. Either the better outcomes come about as a result of something that is unfair, or they have to be legitimately better. I reject the latter because it's racist and sexist. Don't you?

And it is easily read as implying that the solution requires taking privilege away, thus enabling the class warfare narrative that is part and parcel of conservative rhetoric these days.

Yes and yes. Mod the usual stuff about "but really everyone should have that 'privilege'," because then it's not privilege. White males should NOT have uniformly better outcomes than non-whites or non-males. So yeah, take the privilege away. Exactly. I don't see why this should distress you.

And as someone here, I think it was Patrick, said: Of course class warfare exists—and the upper classes shot first.

The tendency to talk about it here in terms that are way too close to the way late medieval people talked about natural science is, to say the least, uncomfortable; privilege comes across to me as being like the ether, or phlogiston.

Since you're denying the very existence of privilege (by comparing it to the ether and phlogiston, both discredited scientific ideas), then it really shouldn't distress you that we want to end it. Except, of course, that when you lose your privilege you'll probably see that as an attack, or as oppressing you. That's the typical reaction of privilege-blind privileged people.

#297 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:16 AM:

Funny how this comment gets shorter each time I preview it. My view is that if someone wants to be dogmatic, why not be dogmatic in favor of dependent origination?

#298 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:19 AM:

C. Wingate @275:
Abi, when you said, "What you have said, repeatedly, in many ways, is that because you don't see racism, you don't have to believe it's real," you have shown a complete lack of comprehension of what I said.

OK, let's go back to our original texts. They're right here.

It started at 181 with:
re 118/168: Waiddaminnit, there's a turn of phrase here which indicates something interesting going on. Bruce, you referred to "the racist representation of black people as jive-taking crows"; but within the context of the movie story, it's actually the depiction of crows as talking like jive-talking black people. So if you don't know about calling black people "crows" and don't understand that this is a imitation of how black people are stereotypically supposed to talk and act, is it still racist? After all, in the context of the story, the crows are the good guys; only Dumbo's mother and the Timothy (the mouse) are put in a more positive light in their relationship to Dumbo. I'm sure that for my youngest they're just funny-talking, happy-go-lucky, well, crows. Which I expect does nothing to take the curse off SotS's live sequences…..

The kindest thing I can say about that bolded bit is that it's a contrafactual hypothetical for American society as a whole. Considering that this entire thread has been, from the get-go, about how these things matter because of their wider context, "wtf, dude?" is a legitimate reaction. Which is basically what TexAnne @183 said:

C. Wingate, 181: Yes. Because I can assure you that Blacks haven't forgotten.

Now, somehow, that simple reply becomes evidence of a weird conspiracy to hold onto racism. I'm going to break your comment at 188 up here.

TexAnne, this comes across to me as a resolve to make sure that this material stays offensive forever. After all, what you say isn't literally true: I'm quite certain that my youngest son's black classmates cannot remember, because they cannot even be taught it. And therefore, if it cease being taught, is that meaning lost? Can the Dumbo crows ever be just crows?

It may "come across to you" like that, but it didn't come across to anyone else in that fashion. To say that black kids don't personally remember denies the influence of culture and family traditions. It ignores the fact that even if these kids are developmentally disabled (I don't know if that's what you're referring to. It would be more productive if you could be clearer about these things; otherwise, you're effectively mounting your goalposts on wheels), the society they live in is not. They may not be taught these things, but they can be shot because of them. Surely that matters, too.

Then there's a diversion, which thankfully, no one bothered with.

Or to go a step further, speaking of "just crows": there's a bunch of crows in one of the "Little Bear" videos, who do what crows do: they show up and good-naturely decide to eat the corn growing in Mother Bear's garden. Minarik and Sendak were from Denmark and Brooklyn, respectively; Little Bear lives up in some vague north land. Are these crows racist?

(I can tell you the answer. The answer is that they weren't written to represent black people, and therefore don't use black stereotypes. So, no.)

Mind you, I'm not saying this to deny the reality of Texas now. But I don't live in Texas, or anywhere else in the real south, and like my father I am possessed of a certain resolution never to do so. Really, even Charles County Maryland is too far south for me. And there is unquestionably a lot of racism about blacks around here, but it certainly doesn't look like a bunch of crows out for a good-time stroll.

I'm too young to remember Jim Crow; my first memories of race as an issue are of the riots in DC after MLK's assassination. So I can only remember about it; I can't ever remember it.

All of this comes to one thing: through time or space, I don't experience it, so I don't have to deal with it. But the people who lived through Jim Crow are alive today, and the society that those laws built is still with us. People travel, and mix, and interact in non-geographically limited ways, and they bring their history and their culture with them.

And your ability to write those two paragraphs sincerely (and I believe your sincerity, which is why you're not banned for trolling) is what makes us start talking about privilege. Because Fragano doesn't say that, and the relevant difference between the two of you is skin color, and the word for the blindness that that conveys is privilege. Deny away, but the evidence is right here in your own text.

I also sit in a cultural crack in white people so as to be intensely aware of white cultural stereotypes, so that the part of The Princess and the Frog that shocked me was the way they got away with the manifestly crude Deliverance-like depiction of the bayou-dwelling white hicks.

Another diversion. Yes, poor whites are also subject to stereotyping. And men get raped, too. This is an all-too-common way that many, many people (myself included) react to the unfairness of the world: by seeking the balance that we all desperately want to be there, because that deep balance would reassure us that there is hope. But while there is balance, and there is hope, but that's not how it works.

So I'm always wondering, are we ever going to let go of this stuff?

I answered this kindly, in a way that gave you the chance to go quiet and think about the matter rather than digging yourself in deeper. You didn't grace my answer with any notice at all.

And mind you, I'm not absolutely disagreeing with you. It's just that I come to this looking at it as some sort of alien culture. Or to put it in another perspective: even knowing the history, even knowing that the crows speaking in a deep south black patois, I think I must have seen the movie about ten times before I made the connection between "crows" and "Jim Crow". Maybe I'm being too optimistic about this, but I think it is possible to strip away the negative connotations, at least some of the time.

We're back to "I don't see it so it isn't there." Or, perhaps, "I don't see it, so I don't have to acknowledge it."

Back to 275:
I see racism in my own behavior around blacks on the street. I have lower class southern relatives, for crying out loud. It was you and all the others who amplified my observation of my immediate vicinity into an all-encompassing claim about what every white male feels. I never said that; I have spent much of this argument objecting you putting those words in my mouth. And I have confidence that I'm not that poor in expressing my thoughts.

Hyperbole. We've never projected your own comments beyond your personal experience. Possibly not the thing to bring into a complaint that other people are misreading you. Nor is the complaint of putting words into your mouth, considering how much you've projected onto TexAnne (as noted above), and the weird elderly ghosts of her and Fragano that you projected in 211.

Racism, and more importantly the social position of the black underclass, is an obvious reality, and all those right wingers who deny it or more insidiously claim that it is deserved are evil people. I shouldn't have to state this for you give me the benefit of the doubt that I believe it. You could have just taken for granted that I hate racism and every other sort of prejudice, and tried to interpret what I said in that light.

It's not that we doubt that you "hate" it. It's that, despite your first sentence there, you seem to want to deny that it's a problem that you have to deal with.

You wanted the crows to be innocent depictions, and whenever anyone has brought in any obstacle or objection that would show why they aren't, you've been willing to eradicate history, overwrite lived experience, deny cultural transmission, and transmogrify critical theory to refute them. You're really invested in those crows being OK, not just for your son, but for everyone. And that's baffling and kind of weird, and makes a bunch of us kind of side-eye you. Because they are straight-up, plain, on the face of it racist.

Instead it's just turning into a battle about political orthodoxy. To me the juxtaposition between what has been achieved and what remains to be eradicated is not explained by the theory of privilege; no amount of simply stating that it exists is going to overcome that. Racism is manifestly real, but it does not seem to me to exist in the form that the theory of privilege claims. Deal with that, and quit tagging me a ignoramus and a bigot because I don't subscribe to that dogma.

Well, there we go. C Wingate has spoken. Let us all revise our beliefs accordingly. (Hint: adding "to me" to sentences does not automatically make them tolerant of others' opinions, any more than adding "allegedly" to libel makes it not libel. Your syntax is overriding your disclaimers.)

Look. You can hold whatever beliefs you want about what is and is not a problem in our society. They don't have to be right, or accord with the experience of people at the sharp end of said problems. And you can watch Dumbo with your son and enjoy his enjoyment of the crows, and maintain that they're just crows. But when you come into a conversation about how society is dealing with racism in Disney films and accuse others of maintaining racism by projecting their prejudices onto those poor innocent crows, you're going to encounter...resistance.

#299 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:24 AM:

C. Wingate, #275: There's an aphorism which seems to be applicable here. "If one person says you look like a duck, they're nuts. If two people say you look like a duck, it's probably a coincidence. If three people say you look like a duck... start checking for feathers."

You've had rather more than 3 people interpret what you've been saying as not what you say now that you've been saying. I would begin, under those circumstances, to wonder if perhaps I should be less confident in my ability to express myself.

and @295: Why do white males have better outcomes? Well, because they have better outcomes, and therefore it must be something wrong with them, or at least wrong with their environment.

Or maybe, just maybe, because the entire fucking social system is tilted in favor of straight white males? As I said above, this is not "something wrong with you", and it's not something you can change -- but it is something you can make yourself more aware of, and not just swan thru your life not noticing.

And it is easily read as implying that the solution requires taking privilege away, thus enabling the class warfare narrative that is part and parcel of conservative rhetoric these days.

This is one of the most common fallacious reactions from people discovering that they are in a privileged group. They assume that it's a zero-sum game, and that because they're on top, any change involves "taking something away from them" -- when the solution that's really wanted is to remove discrimination from everybody else. We don't want to take your pretty shiny toy away; we want EVERYBODY to have one just like it. That's a win/win, not a win/lose. Or rather, it's only a win/lose if you're determined to make yourself into a victim and talk about how unfair to you it is to give other people a fair chance.

#300 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:01 AM:

Addendum to C. Wingate: I just caught this rather odd juxtaposition:

To me the juxtaposition between what has been achieved and what remains to be eradicated is not explained by the theory of privilege; no amount of simply stating that it exists is going to overcome that. Racism is manifestly real, but it does not seem to me to exist in the form that the theory of privilege claims. Deal with that, and quit tagging me a ignoramus and a bigot because I don't subscribe to that dogma.

Contrast with:
And it is easily read as implying that the solution requires taking privilege away, thus enabling the class warfare narrative that is part and parcel of conservative rhetoric these days.

You cannot simultaneously argue that privilege does not exist AND that talking about taking privilege away is a bad and divisive thing. Well, obviously you can, since you just did. But what you can't do is argue those two points simultaneously and expect people not to notice. This is not a Fox News audience.

#301 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:44 AM:

Victoria @ 278: Will it help you understand when I say that (being an American) America has a cultural fondness for the underdogs and the rebels? We're especially happy when the underdog/rebel becomes the successful hero by overthrowing tyranny among other things? That is, we're happy until someone shows/says/makes unavoidable that they/we/I am the oppressor that needs to be overcome? Some people have violent reactions to that kind of revelation. Yes. Yes, it really does. Thank you so much for that; it makes a whole lot of things click into perspective.

Tracie @ 284: I'm still waiting to hear back from my contact, but I doubt that even he can beat a first-century Greek drinking song!

Avram @ 294: many thanks.

C. Wingate @ 295: yes, I went through exactly the same thing at school, and it was a formative experience. Not in the way that the adults around me at the time seemed to think it was*, but because it convinced me that dividing people into Us and Them on the basis of trivial differences was not only immoral but - in the words of my favourite character at that time - illogical, Captain. The way I thought the world should work, if I'd hurt them, they'd be entitled to retaliate. But since I hadn't hurt them and they were attacking me anyway, they obviously weren't thinking straight.

*I could have a massive rant here, but I'll try not to. The standard line I was fed about bullying at school was that it was perfectly natural, it would prepare me for real life, and I'd have to deal with it on my own. This is a steaming, insanitary pile of bovine manure, and it needs to be called out as such. "Natural" does not always equal "good"; in real life, if you're harassed or physically attacked, you call the police; and expecting most children to deal with bullying on their own, when they have not yet developed the emotional resources to do so, is nothing short of child abuse. If I ever hear an adult taking this laissez-faire approach to school bullying, I get extremely angry. It needs to be addressed and stopped, and special thanks here go to Xopher @ 296 for swearing about it, because I'm rubbish at that.

#302 ::: Mongoose hasn't fed the gnomes today ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:48 AM:

Gnomed, possibly for some obscure Word of Power. It's too early to have done any baking yet, but I have various sandwich options available. Would the gnomes like cheese, Marmite, cashew butter, or any combination thereof?

[It was "many thanks" that got you. We gnomes like grateful people so much that we invite them in for tea and crumpets. And I'd love to try the cashew butter. Milk and sugar? — Idumea Arbacoochee, duty gnome]

#303 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:07 AM:

Victoria @278:
That is, we're happy until someone shows/says/makes unavoidable that they/we/I am the oppressor that needs to be overcome? Some people have violent reactions to that kind of revelation.

A good example of this: in the move "Falling Down", when it's all over and Michael Douglas is on the pier, the moment when his world really collapses in his head is when he says, "I'm the bad guy?"

#304 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 09:41 AM:

abi @ 303:

Victoria @278:
That is, we're happy until someone shows/says/makes unavoidable that they/we/I am the oppressor that needs to be overcome? Some people have violent reactions to that kind of revelation.

A good example of this: in the move "Falling Down", when it's all over and Michael Douglas is on the pier, the moment when his world really collapses in his head is when he says, "I'm the bad guy?"

Bill Foster: I helped build missiles. I helped protect this country. You should be rewarded for that. But instead they give it to the plastic surgeons, you know they lied to me.
Sergeant Prendergast: Is that what this is about? Is that why my chicken dinner is drying out in the oven? You're mad because they lied to you? Listen, pal, they lie to everyone. They lie to the fish. But that doesn't give you any special right to do what you did today.

Robert Duvall is the bad guy. Michael Douglas is the victim.

#305 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:30 AM:

Mongoose #301: The standard line I was fed about bullying at school was that it was perfectly natural, it would prepare me for real life... "Natural" does not always equal "good";

In fact, I'll go further than that: Humans do not normally live in "the natural world", at least not quite. As long as we've been human, We have always built our own world inside the natural world, with the express goal of protecting ourselves from the worst hazards of nature -- including some of those we carry within ourselves.

This superstructure, our world-within-a-world, is called "society". No, its protection is not omplete -- some things are too big to block out, and as I said, we carry some of those hazards within us. But even so, it makes a big difference, and (as noted in one of the sidebar quotes here) its purpose is explicitly to be more forgiving than raw nature. To exclude people (such as schoolchildren) from the protections of society, is an openly hostile act.

As a side note... I don't know when it began, but America has been afraid of its children for a long time. This became explicit during the 60's, but in more recent decades, it has gotten worse, and it has hybridized with other American pathologies, notably the libertine/puritan split (both co-dependent and fixated) that goes back to our founding.

Also, I'm outright calling troll on bob mcmanus. His only comments before this thread, are two on one prior thread, one of which outright announced that he was trolling.

#306 ::: staranise ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:30 AM:

Mongoose@301: After looking at bullying for a long time in my professional capacity, I've concluded that its main function in our schools is to get children resigned to the presence of a senseless hierarchy based on arbitrary traits and enforced with violence. This is considered excellent practice for real life. If you'll accept that it's the natural order of things that dweeby, awkward kids get beaten up, then you probably won't object as much when you see a policeman beating up a vagrant. It's a lesson, in fact, applicable to all kinds of life circumstances!

I research school bullying in North America and am trying not to blather about it since it's really relevant to fannish folks but not this thread, but I'll say this: barring exceptionalities, there is one dorky, dweeby kid in every classroom who gets picked on. Every classroom. In every school. (That has nor formed an anti-bullying culture.) And in a vast number of cases that dorky, dweeby kid walks away thinking there is something they personally have done to bring this fate on themselves, that they possess some innate characteristic so hideous and disgusting that other children cannot help but be cruel to them. This is actually a tendency fairly privileged kids (white, middle-class, dominant religion, etc) develop more than minority kids. Because minority kids are more likely to have parents and teachers telling them: "It's not your fault you're black/a girl/Jewish/disabled; the other person is wrong for saying that." So those kids are more often enabled to draw the conclusion: "These people evidently find beating me up fun, but beating someone up for fun when they've done nothing wrong is a thing people do. I should not take any further deep life lessons from this."

On the other hand, more privileged kids tend to get parents and teachers who suggest personal change: "Can you just try to fit in more?/Don't give them a reaction/Be less... weird. Then they'll like you more."

(Educators have tried many experiments in giving kids training or resources to be less bullied. Social skills? New outfits? Tutoring? Self-confidence? None of them significantly improve the child's treatment by peers or social standing. Any improvement happens as a natural consequence of overall bullying decreasing as kids get more mature/the social structure gets more solid and needs enforcing less frequently. The only thing that does work is limiting the bullies' power to be cruel, which schools are thankfully doing more of in a few small ways.)

So for the kids who always saw it as personal and never about the system, seeing the systemic factors looking back as an adult would mean getting really angry at the people they trusted most as a child for that basic betrayal of letting him/her believe it was his/her fault. I can certainly see why, when faced with that prospect, such a person might get angry at the people proposing the systemic model instead.

#307 ::: Leigh Kimmel ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:02 AM:

Lee @ 299

This is one of the most common fallacious reactions from people discovering that they are in a privileged group. They assume that it's a zero-sum game, and that because they're on top, any change involves "taking something away from them" -- when the solution that's really wanted is to remove discrimination from everybody else. We don't want to take your pretty shiny toy away; we want EVERYBODY to have one just like it. That's a win/win, not a win/lose. Or rather, it's only a win/lose if you're determined to make yourself into a victim and talk about how unfair to you it is to give other people a fair chance.

The problem is, "we're going to take away the nice thing you have" is exactly what a lot of people hear, not "we want everyone else to be able to have a nice thing as well as you." And telling them that they're wrong to understand it that way is effectively saying that it's their job to scratch past the words and find the meaning hidden beneath, not our job to make ourselves understood better by rephrasing so they hear the same thing we're saying.

There's also the problem that a lot of people feel they're being told that they're personally, willfully malicious because an unjust social system results in benefits accruing to them. Which leads to the response of "I didn't ask to exist, nobody asked me if I wanted to exist, so I shouldn't be made guilty just for existing." Because quite honestly, many of these problems are far bigger than any one person can do, and if people feel personally guilt-sticked, it's very likely that they'll just get their backs up and constructive conversation about what can be done together to change the structural problems of society becomes impossible.

#308 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:03 AM:

staranise, I'd be interested in anything you want to say about bullying. Perhaps in the open thread?

#309 ::: Leigh Kimmel ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:16 AM:

staranise @ 306

On the other hand, more privileged kids tend to get parents and teachers who suggest personal change: "Can you just try to fit in more?/Don't give them a reaction/Be less... weird. Then they'll like you more."

The adult authority figures in my life outright told me that I was inviting their attacks upon me, and that by continuing to do the things that invited the bullying, I was showing that I wanted and liked to be bullied, my obvious distress and protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. This happened not only while the bullying was going on, but also years later, when the topic of bullying came up in a conversation with them.

From it, I got two messages -- that I was a plaything for the bullies, and that the only way I could stop getting hurt was to stop being such an enjoyable plaything, so that they'd get bored and find some other chewtoy. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever that I might be a human being with a fundamental right to the safety of my body, mind, and possessions, and that those kids had a moral obligation to honor that fundamental human right. No, it was all about how I was being RONG, and that if I wanted to have a liveable life, I needed to stop being RONG, even if it meant stopping being me, scooping out my authentic self and pouring a more acceptable substitute self into the resultant hollow shell. Combined with a heavily Calvinist religious environment with a strong focus on the Sin Nature of Humanity, it was a warping experience.

#310 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:34 AM:

Speaking as a mod, I'm OK with this conversation occurring here. I think it has some interesting overlaps with privilege and with geek society, both of which are central to the original topic.

#311 ::: staranise ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Okay, then can someone explain the gnoming protocol/thing to me? I can't find an explanation of it, but it seems to be about the site randomly eating comments? When I get going I link to research articles, and that tends to get me sent to the spam filters, so I think I need to know.

#312 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:11 PM:

The gnoming appears random to we who are begnomed, but there's logic behind it. The spam filters have many items that frequently occur in the usual comment spam the site receives (and there's a post where we see just how much there is), so if you alert the gnomes that you've been detained unjustly, they gently extract your post from the dungeon, and sometimes explain why it happened ("three spaces in a row" is one I've seen several times).

I've thought about whitelisting as a palliative for false gnomings, but if they aren't using it, there's likely to be a persuasive enough reason. They know way more about this stuff than I do.

#313 ::: Kip W, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:13 PM:

Gnomed while blathering on about gnoming. Could this be the cheap irony I've heard so much about? Or would that only be triggered if I actually used three consecutive spaces?

Crackers and cheese are on the table.

#314 ::: Leah Miller explains gnoming ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:19 PM:

@staranise - as you correctly surmised, "gnoming" is our local way to say that a comment is being held for moderation - which means it got caught in the same filter that some spam goes into. (Sometimes you get a friendly window telling you that it happened after you post). If a comment doesn't show up, it's best to make another post saying you've been gnomed ASAP. This helps moderators go into the "held for moderation" queue, find your post, and restore it to the thread more quickly.

To make an "I got gnomed" post more visible, sometimes people will change their name in the "type name here" field to "MYNAME got gnomed." This allows moderators to see a report even more quickly.

#315 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:23 PM:

Kip W has the essence of it.

Basically, our current spam filtering system kicks comments into moderation for a bunch of reasons. I suspect that URLs from research links will probably do it. Because the message that you get when your comment gets held involves gnomes (because of reasons), the usual local term is "gnomed".

We appreciate it if you post another comment and change your username to say you're gnomed immediately thereafter, for two reasons:

1. It allows the mods to easily check if there's something that needs fishing out of the mod queue, and

2. If the conversation has continued for some time between the gnoming and the release, the mods can unpublish the gnome alert and everyone's numeric references remain accurate.

This thread has had, and will continue to have, heavy mod attention. So we'll see if something's gnomed and free it fairly quickly.

Thanks for your patience.

#316 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:24 PM:

Mongoose 301: "Natural" does not always equal "good"

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

Also, what Dave Harmon said.

Dave 305: Hear, hear. And: Also, I'm outright calling troll on bob mcmanus. His only comments before this thread, are two on one prior thread, one of which outright announced that he was trolling.

Yeah, he was pretty obvious. I thought he might be drunk. I hope he doesn't come back.

staranise 306: Social skills? New outfits? Tutoring? Self-confidence? None of them significantly improve the child's treatment by peers or social standing.

How about martial arts training, so that the instant the bullies get physical they will have their noses broken, and hopefully have permanent scarring so they'll remember? Should be legal under Stand Your Ground laws, right? While I'm not in support of SYG, actually, I'm fully in support of bullies getting seriously messed up, including breaking their bones. Because being seriously fucked up by bullying for a lifetime is worse, PLUS the victim shouldn't be the one who suffers.

(But I'm not bitter, right? The people who bullied me when I was kid barely remember it, whereas I can never forget. I don't actually think my solution above would work, only that it would be right, which unfortunately isn't at all the same thing. ETA at preview: actually I'm not sure it would be right either, just that it sure feels good to think about bullied kids smashing their bullies' faces.)

Leigh 309: Yes. This. Me too. I have to try not to think about it, because when I do I want to take vengeance, not only on the people who bullied me, but on the adults who told me those poisonous things, and they're mostly quite elderly and it would be dishonorable to kill them (not that it would be right and proper to kill the bullies either).

staranise 311: If you trigger the spam filters, you'll get a warning page and your comment will not appear. As soon as possible, post a simple comment with the word 'gnome' in your username, and the mods (in their gnomic personae) will release your comment from the queue.

#317 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:31 PM:

See, I never assumed the bullying was my fault, because I knew I hadn't done anything to upset anyone. I was well aware that I was different from the other kids (arriving in the reception class at primary school with a reading age measured at 14+ will do that for you), but there was no way even a child with the low self-esteem that I had at the time could manage to equate "reads a lot of books, all well beyond the level of their classmates" with "causes their classmates harm".

If the aim of the bullying was to pressure me into becoming more like them, it failed miserably. I decided very early that I didn't want to be like those children... because they were bullies.

#318 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:35 PM:

"I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that's an understatement. What you don't know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world."
"Funny, I've always believed that the world is what we make of it."

#319 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:40 PM:

I just concluded that they were evil and deserved to die. I had elaborate fantasies about killing them, many of which involved lycanthropy on my part.

I realized later that some of them were passing on the abuse they were getting at home. Others were doing it to be "in" themselves. Some were just being bad-tempered. Teenage culture is appalling, and that's made worse by the fact that they're constantly sleep-deprived and treated inconsistently and unfairly by adults.

staranise, has anyone done anything with programs for the bullies? Make THEM spend their lunch hours and time after school (so they miss football practice, say) being told something is wrong and they have to fix it, instead of the victims?

#320 ::: Phlop ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Kip W @280. I acquired some AAAAs the other day. They look like they might turn into batteries when they grow up.

C Wingate @181 "So if you don't know about ... is it still racist?"
For me, part of the problem with that question seems to be the suggestion that "racist" is a single yes/no quality. Was the original depiction racist? Yes. Is a child being racist if they enjoy it without having any sense of the cultural referents and genuinely just see crows? No. Are there lots of complicated in-between points? Yes.

For a kind of parallel, I'm of an age to have had a golliwog toy as a young child, and to have collected Robertson's golliwogs as an older child, by which time I was aware of the idea they might be racist. This didn't make any sense to me; they clearly weren't representations of black people, they were just golliwogs, like my toy, which wasn't a representation of a human as such. I was fairly vehement about this, I recall.

Then I looked again, many years later, and dear lord in heaven they were an appalling stereotyped representation of black people.

Are golliwogs a racist depiction? Yes. Was my fondness for my golliwog toy as a small child racist? Doesn't feel it to me. Was my lack of familiarity with the stereotyped representation of black people racist? Again, doesn't feel it. Was my unwillingness to consider that I might be wrong about what golliwogs represented racist? Yes, I'd say so from this perspective. And there's no doubt a whole bunch of questions I've missed out there.

#321 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:41 PM:

I don't know that martial arts training or "fighting back" would actually help bullying. For one thing, the bullies will just move on to an easier target. For another thing, not all bullying is physical. I was severely bullied when we moved before my 8th grade year. It wasn't physical, but it was equally devastating. It precipitated some catatonic states and a depression diagnosis. I failed all of my classes that year (except orchestra) and, fearing suicide, my parents had to advocate for me to be left back and repeat 8th grade; the one friend I had made in that entire year was in 7th grade. The junior high was pretty committed to moving me into high school, I suspect so I wouldn't be their problem anymore, but eventually they relented. I don't know what would have happened if I took the whispers, the loud taunts that teachers somehow couldn't hear, the ostracism, and acted out with physical violence, other than getting expelled and possibly a juvie record (unlikely - I suspect middle-class white girls have to work harder for that) and maybe institutionalization. Years later when a football player casually assaulted my sister in front of the gym (he grabbed her boob) she punched him in response. It got her a meeting with the vice principal, a woman who sympathized and only gave her detention - the football player was unpunished.

I was sent to therapy, and remember many, many hours of glowering silently at the therapist as he told me exactly how I should conform. Most of it seemed to involved changing my tastes, becoming a joiner and my parents spending hundreds of dollars they didn't have on wardrobe I wasn't interested in. I wound up doing the opposite of what he told me (see, Dr. Tony; I WAS
paying attention) and getting on with it. Probably the biggest aid was actually that extra year in 8th grade, so my tormentors had time to forget me and move onto some other unlucky victim. As far as I know, the bullies were never confronted - and as they were mostly girls and never physically hit me, they most likely were never labelled as bullies by the school admin. I mean, I wouldn't wear blue eyeliner and the right jeans; what else did I expect?

#322 ::: staranise ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Thanks for the tips, everyone.

Xopher @ 315: How about martial arts training, so that the instant the bullies get physical they will have their noses broken, and hopefully have permanent scarring so they'll remember?

Fighting back is that awkward thing that does reduce that child's victimization. We just can't recommend it. One, yeah, encouraging violence ends badly. Two, bullying's long-term psychological effects are comparable to child abuse, but the worst group are those who are both bullied and victimized. They're even more screwed up than flat-out victims. So retaliation is just setting both kids up for the worst kind of lifelong damage.

(You may notice that the research focuses on odds ratios. That's because the mediator between childhood bullying and poor adult outcomes is not the severity or frequency of bullying--being teased and shunned can harm way more than being physically assaulted. The thing that links to adult psychological issues is what the kid attributes the bullying to. Because if they think it's all their fault, they focus on their inner badness, which leads to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. If they think it's something being done to them and not something they are, they can use coping skills to deal with it.

This research makes me really angry. Like, I'm considering dropping it as my thesis topic, it makes me so angry; my friends have been making concerned noises that when I go back to the research, I get markedly squirrelly and paranoid. I was bullied as a child and unlearning those lessons is very, very hard. So I can tell myself over and over that all the research I'm trawling was published years after I left high school so my parents and teachers did the best they could with the knowledge available at the time, but I'm confronted with so much senseless damage done to so many generations of children that it leaves me enraged and helpless.

I seriously do believe that bullying culture in schools is early indoctrination into a fundamental system of injustice. Part of that's from looking at the system and its effects. The other part is that the schools that combat bullying the most effectively practice weird liberal ideas like empathy and restorative justice. They address bullying not just as an unauthorized use of force, but as an insult to the fundamental bonds of trust and respect that should exist between members of a community. The schools that do this stuff are also the schools teaching their students about social justice in a political and social context.

#323 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Kip W @282: There is ONE Hudson and Landry piece I like, one of the former DJs on WTVN played it at least once a day starting the day after Thanksgiving.

It's called "A Frontier Christmas" (though in these parts folks call it "Harlow and Redfeather") and I can't listen to it without crying.

#324 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Time for me to trot out one of my pet hypotheses: namely, that bullying and rape occur as part of the same spectrum of behavior and for many of the same reasons -- only the expression is different. But both of these things are privileged behaviors*; they are accepted by society as "just something that happens," or worse yet, something that the victim actually controls and could cause not to happen if they really wanted to. And sometimes bullying turns into rape, or rape is part of the bullying process; this is especially true WRT male rape victims (cf. Abu Ghraib).

As long as we approach bullying by addressing the victim instead of the problem, OF COURSE nothing is going to change! Can you imagine the outrage if the people who taunted and threatened a victim into striking out were punished on the basis of having provoked the incident? What if people who commit assault didn't get a free pass on the basis of being the victim's classmate, but had to face charges instead? What if we changed the message from "bullying is okay because nobody is going to do anything about it" to "bullying has unpleasant consequences for the bully? It would be a different world... and I'll bet you dollars to donuts that the incidence of rape would drop as well.


* For the sake of clarity, "privileged behavior" in this context means "behavior that society does not seriously object to". It emphatically does NOT mean "behavior engaged in by the privileged class".

#325 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Phlop @ 319: yes, absolutely - me too. I was given a golliwog when I was small, and as far as I was concerned at the time it was, as you say, just a golliwog. I didn't think of it as any more human than the fluffy gonks which came into vogue a few years later. It was only much later, well after the golliwog and I had parted company, that I discovered what it had really signified and was immediately horrified.

nerdycellist @ 320: I agree. Besides, physically fighting back isn't even always possible, especially if the target of the bullying is outnumbered (often the case) or has a disability. There is a way to fight back, but it works at an emotional rather than a physical level and it is beyond most children, even the very bright ones (perhaps sometimes especially the very bright ones, since the bullying is making it difficult for them to develop their social skills so they tend to retreat into the safety of intellectual pursuits). It consists of doing something the bullies don't expect.

And this brings me to a little story. I'm in the SCA, where I have two particular friends who are both heavy fighters. I'll call them Alan and Bob. Alan's been in the SCA for years and is a great mentor for younger and/or newer members, whereas Bob is young, keen, but a little bit insecure. It doesn't help that Bob lives in an industrial city where there is a higher-than-average proportion of people who are out to make trouble. So, one day, Alan and I were having a conversation, which (in essence - I can't recall it verbatim) went like this.

Alan: I think it would help the group in [Bob's city] if they had outdoor fighter practices. It would save them renting a hall, and it might also encourage new members.
Mongoose: I think you've got a good point, but I don't think Bob would be happy with that. You know how he worries about random people picking on him when he's kitted out. He wouldn't feel safe.
Alan: I know, and I think that needs to be addressed. We need to think about what he could do if someone did try that.
Mongoose: Yes. To be honest, if he's in full kit, they can't do him a lot of harm, so I think he needs to talk to them.
Alan: But he needs to take off his helmet first, otherwise he looks like a threat.
Mongoose: Good psychology. But what does he do with his sword while he's taking off his helmet? [Explanatory note for non-SCA people: the armour is pretty substantial, but the sword is not. It's usually just a piece of rattan. You can thwack someone with it, but it won't cut anything.]
Alan: Oh, I think he should give it to the person who's hassling him and ask them to hold it a minute.

I thought that was such an utterly wonderful idea that I nicknamed Alan "Mahatma" on the spot, and it's still what I usually call him. About the worst that can happen is that the bully runs off with the sword, with which they can't do a great deal of damage. What's more likely to happen is that they go "huh?!", and you can then start a conversation; you may, if you're lucky, even end up with a new SCA member.

Now, of course, this doesn't apply in all circumstances, and exactly what you do that the bullies aren't expecting will vary according to the situation. I seem to recall a story about Sojourner Truth being confronted with a lynch mob and starting to sing. I've personally walked through the middle of four young thugs who had just offered me a death threat (no, it wasn't courage, it was simply the only option I could think of that stood a chance of getting me out alive). But I don't think it's either fair or reasonable to expect a child to come out with a solution of that nature. Adults have got to step in, even if it's only to organise the rest of the kids into a viable anti-bullying culture.

#326 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:27 PM:

I dunno, Mongoose. I didn't advance very far in SCA combat training, but I can swing a rattan sword hard enough to have a substantial chance of killing an unarmored person (if I hit hir in the head). I wouldn't take off my helmet and hand one to a bully.

#327 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Lori Coulson @322: I just listened to it on YouTube. It's hard for me to hear the voices without having flashbacks to the liquor store sketch, but it's certainly better.

(For anyone who will never hear it, the basic premise of the liquor store sketch is that a drunk calls a wrong number. Ha ha! And the structure is pretty much like this:

Drunk: I'm a no-talent disk jockey with no sense of humor. hic.
Straight Man: You're a no-talent disk jockey with no sense of humor??

Continue until engineer waves to stop. In contrast, the Christmas one has a plot.)

#328 ::: staranise ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:29 PM:

So far as preventing social bullying instead of physical, the one thing that I've seen in the research is: take away kids' ability to enforce the hierarchy. During class kids are not allowed to pick their own seatmates, groupmates, or sports teams, and during recess and lunch the staff always organize a voluntary group activity that anyone can join. It doesn't eliminate the hierarchy (If you ask the kids privately to write down the names of the least-popular kids in the class, they tend to agree quite strongly) but it means that with more chances to socialize in neutral settings, and fewer consequences for hanging out with an "unpopular" kid, the least-popular kids end up with 2-5 friends, not none or one. It's an approach that schools are starting to implement.

#329 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Phlop in re gollywogs: Yes, as a child in the 1950s/60s I too never made the connection that gollywogs were supposed to be representative of black people. There was an inter-racial family living six doors along from us on our street and gollywogs didn't look like it's black members or, indeed, like human beings at all. It was only when I got older that the penny dropped. In retrospect it's amazing Robertson's persisted with them as long as they did.

#330 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:37 PM:

Staranise, there are lots of "the bullied" here on Making Light. The question I've always wanted answered is "What is it about enjoying reading that yells 'Bully me'?"

If you're new here, you may find the Dysfunctional Family threads of interest, and the one written post-Columbine as well.

And I have never gone to any of my high school reunions -- why should I EVER want to see the people who made my life Hell again? (And the teachers I loved are probably long gone at this point as high school was 40 years ago.)

#331 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:40 PM:

Xopher @ 325: yes, I'd agree with you if we were talking about a situation where Bob was on his own, walking through the streets in full kit. But he isn't. This is a fighter practice. He puts on his kit when he arrives, and there are other people there, also in full kit. That rather changes the dynamic.

Bob, sadly, is still the person most likely to be picked on by someone who's out to make trouble, because he's the one who's nervous. But if he then says, "Oh, right, you want to talk? Here, hold this a minute while I take my helmet off," one of the things he's now communicating is that he's not as nervous as the bully originally thought he was. And there's still Alan, or someone comparable, standing nearby in a very good position to knock the sword out of the bully's hand if he is so ill-advised as to take a swipe at Bob's head.

#332 ::: staranise ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:45 PM:

Lori @ 329: I've been following the site for years. I just don't comment that often.

I write "the bullied" everywhere I went back and backspaced "you" since I knew that would be particularily out of place here. I'm not from a dysfunctional family, so I don't do DFD. I just had two childhoods, and the one where I was loved and valued happened at home. The one where I was abused, gaslighted, and blamed for it happened during school hours.

#333 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Kip, the line that opens the waterworks for me is:

"Why...Harlow...it's...my musicbox!"

The first year Connors played it, I tuned it out, because the piece registered as just a bunch of racist clap-trap. And then one day a friend pointed out that the piece was making fun of bigots, and I actually listened to it.

(Sidebar -- "don't put the bad mouth on the padre" has become a joke in this household as well.)

#334 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 01:59 PM:

nerdycellist, my middle-class white daughter was assigned to a 45-day stint in alternative school for *threatening to overturn a desk* (she didn't actually do it).

I withdrew her, homeschooled her for a year, and re-enrolled her in a different school in the same district. Once she got away from the Bullying/Dumbing-Down Death Spiral, she did great.

#335 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:11 PM:

Henry @290

I've been thinking about it a bit, and I think that part of what I like about the guardsman wearing the battle turban is that it's over the top (ahem) in just the same sort of way that the bearskin hats are, as well as being visually compatible. It's not the same as a bearskin hat, but it kind of rhymes with it, as it were. It's a respectable variation.

As for Sikh Mounties, I've seen pictures where they're wearing a turban the buff color of the "standard" wide-brimmed Mountie hat, and they look sharp.

It does make me wonder how, if any Sikhs joined the Chicago police force (and I've no idea if any have), they'd do the "checkered band" thing that Chicago police hats have, that make people sometimes mistake them for cabbies....

#336 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Lori 329: And I have never gone to any of my high school reunions -- why should I EVER want to see the people who made my life Hell again?

I actually found my 10-year reunion healing. One of the guys who bullied me in 7th grade had turned into a perfectly nice, if somewhat dull, adult. And the terror of my junior high years gave me two free passes to the gym he owned, in a kind of embarrassed/apologetic way. There were others (not there) who I still hated, but it drained the poison from the memories about those two.

Mongoose 330: Ah, that makes more sense.

#337 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:26 PM:

Sikhs have been managing to find ways of wearing the turban while meeting the requirements of various professions for a long time. Here's a WWII RAF fighter hero on that very issue:

http://www.sikhnet.com/news/sikh-wwii-raf-ace-saved-his-turban

#338 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:27 PM:

Xopher #315: Just to state explicitly what was alluded to by a couple of commenters: Teaching the victims to fight back won't work for several reasons, but one of the biggies is that bullies are very good at gaming the system -- the victim will get in trouble for fighting back, while the bully walks away. Any variation on a "Zero Tolerance" program has the same flaw. ("Zero Tolerance" == "Zero Discretion, Judgement, or Memory".)

#339 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:37 PM:

I actually did OK in high school - I was bullied more by the teachers than the students, and it was a very few teachers who participated. It was a big enough school that I was able to find other nerds who read or enjoyed music and drama. I still haven't gone to any reunions. I think it was someone on this blog who likened high school to be like an elevator; it got me where I needed to go, but I just don't see the need to get together with the other elevator riders.

Lila - Oh, I forgot about alternative schools. They weren't available in Jr. high. A couple of my friends attended a local "alternative" school. They were the smartest people I knew. Smarter than the teachers, which is probably what landed them there. I graduated in '91, which was right before "zero tolerance" but still at the point where my best friend was "sent home" for much of freshman year for being pregnant.

#340 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:39 PM:

Regarding physical reaction to bullying and effectiveness thereof: two anecdotes.

One: me: The one time I stood up to the physical bullying with responding force, *I* was called into the principal's office.

The other: my best friend (who I met in university): She responded to the bullying with physical force. In her case, she did it early enough, and had enough strength, etc. to make it stick, that she didn't get bullied - but she had no friends in school, either, because the decent kids were terrified of her.

So no, I don't think martial arts training with the intention of helping kids to physically defend themselves is an effective tactic. For developing self-confidence, sure. But the ONLY way to stop bullying is to deal with the bullies, and QUIT BLAMING THE F'ING VICTIM! (sorry - everyone from the teachers to my mom (who was herself an elementary teacher) figured that if *I* did something different, the bullying would stop. And no one but no one dealt with the bullies)

Happier note: when Mom finally realized that I was being seriously traumatized by it (I have my theories as to why she was so blind, but they belong on the DFD thread...), she transferred me to another school. Where the principal, being far ahead of his time, had a zero tolerance policy for bullying. He told me when I arrived that if anyone bothered me, I was to come straight to him and he would deal with them - and I was never bothered the entire two years I was at that school.

Some people got it, even then. But like Leigh Kimmel upthread, I have a really hard time forgiving the ones who didn't and trained me to think it was all my fault.

#341 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:44 PM:

To clarify: my principal didn't do "zero tolerance" in the modern sense (Zero Discretion, Judgement, or Memory). He did it in the sense that he dealt with the kids who were hurting others to the best of his abilities, recognizing that the one with the power is the problem, not the powerless.

#342 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Rob, #328: In retrospect it's amazing Robertson's persisted with [Golliwogs] as long as they did.

I noticed when looking at the linked article that the announcement of the discontinuation was very careful to state that they were not "bowing to political correctness" in so doing. This suggests quite strongly to me that either (1) they could not understand why anyone would think their Golliwogs were racist stereotypes, or (2) they believed that they had the right to use whatever racial stereotypes they like, just because "that's how it's always been", without getting any opprobrium for it. Given the context in which that phrase is usually deployed, I would put odds on the latter.

I found myself using Cory Doctorow's suggestion and rephrasing it as "we're not bowing to treating people with respect". Which, stripped of its self-righteous shell, is what they were actually saying.

Dave H., #336: Not to mention that it still sends the wrong message -- "We're not going to do anything about addressing the bullies, because the problem is YOU."

Note: I am not saying that a child who wants to learn martial arts for self-defense should be discouraged from doing so. What I am saying is that proposing this as a cure-all for bullying is a fallacious and a pernicious notion, and seriously suggesting it as a solution aligns the suggester on the side of the bullies in the long haul. Because the next step in the victim-bashing is, "Well, why didn't you take the self-defense lessons?" Ptui.

#343 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Yeah, the martial-arts idea is clearly a non-starter. I just like the idea of all the players on the football team playing with broken noses.

Better that they don't get to play at all, because they bullied someone and the school handled it properly.

#344 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:16 PM:

Lee @ 340: I love Cory Doctorow's way of putting it. I used to know someone (in fact, the same homophobe I mentioned the other day) who was very fond of going on about how "political correctness" was what was ruining the world, because there were all these people about who pretended to be upset solely in order to make trouble and stop other people from saying what they wanted to say. (I am absolutely not making this up. He honestly thought that.) Naturally it used to drive me out of my tree. I did my best to explain that, no, actually someone who claims to be upset almost always is upset, and what he called "political correctness" I called "not steamrollering other people's feelings", but he wasn't having any of it. I can't tell you how many times he steamrollered my feelings, either (or how glad I am that I no longer have to deal with him).

But I like Cory Doctorow's version better because it's positive. I tended to concentrate on the negative idea "don't upset other people", because upsetting other people was exactly what he was doing. (All the time, in fact. He was really good at it. What's more, he never had a clue why they were upset, and if they got angry he would assume they were out to get him, rather than that he might have done something to hurt them.) I think, on reflection, it would have been much better if I'd said instead, "What you call political correctness is what I call common courtesy." It would have been true, it wouldn't have riffed on something he couldn't even see he was doing to people, and it might have done just that little bit more to make him think.

#345 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:29 PM:

312 Kip W

I've thought about whitelisting as a palliative for false gnomings, but if they aren't using it, there's likely to be a persuasive enough reason. They know way more about this stuff than I do.

I've tried to find a way to make a whitelist work, but whitelisting doesn't seem to be possible with the Moveable Type software that we have on the back end here.

Even if you don't post a gnome report, eventually your post will be found and cleared -- I read every single post in the moderation queue to determine which are really spam. (The exception to this is if Moveable Type's spam filter, which is mysterious to me, nabs you. In that case you won't see a message about the glass-and-steel towers, and your post won't appear. Nor will I know to look for it. There, gnome reports are vital to me to find and release your post from the Exile into which it's gone.

Originally the gnome reports were to act as placeholders, so that when a real post was released the gnome report could be unpublished in order to maintain post numbers farther downstream.

But ... often the gnoming reports were too clever to make me want to delete them, and so they stay.

Every line in the spam filters here got introduced when a spammer used it.

Here's a typical filter: /on .?(my|one .?of .?my) .?(site|webpage|website|blogs|blog) .?and .?(this|you) .?(gave|has .?given) .?me .?an .?idea/i

#346 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:37 PM:

My martial arts school does a lot of anti-bullying work with our kids (we also do a lot of practical/women's self defense with our adults) and it involves teaching a couple of things:

1. The "five fingers of self-defense" that boil down to "make a scene if you have to."

2. Teaching and roleplaying bystander intervention using scenarios the kids come up with and/or are likely to encounter.

3. Making sure they know that they absolutely without question have an adult they can come to and talk about any bad things that happen. They have a bunch - any of our instructors would be happy to listen - but our Sensei makes it very clear that she not only *will* listen, she *wants to* listen, and will help them figure out what to do next. She's done some arbitration between siblings, etc, when things come up, which is nice.

We've had some good outcomes. A lot of parents report that their kids seem to do better after taking some classes, and some of the kids themselves have reported some tremendously validating stories about being able to stand up for themselves, protect a friend, or get out of a bad situation without harm. It's not perfect, but it does seem to help.

But, and this fucking infuriates me, we have a hell of a time getting schools to let us offer free classes to their students, or advise on anti-bullying curriculum, or anything. We had a high school tell us that they didn't want to do a pre-prom "safe dating" class for their older girls because it would mean admitting there might be risk to them. We're a non-profit; this is our mission. We have the staffing and the budget for classes like this. But getting people to *accept* them is fucking hard.

(We're trying to set up some boundary-setting/convention etiquette workshops at Worldcon, incidentally. They keep telling us they're interested, but we haven't actually gotten a time slot yet. I'm not banking on it actually happening until they do.)

#347 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:44 PM:

In regard to the golliwog discussion: TNH mentioned Cnxv as a word that would bring her hammer down. There's another word not used on this side of the Atlantic that is guaranteed to bring me to a killing rage. It was the mainstay of old-fashioned English racism. That word is jbt.

#348 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Fragano, I've heard that that's an acronym for Jvyl Bevragny Tragyrzna, but that sounds like a backronym to me. Do you know where the term came from?

#349 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:40 PM:

Xopher #348: What the OED says is "Origin uncertain: often said to be an acronym, but none of the many suggested etymologies is satisfactorily supported by the evidence."

#350 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:43 PM:

The same is true of one of Teresa's other forbidden words, Fragano.

#351 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Jeremy Preacher #346: We had a high school tell us that they didn't want to do a pre-prom "safe dating" class for their older girls because it would mean admitting there might be risk to them.

Because "protecting the kids" suddenly isn't half as important as pretending that they're perfectly safe, regardless of evidence. See also, "Opposition to the HPV vaccine".

#352 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:48 PM:

Xopher @ 296 - in re: Tracie @ 284

I don't know anything about the tune of "Deck the Halls," but an examination of the lyrics suggests that it's pre-Christian in origin, though the language (despite the archaic use of 'troll') isn't that old; there's no mention of Christmas in it at all.

Keep in mind that any English song lyrics old enough to be "pre-Christian" would be an an English unintelligible to us today. The familiar English lyrics to "Deck the Halls" were first published in 1862 (per the Wikipedia article on the song), and although a specific author doesn't seem to be known, the song appears in a general context of 19th century lyricists writing new English lyrics to traditional Welsh airs. The most familiar Welsh lyrics were first published in 1794 and despite Wikipedia's optimistic that "it is much older", on linguistic grounds those specific lyrics are likely of relatively recent composition at that time.

The lack of overt Christmas references can be attributed to the fact that the song (in its various versions) was a New Year's carol rather than a Christmas carol. (The Welsh title "Nos Galan" specifically refers to New Year's Day.) The familiar English lyrics with their "boughs of holly" are part of a long tradition of winter greenery references, but while one can argue that the motif of winter greenery has pre-Christian origins, it's a much harder assertion to prove that a specific set of lyrics dates that early. The Welsh lyrics are, if anything even more frivolous and secular than the English ones, but make no specific reference to greenery (further eroding the notion that the English lyrics represent some surviving tradition).

This refutation isn't meant to be personal. I have a major hot-topic button around claims of antiquity for tunes, songs, and language issues. This stuff changes so much, so rapidly, that even when a tune can be traced unquestionably across the centuries, it becomes barely recognizable as the same within a couple hundred years (unless there is some strong conservatising force acting on it.)

#353 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:56 PM:

Good to know, Heather. Thank you. Yeah, I knew the language couldn't be that old, but thought it was maybe a modernization of something older. Looks like I was wrong.

What about that use of 'troll'? Was that current in 1794?

#354 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:04 PM:

My contact, whose identity I shall now semi-reveal - he's a member of the Orlando Consort, a small vocal ensemble specialising in mediaeval music, and they're all breathtakingly knowledgeable about it - replies thusly:

It depends what you mean by 'tune'. Plainchant goes back to at least 800 (Armed Man is C15th). And there are certainly 'tunes' from Ancient Greece.

Which basically confirms what was said earlier about the first-century Greek drinking song, but since the Orlando Consort don't do anything earlier than the ninth century, I wouldn't expect him to have definite dates for the Ancient Greek music.

#355 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Dave Harmon, the book _The Cute and the Cool_, by Cross, is interesting on the history of USians (mostly) fearing their children. All tied up with consumerism and individualism.

I hypothesize that reading is a red flag for bullies because, when reading, one is removing oneself from the hierarchy (along with the rest of the world!) The more venal bully experiences this as dominance missed; the more pitiable bully seems to be existentially threatened if everyone isn't performing their place in a hierarchy always.

#356 ::: Phlop ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Fragano, I nearly just called them gollies in my post so as to avoid the echoes of that word (very much the racist insult of my childhood era and location), but in the end it seemed better to call them what they were at the time.

#357 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:20 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @352, not to worry. I don't think anyone here believes you're trolling the ancient yuletide carol.

I went upstairs and looked in my Oxford Book of Carols, which is where the stuff in my post came from. I looked in the newer of the two, as it is the more verbose.

As to the bullying, I can add my voice to the ones who were victims with a similar story. The bullies could always rile me into trying some of my hilarious circular swings, after which a grownup would seize me and I'd find myself in that office in the school, hearing a teacher say "only animals settle things with violence" as he patted his left hand rhythmically with the paddle (with holes drilled in it).

At least the fucking bullies were honest about it. I finally started declining opportunities in junior high. By then I didn't care what the tough guys thought anyway.

#358 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:22 PM:

I'd think that asking what the earliest known tune is basically comes down to asking what the earliest written musical notation is that we still know how to read. (The modern version is less than a thousand years old.)

If Wikipedia is to be believed, we do know how to read ancient Greek musical notation and we do have at least a couple of complete pieces. So yes, that gets us to about 2000 years ago. Apparently we have some samples of written Sumerian music from 3000 or 4000 years ago, but it's not certain that we know how to interpret it.

#359 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Xopher: something you said earlier about having fantasies about your bullies bounced around in my mind for a couple of hours and suddenly reminded me that I did, too. Only mine were about having a tiny robotic bubble hovercar which could take me anywhere while I sat and read. I used to fantasise about sitting comfortably in it, letting it glide along at about chest height, while the bullies fretted and fumed alongside because they couldn't get at me (and if they tried, the hovercar would automatically shoot up just out of reach).

It never occurred to me to think of actually hurting them, but it was jolly satisfying to imagine them hurting themselves through their own frustrated malice.

#360 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:26 PM:

(By the way, folks, don't go to Wikipedia's article on Sumer icumen in if you want to keep your belief that it refers to bucks farting. I guess this is why Disney hasn't based a computer animated movie on it.)

#361 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Phlop #356: Yes indeed.

#362 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Kip, I've never heard about the bucks farting. Where does that come from?

#363 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Re. bullying, when I told my mother I was being bullied, she gave me the "sticks and stones" followed by "if you don't react, they'll stop." So, my being upset was my fault for being too sensitive, and my being bullied was my fault anyway, because why, if I just didn't react, I wouldn't be bullied. Between that reaction and the actual bullying (mostly non-violent, and mostly hidden once the teacher told them it was unacceptable) and the general, associated, "if dcb suggests it it's obviously not worth listening to/considering, because dcb isn't worthy of any respect or consideration" that many of my classmates subjected me to over the years, it's taken me 30+ years to build up my self-esteem from out of the hole that put me in, and it's still a work-in-progress.

Why yes, this does make me angry.

In more general terms, the whole "well, I wouldn't be upset by X (words, behaviour) so A.N. Other doesn't have the right to be upset by X" really gets me annoyed

#364 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:53 PM:

dcb @ 363: that was, word for word, what I got from my mother. Who, it's worth mentioning, was never bullied, since she seems to have been born tough. Don't get me wrong; these days my mother and I get on famously. But there were quite a lot of things in the past on which there was no negotiation whatsoever because I happened to be a child, and what children in general thought was not important.

And this was why I had low self-esteem, irrespective of the fact that I was perfectly well aware that the bullying I was subjected to was not my fault. Essentially, as a child I had a choice of three worlds. There was the adult world, where I didn't get bullied as such and I could have an intelligent conversation, but it was made clear to me at every turn that I was an inferior being and a constant source of potential embarrassment. There was the child world, which was full of bullies with whom I shared virtually no interests. And there was the book world.

Given that choice, it was pretty obvious which one I was going to live in whenever possible.

#365 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:07 PM:

Fragano, #347: Yes. One has to wonder whether that part of the name was chosen to indicate that -- or if the term arose from the name, as a couple of online sources suggest. In either case, it renders the company's claim that there was nothing racist about it somewhat disingenuous.

Kip, #357: Yes to this, too. There's something smelly and hypocritical about beating a child to teach them that "we don't hit people". (And yes, using a paddle is BEATING, not spanking.)

#366 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Lee @ 365: many years ago I had the privilege of working with a very interesting woman who had previously worked in what she cheerfully referred to as "a school for naughty kids". (Its official name was more polite, but less descriptive.) One of these children in particular used to keep getting hauled up in front of the head teacher for what is generally referred to in football matches as "foul and abusive language". After this had happened several times, the school finally decided to call the child's father in, and there was a meeting involving the head teacher, this woman I worked with, the child, and the child's father.

The head teacher explained what was happening, and the father blew up in his son's face. "If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times," he shouted. "Don't f***ing swear!"

I'm very pleased to say that the school reacted by telling the father that they would no longer be punishing the child for swearing, since it was perfectly clear where he was getting it from. Bingo.

#367 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:42 PM:

Lee@365: The Wikipedia article on the history of golliwogs makes the claim that the epithet comes from their name. It also says - with accompanying photo - that they were on sale in shops in the UK as late as 2008! If true, I'm deeply dismayed and embarrassed by this news.

#368 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 06:50 PM:

Xopher #362:

It comes from the verse

Awe bleteth efter lomb
louth after calvé cu;
bullock sterteth, bucké verteth,
murry singe cuccú.

"Verteth" is rendered in Dame Helen Gardner's Oxford Book of English Verse as "farteth".

#369 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Fragano, spot on. It was only today when I went to check on it that I saw the new consensus, namely that it means the buck turns. I liked thinking about the deer (and perhaps the antelope) farting around in those merry, merry days.

Which in turn reminds me of the "doe hunting" symbolism in English folk songs, from the possibly metaphorical antics of the Keeper and the doe (derry derry down) to the three ravens and the somber account of the slain knight being visited by "a fallow doe / as great with young as she might go" (also with a derry derry down, come to think of it). Lots of that old symbolism is still detectible to me, though in some cases (Heidenröslein, die Forelle) I can't tell what the final twist of attitude is — whether Goethe sees the rose's sting as a mere inconvenience to a man of the world, or whether he acknowledges it as a small rebellion from one who has, in a sense, lost all. And whether Schubart was really truly sad over the trout or whether he was mocking those who would have been. It's that last inch I don't think I get.

#370 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:38 PM:

Kip W #369: Robert Graves wrote somewhere that the buck, full of new grass, farted in the spring meadows. That was the actual reference of the song. Along with the bullock cavorting (starting) in the field as the cuckoo sang its spring song.

#371 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:50 PM:

I'm not sure Graves was right. He had a fertile imagination (like the book where he retells Homer with his own explanations of the fantasy elements), and it's possible in this case he was using it to rationalize the flawed translation that was current.

I really need to finish King Jesus.

#372 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:53 PM:

With regards to bullying, one of the issues of being given the impression that there's something wrong with the person being bullied ("They're just jealous of you because you're clever", for instance - which lead me to want more than anything to be stupid, which meant I barely graduated high school* and got into some ridiculous self-sabotaging habits which have resulted in flunking out of university - though I recently got accepted to a new one, based on the strength of work I submitted to them rather than my grades), is that in internalizing that there is something wrong with you, you become your own bully, and tell yourself all the things your bully told you, for years and years. It took me decades to realize this.

*Oddly enough, this did not fool anyone into thinking I was stupid.

#373 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:04 PM:

ze sho zai shujo:
i aku-go: innen
ka aso:gi ko:
fu mon sambo: myo:

#374 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:05 PM:

clew #355:

Dave Harmon, the book _The Cute and the Cool_, by Cross, is interesting on the history of USians (mostly) fearing their children. All tied up with consumerism and individualism.

Hmm, I'll see if I can find it.

I hypothesize that reading is a red flag for bullies because, when reading, one is removing oneself from the hierarchy (along with the rest of the world!) The more venal bully experiences this as dominance missed; the more pitiable bully seems to be existentially threatened if everyone isn't performing their place in a hierarchy always.

I believe you are overthinking that. A kid who's reading is (1) unwatchful and immobile (more or less), and (2) Failing to Cringe -- or even to pay attention to the bully. I'd say that's sufficient to explain the targeting, but in many cases there's also (3a) implicitly smarter than the bully (dominance threat), or at least (3b) not in the bully's social group ("other tribes are not people")

#375 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:25 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @370: Robert Graves wrote somewhere that the buck, full of new grass, farted in the spring meadows.

That’s a line to make Harry Truman regret his famous desk sign.

#376 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 08:34 PM:

"Compare them to the vultures in Disney's The Jungle Book. They're also birds, also different, also very specifically attired (with mod haircuts), also accented (but British). Other, but not othered in the same way. They're funny, and part of their funniness is their otherness, but it's not racial—instead, it's national. Possibly generational (I think they're supposed to remind you of the Beatles or the Stones, but it's not specific enough to be sure.)"

Definitely the Beatles. Disney tried to get JPGR to actually do the voices, but it didn't work out.

#377 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:25 PM:

Linkmeister @ 172:

Harris was a shy man so the attention was a pain to him. Mark Twain, AKA Samuel Clemens, told a friend in a letter that it was a shame, because he had an ear for dialect and a great speaking voice.

#378 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 10:59 PM:

Fragrano @347: Ah! Thank you! That was the clue I needed to decode "cnxv". I had spent an embarrasingly long time methodically trying to undisemvowel it and got nowhere. Not being a native speaker is sometimes annoying.

#379 ::: Sten got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 11:04 PM:

For talking about offensive words, I guess. Is chocolate an useful bribe?

[Actually for effusive thanks. See "Why Thank You Is a Dirty Word" elsewhere. (But we know that "Interfaith" is not a dirty word. Therefore we can express gratitude by saying "Interfaith!" -- Ponori Niction, Duty Gnome]

#380 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:03 AM:

Fragano and Kip W: "Bucke uerteþ" is a crux in Sumer is icumen in. The Middle English Dictionary thinks the verb means "fart", and there don't seem to be many better options for its meaning. However, we really don't know for certain; see this note on line 10 of Sumer for a great example of what happens when linguists are confused.

#381 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:13 AM:

Dave Bell writes in #173:

Here in Britain, at the exact same time, women were in all three armed services, manning AA batteries, fixing aircraft, and loading ammunition on warships.

And what does our veteran of the AA batteries do in civilian life, now that the war is over?

She sells C cells by the seashore.

#382 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:48 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 381... Groan.

#383 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:21 AM:

re 298/299: This is it for my responses on this, ever, because I cannot fight having "if you" being turned into "American society as a whole." Never mind that the word "society" is going to head down into another intellectual territory where I already know my map isn't going to correspond to yours; the word "you" simply doesn't mean "everybody". It's one thing if/that I say something ambiguous (and that particular phrase doesn't allow me to read it that way), and it's another to seize upon every ambiguity and slant them all in the same direction. I'm active in a lot of fora, in a lot of different contexts, and it's only here that I have this constant issue with this.

It's much the same thing with "privilege": people here only seem to be willing to read my discomfort with the concept as a disagreement with the idea that racism has real world effects. Half of my problem with the word is that when you, Lee, say, "they assume that it's a zero-sum game," my observation is, "well, yeah, because you keep picking words whose connotation is that it is a zero-sum game or even worse, and that the powerful are going to take away from the less powerful but ostensibly privileged in order to fix things." I like to think that a word could be picked which lacks that connotation and which doesn't invite that spin of the matter. Instead, I get responses which tell me that the subject is too charged for anything but a "God will know his own" carelessness with any kind of dissent (which I see also in Scalzi's flippant dismissal of the half-dozen at least people who brought up the issue of class privilege). It's taking too much of an emotional toll on me to spend a long time trying to fine-tune what I'm saying and having it misconstrued anyway with a dollop of attack on my character, so I'm done.

#384 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:00 AM:

C. Wingate @383: Would it help to think of the word "privilege" as a term of art in a specialized context? With a very specific definition that only partially overlaps with its casual, everyday meaning.

#385 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:14 AM:

C. Wingate, #383: I like to think that a word could be picked which lacks that connotation and which doesn't invite that spin of the matter.

I would ask what word (or words, or phrase) you might suggest instead -- but as you have already announced your intention to depart the thread, it is probably pointless to do so.

#386 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:16 AM:

Sten @ #378, rather than disemvowelment, cnxv has been transliterated with the ROT-13 encryption function (found here, but there's also an add-on for Firefox which allows you to convert without opening up that new window in the first link).

There's a LOT of ROT-13 text used in the comments of this blog; I recommend getting that add-on to save yourself much brain-strain. It certainly has saved me.

#387 ::: Linkmeister, beguiled by gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:18 AM:

We ate all the tri-tip. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, perhaps?

#388 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:56 AM:

C Wingate @383:

Re "privilege": it's not a good word. But there are many words that we use that don't work very well in their current context. "Conservative" doesn't really describe a politician who's in favor of risky military interventions all over the world; "liberals" have their own impermissivenesses as well.

But there's a subset of people who will never be satisfied with any word, because they disagree with the concept so strongly that they don't want a word for it to exist at all (as opposed to people who think it's contrafactual and are willing to have a word to discuss why). And some of them will quite happily derail each and every conversation about the concept into an endless and impossible discussion of the word.

As a result, I generally tend toward living with the word, but treating it like a term of art (as GlendaP says).


More generally, with regard to your interactions with the community: I've been watching this situation for some time (of course), and I've noticed a pattern. What I see, time and again, is that your tone goes from being its usual pleasant good nature to something quite different—aggressive, offended, somewhat aggrieved—when you are challenged or disagreed with by people whom you know to be female. This thread is a good example, where you went, frankly, a little bonkers at a one-sentence reply from TexAnne.

This is not to say you are some kind of evil sexist. My best guess is that somewhere in your cultural conditioning, you've internalized a definition of "appropriate" behavior that does not include direct challenges from women in language that asserts or assumes their equality. I'd hazard that having that violated pushes some button in your makeup. And I suspect that if TexAnne had used the kind of temporizations that women in our shared culture are trained to use—and which we then have to train ourselves not to use to be heard in other contexts—the conversation would have gone differently.

Unfortunately, if that is the issue, it's one you'll have to deal with in the space between your keyboard and your chair. (And, if it is the issue, you may very well not read this comment, or not take it in the way that I intend.)

In any case, you are not banned from Making Light. You're welcome back any time, on any thread, as long as you behave yourself. And if you don't, we'll have another go-round. That happens, in communities. And you are, or have been, part of our community for some time. Even with these thrashes, even with the dynamic I've just described, the shape our community has grown into over the years includes a you-shaped space.

#389 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:09 AM:

iamnothing @373: [*]

That looks to me like it could be Japanese, but I wouldn't be too surprised if it were something else.

#390 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:36 AM:

David Goldfarb @389: I thought my comments were invisible. It's actually 5th century Chinese, pronounced like Japanese.

#391 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:41 AM:

Serge @ #382

Put that fan on a charge!

#392 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 06:56 AM:

Xopher @ 210: (apologies, haven't checked the thread in a few days)... The truth is that no-one seems to be certain what Danny Boy is about, although I find it hard to believe that an Edwardian English barrister would write a song about so firmly Irish a topic as the potato famine - especially since it was originally set to a melody of his own composition, and had to be modified to fit the Derry Air a few years later (and it was only after those modifications that it became popular in Ireland).

For those interested, theres a good article (albeit on a site with a really ugly layout, sorry) on the origins of the Derry Air and the Danny Boy lyrics here.

#393 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:41 AM:

By the way, about the local unspeakable words: I can figure F and N, but am unsure about C -- is that the 4-letter one, female-oriented?

#394 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:48 AM:

Dave Crisp @392 - I made use of a favorite old bookmarklet to make that more readable. Bookmarklets for Zapping Annoyances has something called "zap colors" that will remove annoying backgrounds and turn the text on a webpage into black on a white background.

#395 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:55 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 393: Yes, I think so. I've rot-13'd it: pnxr

#396 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:56 AM:

Linkmeister @383: Yes, I'm familiar with ROT-13 and I do indeed have use the leetkey plugin in Firefox. I just din't get it until other people started to refer to other rot-13:ed words.

For some reason my brain had decided that the word was disemvoweled and it didn't occur to me to try other decoding strategies.

#397 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:56 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ 391... Is that for the crime of a volt and battery?

#398 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:31 AM:

Abi, I haven't given up on "conservative" either, for the same reason. I try to prefer more specific labels like "neocom" and "right lib", and I'll abandon those if the connotation is still too strong.

As far as a discussion of our interactions here, forget it. I'll think about it, but nearly thirty years of doing this have left me with the conclusion that talking about that is never purposeful.

#399 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:31 AM:

You can probably add "resisting lawful authority" as well.

(FX: wanders off humming "Ohm on the range".)

#400 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:13 AM:

iamnothing @373:

Translation?

#401 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:22 AM:

C Wingate @398:

I wasn't so much proposing a discussion as giving you some food for thought.

I would say, as a moderator, that there may be times when it might be at least as productive to click on by as it would be to continue down a road that you don't want to be on.

#402 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:23 AM:

Dave Harmon @393: For me, N and C were obvious, but I'm still only guessing at F. I'm also assuming that lvq / xvxr would be stamped on.

Serge Broom / Cadbury Moose: Just to say I'm enjoying.

#403 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:26 AM:

Cadbury Moose #399: So it's an electric stove, then? (resistive heating)

Also, the way the mention of serious female roles in combat has been turned into a running joke is just re-volt-ing. ;)

#404 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Rymenhild @380: You have given me hope. Th*nks.

#405 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:33 PM:

John A Arkansawyer Huh? AFAIK that's not a slur. The one I was thinking ROT-13's into something that's not only pronounceable, but resembles the shorter F-word (dcb: "snttbg") with the F turned to PH.

#406 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Kip W #371: I went through a Gravesian period in my twenties when i read everything by Graves I could lay my hands on. I thought it then essential for understanding the impulse behind poetry, or how the creative imagination turns into poetry.

King Jesus is not the easiest novel to read, based as it is on a combination of Graves's beliefs about goddess-worship and such texts as the Gospel of Thomas.

Avram #375: The Buck Farts Here?

Rymenhild #380: Why would it be suggested today that the word has a Latin root (vertere) rather than being a plain Anglo-Saxon one? I'm curious about this as the possessor of a Middle English name (legister is in the OED).

#407 ::: Fragano Ledgister is once more a babe in Gnomeland ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:38 PM:

I'm innocent, I say, innocent. I have some nice herbal tea and fresh fruit for the gnomes.

#408 ::: Fragano Ledgister is once more a babe in Gnomeland ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:38 PM:

I'm innocent, I say, innocent. I have some nice herbal tea and fresh fruit for the gnomes.

#409 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Dave Harmon @405: Ah yes, that matches my guess - I do remember the (possibly apocryphal) advice from some years ago to cigarette-smoking Brits travelling to the USA that they shouldn't ask anyone if they could "ohz n snt"* as this would be misunderstood, possibly violently.

* Just in case any non-Brits are confused, the phrase in question is asking in a vernacular manner whether the speaker can cadge** a cigarette from the person addressed...

** and now I'm hoping this doesn't have a meaning with which I am unfamiliar.

#410 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Actually, the banned word I'm having trouble figuring out is the one beginning with 'f'. The only possibility I can think of is what people usually call "the f word", but it's not really the same as those other banned words. It's often considered rude or taboo in some communities, but, unlike the others, it's not a hateful insult. What am I missing?

#411 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:19 PM:

As far as I can tell, there are two reasons, Fragano 406: First, Latin loanwords do jump into Middle English. It's been known to happen, since many educated men who spoke English as a native language did most of their writing in Latin. The presence of a Latin song as an alternate text of Sumer is icumen in, just under the Middle English text and written in red, means that Sumer really is in dialogue with a Latin literary ... canon.

Second, it's not clear that "fart" really is an Old English word. The online editors of Sumer print OE *feortan with an asterisk, suggesting that it's not attested, and the next recognizable uses of the word show up ca. 1400.

Sorry about continuing the digression -- we can move this into the open thread. *departs, singing cucu*

#412 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:21 PM:

dcb @409:

In reference to cigarettes, you're probably safe, particularly if you're speaking (the accent excuses a lot). The word came up recently in its public-school sense in another forum I frequent, and there was a...crisp...enquiry from a moderator about the meaning intended.

#413 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Matt Austern @410:

No, it's not fuck, which we are fine with. Fuck is not a slur on any group in particular.

Enough with the voldemorting. The word in question is fag, used in the sense of "gay person". Although, as with the gleeful use of "niggardly" by people who then swiftly cite etymology to defend their choice, any uses as "cigarette" or "public school dogsbody" will also be looked at long and thoughtfully. Just in case.

#414 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:29 PM:

And, of course, a snttbg is also a piece of firewood. I seem to recall that there was a joke based on a couple of Americans misunderstanding this word in Tbbq Bzraf (ol Greel Cengpurgg naq Arvy Tnvzna).

#415 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:33 PM:

dcb @402:

You're absolutely correct. Those terms don't turn up enough to make the headline ban, but anyone using them, even once, in anything but the most ironclad situation (etymological discussion or literal quote deprecated in the commentary are the only ones that spring to mind), would find themselves under Scrutiny.

#416 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:46 PM:

That joke I mentioned, incidentally, is a beautiful example of using otherwise questionable language to punch up rather than down. One of the other characters in the book (I can't recall which one because it's a long time since I've read it) uses the word in what is obviously the innocent "firewood" context, but the two Americans, who are both homophobic and rather stupid, don't understand that. The reader ends up laughing at the two silly homophobes.

#417 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 01:58 PM:

abi @415

One of the uglier aspects of the British public school system, which I became aware of when a fannish friend recounted the experience in a zine (and please don't try to guess or reveal names in this much-spied-on medium) is that there is more connection between various meanings of "fag" than you might think. I cannot speak of current situations, but back in the Good Old Days it was commonplace that the older schoolboys raped the younger ones.

Was the Public School meaning related in an etymological sense? It is, I think, old enough that it might be a source. I've seen lots of speculation about why it was attached to homosexuality, but I would dread to try and pin down a date.

It makes some of the public pronouncements of the socially powerful seem quite hypocritical. How many dared indulge in the schoolboy dominance ritual that dare not speak its name, I shudder to think.

#418 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Dave Bell @417:

I have no idea of whom you speak, and that's fine. I have a very close friend who went to one of the top-tier English public schools (neither Eton nor Harrow, but a Clarendon school). I've heard similar stories from him, though personal fagging was abolished by his time. I believe them. I think that was one of the main reasons that the practice was stopped.

I don't know that abolishing the opportunity to rape, beat and humiliate other students has resulted a sufficiently material improvement in the moral character of the British political class. But I suppose it was a step in the right direction.

#419 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:44 PM:

Mongoose @416: It's from close to the end, where Newt is showing the guards at the American airbase his "official" Witchfinder warrant card - including the bit which gives him the authority to requisition flammable substances.

#420 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Xopher @ 296: White males should NOT have uniformly better outcomes than non-whites or non-males. So yeah, take the privilege away. Exactly. I don't see why this should distress you.

I think you've got it exactly backwards. Don't take the privilege away. Give everyone the same privilege. Everyone should have lives like those of White/Male/Straight people. Everyone should have lives which "just work" because our society has stopped creating artificial barriers against those who aren't White/Male/Straight.

It should go without saying that I don't think everyone should be some clueless version of White/Male/Straight even if they're Black/Female/Gay, but I'm saying it anyway. Having a life which "just works" doesn't imply homogeneity or a lack of understanding.

#421 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 02:55 PM:

abi @418

Eton and the other elite schools, do seem to have changed since the days of our current Glorious Leader. I am not sure that young man is young enough to have dodged that particular bullet, and there are other signs of him having been a rather nasty piece of work.

Bullingdon Club

I have seen Oxford late at night in September, and remember Cornmarket Street to be quite lively, but the clientele would not have been Bullingdon members.

#422 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:17 PM:

On derogatory ethnic terms: One I learnt not to use as a young adult was "Coolie". In the West Indies (including Surinam, please note Abi) it is used by Creoles (i.e., black, mixed race, and white people) as a pejorative term for South Asians (never East Asians who are referred to as Chiney, another derogatory term). I, for one, would be happy to see it banned though I doubt very much it will turn up here except occasionally in the sense of "Asian field hand".

#423 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:34 PM:

Dave C @ 419: ah yes - really must read it again.

Dave B @ 421: if I recall correctly, Glorious Leader is younger than I am. Two of my best friends, by some weird coincidence, went to Winchester; one of them is a couple of years younger than Glorious Leader and the other is older than I am, so they weren't there at the same time. Neither of them reports suffering or witnessing any abuse there, though it may simply be that Winchester was more enlightened than Eton at that time. I suspect each of these schools has its own particular culture.

#424 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:44 PM:

Alex R @420: I think you've got it exactly backwards. Don't take the privilege away. Give everyone the same privilege.

Same thing. A privilege (from Latin privus, individual + legis, law) is a relative advantage. If everyone’s got it, it stops being a privilege.

#425 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 03:55 PM:

Avram @ 424

In the technical sense you're completely correct. However, in the emotional sense, you don't want to tell someone that you're taking something away. Are we bringing everyone down to a particular level, or are we bringing everyone up to a particular level? The difference is important.

#426 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:21 PM:

I agree with Alex R. @425; I think that the difference is psychologically important and is likely to affect acceptance by those who have been/are at present the ones recieving the benefits of privilege. If they think they're losing something, they're likely to fight harder.

#427 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:21 PM:

1. I borrowed a copy of Joel Chandler Harris' stories from my mother, because I *knew* I'd read the Br'er Rabbit stories in a non-Disney format as a child. These would not be the ones though; I bounced hard off the extreme dialect depiction, and I would have bounced harder as a child. Of special note is the introduction, in which Harris displays quite well why Song of the South is so very racist. Harris' introduction to this novel manages to blandly state that a) slaves looked with nostalgia at the days of slavery and b) somehow, Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a defense of slavery—you know, I don't get it either, but that was somehow the logical leap he made.

IOW, Harris came across as oblivious as you might expect for someone who had no direct experience with the issues in question and still treated non-whites as Other, Less Capable.

2. Serious question: Are the animated bits inherently racist? I haven't seen them since I was a child, so I wouldn't have noticed then. I loved the Br'er Rabbit stories (as noted above) and would appreciate the ability to show them to my kids IF, and only if, they're not horrific. I showed my kids Peter Pan and I'm never doing that again.

3. Peter Pan. The first thing, the very first thing we see Tinkerbell do is be visibly distressed at the size of her hips. Throw in more awful gender tropes. Pretty horrific. Then we get to the "Injuns" and I'm appalled that they've been re-releasing this on the regular schedule. Arrgh.

4. Princess and the Frog is interesting, because they set it in New Orleans in the 1920s and had to tiptoe around the racism. The really sad bit for me, as an adult, was when the bankers told Tiana that "another buyer has shown up," and I knew that a) there probably wasn't another buyer, and b) if there was, that buyer was white. I actually give props to Disney for that one, because that's the sort of thing that would really happen, unlike the sweet little spoiled white rich girl still being friendly to the daughter of her childhood maid. There are still problems with that movie, but at least somebody's trying. (And I love Tiana.)

#428 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:32 PM:

P.S. In regards to privilege. (Not addressed at anyone in particular; this is just an idea I've had and this seems like a good place.)

Think of this: You're climbing a mountain. The trail is rocky and steep. Your backpack is heavy, and though your friends are encouraging you from further up the trail, it's a tough climb and you think your shoes are chafing a blister on you.

That's privilege.

If you don't see it, I can point it out for you: Everyone is climbing the mountain. It's rocky, it's steep, the sun is hot. But you've got a backpack, with food and water in it for when you really need it. You've got friends higher up on the trail, giving you encouragement. You've got a trail. You've got shoes.

You've got feet.

When people say a group has privilege, they're not saying that life isn't hard for everyone—it is. Oh, there are some special cases, where the people involved particularly enjoy a challenge and will free-climb up the side of the mountain barefoot just to prove a point. But for most people, it's hard as a default state.

Privilege is not realizing how much harder it can get. Somebody off to the side who can't even see a trail and who has to bushwhack, and then encounters a cliff... well, they're apt to get discouraged. Some people have to even deal with rocks kicked up unintentionally or deliberately by people higher up the mountain. Climbing the mountain is the default state. Just be glad you're not falling off it.

#429 ::: Leigh Kimmel ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Alex R @ 425

Amen, amen, amen.

That emotional element is very important -- avoiding language with connotations of confiscation, and instead favoring language with connotations of of expansion, of making sure that these things are no longer just privileges of the few, but fundamental rights that everyone enjoys.

There can be some questions about whether everybody can have equal access to material goods in a finite universe without having to take away from some people so that others can have more, but when it comes to intangibles like respect, or equal access to the justice system, there can be no excuse. There's not only so much respect to go around, such that someone always has to end up the disrespected out-group, and you can only change who gets to be the downtrodden. There's not a finite supply of justice in the world, such that some people have to get the short end of the stick all the time when dealing with the police and the courts and end up over-represented in the prison population.

#430 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:53 PM:

True story.

My mother is from India, from a Christian family, specifically from Chennai, or, as it was known when she was a child there, Madras. Pretty much where the story "Little Black Sambo" was written and set.

Her younger brother was named Samuel. Nicknamed "Sambo" when they were children in India, and quite unaware of the story.

And when they moved to the US, in the 1960s, people were quite horrified to hear my uncle being called "Sambo." For reasons that are obvious in the US context.

So my family dropped the nickname "Sambo" for my uncle, and switched to "Sammy." As he grew older "Sam" and later he chose the more Indian "Shahji." Even when they later visited in India again, they didn't go back to "Sambo."

Because even though they used the name "Sambo" completely innocently, they recognized that their innocent use of the name justified neither having my uncle grow up with a name that was obviously racist in their new context, nor the distress it was causing others for them to be using the name, given the cultural weight they didn't know about it.

My point being that even if someone has been using a word or phrase or name innocently or ignorantly in their immediately local context, if you find out that it is problematic in a larger or new context, you change what you're doing. And while you can certainly explain that you were using the word or phrase innocently based on where you were coming from, you don't use that previous context as an excuse to keep using the word or phrase when you're somewhere where it is clearly inappropriate. And even if you physically go back to where you were, you don't forget what you've learned, and you move on with your language, not back.

#431 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 04:58 PM:

So far as I'm aware, the 'f-word' anti-gay slur flagged above is not often used that way in the UK since you'd basically be calling someone a large meatball:

Meatballs

The diminutive is also taken, of course.

#432 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:16 PM:

Alex, #420: I agree with you -- the solution isn't to weigh down those in the lead, it's to remove the weights from those burdened by them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who see those two approaches as effectively fungible. This, to me, tends to read as "entitlement", in the sense that they feel entitled to have a life that works better than other people's, and if they don't, then something has indeed been taken away from them.

Fragano, #422: Also, there's the "coolie hat", which is the flattish straw cone stereotypically worn by rice pickers.

One that I ran up against some years ago was "coonass". This has been represented to me (only ever by white people) as a perfectly acceptable and non-racial term for people who live in rural Louisiana -- but I remember that one of the words which used to be considered a politer alternative to the N-word was "coon", and I don't buy it for a flat second.

#433 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:22 PM:

Ron Hansen @ 421

Not only that, but the most prominent brand is sold under the name 'Brain's'. I really wish I was making this up.

Googling around for.a link to prove I was not, I found this. Many of you will immediately want to check the dateline - I did too. It is neither January 4th nor April 1st.

While I'm willing to believe in the innocence of the original product, I'm less inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt to this particular marketing campaign.

#434 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:32 PM:

Rob H @431: I'm gay and British, and I hear the word used as a homophobic slur far more often than I hear it as a synonym for meatballs. (Of course, I hear the "cigarette" meaning more often than both, but that's beside the point)

#435 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Lee#432: they feel entitled to have a life that works better than other people's, and if they don't, then something has indeed been taken away from them.

This. They are not satisfied without someone to look down on (if not abuse with impunity).

#436 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Dave Crisp @ 434: I stand corrected.

#437 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Dave Crisp @ 434: I stand corrected.

#438 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 06:16 PM:

The problem is that even when we talk about expanding access to the right to walk down the street without being assumed to be a criminal, some people take that as wanting to take something away from them. As if they believe that the police are always going to randomly stop the same number N of people a year, and shopkeepers are required by the laws of physics, and therefore they want the burden of those stops and hostile merchants to be borne entirely by someone else than them.

The other thing is that there is no way to say "I want you and people like you to stop taking credit for the achievements of people like myself" without the people who are most taking advantage of their higher places seeing it as a loss. Consistently taking/being given credit for someone else's ideas, or counting on being promoted even when there are three other people who are at least as well qualified, is taking something away from other people. Unfair treatment often benefits someone, and that person may be more invested in his higher salary, or chance to send his kid to a good school, than any idea of justice.

If you've always had line-jumping privileges, having to wait your turn like everyone else means spending more time in line, and maybe not getting into as many of the good things, whether that's concert tickets or medical school admissions.

The person who genuinely doesn't see what they're doing when they take credit for someone else's ideas, because nobody said "good idea, Joan" and when they offer the same idea five minutes later the boss says "Good idea, Tom" instead of "I'm glad you agree with me and Joan," may resent the suggestion that he isn't the smartest person in his group, even though he might be the smartest straight white man in the group.

#439 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to describe privilege is one of the most well documented. There are dozens of studies based on changing the name on a resume/transcript/CV/profile, and then having people respond to it - either by handing it to people and having them rate the suitability of the candidate, or just blind mailing out resumes and counting the callback numbers.

Every time time they do that study, it comes out the same. With a completely identical CV, women and minorities get rated lower than white men or get fewer calls for interviews. (Interestingly, if a female name is on the description of an ambitious, successful career person, people will actually rate that theoretical person as less fundamentally likable than an identical description of a male.)

So, here's the problem. Right now, a theoretical place gets 100 resumes, they call back ten people: 8 white males, 1 non-white male, and 1 white female. Ok, we wave a magic wand that removes the name-on-resume bias. The company instead calls back 3 white males, 4 white females, 2 non-white males, and 1 non-white female (this assumes people apply for this job in demographic percentages similar to the US population, and everyone is qualified.) For a white male, your chance of getting called for an interview will have visibly declined. We can't force the company to interview 32 people instead of 10, and even if we could, the number of job positions available would remain the same.

Not everything is a zero-sum game: giving another group the right to marriage, or lowering average prison sentencing so that it's uniform across racial boundaries, or equally enforcing anti-harassment laws regardless of the victim. None of those changes take anything away from the groups that are privileged now - this is the ideal "privilege for all" scenario you talk about. But a good thing that everybody gets isn't a privilege... it's closer to a right.

And some things - like professorships at universities, or scriptwriting jobs for major TV networks, or CEO positions - will always exist in a specific quantity, which means that not everyone can be guaranteed access to them. Increasing equality does mean that the currently privileged group will perceive a reduction in their percentage chance of getting a certain sort of job.

Look at it this way: when you submit an application for a job, you then roll 3 six-sided dice, and add your privilege score. The ten highest scores get interviews. White males are rolling 3d6 +6. Non-white males are rolling 3d6 +3. White females are rolling 3d6 +3. Non-white females are rolling 3d6 with no bonuses. This doesn't mean that every white male will get interviewed, or that a non-white female can't roll all sixes. A white dude could end up with a 9 while a nonwhite female could end up with an 18. And there are factors beyond race, of course, which I'll touch on a tiny bit later. This is a huge simplification.

Regardless, we need to fix the "name bias." Whether we fix this by giving everyone a +6 bonus or we fix it by taking away all the bonuses, it doesn't really matter. And if we give everyone the +6 rather than removing all bonuses, we are still by definition eliminating "privilege," because privilege is something that some people get and other people don't. If everyone gets a thing, it's no longer a privilege.

The "idea of privilege" has two parts - one is the idea that there are specific actual laws that discriminate against a given group. The second is the trickier part… it's the idea of that hidden "+6" bonus that you might not even be aware of, that you can't give up even if you don't want it. Most people realize that the first part exists, but the second part is trickier. If you're the guy who rolled three ones, that hidden +6 doesn't matter, might not even be perceptible to you, so you might not think it exists. Plus, you could have other negatives that balance out… maybe you're getting a -3 because you're non-neurotypical. Maybe you didn't get support as a kid in your education, so you get a -3 there. With your +6 and your two -3s, you could indeed be in the same spot, statistically, as a non-white woman who is neurotypical and had parental support as a kid. But here's the thing - there are also nonwhite women out there who are non-neurotypical and who didn't get parental support, and they are even more screwed than you.

Part of privilege is all those invisible bonuses and lack-of-negatives. Neurotypical privilege is just as real as racial or gender privilege. And there's a reason people from wealthy families are known as privileged… they have tons and tons of invisible bonuses that can overcome lack-of-bonuses in other areas. Someone from a wealthy family has more privilege than someone from a poor family… but a man from a wealthy family very likely has more privilege than a woman from a similar family, all other things being equal. Which is the point.

You can't acknowledge that some people get a thing and others don't without acknowledging that privilege exists. And even if your answer to that is to give everyone the same bonus, you're still destroying privilege by 'raising everyone up,' because privilege is the state of existence where some people get a thing and others don't, based on some aspect of their identity.

I understand the desire to shy away from that, to change definitions based on the desire to make the people who are currently getting all the bonuses feel less afraid. But when we're somewhere reality-based, somewhere like Making Light, I feel like we should be able to be honest about all this stuff.

#440 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:21 PM:

My favorite sushi chef has just published An Open Letter to Bigot Diners. I think it's got some relevance to the discussion here. I've been a fan of him and his restaurant for 18+ years, and have taken many people there; and everything he says about Mariah is completely true. She's astonishing (and so is he!). I want to boost his signal on this.

It's also one of the very few sustainable sushi restaurants in the country, and I recommend them very highly. So does Jon Singer.

#441 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 07:42 PM:

#417 : Dave Bell
It makes some of the public pronouncements of the socially powerful seem quite hypocritical. How many dared indulge in the schoolboy dominance ritual that dare not speak its name, I shudder to think.

I've heard that many homophobes actually have no problem with homosexual acts, so long as they're done (a) in secret, and (b) as a dominance ritual. Their fear is of people doing them consensually, introducing their partners to friends and family, living together, etc.

#442 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:09 PM:

dcb @400: A literal translation of the last line is, "not hear three-treasures name", the three treasures being an important Buddhist term. Maybe more translation later.

#443 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:20 PM:

Thanks, abi @413. I knew I had to be missing something.

On a totally different subject, one reason some people with privilege think they're being called on to give something up is that they're right. Part of being at the top of a hierarchy is that you have the privilege to make life miserable for people lower on the hierarchy. You have the privilege to insult people with impunity, the privilege to inflict violence without fear of reprisal, the privilege to issue orders, the privilege to behave unreasonably and force others to pretend you're being reasonable.

By definition, that's a kind of privilege that can't be extended to everyone; you can only have it if others don't. So yes, the people who have those privileges now need to give them up.

#444 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Alex 420: Haven't we done this here? Not sure.

At any rate: if everyone has it, it's not privilege anymore. It would be nice if everyone could live the way SWMs do now, only without the cluelessness (which, remember, is part of their privilege), but if that were true it would no longer qualify as privilege, because the differential is what makes it qualify. IOW the "treated better than other people" part is the privilege, so whether we take it from them by upgrading the treatement of others or by treating them worse, it's still taking it away.

And if you doubt that some people see this and insist on keeping the DIFFERENCE in place, try Googling "straight male gamer."

Also, what Lee said at 432. And Vicki at 438. Especially this:

If you've always had line-jumping privileges, having to wait your turn like everyone else means spending more time in line, and maybe not getting into as many of the good things, whether that's concert tickets or medical school admissions.

So yeah, we really are going to take something away, it's a real something, and it's something that no one should have.

And Matt at 443: hear, hear, y'all.

#445 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:24 PM:

Xopher @ 444... if everyone has it, it's not privilege anymore

That's when it becomes a *Right*.

#446 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Xopher @ 444

I don't think we've done this before.

Essentially, I think the issue is strategic. I firmly believe that equal opportunity for everyone is a good idea, and that this idea is so obviously good it does not require justification. That being said, the only real issue is how to sell the idea of fairness.

Let me personalize this.

I'm a straight, white male with a two children. Like me, my son is straight, white and male. My daughter is Gay and female. My daughter-in-law is Gay, female and brown. Telling me that my daughter and daughter-in-law should have the same privileged life as my son is an easy sell because I want all my kids to be as happy and fulfilled as possible. You sell this idea by using the language of "giving someone else the same privileges you have."

My response to this kind of pitch would be very positive.

But if you try to tell me that my son should have the same hard life as my daughter-in-law expects - that's the language of "give up your privilege."

My response to you would be something along the lines of "Good luck with your political ideas. Maybe you should go talk with someone else."

Of course, as a person who has some minor level of sensitivity and intelligence, I know that there's no such thing as "equal privilege." I know that giving my daughters a higher level of privilege ultimately means that I give my son and myself less privilege... just don't try to sell me your ideas with that language.

Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it.

#447 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:18 PM:

Alex R @446

Pardon me, but this is what it sounds to me like you're saying in your last post:

"I've made up a definition of privilege that is different from the definition that all the less privileged people use. Thus, whenever they use that word, I'm going to assume it has my meaning, not theirs. No matter how many times they define or explain the meaning is has for them, I'm going to go along and assume it means only what I say it means.

As a straight white male, it's important that others use words in the way I understand them. Trying to understand that words may have a meaning other than the one I've internalized is too arduous, so others must always define words the way I do."

Now, that might not be what you're trying to say here. But it's not what you say, it's how you say it.

#448 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:46 PM:

Alex:

If you have a better way of presenting this idea and set of goals to people who don't already agree, please share it with us. Go ahead and write the piece that you think would work to persuade more people. If it's good, I'd be delighted to link to it, and encourage others to do so.

Note: "persuade more people" doesn't have to be something that would work for everyone or replace all existing metaphors. Scalzi's "lowest difficulty setting" isn't the right metaphor to reach everyone, but it's useful for some audiences.

If you don't see a possible improvement or new set of metaphors, telling people "you're not saying this right" doesn't actually help. Because what isn't right for you has worked to persuade some people; dropping the subject won't persuade anyone.

#449 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:30 PM:

dcb @400: The whole translation isn't very relevent but you asked for it. Three translations:

ze sho zai shujo:
i aku-go: innen
ka aso:gi ko:
fu mon sambo: myo:

These people with their various crimes,
because of the effects of their evil deeds,
will never even hear the name of the three treasures,
though countless eons go by.

All those sinful creatures,
By reason of their evil karma,
Throughout asamkhyeya kalpas,
Hear not the name of the Precious Three.

These living beings with their various offenses,
through causes arising from their evil actions,
spend asamkhya kalpas
without hearing the name of the Three Treasures.

#450 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 11:57 PM:

Leah Miller @ 447

The idea that I'm making up a definition of "privilege" is ridiculous. The word had multiple, perfectly good definitions long before oppressed people turned it into a precisely-defined sociological term-of-art. By any definition "privilege" is an ugly word, and I've been well-aware of that for at least forty years.

In my post above I use privilege in at least two different ways, and with multiple different purposes. You may interpret them as you like.

Other than that... I took your phrasing in the post above as the first sign that this discussion is about to turn ugly, so I'm dropping out of this thread, as there are more important points about equality and privilege above than my own and it would be a shame if I was involved in a dispute which derailed those points.


Vicki @ 448:

Vicki, I'm currently satisfied with the way I've written about this idea. I've got a major project I'm working on (which I think will be a big hit here at "Making Light" should I ever manage to finish it) and don't have any interest in getting involved in a big discussion, defending the idea further, or doing the research necessary to turn the idea into a proper article.

If someone else likes my idea enough to take it and run with it, please feel free.

#451 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:04 AM:

This thing about how “privilege” is a problematic word because eliminating privilege implies taking things away from people? That was my very first reaction upon first reading Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” a decade or so ago.

Then I saw a whole lot of arguments between men and women, between white and non-white people, between heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals, etc. (I’d seen such arguments before, but I started paying more attention.) And I noticed that members of the advantaged group have a strong tendency to twist those discussions around to manufacture grievances against the advantaged even if the initial words of the non-advantaged hadn’t contained those grievances. (For example, “Are you calling me a racist?!” even in cases where the person making the initial complaint had bent over backwards to avoid making an accusation of racism.)

Thinking on the history of American race relations, racial egalitarianism — in the form of the proposed abolition of slavery — was reframed by slaveholders as an attack upon their liberties well over a century before Peggy McIntosh wrote her essay about privilege. It seems to be the natural reaction of an advantaged group to having their advantages pointed out to them. I don’t think there’s any language you can use that’ll keep it from happening, so we might as well keep on going with “privilege”.

#452 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:26 AM:

RE zero-sum games:

Through the years, I've noticed, in more than one interview with KKK members and other gutter-white-supremacists, use of a "see saw" metaphor. Paraphrasing: "You can't lift blacks up without sending us down."

Sigh. It is too easy to picture frightened people two rungs from the bottom lapping that up.

I'm a regular donor to the Southern Poverty Law Center, but I can hardly bring myself to read their reports.

#453 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:31 AM:

Alex R @450, in case you are still lurking

I'm sorry if my phrasing made you think I, or anyone else in the thread, was about to get ugly. I was just trying to point out the effect of your words, and relate how they made me feel.

There's one phrase in particular in your post @446 that makes me think your definition of privilege is hugely out of sync with the definition being used by the rest of the thread. In a thread where several people have outlined what they think privilege is, you wrote the following:

But if you try to tell me that my son should have the same hard life as my daughter-in-law expects - that's the language of "give up your privilege."

That is a parsing of the phrase "give up your privilege" that in no way even remotely resembles any of the mainstream definitions I'm aware of. So please, help me understand: what is the definition of privilege you're using where "give up your privilege" means "subject yourself to the abuses that an LBGT person of color faces?" It seems like you're defining privilege as safety, or equality (things I think of as rights, rather than privileges). If that's not what you're doing, you'll have to tell us, because that sentence is really, really hard to read any other way.

I can guarantee you, nobody arguing for the elimination of privilege is using a definition where "giving up privilege" parses in the way you parsed it in that sentence. I've never seen the phrase "give up your privilege" used in a way that would imply the person speaking it wanted what was in your sentence to come to pass... so if you're going to introduce a new interpretation, you have to help us understand why you choose to attribute that meaning to that phrase.

If I had to guess, you're using privilege to describe any societal benefit, regardless of whether it should be a right, regardless of whether or not it's given to some people and not others. It's a generic "good thing that happens because of society." And I can understand why you'd use that definition occasionally, but it's not useful to demand that everyone else use that definition as the default. It could be that I'm misreading what your definition is, but if you're just going to the word like you used it above, it's going to be hard for the rest of us to parse. Especially when many people use "give up your privilege" to mean "give up the exclusivity of your access to a given benefit."

So maybe unpack your definitions, and that sentence?

#454 ::: Leah Miller is gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:32 AM:

This thread is exceedingly hungry, and I'm out of pastries. Maybe the gnomes might like a little kale?

#455 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:49 AM:

James Moar @ #258

I'd say it's that British racism has had a focus on SE Asians that its US equivalent hasn't.
I think that should be South Asians. Pakistan is not in Southeast Asia.

#456 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:41 AM:

Leah Miller @ 453

1.) If you'd phrased your question that way the first time I would not been upset, nor would I have expected the thread to get ugly.

2.) The whole point of the phrasing which has hurt your feelings was (to my mind) the immediate and obvious misinterpretation of the words "give up your privilege" which I would expect of a white/straight/etc person who has not been educated in the issue as you have.

Please note that I am three months short of my 50th birthday, and I went to a high school where there was only one black person (with whom I was unaquainted.) I did not finish college and was never educated in the idea of white/male/straight privilege, (though I later learned what is meant by those terms.)

The language in which I was taught about equality/inequality was the language which was current in the fifties and sixties, which was when most of my teachers were educated, and some of my teachers were not on side of angels in this matter... I think such language and ideas about equality have since been superseded by ideas in which I have not been formally educated.

Given my history, I'm think I'm a pretty good proxy for an older and more conservative person who might need to be educated in matters of privilege and equality, and I was writing from that space in post 446.

#457 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:55 AM:

Just a heads-up: I've released Leah Miller @439 from gnomance vile, and unpublished her gnoming message to keep the numbers running straight.

The gnoming message was:

I don't know if this thread has higher gnoming standards, or if the gnomes are just STARVING. I have some leftover birthday cake!

In this case, just for information, the term "resume" preceded by a hyphen was the culprit. We had a rash of resume-writing URLs for a while, and this was the topical cream that cleared it up.

#458 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 05:37 AM:

Just to inject a bit of hope into this thread, very occasionally it is possible to stop people abusing privilege by pointing out that they are trying to do an Unfair Thing. It doesn't work very often, but it is incredibly satisfying when it does.

I once worked for a senior academic, M, who had his own office. He went on study leave for a few weeks and left instructions that his office was to be made available to an MSc student from Poland who was spending some time studying in England. This young man spoke English quite well, but not fluently, and he was not terribly confident. I suspect this was why M wanted him to have the office; it allowed him to work on his own whenever he needed to, rather than in a library where he might suddenly have to cope with unexpected questions or demands in a foreign language.

Along came another senior academic, J. J wanted to use M's office and started leaning heavily on the student to get out and work somewhere else. I didn't immediately realise that was what he was doing, but when I did I was incandescent. I gave him a massive earful, which started with "How dare you!" and went on from there about how he ought to be jolly well ashamed of himself, picking on someone who had no idea how to counter him. Besides, I said, M had made it absolutely clear who was to have the office in his absence.

To be honest I had barely any more actual authority than that poor student did, but to J's credit he backed down, apologised to both of us, and behaved impeccably after that. Part of it was because neither he nor anyone else in the building had ever seen me get angry before (I save it for when it's really needed), but I think most of it was him, not me. He was an essentially nice person who'd got so used to his position that he'd overstepped the mark, so it took only one reminder that this wasn't who he wanted to be, and after that he got his head straight.

#459 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 06:50 AM:

Privilege may be a zero-sum game.
Rights aren't.

#460 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 07:30 AM:

Serge #445: Or a duty, e.g., voting in Australia, Belgium, and Italy.

#461 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 08:28 AM:

Fragano @ 460... Yes. Take something for granted, 'they' will take it away.

#462 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:29 AM:

Alex R. #446: "giving someone else the same privileges you have."

To which the privileged response is, basically, "MINE, ALL MINE!". This gets phrased in terms closer to "why should two girls get to pretend they're married, everyone knows(/God says) marriage is between a man and a woman." Or "It's an infringement of my civil rights to have Those People walking around My Neighborhood like they think they belong here."

Bluntly, a loss of privilege is in fact a loss to the privileged. They know this perfectly well, and trying to whitewash it won't help.

#463 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Leah Miller @439:

Every time time they do that study, it comes out the same. With a completely identical CV, women and minorities get rated lower than white men or get fewer calls for interviews.

There was an interesting anecdote on that front making the rounds a week or so ago - a man with the first name "Kim" wasn't getting called for job interviews, until he added one word to his resume: "Mr." in front of his name. Suddenly he started getting calls. (One anecdote wouldn't mean much in isolation, of course, but given the existence of those other studies it's pretty telling.)

#464 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 10:15 AM:

I don't think anyone focussed on the fact that the whitewashing mentioned in the post above actually works against the liberals who are doing it, politically.

Alan, you seem to think that this obvious misunderstanding of the words means one should choose different words, but the words chosen are the correct description of the political platform under discussion. It just sounds worse than it is to those who lack education about it. What happens when we change the slogan to something just as short and pithy, but more palatable? ("We want to only give people things; no one will be worse off.") The (privileged) people buy it, because it sounds palatable; they discover it really isn't; we lose their trust.

The solution to someone mistakenly thinking that the platform is harsher than it is is not to paint the platform as less harsh than it is and hope it evens out somehow; it won't. The solution is to educate, and to lead a discussion; to remove the misunderstanding.

Your proposal is actually particularly bad because it offers a product for nothing -- "no one worse off" -- which is a free lunch and thus, axiomatically, does not exist. Now we have not only lied to them (we know that this isn't what we mean -- or at least I got the impression you'd agree); we have also disrespected their intelligence.

I do understand the problem, though. How do you sell a liberal idea to someone who only gets the soundbites from liberal discussions? I suspect the answer is that you really can't, and you'd best stop trying and somehow work to change the discourse until everyone has a (more) complete picture. But I'm fortunate enough not to be in the group that will remain oppressed in the meantime. I don't have a solution to offer.

#465 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 11:05 AM:

I can see how that works for some types of privilege, but not others. The employment example previously cited is a very good illustration of what rat4000 is saying, but I can't see how gay marriage is. It's not as if there could only ever be a certain number of marriages, so if gay people are allowed to have them, some straight people will risk losing out.

When you have a material right, the question becomes one of how to allocate resources fairly, and it's entirely understandable that those who are sitting on more than their fair share are likely to complain. But when it's a non-material right and it's potentially infinite, how can extending that right to a group which didn't previously possess it be viewed as a loss?

#466 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:32 PM:

Mongoose #465: It is a relative loss of status -- they don't get, e.g., to double-bind gay folks by declaring that sex is a privilege of marriage, and gays are therefore even more immoral because their sex is extramarital by definition. Again, to many people, having status implies having someone they can look down on and insult or worse. In the U.S., an extreme example of this is the "white trash" subculture, which was traditionally defined as "well, we may be dirt-poor, uncouth, dumb, and [etc.], but at least we ain't n*gg*rs."

#467 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 12:59 PM:

Mongoose @465: One of the things that is happening here (USA) wrt gay marriage, the less-informed right-wing churchgoers seem to think that THEIR churches will be forced to perform gay marriages.

These folks do not understand and do not believe in separation of church and state. I.E., and I quote, "This is a CHRISTIAN nation."

Their fear stems from lawsuits filed by gay couples against businesses in the wedding industry (florists, bakers, etc.) who will not work for/with said couples. And in some cases they may have a point, as some churches lease parts of their facilities for public meetings, so refusing to rent that space to a gay couple could result in a lawsuit. It does not mean that their preacher would have to perform the ceremony.

The easy solution, which the churches ARE allowed to do, is to only perform weddings for those who are actual attending members of the church. Of course, that could mean the church takes a hit to its budget.

#468 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:25 PM:

My wife Sally and I were talking about privilege just now.

She said that at least I knew that I was privileged, because I was a white straight cis-male - vanilla and Anglo-celtic to boot. I pressed all the buttons, God help me.

I could walk out - limp, limited gait and all - and be fairly certain that if I were assaulted, it would not be for the purpose of rape. Big plus.

And people said to her - she works outside the home, while I do not - that she was awfully lucky that I cook dinner every night, and do the washing, and am responsible for most of the cleaning. Lucky her, oh boy.

Sure. But if the boot were on the other foot, nobody would consider it in the slightest odd, and not worth commenting on at all.

I swim in a sea of privilege. Fish, it is said, swim in water, and don't notice it.

Well, I try to notice it.

#469 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Lori @ 467: it is incredibly ironic that here in England, where technically we have an established church, there appears to be far more separation of church and state in practice than there is in some parts of the USA. (Also, in this country, most Christians do not take the attitude that being a Christian gives you the right to expect that people who are not Christians ought to live your lives according to Christian principles. As Christians, we're supposed not to judge other people. That's a precept that is repeated all over the New Testament.)

If I were gay and I wanted to get married, I would not want to get married in a church that didn't accept who I was. I don't know if anyone who actually is gay would want to do it to make a point; maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. But I personally would want a hassle-free wedding day, surrounded by people who were 100% supportive. If I couldn't find a church that fitted the bill, I'd go to a registry office. (Some churches in this country, in a typically Anglican spirit of compromise, won't marry gay couples, but they will quite cheerfully give them a blessing after the wedding. England is gently barmy, but not utterly insane.)

#470 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Curious side effect of having an established church: CoE priests are legally required to perform marriages for any heterosexual couple who meet the legal requirements, so long as at least one member of the couple is resident in the parish. The only exceptions to this are:

1. If either or both of the couple are trans* - individual priests have a right to opt-out in this case.
2. In cases of divorce - if you originally had a CoE wedding, you're not automatically entitled to a second one while your original spouse is still living.

The SSM act, when it comes into effect, will obviously create a third exception - at least until such time as the General Synod gets its collective arse into the 21st century. But within those parameters - if a Sikh and a Voodoo practitioner decide they want a CoE wedding for whatever reason, the Church can't refuse to provide them with one.

#471 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 02:41 PM:

I hope nobody minds if I go back to something earlier in the thread. (I'm afraid I do this. Some of the stuff that goes into my head gets processed slowly in the background, and then comes out later.)

I was thinking about bullying. Someone once told me the sorry tale of how he was bullied at school, but eventually a new boy joined his class and also became a target for bullying. The person speaking to me was then invited to join in the bullying of the new boy, which he admitted he did. He's not proud of that, but he explained that at the time it felt like a tremendous relief, because suddenly he was no longer at the bottom of the hierarchy. Now I absolutely couldn't understand that at the time, although I took his word that it had felt as though it helped him at the time and that he regretted it now. After all, he was still being bullied; the fact that there was now one person whom he was bullying in turn didn't alter that. It also made it sound as though he hadn't actually been opposed to bullying on principle at the time, just to people bullying him.

Several of the comments in this thread have helped me to make sense of that, finally. He saw bullying in terms of a child-created and child-enforced hierarchy, whereas that wasn't a concept that would have even made any sense to me at the time I was being bullied. One of the strongest principles I was brought up with (not only by my parents, but also by other adults) was that nothing done or created by children had any actual validity. There was a hierarchy all right, but it belonged to adults and all children lived firmly at the bottom of it, just above household pets. Children simply weren't important enough to have their own hierarchies or anything else of the sort. (I can recall being extremely confused the first time I encountered the phrase "youth culture"; it sounded like a contradiction in terms.) Nothing was real unless it came from adults.

Needless to say I no longer accept that world-view. I'd have a job to do so, in any case, given that one of my main interests is linguistics and I know all about how creole languages develop from pidgins, and how groups of deaf children have developed their own sign language (complete with fully complex grammar) from scratch. But, given that I had that world-view at the time, it's pretty easy to see how the process went. I couldn't grok the idea that I was being fitted into a hierarchy, because I couldn't even see that such a thing could exist. I must have driven the other kids nuts - I mean, there they were, they'd built all this big complex social structure, and I couldn't see it. Because they were kids. (I was considered to have poor social skills as a result, but in fact my social skills were just fine when I was dealing with adults. Not only were adults allowed to create social structures, but you could get into serious trouble for not understanding them, so of course I was good at it.)

Sorry if this is a bit personal, but it's good to be able to pull a few strands together into a semblance of sense after all this time.

#472 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 02:42 PM:

The Church of England does sometimes ask an odd question.

#473 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 02:47 PM:

"2. In cases of divorce - if you originally had a CoE wedding, you're not automatically entitled to a second one while your original spouse is still living."

That has always seemed to me, as a non-CoE person (albeit with a mother who is CoE) to be very funny, given the reason the CoE split from Catholicism in the first place was to let someone get out of a marriage.

And then my brain goes into Rowan Atkinson's Divorce Ceremony sketch - who taketh this woman away from this man? - and that's even funnier.

#474 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 03:03 PM:

@Em: I've made the same point myself on numerous occasions over the SSM issue: A church that exists principally because Henry VIII wanted a divorce is in no position to be lecturing people about the sanctity of "Traditional Marriage".

#475 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 03:04 PM:

Mongoose @471:

Conversations ebb and flow; people go back to old topics all the time. Sometimes things just take a little while to settle into articulable frameworks.

That's an interesting anecdote/thought process. Do you think, on balance, that the powerlessness to define your own social milieu was an OK price to pay for being outside of the bullying hierarchy?

(My kids go to a school where the entire class is given lessons on anti-bullying and social skills. It doesn't stop the impulse to be horrible to one another, but it does seem to give the peer groups the tools to tackle things when they come up.)

#476 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 03:40 PM:

abi @ 475: that's a hard one to answer. The fact that I'd had it dinned into me so heavily that I was essentially an inferior being, on account of being a child, did two obvious things. The first was that it seriously damaged my self-esteem, to the point where, had I known what depression was at the time, I would have realised that I was suffering from it in my late teens. The second was that it made early adulthood more difficult to adjust to than it need have been. If you've always been conditioned to believe that you're intrinsically inferior, it's very hard to adjust to the idea that now you may possibly be old enough not to be inferior any more, especially if you're not certain at what point that is supposed to happen (and nobody tells you). Being a teenager is bad enough without all that layer of psychological grime on top.

On the other hand, it also did other things that weren't quite so obvious, and they weren't all entirely bad. It didn't stop me getting bullied; in fact it may even have contributed to it, because someone who doesn't recognise the hierarchy is likely to be bullied more in an effort to get them to do so. It did, however, give me a very strongly non-hierarchical approach when dealing with my own peers, which still persists. The habit of being unable to perceive the people I regularly mix with as being anything other than on a level has been a useful one over the years, although it has occasionally also brought me into conflict with the sort of person who can't think in terms of anything other than a hierarchy. I suspect such people are relatively uncommon.

Three resounding cheers for your kids' school. I think all schools should do that kind of thing; even where it doesn't work, it still sends the message that bullying is not acceptable, and that's an excellent message for children to hear. I got so fed up with adults acting as if it didn't matter. It felt like a betrayal.

#477 ::: Mongoose is gnomed, yet again ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 03:41 PM:

Oh dear. Not doing very well today, am I? I have some sugar-free Polo mints.

[Gnomes love cheers, because spammers are chirpy! We're also fond of Polo, not so much because it freshens our gnomy breath as because so many people hawk the shirts in the spams.—Leverancer Allegorical, Duty Gnome]

#479 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 04:07 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @316: I'm fully in support of bullies getting seriously messed up.... I don't actually think my solution above would work

Oh, I dunno. I'm told that, back in the Olden Days, a briefcase full of math texts to the gut, followed by a metal slide-rule over the back of the neck, was pretty effective operant conditioning. "One-trial learning," like.

#480 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Mongoose @364 & 471: Hm; sort of good to know I wasn't alone in this (re. parental response). I too retreated into books (big surprise there).

Re. the "inferior being" thing: not good. Very pleased that this thread has helped you to make sense of things - it's one of the things I really like about ML.

iamnothing@449: merci beaucoup* for the translations; appreciated.

Re. privilege: Mongoose @465 says "But when it's a non-material right and it's potentially infinite, how can extending that right to a group which didn't previously possess it be viewed as a loss?" I think that's basically what Alex R. is saying as well, and I agree with it. He doesn't want his son to have an increased risk of (for example) being insulted (or assaulted) because his daughter and daughter-in law have that increased risk: he wants all of them to be non-insulted and not-assaulted. Where's the problem with that?

Bit it gets more difficult when finite resources are involved - as with these job examples by Leah Miller @439.

I think where we're having the disagreement here is between people who are primarily thinking about basically infinite resources (e.g. courtesy, right to marry) and those who are seeing it mainly in terms of finite resources (e.g. jobs, line-cutting)?

Mongoose @ 458: Nice tale; good to see that sometimes people -can- realise that what they're doing is wrong, and decide not to do it.

*hoping that won't trip the filters.

#481 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 06:20 PM:

Alex:

For what it's worth, you're about a fortnight younger than I am.

When you say you were writing comment 446 as a proxy for an older and more conservative person who needed to be educated, does that mean you don't actually believe or agree with what you said there? If so, there's rather a lot of guesswork here: you have to guess whether a notional third party would be persuaded by what people are saying, without the actual third party being here to agree, disagree, or ask or answer questions.

#482 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 06:52 PM:

Dave Harmon @ #305
As a side note... I don't know when it began, but America has been afraid of its children for a long time. This became explicit during the 60's, but in more recent decades, it has gotten worse, and it has hybridized with other American pathologies, notably the libertine/puritan split (both co-dependent and fixated) that goes back to our founding.

I think the fear began with the Puritans and other early colonists who founded the country. Specifically with the second, third and fourth generations who chose "the highway" when they were told "My way or..." The malcontents were either sent away or left to create like-minded communities* who then did some casting out of their own as the country grew older, developed, spread west and developed the gaps in between.

By 1910, all the frontiers and the in-between bits along with it were pretty much settled. Early mechanization started giving more and more people free time away from subsistence living.

With more free time, subcultures began developing and moving around via riding the rails and affordable automobiles. (Prohibition supporters and the moonshiners are, I think, the most colorful examples of early American subcultures.) Then the rebellious wanderers began settling down with like-minded subversives and bringing up the next generation of subversive elements.

Add in population pressures, fiscal inequality and Dreams Deferred combined with better and faster communication (broadcast television and the loss of the party line telephone) over the decades following the Great Depression. All of this contributed to the isolated subversive "children" uniting in a concerted effort to overthrow what their parents' generation held dear because That's Just Wrong.

To refer to my explanation to Mongoose.... The younger generation, as the default underdog, fighting to bring constitutional equality to all races and genders and sexual orientations, makes the older generations feel like the villains and Bad Guys. Allergic reactions ensue. That's where I think the fear is coming from.

Then there are the tech-savvy adults who look at what the kids are doing with their on-line lives - becoming little cyborgs. The tech-savvy parents are afraid for their children because of what other children can or may do to them. Adults are beginning to pro-actively "Other" children and youth who do not consent to easily recognized norms and a preferred status quo.

* The Founders' Effect is well documented in communities along the old settlement trails**. Dad, who serviced farm equipment, called Founders' Effect "Three Days Out Of St. Joe". In his case, he was referring to the descendents of the people who were kicked off the wagon trains by the trail master three days into the journey on their way to Washington/Oregon/California from St. Joseph, Missouri (a launching place for wagon trains). One of my brothers, who is also a farm mechanic, just thought Dad was exaggerating until he had to deal with the same decedents. My brother notes the same clients Dad complained about can't get along with anyone - even when it's in their best interest to do so. I recently moved to a small town that was built by early settlers that were kicked off the wagon train three days out of Kansas City.

** Or in communities created by mass exodus from The Old Country. A few years ago, a German ethnographer came to the county where I grew up. He was looking for examples of Platt Deutch, a now-extinct-in-Germany dialect of German. It's alive and well in small communities around the world though.

#483 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 07:54 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 467: On that whole "churches being forced to perform 'gay' weddings" panic --
I don't know where people get the idea that anyone can walk into a religious institution and demand a religious ceremony. I left the Catholic church when I was in high school. When I was ready to get married, my mother asked her priest he'd marry me and my non-Catholic* fiancé. He (quite properly, in this case) said no.

The businesses being sued for refusing the business of gay couples (florists, cake bakers,..) are in states or cities that have passed laws against discriminating against people based on sexual orientation. Even if civil marriage equality wasn't available, a couple having a commitment ceremony, or a religious wedding ceremony, could have walked into the baker or florist, encountered the same refusal, and sued.

*Actually an atheist, but my mom didn't know that.

#484 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 08:39 PM:

The confusion in phrasing, as it commonly manifests, is this:

Things like marriage, freedom from harassment and assault, etc, should all be considered rights. Any benefit that can and should be universally available is a right, not a privilege. This is the distinction that most of the people in this thread have been reiterating.

Now, here's where it gets tricky. I've heard the other interpretation, the one Alex R. attributes to being older and white, used by various straight white males of all ages and many backgrounds. In contrast, I've spoken to many older conservative white women from homogeneous small towns about the idea of privilege, and none of them have shared that interpretation*.

Heck, prior to this conversation, I suspected that skewed understanding of the term might be a direct result of exposure to the talking points of a few very specific groups, (which I do not want to invoke out of fear of accidentally summoning them.) Now, from what Alex R. has said about his background, I very much doubt that he got his definition from talking points. So the question is... where does it come from?

My best guess is that it's cultural. Perhaps it started with the talking points of some specific group, then slowly moved through culture. It failed to take hold for anyone who already had an understanding of the term; but for those who have never had to think about the word before, this new definition makes sense. If society tells these men that they have privilege, and then says they'd like to remove it, naturally privilege must be a material benefit that people are threatening to take away.

This is made more complicated by the fact that privilege means both exclusive access to a thing that should be a right, and zero-sum advantageous benefits one collects due to being part of a given group. People who have had reason to internalize a definition of the word privilege before hearing it in the context of losing something will tend to use the primary definition of the word. But if your first exposure to the word is "we are asking you to give up a thing," then it's understandable that the other definition could take hold in your mind.

This is still problematic though, because it derails the discussion. There's no other common word that means "exclusive benefit given to a certain group but not to others." For things that can and should be available to everyone, we can use "right" or just "benefit." This is why I feel the fight to educate people about the correct definition of privilege is important, even though it might initially seem purely pedantic.

*Instead, they usually argue that some things should be rights while other things should remain privileges. Still very problematic, but consistent with the dictionary definition of privilege.

#485 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 09:19 PM:

Late response to staranise @ 306:

Wow. That post has several *hugely* important insights I need to think on, and also need to share it with my wife. Thank you so much.

#486 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2013, 11:45 PM:

Dave L., #468: Heh. This reminds me of a conversation I once had with my mother. This probably arose out of her complaints about my lack of domesticity; I said (not altogether flippantly) that I was planning to take a few years to get established in my career, and then marry some nice young man right out of college and let him stay home and do the housework.

And she said, "Oh, no, Lee! Don't EVER marry someone who can't support you!"

And I said, "Why not? Men do it all the time!"

As you can imagine, it went downhill from there. But I still think my point was made. :-)

Mongoose, #476: It is a betrayal -- and of a particularly horrifying kind -- when the people who are supposed to be taking care of a child join forces with those who are abusing hir. You are quite right to recognize it as such.

#487 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 12:11 AM:

My wife married someone who would stay home and do housework and cooking. The housework isn't always up to her standards, but mostly she hasn't been sufficiently dissatisfied to do it herself.

#488 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 02:50 AM:

Mongoose #465 et al: I talked about material advantages because they're what we can fix through laws. Nominally, one is allowed to assault a woman as much as one is allowed to assault a man (sexually or otherwise); that is, not at all. This is what the state has done, and the state can do no more. When the public (or, worse, the jury) thinks of rape trials in terms of what the victim was wearing, this isn't something laws can fix. This isn't something that you can, politically, sell, because it is a cultural matter; those were just not the subject of my post.

You fix the fact that women get sexually assaulted more than men (for instance) by changing culture, which is a different process. Partly, again, one of education -- teach people about consent -- but the most important thing here are the gender roles and rules of interaction that you absorb through your friends and parents and media, and these aren't places where we want the legislature to get involved. It's also the work of generations.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, is superficially a problem for the legislature. But it's something that most of the opponents believe is immoral, ruins society, makes people gay (which is bad)... Because of all this, gay marriage actually takes fairness away, so it should be opposed. It's a different problem: it's not "how much do I have to or am willing to surrender to win fairness", it's "what is fairness" and the solution is again cultural change. (Political discussions won't do much about personal beliefs on moral issues.) This one actually seems to be working fairly well so far. But then again, I'm straight...

#489 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:50 AM:

I recently had to deal with someone who was talking about things that "made people gay". I have found an approach that seems to work.

"So," I said brightly, "when did you decide to be straight? What do you think made you straight in the first place?"

Funnily enough, he's been rather quiet about that topic ever since.

#490 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:38 AM:

Mongoose, #489: My attempts to use that approach have met with very mixed success. Sometimes it does work; other times you run up against people who are utterly convinced that "straight" is the default setting for humans*, and therefore doesn't involve any choice at all -- only being not-straight is a matter of choice. And once I encountered a really weird person who argued, in all seriousness, that ALL orientation was a matter of choice, and that it was impossible to describe a virgin as either gay or straight because they hadn't made that choice yet.


* They don't usually say it in exactly that way, because most of them aren't computer-oriented. But that's what the verbiage boils down to -- God creates everyone straight, and those Evil Gay People are deliberately choosing to go against God's Will. I have never heard any version of this argument made by a non-Christian.

#491 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:45 AM:

Lee @ 490: I have! This person (not the same one I mentioned in 489) insisted that it was "not natural", and when I pushed a little further, he went on to tell me that it was "against religion".

"But you don't even have a religion," I objected. "Whereas I'm a Christian, lest you had forgotten."

"No, I know, but it's still against religion."

What the precise heck?

#492 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 08:30 AM:

Mongoose@491: I guess the thought behind this (which I am not for one moment endorsing) is that what religion - or perhaps religions - condone is 'natural'.

I don't think it's a particularly good inference. But it's at least intelligible.

(Btw - unless there are more mongeese on this Internet than I suspect, I think we know one another from elseweb. If so, hello.)

#493 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 08:38 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 492: yes, I had also been wondering that since you gave some details about the situation in Turkey in an earlier comment. Mongoosely greetings.

#494 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 11:57 AM:

Mongoose @469--it is incredibly ironic that here in England, where technically we have an established church, there appears to be far more separation of church and state in practice than there is in some parts of the USA. (Also, in this country, most Christians do not take the attitude that being a Christian gives you the right to expect that people who are not Christians ought to live your lives according to Christian principles.

There are quite a few places in this country which are pretty close to being monocultures--everyone is a Christian, or even, in some places, a single particular flavor of Protestant Christian. It's very hard for people in those places (in general, rural and small town--very small town) to catch hold of the theory that things that seem perfectly reasonable and desirable to them--public prayer at various community function is a common example leading to a lot of lawsuits--is not in fact something they can reasonably expect to impose on people who are not Just Like Them.

As you might imagine, these communities and most of the people in them have a great deal of anxiety about the dangerous results of interacting with outsiders in This Modern World.

#495 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 01:34 PM:

As someone who has had to deal with the chicken-stealing animals in real life (they are serious pests when you live in the Jamaican bush), I'd like to point out to Praisegod Barebones that the plural of "mongoose" is "mongooses".

#496 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 02:00 PM:

rat4000 @488:

Without disagreeing with the point that the government can't do everything, it can do more than you've allowed for.

For instance, the police could take reports of rape more seriously; there's a long tradition of discounting or belittling complaints, or even charging victims for making the complaint at all. Likewise, prosecutors could not leave 10,000 rape kits unprocessed in a warehouse. Judges could be trained not to take the victim's choices into account when sentencing.

Also, one of the biggest cultural changes in race relations was led by part of the government: the US Army's policy of integration exposed huge numbers of soldiers to colleagues of other races in a context where racial abuse was, if not eliminated, at least penalized. Likewise, I expect that the abolition of DADT will have an enormous long-term effect on the attitudes toward gays in parts of the country that are least amenable to change.

#497 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 02:10 PM:

Fragano @ 495: PB knows but is being whimsical. For the record, I'm a vegetarian and therefore leave chickens well alone, but I have a cat who needs watching.

abi @ 496: yes. Governments can't easily change attitudes, but they certainly can foster environments in which it's easier for attitudes to change. I'm afraid ours is trying to do that negatively at the moment by putting out all kinds of misleading propaganda about benefit claimants, particularly those with disabilities. Since so many people are out of work at the moment, and almost everyone knows someone with a disability, I am hoping that this will eventually rebound on their heads, but I don't know whether or not it will.

#498 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 02:22 PM:

B. Durbin @428: A few days behind the curve in responding, but that is an interesting and useful metaphor. When I was reading it, a little bit of music I've heard performed by a local group (Hypnotic Clambake) popped into mind. The song is titled 'Just a Mountain' and a has a refrain "It ain't just a mountain" followed by three phrase variations such as "it's the people climbing up the mountain, it's the people falling off the mountain, it's the people going through the mountain".

I did a little searching to see if I could find you a clip, and found they have an Internet Archive page. The song I'm thinking of can be found on the bottom of the list from the recording of this live performance.

Not an optimal recording; a lot of crowd noise is picked up.

The performance is marked with keywords 'klezmer; zydeco', to give you an idea of their style. They do exhibit an SF sensibility on some of their songs. Another one of my favorites included in this performance: '500 Robots'. Also note 'Rasta Cyborg'.

#499 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Pardon my ignorance, as I am not a con-goer, but is this not the World Science Fiction convention? WTF does Song of the South have to do with Science Fiction? Even calling it fantasy is stretching it.

#500 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Leah Miller @484: I'm finding this fascinating, because I see the whole thing (rights ---- privilege) as a continuum and I think we should be arguing for and encouraging for all of it. In my opinion (and you may disagree) it's the same core attitudes which lead to women being insulted and assaulted and which lead to wemen not being shortlisted for jobs. They're both a consequence of women being valued less than men are valued. To put it another way, the reason black younths are more likely to get stopped and searched by police, and are less likely to get that afore-mentioned job, are, at core, the same as one another: a judgement regarding black males.

So for me, it doesn't matter whether we're talking about ensuring everyone gets the same access to what ought to be rights or about removing privilege from those who presently get the +6 on their roll of the dice - and an extra die to boot - it all comes down to changing attitudes. Changing attitudes and changing laws gets interwoven, because sometimes bad attitudes are enshrined in laws and the laws need to be changed to remove that, and sometimes things are theoretically the same in law, but different in practice (e.g. relative risk of being raped, relative risk of being stopped and searched).

And there's the aspect of what messages the next generation is being given. If generation 1 says "we don't say such things!" (even if they think them and used to say them openly), maybe generation 2 will absorb that saying such things is wrong - and perhaps, because they don't ever say them, generation 3 won't hear those things and won't think them? (I know I'm oversimplifying here).

However, I also acknowledge that you want to make a definitional distinction between "rights" and "privilege".

#501 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:18 PM:

J.D. Rhoades @499 -- the animated sequences are fantasy without stretching it. And it's mostly the animation that people would be going to see, at the Worldcon.

#502 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Mongoose 458: I already was suspecting that I liked you. This comment cements that in place. You not only derailed an attempt by a privileged person to take something from a (relatively) disprivileged person, you helped a privileged person realize his better self.

Dave 466: ...they don't get, e.g., to double-bind gay folks by declaring that sex is a privilege of marriage, and gays are therefore even more immoral because their sex is extramarital by definition.

I think only some of them don't get it. Some of them do get it, and think it's just fine ("well, if you don't like it you can just stop being gay"). I remember one such jackhole on BoingBoing a few years back, maintaining that gays absolutely have the same marriage rights as anyone else—like anyone else, they have to marry someone of the opposite sex. He professed to believe that that really was equal.

He wasn't really that stupid or that naïve, despite his continual protests of sincerity and lack of animosity to gays. He was being an asshole.

Lori 467: That isn't just some random misunderstanding; that was one of the lies deliberately spread by the pro-Prop h8 thugs, including (IIRC) the CJCLDS.

Dave 468: This comment does not surprise me in the least. It's entirely in line with what I know of your character, to wit: you're one of the good guys.

I hope someday we can meet face to face. I'm gonna give you SUCH a hug. (Unless that would make you uncomfortable, of course.)

Dave 474: Hear, hear.

Jacque 479: My guilty pleasure today is reading that over and over and imagining you doing it.

rat4000 488: Nominally, one is allowed to assault a woman as much as one is allowed to assault a man (sexually or otherwise); that is, not at all.

In some places, this is a change that has occurred in my lifetime: if a man was married to a woman, she didn't have the legal right to refuse to have sex with him, and the law upheld him if he used force. Activism changed this after some egregious cases. I remember one judge who was quoted as saying "If you can't rape your own wife, who can you rape?" It never occurred to him that "no one" was the appropriate answer.

As for your comments on gay marriage, you're right that the solution is cultural change—ultimately. But historically the laws change well before a supermajority of the populace changes its mind. Loving v. Virginia was considered an outrage in some places. Still is, by some; but they're mostly dying off.

I for one am not willing to wait for Marriage Equality until it becomes a non-issue for all but the wacky. Nor do I think that you were saying I should.

#503 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 06:59 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #502: I think you misparsed my comment -- that's not "get it" as in understanding, it's "getting away with". I'm saying that screwing with people (like your asshole friend was doing), and not getting smacked for it, is one of the "perks" of privilege that they stand to lose.

#504 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:01 PM:

J.D. Rhoades, #499: Dusty, the animated sequences are considered fantasy (as is most Disney stuff) because of talking anthropomorphic animals.* And the framing story is the seriously problematic part.

* Some people also say that this makes at least the Disney stories without humans in them (e.g. Robin Hood) furry art. That makes some other people's heads explode.

#505 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:32 PM:

Thanks Tom & Lee. I am only an egg.

#506 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Lee @504 -- there are people who seriously think that the Disney stories with anthropomorphized animals aren't Furry art? My mind boggles. They're one place most of the early furry artists got inspiration, IIRC. (Yes, there's some early stuff by e.g. Walt Kelly, but the Disney stuff was among the earliest mass-market anthropomorphic material, particularly if you start with The Mouse.)

#507 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 08:10 PM:

Dave, you're right, I misparsed. They're certainly not entitled to do that.

And now some other bozo on Twitter is hassling me about my Marriage Equality avatar. Apparently because it was started by HRC, which has a huge transphobia problem, I shouldn't use it.

I usually don't get the fuggheads this thickly.

#508 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 08:14 PM:

And, dammit, I forgot to post what I came to this thread to post: A wonderful video about white privilege being used for good. And told in a matter-of-fact, non-angry manner that would defeat all but the most resolute wielders of the Tone Argument.

#509 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:02 PM:

Mongoose #497: I'm a vegetarian (well, pescatarian) myself, and my cat is a strictly indoor animal.

PB is a lovely person.

#510 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:03 PM:

Mongoose #497: I'm a vegetarian (well, pescatarian) myself, and my cat is a strictly indoor animal.

#511 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2013, 10:55 PM:

Xopher @507: there's a great deal of attention to HRC's problematic behavior towards trans people lately, but it's actually something that goes back rather a long way. It's part of an ongoing discussion (yes, I am being euphemistic) about whether assimilation is the best approach, and if so, whether discarding inconvenient trans people (and bisexuals, for that matter, at times) is tactically useful.

Does them making you aware of it, and expressing a hope that you won't use the avatar once you're aware of the issues, constitute being fuggheaded, or is it more than that?

#512 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:24 AM:

That avatar/symbol was widely disseminated and broadly used. It's not HRC's color scheme at all, and the lines of the equal sign are often replaced with other objects.

I don't think anyone who sees that will say "Oh, he must support HRC." I think they'll say "Oh, he supports marriage equality."

I think it's really pushing it to say that the avatar shouldn't be used because HRC invented it. What's next, support for marriage equality becomes tainted because HRC is for it?

For the record, I think marriage equality should include all people of any gender (including "none").

#513 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:33 AM:

Also, I was having a conversation with some other people and commented that I guess I still had some cissexist assumptions lurking in my brain, for which I apologized. Then this total stranger, not involved in the previous conversation, tweeted me saying "Speaking of cissexism, your avi is problematic. The HRC treats trans people like shit."

I thought that was rude on a couple of counts.

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:38 AM:

Tom, #506: Oh, there certainly are people who will insist nothing by Disney could ever possibly be furry-related! They're usually the ones who are just aware enough that furries exist to have swallowed all the nasty stereotypes (furry art is nothing but porn, furries are all Cat Piss Man and all into yiffing, etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseam), so I suppose them freaking out over the juxtaposition is on some level understandable. Sadly, most of the ones I've encountered have been in fandom -- non-fen are frequently not aware of furries at all.

#515 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:33 AM:

I remember when "yiff" meant an exuberant, friendly greeting, with no salacious implications. I drifted away from the fandom for many years. Coming back was a shock.

"What's wrong with yiffing? It's just...oh. Oh my."

Linguistic drift at its finest.

#516 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:39 AM:

I've never heard the term yiff before. Learn something new every day, I suppose. Easy to look up, though. The new fangled intertubes serve a real purpose for the spread of slang.

#517 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:23 AM:

abi @ 496: Teaching judges and policemen about what rape is and how it should be treated is part of what I meant when I mentioned education. (The "teach people about consent" line, specifically, though I recognize that it looks like I only meant high schools.) Still, I stand by my point. If a judge gets good on-the-job training about rape charges, and the law is very clear and very just on rape charges, and the judge personally believes that no sex within marriage is rape... there's a problem. Cops, same thing. Maybe I underestimate how much on-the-job training can do. And, of course, we can investigate if someone complains that their rape charge was treated unlawfully -- but that just moves us to another person who has to make a decision, and to their beliefs, consciously held or not.

As for the rape kit article: I'm not sure if leaving evidence lying about for no reason is illegal, but I'm getting the impression it isn't. (There's something about internal investigation and nothing about charges.) It absolutely should be, and not just because of rape cases; but if it is, then how and when the law is enforced will depend on culture.

On the Army thing, and what governments can do: I think I allowed for that. I'm not sure how it was with the history of race relations -- whether the ban on racial prejudice in hiring practices or the Army policy of integration came first -- but I'm pretty sure that private employers couldn't reject gays for being gay even before DADT was repealed. Of course, the government, as an employer, should hire under the conditions it imposes on others; of course, those conditions are a matter of law. I do very much agree that it helps.

Xopher @ 502: I hadn't thought that part of the post through, apparently. Here's the mistake I made: there are at least two ways for a (democratic) state to have laws that treat everyone well. One is that the population wants everyone to be treated well. Another is that the population wants everyone to be treated equally, and some people to be treated well -- in which case the state ought to notice the disparity and fix it. I wrote as if gay marriage were something that one should get to by following the first way, and I ignored the second even though it's actually more important for the USA with its very egalitarian constitution. So I did end up implying that you had to wait for voter consensus before getting a legal right to marry, which I don't actually believe. Sorry.

#518 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:50 AM:

rat4000@517

In the U.S. it is entirely legal (in most of the country) for a private employer to reject gays just for being gay.

The exceptions are those states and/or cities that have passed laws that ban that specific kind of discrimination.

In general, private employers in the U.S. can discriminate on any basis whatsoever unless that basis is specifically banned by law.

#519 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 07:06 AM:

I was worried about supporting the HRC, until a friend of mine, who happens to be trans, started working for them, and told me they had been making changes in the right direction.

#520 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 08:32 AM:

Xopher @ 507: I liked Tom Schade's brief piece on that.

#521 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 08:54 AM:

Xopher, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the HRC equal sign being as widespread as it is, even in forms meant as jokes or in other color schemes. I think that the HRC's issues with trans people was about the second thing I learned about them after learning that the blue-and-yellow stickers on cars meant HRC.

Your response that it's not problematic because, although people clearly recognize it, steps have been taken to make it less iconic, bothers me because... well, people recognize it. It's on the same spectrum as C Wingate's earlier question of, "Is it racist if my child doesn't recognize it as racist?" except in this case, the target audience *does* recognize it as transphobic.

This is okay if it's what you mean to convey-- "I use this symbol because there's nothing else to unite the movement and I think that unity outweighs the problematic aspects of its parent organization," is a valid opinion. But denying that the symbol is problematic at all because it's pink and of course you didn't mean it that way is bad communication, both of what you say you mean and what you actually mean.

#522 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:27 AM:

For what it's worth, I have a trans friend who was using the pink-on-red version of the equals sign (not a typo; it has an S on this side of the pond) for quite some time while our own equal marriage legislation was being debated. This was the one I most commonly saw around, and I wasn't even aware until now that the blue and yellow version was the original. I just thought it came in different colour variants.

By this I don't intend to argue that the symbol is non-problematic, merely that it seems to have gained a lot of recognition among people who either genuinely don't know its origin or who choose to use the pink-on-red version as a way of saying "we like the symbol, but the origin is problematic, so we're going to change the colours to make it ours".

This, however, may be truer here than in the USA. Symbols tend to be very sensitive to surrounding cultural circumstances, as a certain mobile phone company discovered the hard way when sending one of their distinctively coloured vans down the Falls Road in Belfast at the height of the Troubles. I suspect in hindsight they might have realised that this was not a sensible place to push the slogan "The future's bright - the future's Orange".

#523 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:30 AM:

Xopher, for what it's worth, I used a different marriage equality avatar on Facebook (I'm not active on Twitter) because of HRC's treatment of trans folk. Replacing the equals sign with another symbol makes it a completely different symbol, and that's what I used. (I'm a cissexual lesbian.) I explained why, but I didn't criticize anyone who chose to use the more standard one (which was actively promoted by HRC, FWIW.)

#524 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Hmm. Looking at Wikipedia, I see that their page on the HRC is seriously discontinuous with the implications being tossed around here. I also note that their own current homepage does include trangender folks. Just what are the "charges" against HRC, and are they in fact still current?

#525 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:24 AM:

I don't understand how "Hey, that avatar you're using is problematic because the people who promote it treat trans* people shittily" is any more rude than "Hey, that movie you're showing is problematic because it has some seriously racist content" or "Hey, that insult word you keep using is problematic because it has serious ablist connotations." It's all versions of "You're standing on my foot. Please get off." If it comes out sharply, it's generally a measure of the pain felt by the speaker.

FWIW, I wasn't aware that the yellow-on-blue equals sign was associated with a specific organization, or that the HRC treated trans* people poorly. (Or, for that matter, that "equals" with a trailing "s" is a UK usage. I guess it's like "forwards" and "afterwards"? I had to train myself out of that when I got myself into AP Style Manual territory.) I have not done much in the way of using FB/Twitter avatars or car bumper stickers as political statements, but if I did/do, I'd want to use a symbol that didn't have the potential to cause emotional pain to my friends.

My thanks to Making Light for heightening my awareness in all matters great and small.

#526 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:00 AM:

Nicole @ 525: yup. I didn't intend to imply that the fact that (at least) one trans person I know uses the symbol means it's universally non-problematic, merely that things may be slightly different on this side of the pond. But even if I were quite sure it was generally accepted here in the pink-on-red form, I wouldn't use it online in any form now I'm aware that it may cause hurt to some people, because the whole thing about the Internet is that you get people from all over the world on it. (Including, just at the moment, a certain Australian friend who is going to feel like death in the morning if he doesn't get off the said Internet and go to bed... but that is rather up to him.)

Regarding the final -s, it's not consistent, but then things in languages frequently aren't. It's certainly always an "equals sign" and not an "equal sign" here, and we do tend to talk about moving "forwards", "backwards", "sideways" or "towards [X]". However, interestingly, we tend to drop the S where the usage is more metaphorical. If I'm moving forwards, I'm physically walking somewhere (or possibly sitting on the tram or train). But if I'm moving forward, I'm getting on with my life.

#527 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:17 AM:

Dave Harmon @524, by all accounts they've gotten better but still have work to do, and my trans friends still prefer other organizations. (The most prominent instance that I'm aware of is in 2007. Barney Frank introduced a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that did not protect trans people. He claimed that the votes existed to pass the gay-only version and not the trans-inclusive version. (The bill passed the House and died in the Senate that year.) Most LGB(T) organizations opposed this change - HRC supported it.) There's a history of this and additional issues at http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2013/04/why-trans-community-loathes-hrc.html . I'm not familiar with all the details but will say that their description of the situation in Maryland matches what I saw here myself - lots of active and visible work for marriage equality, and not a peep for trans non-discrimination.

More generally HRC is frequently perceived to be more concerned with issues of concern to upper-class white gay men than anyone confronting multiple axes of inequality.

#528 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:44 AM:

Xopher #502, if we meet, I shall embrace you as a brother and comrade. I trust that sentiment will be acceptable to you.

"Comrade", now. I was interested to find that my customary salutation to mixed gatherings that I address, which is "Ladies and gentlemen", is now considered by some to be classist and condescending.

I don't actually care for "comrades", since it smacks rather of Joseph Vissarionovich about to announce the names selected to implement the latest dig-up-Siberia forty year plan. SF conventions will probably accept "colleagues".

Any other suggestions?

#529 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:01 PM:

I read an essay which raised the point that gendered salutations such as "Ladies and gentlemen" erase people who do not identify themselves on a gender binary.

#530 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:24 PM:

Re: addressing groups

Demonstrating good will while avoiding known triggers is the point. If someone is looking for excuses to be offended, they'll find them.

"Colleagues" implies sharing an academic background (I don't find it objectionable).

"Folks"? as in "Welcome (or Hello) Folks"?

I usually address groups (of mainly women) as "Hey, guys". Body language doesn't show objection, but they know me.

#531 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:42 PM:

"Ladies and gentlemen ... and others.
I'm sorry, I know all of our members are ladies and gentlemen, what I meant to say was, 'Some of you have brought ... friends.'"

It's interesting to note that when this was written, the joke *was* about class and condescension (and the fact that the speaker is bigoted and not completely competent). Now, it probably *is* about the gender continuum (and the fact that the speaker is bigoted and not completely competent).

A running joke in my school was one teacher who started his classes with "Ladies, Gentlemen and <mylastname>." Yes, it wasn't the best thing, but I certainly was Other Enough that it wasn't Wrong. And it was meant in good humour, and taken that way - unlike much of the rest of my issues with that school, its students and staff.

So that teacher was picked to give the "address to the students" on grad night. Guess how he started his speech. The room - at least that part of the room that was the students - collapsed in laughter, /me included. My father, and his wife, were incensed. I had to explain the joke; which didn't make them happy, but at least explained that he wasn't othering me specifically at Grad.

#532 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:51 PM:

I have tried valiantly and only somewhat successfully to replace "guys" as my generic address with "folks" or, in some contexts, "y'all." For the more formal "ladies and gentlemen" I can sometimes pull off "beautiful people" but that tends to work best with audiences that skew hippie. (I live in Austin, they usually do.)

#533 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 12:52 PM:

Carol Kimball #530:

Most (circum)locutions I've used or had used at me were informal--"Guys", "People", "Y'All", "All Y'All", all of them frequently preceded by "OK".

Formality is another problem altogether. How about "Esteemed Audience"?

Correct my memory, but don't the TED Talks people tend to avoid it altogether?

#534 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:04 PM:

I use "gentlebeings", which I shamelessly purloined from (I think) Poul Anderson.

#535 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Mongoose #534:

I have also been known to use "gentlehobbits".

#536 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:33 PM:

How about "Welcome [to this talk/presentation on (...)]!"?

#537 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:53 PM:

rat4000 @517:

It think we may be drawing our lines between "government" and "not government" in different places. In my book, the police, prosecutors and judges are part of the government, because they're its employees. And if their employer makes it very clear to them that they will do this thing, they can either do that thing or they can find other employment.

Setting and enforcing standards of behavior for law enforcement and judicial officials in cases of rape is absolutely within the purview of government. We don't have to "educate" or "persuade and hope they can be bothered to give a damn". If it is part of these people's jobs to do it right, and if they face censure if they don't do it right, they'll do it right.

It's the facing-censure where we drop the ball. Because the government as a collective whole isn't on board.

#538 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:48 PM:

Jeremy, #532: Despite having lived in the Deep South for 2/3 of my life, "y'all" has never come naturally to me -- I can use it, but I have to think about doing so. My default non-gendered form of address is still the "guys / you guys" I grew up with in Michigan.

Side note: ISTR that you said you were coming to Worldcon, but I don't see your name on the list for the Gathering of Light. Were you thinking of joining us, or do you have something else to do at that time, or am I misremembering entirely?

#539 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:54 PM:

I am coming! But I am terrible at keeping up with threads here - where is the Gathering of Light being organized? (I *still* don't know if/when we are doing workshops, so I may or may not be available at any given time, but I want to come if I can!)

And yeah, I grew up in Chicago and "guys" is my native generic form of address, but I try to be conscious of when I'm using the masculine as the unmarked state.

#540 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Thanks, all and various, for the heads-up about HRC's problematic treatment of trans folks. I had absolutely no idea. (And I have trans friends; I could easily have caused offense without intending to do so.)

#541 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Jeremy, #539: Here's the most recent list of attendees; you should probably go post in the Open Thread that you'd like to be added. Meeting point is Friday at 6:15, in the convention center, somewhere near the Voodoo Board; from there we'll walk to the restaurant.

#542 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 05:44 PM:

I've been encountering a phenomenon in the social justice movement that I find a little distressing, but the idea of talking about it is also very distressing. Maybe Making Light is the place to try.

I think that sometimes, some modern social justice campaigners define ally to narrowly. and are too quick to shame those who don't fit that narrow definition, rather than attempting non-shame-and-guilt-based education. It seems to often have the effect of driving people who are potential (but imperfect) allies away, or silencing them, or taking the debate out of the public eye. Which leads to an echo chamber of "more perfect" allies that I think might turn out to be less effective at bringing new people into the fold.

The most distressing example I can recall was a line of clothing attempting to launch, marketed as "clothes for butch women and trans men." The line was composed primarily of suits cut to look masculine on a body with wider hips and narrower shoulders. There was a substantial backlash against the company from people who said "assuming a transman would need a different cut of suit than a AAB man is transphobic and bigoted."

It was at that point that I basically thought Ok, there's probably no way for me to talk about this in public without making a mistake, so from now on I'll just listen and voice non-specific support. I won't attempt to say anything more complex than "I support trans rights."

Even typing this, I'm worried that I'm doing something horribly wrong. I had a passage in here about conflicts within the trans community over the rights of people who are gender-variant, and I excised it because I'm afraid - both afraid of hurting people by accident, and afraid of saying something that will get me attacked. More the former than the latter, but, if I am speaking with complete honesty, both things scare me.

I don't know how to make things better, but I felt like I should at least make an attempt to say something.

#543 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:19 PM:

Leah @ 542: allow me to introduce CN Lester. Because I have a problem accessing pages on WordPress (which appears to be due to the fact that my broadband provider is, ahem, economising in certain crucial areas), I am not able to link specifically to their Q&A sessions on trans and genderqueer issues, but it should be easy enough to find them, and they are wonderful and heartening reading. (CN is also a rather fine baroque mezzo, which was how I originally met them.)

From my own point of view, I'm all for clothing that allows people to express their gender (or non-gender) as easily as possible, even when their body shape is not the usual one for that gender. I'm fortunate because I've got a fairly androgynous shape to start with, but not everyone has, and - crucially - not everyone takes hormones or has surgery. (CN says on their blog that they have had some surgery, but they can't take hormones as it would change their singing voice and the results are not guaranteed.) So, in fact, there are transmen who need somewhat female-shaped masculine clothing, and transwomen who need somewhat male-shaped feminine clothing, and people in the middle who very often would also like one or the other. (Count me as one of the people in the middle.)

#544 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Mongoose @543: and there are also "AAB" men and women whose bodies don't match the stereotypes for their genders, even if their genitalia and chromosomes do.

Also, I just learned the acronym "AAB" today; I believe it means "Assigned At Birth", and is an interesting reference to the idea that chromosomes, genitalia, mental identity, and external social classification are 4 different things, any of which may not match the others.

#545 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 07:59 PM:

Mongoose @543

Allow me to clarify where my distress originates.

I was already aware of the fact that some transgender people might be able to wear off-the-rack clothes for their gender, and others might benefit from specially tailored clothes. What I found distressing was the idea that saying "we're making clothes for transgender men," would be seen as bigoted, rather than giving the company the benefit of the doubt. I read that and I see the implied "we're making clothes for transgender men who would be better suited by a cut that differs from traditional menswear." Others didn't see it that way, and their first impulse was to engage in shaming.

This relates to the experiences some non-binary gender-variant friends and acquaintances of mine have related to me. I have several friends who still favor the pronoun of their assigned-at-birth gender, but who don't conform to any other perceived gender norms. A straight male friend of mine used to find tremendous freedom in cross-dressing, but the last time he did it as part of a show he was told that a non-trans person cross-dressing is equivalent to blackface - appropriation and mocking of another culture for your own amusement. Even though he dressed as an act of gender subversion and to express his gender variance, he was told that doing so is offensive to many trans people. As a result, he's stopped because he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

I have another friend who is assigned-at-birth female, but whose dress and attitudes resemble those often associated with men. Yet she explicitly stakes out a female identity, because she believes that all behaviors and modes of dress should be considered acceptable for all genders.

I've seen a bunch of places where there are trans issue Q&As, but as is common in any large and diverse group, there is little consensus on many of these issues. I read one activist who said that gender-variant people should refer to themselves as trans, and another who said that non-binary gender-variant people should absolutely never refer to themselves as trans.

Basically, many of the non-binary gender-variant people I know who do not explicitly identify as either genderqueer or agender feel like they can't express their gender variance or speak about their experiences without concern about being seen as appropriating or exploiting trans culture. The desire to conform to the standards of the "ideal ally," has confined what they believe is acceptable expression of their own genders.

This relates back to the concern over the red-and-pink equal sign. When DOMA was being considered by the supreme court, all my feeds were visibly red. A lot of the icons belonged to people who don't have the time to thoroughly study gender issues, who were just trying to find a simple symbol to show support - uncles and grandmothers, that kind of thing. And I've seen, rather distressingly, that often the response to that icon is to shame someone for displaying it, rather than praise them for a good start and work on educating them about trans issues... without incorporating guilt or shame for having taken up an imperfect banner.

#546 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 08:46 PM:

Leah Miller#545: A straight male friend of mine used to find tremendous freedom in cross-dressing, but the last time he did it as part of a show he was told that a non-trans person cross-dressing is equivalent to blackface - appropriation and mocking of another culture for your own amusement.

That sounds like concern trolling to me. The example fails because AFAIK, whites in blackface have never thereby faced the sort of punishment from "their own", that is risked by a cross-dressing man.

#547 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 09:02 PM:

Dave Harmon #546

I'm not sure what you mean by concern trolling here. I generally interpret that phrase as "someone who isn't genuinely concerned posing hypothetical concern," and that's not what was happening in my friend's situation, as far as I can tell.

For a more public example of this kind of thing, here's a an article about a genderqueer guy making a video about fluid gender and getting harshly criticized for it.

#548 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:05 PM:

Leah Miller #547: I was thinking more in terms of concern trolling as "someone who tries to trick you away from a winning position". But given the comparison to the article you link, I'm shifting toward "idiots rejecting potential allies". As in, it's not enough to demonstrate that you embrace gender fluidity, you've gotta be a member of their club, or they don't want to see it.

Grrr....

#549 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:24 PM:

Leah Miller#545

I am on the edges of a religious ethnic minority group that polices boundaries, but I have always been so much at the edge that no one fully articulates my experience but me. So my reaction is that each of us gets to speak for ourselves.

And YES, it can be exhausting to have to swim in a world where your experiences are not shared. It takes energy to fight and ally's recognize that extra burden.

But.

There will always be people setting up rules that contradict other rules, and stating that ways to act are deemed offensive because not sufficiently pure. It is a very common behavior dynamic/trope in progressive circles. And it can be extremely destructive if one voice silences instead of contributes to a dialogue.

The hurt giving rise to the "policing" is real, and can be raw and painful.

But no one gets to speak for an entire group. Every group has variation.

And I agree completely that the perfect can't be the enemy of the good.

I used a pink equality sign (with lady liberty kissing blindfolded justice) and it was a statement of support. Since i was simply showing support for friends, my avatar has reverted to cat now that the American s.ct has spoken in a way that gives my co-workers the same rights as me (yeah!). It might not have been crystal clear that such a sign includes support for trans issues, but it certainly doesn't EXCLUDE support.

#550 ::: Mea was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Green tea ice cream for the duty gnome?

#551 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 10:49 PM:

I haven't been on all day, so please forgive my not responding until now.

Hmm. A lot to think about here, on the topic of the Marriage Equality avatar. Mind-changing stuff, at least to some extent.

Diatryma 521: "I use this symbol because there's nothing else to unite the movement and I think that unity outweighs the problematic aspects of its parent organization," is a valid opinion.

Kind of, except that if it really screamed HRC I really wouldn't use it. I (for one) had no idea it came from them.

But denying that the symbol is problematic at all because it's pink and of course you didn't mean it that way is bad communication, both of what you say you mean and what you actually mean.

Now THAT I wouldn't say. I'm well aware that symbols mean what is read, not what is meant. Otherwise I couldn't argue against the people waving the Confederate flag, some of whom are actually sincere about thinking it only means Southern Pride.

Mongoose 522: It usually has an s on this side of the pond too. Noun modifiers are generally singular here (for example, we usually refer to the Mexican 'drug war' rather than the 'drugs war' as the BBC does), and even though this is a verb form, I suspect the strong tendency not to have esses at the end of noun modifiers may have influenced some to say "equal sign." I do NOT think it's standard in America, at least not yet.

By this I don't intend to argue that the symbol is non-problematic, merely that it seems to have gained a lot of recognition among people who either genuinely don't know its origin or who choose to use the pink-on-red version as a way of saying "we like the symbol, but the origin is problematic, so we're going to change the colours to make it ours".

That's kind of where I'm coming from, except that the HRC symbol is for general equality, whereas the pink-and-red one is for marriage equality specifically.

lorax 523: Replacing the equals sign with another symbol makes it a completely different symbol, and that's what I used.

What did you replace the equals sign with? Was it with two more-or-less-horizontal objects, one above the other? Is that considered far enough off not to be problematic? Or did you use a different symbol altogether? I'm asking because I'm trying to find a symbol that evokes ME without being problematic in the same way.

Nicole 525: Good points here. I'd point out that so far only one trans* person ever has said to me that they find my avatar problematic, and it wasn't one of my trans* friends. And I've had conversations on trans*-related topics with several trans* people and they called me out on bits of cissexism (to which I responded by changing my behavior), but they never mentioned this at all. Only this one stranger said anything.

Dave 528: Xopher #502, if we meet, I shall embrace you as a brother and comrade. I trust that sentiment will be acceptable to you.

Precisely what I had in mind.

Any other suggestions?

How about "Friends"?

Carol 530: What do you think about "Friends"?

Dave 546: That sounds like concern trolling to me. The example fails because AFAIK, whites in blackface have never thereby faced the sort of punishment from "their own", that is risked by a cross-dressing man.

I don't know about concern trolling exactly, but it's sexist to say that a cis man shouldn't wear "women's" clothing. I defend the right of everyone to wear whatever clothing they choose to put on, and that includes Scalzi putting on that Regency gown.

#552 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 11:04 PM:

"Friends" is a great choice.

#553 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:25 AM:

Leah Miller @ 542: "I think that sometimes, some modern social justice campaigners define ally to narrowly. and are too quick to shame those who don't fit that narrow definition, rather than attempting non-shame-and-guilt-based education. It seems to often have the effect of driving people who are potential (but imperfect) allies away, or silencing them, or taking the debate out of the public eye."

Towards the beginning of this thread, I was trying to put together a comment about the tendency of communities, upon discovering something within their community they do not condone, to rapidly redraw community lines to exclude the offending part (however defined). Southern Fandom, Texas fandom, the concom, etc. I think it's a natural reaction to finding that one has been enlisted, without one's knowledge or consent, into something one finds reprehensible. It's not particularly healthy, however: it avoids responsibility in favor of self-righteousness. If this is your community, and a chunk of it has gone off the tracks, isn't it on you to fix it?

What you are talking about feels of a piece with that tendency. The desire to draw lines in the sand, to create take-it-or-leave-it binaries, is particularly ironic when it happens in binary-rejecting movements like feminist or trans activism, but it's not unique to that context. It has, however, led to a never-ending spiral firing squad among social activists.

#554 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:47 AM:

Spotted in the Last Whole Earth Catalog (1971)

"We're generally down on Utopian thinking around here, holding to a more evolutionary fiasco-by-fiasco approach to perfection." -- Stewart Brand

#555 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:54 AM:

Xopher 550:

I don't know about concern trolling exactly, but it's sexist to say that a cis man shouldn't wear "women's" clothing. I defend the right of everyone to wear whatever clothing they choose to put on, and that includes Scalzi putting on that Regency gown.

Hear, hear!

I often find myself explaining to younger gender-variant friends & acquaintances that the reason I'm not reacting negatively to their choice of presentation is because of "Don't Dress Your Cat in an Apron".

Don't dress your cat in an apron
Just 'cause he's learning to bake.
Don't put your horse in a nightgown
Just 'cause he can't stay awake.
Don't dress your snake in a muu-muu
Just 'cause he's off on a cruise.
Don't dress your whale in galoshes
If she really prefers overshoes.
A person should wear what he wants to
And not just what other folks say.
A person should do what he likes to -
A person's a person that way.

When this is as familiar a nursery rhyme to a four-year-old as "Mary Had a Little Lamb, it kinda sinks in.

Also, earlier, on bullying and retaliatory violence: it sure worked for me. But here's an interesting point: it worked GREAT with my tormentors - a math textbook to the occiput is terrific operant conditioning, and it taught the bra-snapping, boob-grabbing boys that I was a hard target, and some of them were even cordial to me afterwards. But in order to get out of severe punishment from the adults "In charge" (ha), it took adult backing - my parents had to stick up for me in VERY strong terms to the school administration, bringing up words like "assault" and "self-defense" and "press charges" before the school backed down on punishing me and not the boys.

Retaliatory physical violence wasn't a useful option against the girl-bullying, which didn't include physical assault, just ("just") verbal humiliation.

Not that I didn't fantasize about it. But it wouldn't have WORKED.

#556 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:58 AM:

Leah Miller @ 542

This is one of those issues where I get really, really angry. How does someone see into my heart and know that I'm the enemy if I (for example) use the wrong symbol to indicate my support for the non-straight people? Everyone is at some step along the path. Using language and symbolism that's "truly" liberal and liberating requires multiple changes in speech habits and then you have to keep up with various trends. Is HRC good or bad this week? Is "trans" clothing that's cut for a particular body offensive? What about people who enjoy playing with gender vs. people who are serious about wanting to be a different gender?

Getting all this right requires time and energy and the constant parsing of multiple finicky moral issues... as for me I sometimes work 12-days straight or work 14-hour days, plus my wife has major medical problems and I've got two kids with their own issues and I've got a life to lead.

When someone gets snippy with me about this stuff it really pisses me off.

I try to vote equality and live equality and spend my money on equality, etc., and then I get treated like crap because some idiot who actually has time to study this stuff gets upset because I phrased my support incorrectly?

I may not understand all this "new language" but I know some ancient Anglo-Saxon verbs that address the issue quite cogently!

#557 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:52 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @550, Carol Kimball @551 - I fear that if I were to begin a talk with "Friends," I would then feel compelled to continue with "Romans, Countrymen, ..." and so forth. Not usually appropriate to most of my seaking occasions!

#558 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:56 AM:

Leah @ 545: sorry, I should have been clearer. I did understand what you were saying, and was trying to say something that was at least heartening, since there isn't really much one can do about the sort of person who insists on refusing to give anyone the benefit of honest doubt.

For what it's worth, CN and I are in pretty much the same place, but they identify as trans and I don't. We've had some enjoyable and perfectly amicable chats about that. Neither of us thinks the other one is wrong, because we both think that a person needs to define their identity in whatever way best works for them. The big difference between us, which I think is probably what has tipped the scale, is that CN has had body dysphoria. I haven't. That's not to say all transpeople suffer from body dysphoria, or that no genderqueer people who don't identify as trans ever suffer from it; nonetheless, it does seem that on balance the more you suffer from gender-related body dysphoria, the more likely you are to identify as trans.

And I think that point about everyone defining their own identity is the key to it. If someone manages to define who they are (which is not always an easy thing to do) and then a second person views it as a threat, then what that tells me is that the second person is not fully secure in their own identity. If they were, they wouldn't feel threatened.

And, yes, for goodness' sake I totally get that gender/sexual minorities of all kinds are often in a vulnerable position and therefore used to feeling threatened, but that's a different thing. If you're being attacked, disappeared or othered by society in general, darn right that's a threat - you've got people who are actively out to attack your identity. But I don't see how it makes sense to feel threatened by someone who is only trying to define their own identity, without reference to you.

(Side note: we get this in the asexual community sometimes, but it's depressing and I won't bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say that asexual people are pretty varied, and every so often someone tries to suggest that asexuals who aren't quite like them aren't real asexuals. I'm a moderator in one or two ace groups. I tend to step diplomatically but quite hard on all suggestions of this sort.)

#559 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 07:33 AM:

abi @ 537: I'm not sure how much we disagree. I agree that setting standards is within the purview of government, and you know better than I whether the USA needs improvement on that front; probably it does. I'm just saying that how the standards are enforced will always depend on the people who enforce them, and therefore to some extent on their particular biases. That is what needs to change if we want people to actually face the censure that the rules say they should. (Or, to use your words: we must get the government as a whole on board.) The change is cultural.

Michael @ 517: I was very convinced that there were federal anti-discrimination laws (having read about discrimination cases in what seemed to be many different states); enough so that I didn't do research. It's bad, on the one hand, that there aren't; on the other hand it makes the actions of the military much more significant than I thought.

#560 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:18 AM:

#559 rat4000

There are (USA) federal anti discrimination laws, but I don't think that they protect gay people (or people discriminated against due to gender identity) working in the private sector. Here is a list:
http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

For federal employees, the way laws and executive orders are interpreted do extend the rules against discrimination on the basis of sex to protect against discrimination against workers who are gay or workers based on their gender identity:

http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/otherprotections.cfm

#561 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:28 AM:

#557 ::: oliviacw

(...) I fear that if I were to begin a talk with "Friends," I would then feel compelled to continue with "Romans, Countrymen, ..." and so forth.

Or have a small number sit there beaming while the non-Quakers stomp off in a huff (or, if there are disability issues, a minute and a huff, thanks, Groucho).

#562 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:51 AM:

I am struggling with "genderqueer", as my immediate white-straight-woman gut reaction is that it's a slur.

I read through CN's posts from Mongoose's link at 543 and am devoting as much contemplative time as I can to realigning myself.

Following someone's lead is no problem. I just don't want to flinch unwittingly (half-wittedly?) in live conversation with people who don't know me yet.

I am occasionally around a couple where one refers to the other as a troll (ugly, knuckle-dragging variety). The second uses it self-reflexively as an appeasement gesture. Their body language shows both know it's demeaning. I used to call them on it, but the dominant one now uses it around me as a preemptive strike ("see, they don't mind"). I have no desire to reinforce that.

This is all so hard. I'm off to interrupt Jim Macdonald for a bandaid while he's stemming arterial bleeding.


#563 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 12:12 PM:

In the branch of medicine where I hang out we've gotten away from using the term "normal." We speak of "typical" and "more frequent" or "less frequent," whether it be anatomy or reactions to drugs or what have you.

#564 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 01:02 PM:

Buckets of points in here...

@306 et al: "Don't be bullied" is something a friend and I were told, by his mother, and I never really figured out why I hated it so much. (There was all sorts of pro-israel rhetoric mixed in as I recall, and "You have to be a lion!" and things.) I tend to go with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones belief:

"He's got an axe to grind and he'll target anyone." I never found a better response than winning the fight, but I went to a school that didn't have a lot of pack predators so that was an option for me.

@464, rat4000:
>Your proposal is actually particularly bad because it offers a product for nothing -- "no one worse off" -- which is a free lunch and thus, axiomatically, does not exist. Now we have not only lied to them (we know that this isn't what we mean -- or at least I got the impression you'd agree); we have also disrespected their intelligence.

"no one worse off" does happen, though. Eradicating smallpox was not a zero-sum game. We didn't add women to the workforce and fire half the men.

#565 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:06 PM:

So I have some questions.

I know there are trans* people who read/comment on Making Light. What do you all think about the Marriage Equality logo? For that matter, what do you think about Scalzi in the Regency gown (which one trans* person on the comment thread objected to)?

I don't know if the objection to the HRC-created pink-and-red logo is general or just confined to that one person on Twitter. (That I know of, I mean. Only one self-identified trans* person has objected, at least to me.)

Because look: I could tell you that, as an Irish-American of Catholic descent (on my mother's side), I find the color orange objectionable at all times and in all circumstances, and it should never, ever appear, because it just intrinsically supports the Paisleyites, Protestant triumphalism, and the massacre at Drogheda.* OTOH, I could tell you that putting NINA at the end of your employment ad may seem funny to you, but it's damned offensive to me and other Irish-Americans.

I'm pretty sure the objection to the pink-and-red equals-sign logo isn't as fringey as the former, or as universal as the latter. The problem is that I have no idea where on the scale it is.

*In case it's not perfectly clear, I do not actually feel this way. Wear orange January 1 through March 16, and March 18 through December 31, and I won't think you're being political in the US. If you're a pale white guy like me, you still shouldn't wear it, but the error is one of fashion, not politics.

#566 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:27 PM:

Xopher: And then there's the guy I work with who wears orange everything, all the time, because he was once lost at sea, and has a particular affection for that color. It having saved his life, and all.

#567 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:31 PM:

And I really doubt Orange Mike is a Paisleyite.

#568 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Leah Miller @542:

The most distressing example I can recall was a line of clothing attempting to launch, marketed as "clothes for butch women and trans men." The line was composed primarily of suits cut to look masculine on a body with wider hips and narrower shoulders. There was a substantial backlash against the company from people who said "assuming a transman would need a different cut of suit than a AAB man is transphobic and bigoted."

That's frankly bizarre. Assuming we're thinking of the same company (they had a Kickstarter earlier this year), I didn't see any backlash, and I saw a lot of delight from both transmen and butch women at this niche. The subset of transmen and butch women who can wear clothing tailored for AAB men are already able to do so. The marketing I saw didn't say "No trans men anywhere can wear clothing designed for AAB men", it said "For those who can't, here are some nice suits."

Xopher @551:

The symbol I replaced the equality sign with was two linked rings. (I didn't originate the graphic; I got it from a friend.) I figured it was both immediately recognizable, especially given the color scheme, as "supports marriage equality", while being different enough to also be recognizably "Not HRC's graphic". Most of my friends used the standard one, though, and I certainly didn't criticize them for it!

#569 ::: lorax has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 03:47 PM:

Probably for punctuation, which is my usual failing. Would the gnomes be interested in homemade blueberry jam?

[Gnomes love homemade blueberry jam! In this case it was three spaces in a row. -- Corosi Eilion, Duty Gnome]

#570 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:01 PM:

Xopher @565:
I could tell you that, as an Irish-American of Catholic descent (on my mother's side), I find the color orange objectionable at all times and in all circumstances, and it should never, ever appear, because it just intrinsically supports the Paisleyites, Protestant triumphalism, and the massacre at Drogheda.

I know this is an exaggeration, but I also know that inner twitch. One of the hardest things for me, as an American of Irish Catholic descent living in the Netherlands, is getting into the "Orange is good, orange is happy, orange is tolerant" mindset on national holidays.

#571 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:16 PM:

abi: That's because the nasty icky orange people went to Ireland and did nasty icky orange things there, while the nice tolerant orange people stayed in the Netherlands.

Still, I reckon it must be like seeing the Klingon Peace Museum. You go in expecting it to be all PEACE THROUGH CONQUEST K'PLAH! and discover that no, these are the Klingons who became Buddhists and have overcome all violent urges. Brain fail.

#572 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 04:29 PM:

Xopher, 571: Veering mightily from the topic, I would read that Klingon Buddhist story.

#573 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:09 PM:

Mongoose @ 522: I believe that one response in this part of the Internet to that particular Telecom van would probably be along the lines WRONG WRONG WRONGITY WRONG.

#574 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 05:23 PM:

That's about what they thought on the Falls Road, too. Many stones and other small objects were apparently thrown in the making of that point. (Thankfully nothing worse than that happened.)

I'm with Xopher on orange, incidentally. I'm pale, and it makes me look as though I'm dead. Not a look I'm really after.

#575 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:06 PM:

Carol Kimball 562: Does it help, with "genderqueer", to know/remember that there's a subset of LGBT folks who actively support reclaiming the word "queer" from being an insult to being a badge of pride, and who furthermore embrace it as being inclusive, rather than subdividing into "lesbian" or "gay" or "bisexual" or "trans*" or what have you?

Coexisting somewhat oddly with the "inclusive" notion above, "genderqueer" can also refer to a specific subdivision of Not Cisgender, those who don't consider themselves to have a binary gender, and/or choose not to present as one of the two binary options. It doesn't necessarily connote the deliberate and often provocatively intended mixing of gender signals that the term "genderfuck" does (if you are not able to pin that term to concrete examples, I can provide a few), but "genderfuck" can BE a presentation of a genderqueer identity.

ObDisclaimer: I'm a cis woman, but my teenager (off to college TOMORROW, yikes) is nonbinary, and chooses not to restrict themselves to a single binary presentation, and insists that "pronouns are rubbish" (read that in Matt Smith's voice for the full effect). Likewise, my housemate/quasi-spouse is agendered, and has settled on a butch/masculine presentation, though without dedicated effort to pass as a cis man, and not bothering to change the name and pronoun she was assigned at birth.

So, while I don't claim to be an Infallible Authority on the nomenclature of gender variance, I've got a good chunk of experience dealing with the complexities.

Also, your "troll" example made me both wince and laugh. Wince, obviously, because I HATE when partners demean and belittle each other under the pretense of "only teasing". Laugh, because one of my housemate's nicknames is Troll, or sometimes Auntie Troll. I came up with it, but the context wasn't "ugly, knuckle-dragging creature"; it was "a being who prefers to hide under bridges or in caves rather than interact with everyone who happens by," because back when my kid was about 12, she was distressed by the noisy presence of one of the kid's friends in the house, and referred to her retreat to her room as "hiding in my cave." Which led to my LOLcat inquiry "Auntie iz troll?" and her answer "Yes. Troll in cave. Troll no like strangers." So the "Auntie Troll" nickname comes out when she's having her introversion rubbed wrong, and she usually initiates the reference by saying "Troll no like $FOO." It's as much a verbal communication of emotional state on her part as anything else, which I don't think I'd realized until typing it now.

So, I think I can safely say that our use of Troll is affectionate...and it makes me sad to hear about it used as faux-affectionate nastiness. :(

#576 ::: Rikibeth has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:08 PM:

I have several flavors of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the freezer, if the gnomes would like dessert.

#577 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 09:38 PM:

Rikibeth - yes, that does help. Thanks.

I loved hearing about and strongly sympathize with your Auntie Troll, having had those "Get out of my face. NOW." days.

#578 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 10:38 PM:

Carol, I sympathize too. I tend to score dead in the middle of the introvert/extrovert continuum on MBTI-like tests, but that doesn't mean I have a homogenous tolerance for interaction set at a fixed level - it works out as times when I crave interaction and recharge from it, and times when interaction drains me and I need to be ALONE, DAMMIT.

The Auntie Troll construct has sometimes led to unexpectedly effective bits of whimsy. I once gave her chocolate by picking it up with kitchen tongs and asking her to open her door a crack so I could hand it in. Pushing the construct to that level? Made both of us feel better.

#579 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 10:48 PM:

Xopher, abi, and all: I once asked some music friends what they thought Johnny Cash--the Man in Black, right?--would wear today. The answer I got back was true even if not right--prison orange.

#580 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2013, 11:17 PM:

Rikibeth:

I can't think of any situations that couldn't benefit from this kind of whimsy.

Even better than tolerance: loving (appropriate) support of the individual.

#581 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:40 AM:

Carol: we operate on a high-whimsy setting. Housemate has two beloved felt plushie dolls of Black Widow and Hawkeye, made by my kid (this started as my kid making a Loki plushie because there were none to be found in stores, then came Natasha because housemate loves her and there weren't any of HER either, then it grew into a summer project of making ALL the Avengers, including a suitably oversized Hulk, and then it became a hobby business - shameless plug for my kid: plushvengers.etsy.com) - anyway, housemate planned to bring Plush Team Delta to Arisia (among other reasons, they have a tumblr, so it was a chance to take photos). Housemate was also intending to go to Cecilia Tan's Hogwarts Alumni Party, which specified Wands Required. No problem for housemate, who has one (and full Slytherin gear to robes, sweater vest, and tie) - but Clint and Natasha didn't have wands. So, an hour before we were intending to leave (while I was in the middle of running up my quick-and-dirty cheap green satin cloak for my Genderswapped, Burlesque Loki outfit, which I hadn't been able to start until T-minus three hours), Housemate was using the Bread Knife That She Absolutely Did Not Use To Trim Loose Plastic Off Her Car Last Winter (that is what she told me, unsolicited, when the plastic got trimmed - she had sensibly used the duller of the two in the house, and I laughed) to slice appropriate wand lengths off bamboo chopsticks, create little elastic loops, and then deciding that wasn't enough and creating little felt cloak-robes with appropriately House color-coded embroidery floss fastenings to make them look more convincingly wizardly, because they were UNDERCOVER.

Partway through this process, she wondered out loud what normal people did with their time, if they weren't putting it into projects like that. We couldn't really come up with a satisfactory answer besides "reality shows and TV sports, I guess." But this is what WE do.

The whimsy is extending to the new household we're creating with another friend of mine, in her house, which is plenty large enough for all of us modulo much of the stuff accumulated by her late mother, grandfather, and aunt getting cleared out. I'm in charge of the decrufting, with final keep/donate/sell decisions made by my friend. We're trying to apply the principle "have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful", and the definition of "beautiful" is laden with whimsy. Said friend is a lapsed Catholic, which you would expect to make certain discards predictable, but whimsy trumps that. When I asked her about a foot-tall brass crucifix, I was expecting "tag sale". She surprised me with, "No, keep it - in case of vampire attack." And we then agreed that all intruders should be presumed vampires until proven otherwise, because it was also a perfectly serviceable blunt instrument. The faux-Lenox bust of the Virgin Mary was discarded from the mantelpiece, however, while the plastic T-Rex was allowed to stay - and we are keeping our eyes peeled for a plastic stegosaurus to go with it, to curse T. Rex's sudden and inevitable betrayal. :D

It's going to be a heck of a house once we're all settled in. Solid, traditional furniture, the inevitable walls of books, and Nerd Tchotchkes. Not so much wall art (except in Auntie Troll's bedroom, where she plans to paint a Hawkeye bullseye mural and has a Cherno Alpha print to hang, among other things) - Homeowner has quite a few extant framed paintings of the traditional sort, some originals and some reproductions, and we LIKE the Renoir girl and the thatched cottage and so on, and I've got my own favorite pieces, some of which are nerdy (my SCA Award of Arms) and some not (the large photo of a peacock that my ex-mother-in-law took, and I decided was worth an elaborate custom frame). But tchotchkes? It's giving us great pleasure to ditch her aunt's Hallmark-store ceramic Easter bunnies and deploy my Star Wars action figures instead.

It's going to be the sort of house I've always wanted to live in. Both company and private space... and ONLY STUFF WE LIKE.

#582 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:01 AM:

Nice, Rikibeth. Love the wands.

It occurred to me that there's a very simple method for treating people from marginalized groups correctly, aside from the basic "just treat them with respect." It's a two-step process: 1. Ask. 2. Listen.

It's all right if you get things wrong, particularly at first, as long as you keep asking how to do right and listening to the answer...

#583 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 01:45 AM:

B. Durbin: It's a two-step process: 1. Ask. 2. Listen.

THIS. One of the things that cemented the friendship between my kid and their soon-to-be roommate, when they met at summer orientation, was the STBR saying, "Can I ask you a personal question? Which pronouns do you prefer?"

My kid said "That's the sort of personal question I wish MORE people would ask!"

My kid's answer, btw, was "I'll take either, but I appreciate it if you match it to my current presentation, and I always like 'they' or just talking around the pronouns."

Asking politely? Is great.

#584 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 02:36 AM:

On the subject of legislative enforcement of non-discrimination, I am proud of this:

http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints/complaint-guides/making-complaint/complaints-under-sex-discrimination-act

No, it isn't a complete answer. Legislation never is. But it gives teeth to the downtrodden.

#585 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:19 AM:

Rikibeth: what a truly wonderful arrangement! I love whimsy. This makes some of my friends blink a little, but most of them respond in kind most of the time.

There is one in particular, however, who invariably sees my whimsy and raises it, which is enormously refreshing (and one of the many reasons why we get on so very well). He is spectacularly intelligent, and in his chosen field I would have no hesitation in calling him a genius, but like many geniuses he is also very absent-minded. I'm always telling him he's got his own little planet, but I also make sure he knows that I think it's a lovely planet and I really enjoy spending time on it, so it's not intended as a criticism. The "little planet" idea therefore turned into a happy little private joke.

So one day I decided to riff on it. I'm no good at drawing, but I very painstakingly drew a sheep on a piece of paper and presented it to him the next time I saw him. Of course he immediately cracked up laughing. It was a wonderful moment.

#586 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 06:29 AM:

Rikibeth #581: Carol: we operate on a high-whimsy setting.

Whimsy? Note: I picked a strip early in the storyline, because today's is a Climactic moment. If you're not familiar with them you might want to jump to the start of the storyline ("My House Is Me") to pick up on bonus genderbending.

#587 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 07:45 AM:

Mongoose #585: Awww....

#588 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:06 AM:

B. Durbin @ 582

It's a two-step process: 1. Ask. 2. Listen.

Hallelujah! That right there!

#589 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 10:42 AM:

Dave @ 586: I may have just got totally distracted by that webcomic.

#590 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Mongoose #589: You're welcome. ;-) After the success of Narbonic (How many webcomics get to go into reruns?), I think Shaenon Garrity is trying to peg her new industrial wierdometer.

#591 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 03:30 PM:

Rikibeth @581: ...because they were UNDERCOVER.

It's been much too long since I've had a properly fanish household to hang out at... ::sigh::

Mongoose @585: So one day I decided to riff on it. I'm no good at drawing, but I very painstakingly drew a sheep on a piece of paper

Okay, I'll bite (never being averse to being the straight man*): "Sheep, Gracie?"

@586: Oh for Pete's sake. My IE8 won't display the images. ::SIGH::

* Which expression takes on a whole new dimension, in amonst discussions of gender identity.

#592 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Jacque, in The Little Prince, by Saint-Exupéry, the narrator draws several pictures of sheep for the title character. The Little Prince in question lives on a very, very small planet.

#593 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 05:35 PM:

Jacque #591: Unfortunately, a couple of days after I posted, www.skin-horse.com was hosed by a software "update". They are working on it, with aid from at least one other comic author who was similarly afflicted. In the meantime, you can read the comics at http://www.gocomics.com/skinhorse. The first one is from April 15, 2013.

#594 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:16 PM:

A thought harkening back to the original post: Could SotS be salvageable, by reshooting the frame story with more awareness of the issues involved?

#595 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 06:42 PM:

Carrie S.: Ah, thank you. Little Prince is one of the very many "childhood classics" I was never exposed to. (Only reason I know about Velveteen Rabbit is that I heard it read aloud in school.)

Dave Harmon: Oh. Okay then. I'd assumed it was me, 'cause I'm having, intermittently, the same problem over on http://www.thisiscolossal.com/

#596 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 09:23 PM:

Jacque #595: Possibly the same upgrade.... BTW, Skin Horse does have a thread running through it from The Velveteen Rabbit, even the title is a reference.

Also, regarding muscle/fat, I'd say a reasonable goal for most people would be: "Strong enough to easily carry your own weight". By that I don't mean "pick up weight equal to your own", just being able to move freely, with some agility and without danger of collapse.

#597 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2013, 03:36 PM:

Dave: There was a time when I could, in fact, carry my own weight. I have ambitions of getting back to that state.

#598 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Xopher@264 - I do barbershop, and unfortunately, yeah, it's still a Very White subculture (with the usual Here's Two Black Guys In The Whole 60-Man Chorus and/or In This College Quartet edge bits). It's also a rather Old Male subculture - though they're actually doing pretty well in getting younger choruses and college quartets, these days, but they don't _mix_ as well as they ought. (Female barbershoppers are in a parallel organization, the Sweet Adelines.) (Which actually has justification - male voices fall into range A, female ones into range B, with some overlap, but not enough that arranging for two guys and two women in a quartet is anything like arranging for four voices TLBB or SMAC.)

So yeah, despite its relation to doo-wop singing on street corners and the like, it's not an indicator that you're looking at Black Vultures.

--Dave

#599 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 09:06 PM:

FWIW, my guy at the art store, who is Furry, says that the animated bits of Song of the South absolutely do qualify as Furry. So, from that standpoint, would be appropriate for a Worldcon venue.

#600 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2013, 02:15 PM:

David DeLaney @598, Xopher @264. Speaking from the female barbershop side of things, my Sweet Adelines chapter also skews whiter than we would like. Our 40-person chorus currently has 2 black women, 1 visibly Asian, and one visibly Hispanic. Age-wise, our median is probably in the 40s with range from 20s to 70s; we may be coming to enough critical mass with the younger women to continue to draw more.

#601 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2013, 11:43 AM:

I kept meaning to post this while the thread was more active, but better late than never. With reference to the stories, not the film: in the 80's Julius Lester wrote a very entertaining retelling of the Uncle Remus stories, in a mostly modern idiom and without the framing. It's not the same experience as reading Joel Chandler Harris's version, but there's some good in that. It's been a while since I read Lester's version, but I remember really enjoying it.

#602 ::: vicki fraser ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 05:15 PM:

oh my gosh this day and age and all the crap on tv and at the movies this show has to be one of the best Disney movies ever made and I see nothing wrong with it. I want this movie to come out to buy. I just loved this movie and it's one of my favorite rides in Disneyland. So let's get it out of the vault and show this movie to all of those who have never seen it I think it's ashamed it has never come out don't know what your missing!!

#603 ::: guthrie sees some strange posts ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 05:31 PM:

It looks a bit like astroturf to me...

#604 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Hi, vicki --

No need to say it four times (I've unpublished three of them). Is there any chance you can express that sentiment in sonnet form?

I have to dispute your "one of the best Disney movies ever made." Outside of the animated sequences this is a dull, plodding, preachy film, typical of children's movies from the forties. While the child actors are doing the best they can, that doesn't mean they're doing very well.

No one here is saying that this film should never be seen, but we are saying that even for a more racist time that this movie was startlingly racist. Which means that those who see it should do so aware of its historical context and the larger issues it raises. Thus, whatever the original intent, today it isn't a children's movie.

As far as "don't know what your missing!!" I'm sure you noticed that several of the commenters above mentioned where and when, and at what age, they saw it. We know exactly what we're "missing."

#605 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Looks like an attempt at spam. Nonsense phrase, bad url.

#606 ::: Jon Meltzer sees prophetic spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:24 AM:

Ezekiel 25:17 ...

#607 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2014, 12:25 AM:

it looks almost reasonable....

#608 ::: Cadbury Moose spots spam @ 608 ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2015, 08:32 AM:

boilerplate posting is boilerplate

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