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may also occasionally contain implicit and explicit references to

tobacco, alcohol, and other substances, as well as sexuality,

and favors logic over dogma, any or all of which may offend some,

and whereas I may occasionally give disclaimers,

but I do NOT give "trigger warnings,"

therefore, be it resolved that: this blog is intended for mature readers.

However, this blog is not age-restricted.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Phobia vs. -phobia; Homophobia, Transphobia, Denial, Repression, and Uncertainty

Phobia vs. -phobia;
Homophobia, Transphobia,
Denial, Repression, and Uncertainty,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

Lately, the author has noticed a reply to charges of homophobia (and/or transphobia) having seemingly become popular among those who are, in fact, homophobic (and/or transphobic) to a greater or lesser degree, and the reply in question is an attempt to attack the very designation "homophobia" (or "transphobia") on the grounds that a phobia is a fear and they are not afraid of Gay people (or Trans people) so they can't be homophobic (or transphobic).  The author is inclined to suspect that this rhetoric is derived from a common source, as she has noticed it more and more, and only of late.  The source, however, is irrelevant for the purposes of the present discussion, which will focus on the actual semantics of the terminology, rather than its source, and will go on to provide references defining and explaining homophobia and transphobia, as well as references which suggest another sort of explanation (not of meanings, but of causes).

The rhetoric in question ignores both common usage found in descriptive vocabularies as well as technical usage found in psychological, psychiatric, and sociological sources (and even sources concerned with more "physical" medicine), in which the suffix "-phobia" is not restricted to a meaning of "fear" only, much less only "irrational fear."

Witness common usage of the word defined:

and medical usage of both the word and the suffix defined:

The reader will note that, even in the first link, which describes common usage, the definition plainly states:
an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something
(Emphasis added.)

In the second link, the medical definition of the suffix is given as:
noun combining form  -pho·bia  \ˈfō-bē-ə\
Medical Definition of -phobia
:  abnormal fear of <acrophobia>
:  intolerance or aversion for <photophobia>

For those who are unaware, photophobia is a medical (physical) condition (or symptom of some other [physical] condition):
Photophobia is eye discomfort in bright light.
--  Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia | U.S. National Library of Medicine | National Institutes of Health

Gay Pride Flag

More specifically, here are definitions and explanations of "homophobia" and "transphobia":

Definition of homophobia
:  irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals
--  Merriam-Webster

Lesbian Pride Flag

Definition of homophobia in English:
Dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people.
--  Oxford Dictionaries

Bisexual Moon Symbol

The Oxford Online Dictionaries also give:
Definition of transphobia in English:
Intense dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people:
'more than 120 complaints concerning transphobia in the media were made'
--  Oxford Dictionaries

Transgender Pride Flag by Jennifer Pellinen

What is Homophobia

Understanding Homophobia/Heterosexism

Transphobia - RationalWiki

Transphobia has been defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as “the fear of or a dislike directed towards trans people, or a fear of or dislike directed towards their perceived lifestyle, culture or characteristics, whether or not any specific trans person has that lifestyle or characteristic. The dislike does not have to be so severe as hatred. It is enough that people do something or abstain from doing something because they do not like trans people.
--  Tackling transphobia | CUSU LGBT+

To use an analogy, instead of everyone being evenly distributed in a sea, they are randomly swept up onto two separate islands, and there’s no swimming allowed in between! Each island has its own rules, or gender stereotypes, which set out how men or women should look, act or behave. The idea that boys should like blue and enjoy aggressive, competitive activities, whilst girls should be passive and nurturing, are two examples of gender stereotypes. There is strong pressure to conform to these gender rules. Society often penalises anyone who breaks the rules and the penalty is even worse particularly for those who try to leave the island which they found themselves on at birth – this is called transphobia and transphobia is the sharp end of sexism.
So, transphobia is intolerance of gender diversity. It is based around the idea that there are only two sexes – male or female, which you stay in from birth. And furthermore, that people who fit gender stereotypes (by sounding, looking or behaving like men and women are ‘supposed to’) are somehow better than those who don’t.
Trans people, gender queer people and people with a transsexual history can also experience homophobia, because the abuser often neither knows nor cares how a person identifies, just that they are different in some way.
--  What Is Transphobia? | Galop

Jennifer Pellinen's Transgender Pride Flag

Tran[s]phobia is an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms.
-- Transphobia - Definition and Examples

Interestingly, a number of studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between homophobia and repressed Homosexuality, which is to say, many homophobes are themselves Homosexuals in denial.  A brief sample of the literature follows, with quotes from some of the examples.

Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal? | National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Parental autonomy support and discrepancies between implicit and explicit sexual identities: Dynamics of self-acceptance and defense. | American Psychological Association

Is Homophobia Associated with an Implicit Same-Sex Attraction? (Cara C. MacInnis & Gordon Hodson) - The Journal of Sex Research - 18 Sep 2012

Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? (Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohr;  University of Georgia) - Journal of Abnormal Psychology - 1996, Vol. 105, No. 3 (.pdf file)

Homophobes Likely To Be Closet Gays, Study Finds | International Business Times

Is some homophobia self-phobia? -- ScienceDaily

Are Homophobes Really Gay? | Psychology Today

Study: Homophobes May Be Hidden Homosexuals | Homophobia & Anti-Gay Sentiment | LiveScience

The Roots Of Homophobia - Putting Freud To The Test | Assault On Gay America | FRONTLINE | PBS

Homophobic?  Maybe You're Gay - The New York Times

Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals - Scientific American

Homophobic Attitudes Likely To Be Stronger Among Those Who Have Repressed Same-Sex Attraction: Report

Are Homophobes Secretly Attracted to Gay People? | Psychology Today

Are Homophobic People Really Gay and Not Accepting It? | Psychology Today

Homophobia linked to lack of awareness of one's sexual orientation and authoritarian parenting, study shows

Homophobes Are Gay - Study (The Young Turks) (video)

Transgender Pride Flag by Monica Helms

More recently (since "transphobia" is itself a more recent term than "homophobia" -- as noted in the Oxford Dictionaries, "homophobia" dates from the 1960s, while "transphobia" dates from the 1990s), some thinkers have begun to suggest that transphobia may also have a positive correlation with a fragile gender identity, that transphobes may themselves be still "struggling with their own gender identity."  A couple of such discussions are linked below, with some quotations.

The cause of transphobia is still a subject of research and debate, but it likely reflects the fragile nature of gender identity. Men's and women's lives, genes, and bodies are not terribly different; the fact that someone can convincingly identify as a member of the opposite sex calls the very concept of gender into question. People who are quietly struggling with their own gender identity, and people for whom gender identity is especially important, might be frightened--even angry--when confronted with the fragility of gender.
-- Transphobia - Definition and Examples

Are our own gender identities so fragile that we must stigmatise a first-grader for using the girls' room?
Discrimination against transgender people is real, pervasive and often legal. And it often builds from ignorance and bias – things that start young.
While transgender people do face widespread mistreatment, the discrimination doesn't make much sense. Who, exactly, gets hurt if folks match their physical appearance to their gender identity? Why is it such a problem for a six-year-old girl to use the girls' bathroom?
Everyone has a gender identity. You do, and so do I. Just as the gay rights movement has made us collectively realize that we all have a sexual orientation – whether it be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or something else – advocates for transgender rights try to impart the lesson that each person has an internal sense of being male or female (or, for some folks, neither, or something in between). As Silverman says:
"We all have a gender identity. We just never have to think about if it we're not transgender because no one questions it."
-- From school to society, the intolerance transgender people face | The Guardian

In closing, the author will, again, quote a man whom she has quoted before in this blog -- a flawed man, yes, but a visionary man nevertheless (for each person, in spite of her or his best efforts, is imperfect, yet he or she can still do good despite her or his imperfections):

If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.
-- Gene Roddenberry

Not something to fear, and, the author would add, not something to hate.

Va'Vuhnaya s'Va'Terishlar (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations)

Peace and long life.
Live long and prosper.


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Monday, December 7, 2015

Ethics, Morals, Scruples, and Folkways

Ethics, Morals, Scruples, and Folkways,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

Ethics, Morals, Scruples, and Folkways all concern behavior/conduct, and overlap to some extent, but they are not synonyms (I realize that common usage treats the terms "ethics" and "morals" as more or less synonymous, but I contend that they should not be seen as identical in meaning).  Adding to the complication involved in distinguishing between these words is the fact that the discipline of Philosophy uses the term "Ethics" to refer to that branch of the tree of Philosophy which deals with the science of conduct, under which header all four of these terms should be placed.  I believe this can be resolved by bearing in mind that the use in Philosophy to refer to "the science of conduct" is an example of technical jargon and should be considered an umbrella.  So, how do I distinguish these terms, apart from (or rather, under the umbrella of) the technical jargon?

An ethic, or an ethical system, is part of a worldview (be it cultural, philosophical, or religious) and essentially static (although subject to interpretation), thus basically unchanging apart from exegesis and application.  Regarding an ethic as more or less objective would not be wrong, although it would be, perhaps, imprecise.  To elaborate on this latter notion, I should say that the underlying concepts of an ethic do not themselves change, but the interpretation, and thus, the application, of an ethic may vary over time or due to sectarian differences of perspective;  in order to hold this understanding, I must disregard hyper-literalistic legalism, which, I would insist, is an aberration of ethical thought due to the innate irrationality of such a perspective which invariably leads to self-referential incoherence, doublethink, and cognitive dissonance.

A morality is societal, and malleable with respect to time and place, thus relative.  Morals change as the society ebbs and flows in its education, experience, technological changes, exposure to other societies, migration, environmental factors, and so on.  What is regarded as moral by a given society will change over time, and this change is more than mere reinterpretation and application;  the underlying concepts themselves change.  If a social group emigrates to another geographic location, the physical environment of their new home, as well as their new neighbors, may affect their morality over time.  With technological advances, new challenges arise and new understandings are born, which may alter the underlying moral concepts of the social group.  Again, the quality of education in a society fluctuates over time, and this too can change basic concepts of a society.

Scruples are individual viewpoints on conduct and behavior, which are usually influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the morals of the society in which the individual lives, and potentially also by the ethics of the various worldviews with which the individual may have come in contact.  Scruples will, for most individuals, change over time due to various influences and experiences, as well as continuing education.

Folkways are either cultural or societal, or both, and tend to be rather conservative, although reasons which were their source may be forgotten or lost over time;  while some folkways have an origin in an ethic or a morality, if the original ethical or moral basis be lost or forgotten, they become mere traditional custom and thus are worthy of the name "folkway" for those who (semi-consciously) practice them without understanding of the reason(s) for their existence.  An example of this is the practice of walking on one side or the other of a sidewalk/pavement or hallway.  Originally, chariot drivers would veer left when meeting, so that the right sides of the chariot boards were turned toward one another as they passed, and the same conduct was in play when mounted riders or people on foot met.  Many concepts are behind these applications (among which was the fact that most persons are right-handed and thus would want their dominant arm turned toward a potential challenger;  consequently, turning the left side toward someone became regarded as an intentional affront or attempt to provoke), but the basic underlying reason was the belief that moving counterclockwise (or tuathal/widdershins) was harmful.  When the American colonies rebelled against British rule, a number of customs and the like were intentionally changed (although by this time, the original bases of many of these customs was long forgotten by most), and one of those was the custom of driving on the left side of a road.  Americans intentionally began driving on the right side of the road in order to distinguish themselves from the British.  As a result of this change in driving wagons, carriages, carts, and so on, an American folkway is to walk on the right side of the sidewalk or hallway, whereas in Britain, the folkway continues to be walking on the left side of the pavement or hallway.  Originally based on a variety of related religious and ethical concepts which were part of a worldview, these practices have now become, for most, semi-conscious traditional custom.  When a member of one of these societies visits the other society and walks down the "wrong" side of the hallway or pavement/sidewalk, natives will feel uncomfortable, will regard the foreigner with some aversion, but some will not be entirely sure why they have these feelings, and even those who get the realization that the foreigner is walking on "the 'wrong' side," will still be extremely unlikely to question why that is "the 'wrong' side" or (in the case of Americans) how it came to be regarded as such (indeed, most will be unaware that it even became viewed as such, while instead subconsciously assuming that it has always been "the 'wrong' side").

In summary, then, an ethic is a static and more or less objective aspect of a worldview (cultural, philosophical, or religious), a morality is a relative aspect of a given society, scruples are individual and generally variable, and folkways are socio-cultural and relative but usually change only very slowly within a given society and/or culture.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving Tuesday

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

Today is "Giving Tuesday," a global day dedicated to giving back.  For those who can and would like to give to a charity on this Giving Tuesday, many worthy causes exist.  I would like to recommend the following:

The COPD Foundation
in memory of Leonard Nimoy

Donations to any of the charities above are tax-deductible, to the extent permitted by law.

If you are able and willing to make a donation which is not  tax-deductible, but nevertheless for a good cause, please consider giving to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Thanks for giving, you who are willing and able to do so.

If you are not able to give, that's alright, too.  I've been there myself, and I understand.

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? Part 5

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 5,

Or, "Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism
and Republican Fascism,"
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

"A police officer who was a pastor at his local church. An Iraq war veteran. A mother of two, accompanying a friend. Those were the three fatalities in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"It's the sixth attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic since July, when anti-abortion extremists who've been linked to clinic bombings began releasing deceptively edited videos. Those extremists have fueled outright hate for the organization among right-wing radio hosts, anti-choice state legislators, and Republicans in the U.S. Congress and on the presidential trail—and that culture of hate seems to have fueled this tragedy."

Terrorism is exactly what the anti-choice crimes are, bigotry fanned into violent hatred by the unscrupulous and the ambitious -- an appeal to the basest sentiments, fear, ignorance, intolerance, irrationality, even superstition, all in a bid to gain power.  None dare call it "fascism"?  I saw this coming already during Reagan's second term as President, thanks to a year of university Logic and a university senior-level history course concerned with the 20th century in Europe, and it so scared me that I, raised by Conservative Republican parents who were very active in politics, abandoned the Republican Party and have only made the mistake of looking back once.

It absolutely IS fascism, and it's been a growing malignancy within the Republican Party since racist Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party in droves and entered the Republican Party (after LBJ approved the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and again approved another Civil Rights Act in 1968), and it got another push when Protestant Fundamentalists abandoned the Democratic Party in late 1976 and still more in 1977 (following publication of an interview of then-candidate-for-President Jimmy Carter by Playboy magazine in November of 1976), and then, throughout the late 1970s and on to the present, the rhetoric of the Republican Party changed, becoming more and more emotively charged.  By 1988, it was bad enough that George Bush the Elder could dismiss something said by Michael Dukakis in a debate by simply uttering the retort "That's just liberal," without anyone challenging the elder Bush on the ad Hominem which his comment was.  Political discourse degenerated further into rhetoric and further away from Logic, helped along by loudmouthed know-nothing assholes like Rush Limbaugh.

The situation has now devolved to the point that the Republican Party currently sounds alarmingly like the John Birch Society, which was once, as noted by Claire Conner, "drummed out of the GOP and exiled to the lunatic fringe," in those years when the Republican Party still had some grasp of Logic, still believed in Liberty and Justice for All (President Eisenhower, some will remember, even federalized the National Guard in Arkansas to enforce desegregation of education), and even (*gasp*) supported environmental conservation.

The salient characteristics of Fascism are well-documented in many historical references.  A thinking person -- an honest  person -- has but to examine those features and compare them with the rhetoric of the Republican Party today to see a clear and present danger to the citizens of the United States and to the Federal Democratic Republic which the Founding Fathers established.

An American soldier takes an oath "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."  It's time for those soldiers and former soldiers to vote based on that oath.

Wake up, America.  Before it's too late.

The 14 Points of Fascism - The Daily Kos

fascism | politics |

Kasich's new Trump ad goes full on Godwin and it's a doozy

Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11 - The New York Times

The Causes of Fundamentalism, Intolerance and Extremism in World Religions, and Some Solutions

Time to Start Screaming » Claire Conner

A History of the Dixiecrats

Democrats Vs. Dixiecrats

How Dixiecrats Became Republicans

Jimmy Carter's Controversial Playboy Interview

Planned Parenthood Shooter Said 'No More Baby Parts' After Arrest

Vile Fox News Audience Reacts To Shooting At Colorado Planned Parenthood

Dear Republicans Words Do Effing Matter. I Do Blame You.

When was the last time you heard Hillary or Bernie incite murders of conservatives?

Tell the Department of Justice: Investigate Clinic Violence as Domestic Terrorism

Updated in the early afternoon and again in the late afternoon of the same date:

Predictably, anti-choice voices are insisting that the shooting at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs was about something else entirely, and had nothing to do with their "cause," since, unfortunately, denialism is also a feature of fascism and neo-fascism:
Abortion Opponents Insist The Planned Parenthood Shooting Was Actually A Bank Robbery
Have they no shame at all?

However, the assertion of the anti-choice crowd in this matter is obviously false, since, as already reported in one of the articles linked earlier in this post, the terrorist himself made a very clear comment about his motives when arrested:
The Political Motivations Of The Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect, Revealed

In related news, someone might want to consider whether the judgment of the Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) be applicable to this (as well as rhetoric used by Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, and others running for the Republican nomination for President):
Before Shooting, Cruz Touted Endorsement From Activist Who Called For Execution Of Abortion Doctors

GOP Presidential Candidates Sharing Stage With Pastor Who Hailed Murder Of Abortion Provider

The Undeniable Link Between Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and the Planned Parenthood Attack

If The Anti-Abortion Movement Doesn't Condone Violence, How Do Republicans Explain These Remarks?

After the terrorist attack, we are already aware that both Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz attempted to shift attention and blame onto "the Left," as reported here:
Carly Fiorina Calls Planned Parenthood Shooter a 'Protester,' Decries 'Left-Wing Tactics'

Carly Fiorina, you Go**amned Lying Sack of Sh*t

Not to be outdone by Carly, Ted the Tool took it into the realm of delusion and attempted to add demonization of Trans persons to the mix, never mind the facts that Trans persons are already marginalized, disenfranchised, dehumanized, and subject to violence, and that mere days before this nasty rhetoric was TDoR 2015, the memorial date for remembering all those who have died in the previous year as a result of transphobia:
Ted Cruz Describes Alleged Planned Parenthood Shooter As ‘Transgendered Leftist Activist’

Ted Cruz is a professional liar: The Planned Parenthood shooting was the work of a “transgendered leftist activist”

Ted Cruz, you Go**amned Lying Sack of Sh*t

Now, to be fair to Ted the Tool (a courtesy I suspect he would not offer to those who disagree with him) -- but also to demonstrate his toolness, as noted already in the story from Salon above, his claim seems to have originated from a post by Republican blogger Jim Hoft:
COURT RECORDS: Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooter NOT Republican, Identifies as Woman
(Note that, at the time of this update to my post, there has been no update by Hoft to correct the false claims in the post in question, now three days old.)
And, as you might expect, this false claim has spread like wildfire across the internet on Right Wing, Republican, Reactionary, and Theocratic sites, Twitter accounts, etc, as reported here:
Right-wingers claim Colorado shooter Robert Lewis Dear is a trans woman

But, as it turns out (and as most sane people already kinda knew):
Surprise! The Planned Parenthood Shooter Is Not Transgender

And the only evidence available of any sort of political activism in the past on the part of the terrorist is a testimony from neighbors that he gave anti-Obama pamphlets to them, which, I'm sure, is not exactly something that what the Right Wing in the USA regards as a "Leftist" would be likely to do:
Here’s What We Know About The Suspect In The Planned Parenthood Shooting

And Bill O'Reilly has prostituted his last shred of decency away in the wake of this terrorist act:
Bill O’Reilly Slams Planned Parenthood After Colorado Shooting

Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights office issued the following statement:
Women have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and their bodies

In other, also related, news, Christian Fundamentalists continue to demonstrate that all their pretensions of being victimized and just wanting freedom to practice their religion are so much smoke and mirrors designed to facilitate victimizing others and forcing others to genuflect to their sacred cow patties.
School Cancels Reading of Jazz Jennings' Book After Conservative Group Threatens to Sue

#DomesticTerrorism   #Racism  #BigotryDisguisedAsReligion   #Fundamentalism  #Ignorance   #Prejudice   #Intolerance   #Superstition  #Fascism   #RepublicanParty   #History  #BodySovereignty   #Theocracy  #SocialReactionaries   #RightWingExtremists  #Liberty   #Justice   #Equality  #IStandWithPlannedParenthood  #ProsecuteDomesticTerroristsAsTerrorists  #Discrimination   #HateCrime  #FirstAmendmentNonEstablishmentClause