Political Commentary

Free speech distortion, cancel culture confusion

Speech or Cancel Culture At Boston University? by Ken White (The Popehat Review)

But are labor protests cancel culture now? Is not paying writers a form of controversial expression that we ought to hear out and react to with refined and well-moderated debate? Is the entire history of the American labor movement’s raucousness a history of woke censorship?


Or is that all cynical partisan bullshit, a way to delegitimize certain (usually left-leaning) political views while pretending to be noble and pro-free-speech?

I also think it’s notably obtuse for the president to act as though these students should have no say in their graduation ceremony. Inviting an anti-labor CEO in the midst of a writer’s strike is an implicit endorsement of his tactics, rubbing the graduating students’ noses in their university’s political stance, showing that they care more about the prestige of their speakers than their students’ opinions. To be forced to listen to some anti-union slimer would certainly ruin my graduation day — a day of celebration and achievement tarnished by someone who disrespects the value of work or creativity.

(via Dan the Clam Man)

Activism Political Commentary

Oppression against public opinion

A WaPo Poll Found That Significant Majorities Support Pro-Trans Policies, But Reported The Exact Opposite by Parker Malloy (The Present Age) on May 8 2023

WaPo polling found most people (57%) didn’t think being transgender was a real thing, but also that most believed trans people should receive protections regardless:

  • 71% of adults support laws banning discrimination against trans people by medical professionals.
  • 72% of adults support laws banning discrimination against trans people from getting health insurance.
  • 69% of adults support laws banning discrimination against transgender people in K-12 schools.
  • 73% of adults support laws banning discrimination against transgender people at their jobs and workplaces.
  • 74% of adults support laws banning discrimination against transgender people in housing.

Fascists and religious extremists are imposing their hateful views on all of us, against our common values. Forced birth is not popular. Discrimination against trans people is a minority viewpoint.

Corporations are driven by profit and simper into pathetic compliance at the merest whisper of manufactured exploitative outrage from fascists, but the rest of us don’t have to go along with it.


May Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map by Erin Reed (Erin in the Morning) on May 20, 2023

Map illustrating the risk of anti trans legislation in each state, with a general trend of the West and Northeast being lowest risk.

This map illustrates a stark divide. Nearly all states with any potential for passing harsh anti-trans laws have done so… On the other hand, states with a low likelihood of passing such laws have enacted highly protective legislation, including refuge/shield laws that block extradition and investigations into care from out of state.

Political Commentary Society

They’re so close to right

Liked The Swivel-Eyed Loons Have a Point by Cory Doctorow (Locus Mag)

The idea that rich, powerful people are happy to enact extremely invasive, restrictive rules that they are not in any way bound by isn’t wrong. It’s actually very, very right… powerful people know better than to let a good crisis go to waste.

My QAnon relative keeps saying, follow the money. Yet he won’t follow the money to Trump or Clarence Thomas or whoever paid off that other dickbag Justice’s loans. This is (part of) why I hate Joe Manchin: I followed the money to his coal plant and watched him put his personal financial interests over the future habitability of the planet. I recognize that there is corruption of the elite class, but it’s certainly not limited to Democrats like he thinks. And when I follow the money at the big picture, I see it flowing away from people, to corporations, where it’s concentrated in the hands of mega wealthy executives.

History Political Commentary

Minority rule, past and present

Liked April 28, 2023 by Heather Cox Richardson (Letters from an American)

The attempt of a radical minority to enforce their will on the rest of us, who constitute a majority, by stealing control of the states and then, through them, control of the federal government is precisely what the Confederates tried to do before the Civil War: it is no accident that one of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, carried a replica of a Confederate battle flag.

Culture History Political Commentary

Reason 5379 we need better statistics education

Replied to Gun Violence Is Actually Worse in Red States. It’s Not Even Close. (POLITICO)

America’s regions are poles apart when it comes to gun deaths and the cultural and ideological forces that drive them.

Using raw numbers / absolute values instead of per capita data is so misleading. I know that data don’t actually change minds, but some skepticism around statistics couldn’t hurt 🤷‍♀️

Political Commentary

Distortion and distraction

Replied to Tennessee House votes to expel 2 of 3 Democratic members over gun protest (

House Speaker Cameron Sexton compared the incident to Jan. 6: “What they did today was equivalent, at least equivalent, maybe worse depending on how you look at it, to doing an insurrection in the State Capitol,” he said.

Misconstruing words and intentions is an integral tool for fascists, reflected in the importance of ‘doublethink’ in Orwell’s 1984. Here, a powerful politician pretends not to be aware of the difference between a peaceful protest and an insurrection. With his comparison, he equates using a megaphone and peacefully occupying a space (potentially on recess?) with showing up at the nation’s capital with weapons and zipties while calling for the head of the politician charged with peacefully transferring power from one elected leader to the next. The silenced, disenfranchised populace making themselves heard by the politicians theoretically representing them (but not due to horrendous gerrymandering) are equivalent to a lynch mob seeking to subvert the will of the people by blocking execution of electoral results. At once, he is dismissing the validity of protest and making protest out to be more dangerous than it is. Casting protest as something alarming rather than a very American exercise of First Amendment rights — particularly when led by two young Black men.

(This is the perspective that makes Feedly’s new AI tool lumping together protests and riots alarming.)

Having conflated a minor rules violation with a treasonous attack, he could justify subverting democratic representation by casting out the troublemakers under the guise of decorum. He can claim to be on the side of democracy by dismissing the democratic tactic of protest as disruptive to the legislative process of “representative” democracy, and may righteously return to ignoring gun control now that he has invalidated the protestors and distracted from the purpose of their protest.

Art and Design Featured Political Commentary

The tactic of destroying the meaning of words

Replied to Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture by Elaine VelieElaine Velie (

Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.

It’s a known authoritarian practice to undermine the meaning of words: in this case, applying the word pornographic to an artistic masterwork representing a biblical figure in the nude. At the same time, they are diminishing the cultural and historical value of art; art and history are threats to them that must be suppressed for their narrative to reign.

Il David is an important work to study in European art history, and frankly any curriculum that omitted it would be questionable.

Nudity is not the same as pornography.

Political Commentary

Abortion is not murder

Replied to 21 South Carolina GOP Lawmakers Propose Death Penalty for Women Who Have Abortions (

It’s not just a lone extremist: The bill has 21 co-sponsors in the state’s House of Representatives

It is religious extremism to say that women deserve to die for a tiny nonviable bundle of cells without a visible embryo. Only belief in a soul beginning at conception makes that make any amount of sense.

Is this 3″ bundle of cells more important than me? Should a woman die for this?

See also:

Our Rage is Not Hysterical

Activism Political Commentary

How to support trans people

Bookmarked Thread by @magpiekilljoy on Thread Reader App (

@magpiekilljoy: if they mean what they say, here’s a thread of ideas about how to stand up for yourself or your trans loved ones (or just be a decent human) during this time of escalating legislative and extralegal threats and violence against LGBT people

Take this threat seriously. Don’t treat trans people like we’re hysterical. Don’t assume this is just another culture war issue.

At the same time, avoid jumping to conclusions or overstating the enemy’s strength. History doesn’t have to repeat itself.

I’ve been feeling a little helpless and anxious over all the hatred towards trans people escalating, and not knowing what to do about it since the legislation is happening in other states. (Washington had two anti-trans bills that fortunately died in committee.)

Charlie Jane Anders shared some interesting info about a historic debate over the best approach in her most recent newsletter. I appreciate the reminder that there are many approaches that can help.

Do we fight for protections for specific vulnerable groups (trans people, but also non-binary folks and other gender-nonconforming people who embrace labels like genderqueer or gender-fluid)? Or do we push a general principle that nobody should be penalized for their gender presentation, even if that person identifies as a cis straight man but happens to wear pink?

Before anyone else says it, I will: these two approaches are, of course, not mutually exclusive. We can do both.

Political Commentary Society Work

Capitalism vs. children

Replied to The Endangered American Childhood by Jared Yates Sexton (Dispatches From A Collapsing State | Jared Yates Sexton)

And, before we dive deeper, a reminder that the very nature of the market is this. The exploitation and dehumanization of all of us for as much profit as can possibly be extracted from us. Preferably it could be done painlessly and with a smile, but the inherent philosophy at the heart of the process harbors deep, dark authoritarian energies that will come into full focus as soon as situations demand it.

There is a abhorrent logic to it. If adults aren’t going to accept these low-paying, backbreaking, soul-crushing jobs, and if they’re going to continue agitating for labor unions and better treatment, then somebody’s going to have to show up.

The GOP’s continued assault on teachers as “groomers” and “indoctrinators” is about destroying public education, but in due time that will switch to also rationalizing why children would be “better off” laboring rather than being “subjected to wokeness.”


I don’t think it’s solely about destroying education, though that is one aspect. Part is about demonizing “the other” and creating in/out groups to turn against, especially conflating liberalism with queerness, which they also hate and fear. Part is about vilifying intellectual pursuits and devaluing critical thinking. And part is preventing kids from learning information that conflicts with their controlling doctrines.

They will wage not only culture war but also generational war, claiming degeneracy and decay demand a return to “traditional values,” including the reappearance of young people in the workplace, where they might learn the value of a dollar and the need for hard work.

I’m wary of reading too much stuff like this in case it’s alarmist reverse fearmongering, but I kinda don’t think it is — so learning to recognize and anticipate the behavior patterns of authoritarians is important 🫤

I started working at 14 and wish I hadn’t. Wish I’d given myself a few more years before I started squeezing myself into the mold of ideal worker. Our school system does enough of this already: teaching to the test, quashing curiosity, forcing kids to follow a schedule that doesn’t suit their bodies.

I recall a day I got in trouble for not coming to work on the school paper after track. I was seventeen. I’d been at school from 8 to 3:30 then practice till 6 or 6:30. I was exhausted, physically and mentally, and had homework to do plus saxophone practice. By the time I finished dinner I figured they’d be winding down and there was no need for me to go back, but apparently they worked till midnight. I “should have” gone back and worked another five or six hours.

Except in retrospect, maybe we shouldn’t ask kids to put in 15-16 hour days — for extracurricular activities or for paid work. That means recognizing that children’s work is learning, both the skills and curriculum of their classes, as well as how to be people. Supplanting kids’ free time with labor prioritizes their value as workers over their wellbeing as people.

It’s all part of a hustle for success mindset that, at least for me, started with high school, when I was 13. My parents didn’t push me, but society was a strong influence. You won’t get into a good college if you don’t do extracurriculars or score well on standardized tests. If you make mistakes, if you’re anything less than perfect, you’ll be a failure. I’m still working on purging toxic perfectionism from my system in my late thirties. And I wish I could have let myself enjoy being a kid a little longer.