dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
... where you can find comfort. I'd entertained the gloomy thought that bullying would be literally universal. Self-awareness, I figured, accompanies sophisticated social behaviour; you need to know what other people know, what they're thinking, and you need to be able to compare that with what you know. Sentience depends on theory of mind depends on social behaviour, which leads to social aggression - policing the boundaries of your group.

At least that's what I thought, but as it turns out, octopuses are not just famously intelligent, but (with exceptions) they're not at all social. They need theory of mind for a different reason: they're carnivores, and they're prey, interacting with many different species. They don't need to know what each other is thinking (although I'll bet they could make a good guess): they need to know what's on the mind of a predator or a potential meal.

This is not to say that octopuses have the same amount or kind of consciousness or intelligence as humans; but the fact that there's at least one other pathway to sentience gives me hope.
dreamer_easy: (Default)
"There are some other, often overlooked ways that many of us can do more to confront our inner Trump—something, anything, that’s just a little bit Trumpish in our habits... Maybe it’s the part whose attention span is fracturing into 140 characters, and that is prone to confusing “followers” with friends... Or maybe it’s the part that can’t resist joining a mob to shame and attack people with whom we disagree—sometimes using cruel personal slurs, and with an intensity set to nuclear. At the very real risk of bringing on the kinds of attacks I’m describing, is it possible that this habit too is uncomfortably close to the tweeter in chief’s?"

(There's a lot more to Naomi Klein's essay Daring to Dream in the Age of Trump, which I commend to progressives (and SF writers), but inevitably this caught my eye. The online "social justice" bullying I often decry is just one subset of the Left's terrible habit of attacking itself instead of its enemies.)

dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
(Wow these have backed up. I'm adding relevant ones to my posting on my recent experience of the "social justice" dogpile.)


Explainer: what is Safe Schools Coalition? (The Conversation, 19 February 2016)

Bullying can have long-term damage, but can be overcome (SMH, 1 February 2015) The "what to do if you're being bullied" section of this advises not showing anger, but I have to say displaying my rage has been a very useful tool, both for my own psychology and in stopping further bullying. Perhaps this because, online, there's often no authority to whom to turn, so you're left with deterring bullies by metaphorically punching them in the balls. (In a similar environment, Neil Gaiman found a punch in the face effective.)

Cyber bullying long-term impacts include self-harm, depression and binge drinking, research finds (ABC, 19 March 2017)

Why it's so hard for women to get justice for online abuse
(ABC, 1 March 2016) | Sydney labourer Zane Alchin sentenced for harassing women on Facebook (SMH, 30 June 2016). Alchin received a twelve-month good behaviour bond because, according to the magistrate "There was a vast overreaction... [which has] caused you to experience a great deal of pain which you didn't deserve."

Studies consider the styles of bullying used by girls and boys - social aggression vs physical aggression.

Bullying in Australian schools is falling, but remains 'unacceptably high' (SMH, 1 July 2016)

Parents say schools blame victims rather than punish bullies
(SMH, 31 July 2016)

Cyberworld: Keeping bullying at bay (SMH, 27 October 2014). "There are some elements of cyberbullying that can make it worse than face-to-face bullying – that it is there permanently, and the fact that it reaches an enormously wide audience in a very, very quick time."

Parents and teachers don't notice bullied children (SMH, 23 July 2014) Australian Institute of Family Studies research showed that more than half of parents of bullied children either didn't know about it or didn't recognise it for what it was; and four out of five teachers didn't report it.

This posting is about emotional abuse, not bullying, but it contains relevant wisdom: "If somebody is investing time, resources, and energy into convincing you of your own worthlessness, that same somebody has revealed to you that they have a lot to lose if you don’t believe them. They’re protecting their own loss of power. Which means they perceive you as somebody who can take that power away. If somebody is putting in the work to knock you down, it’s because they’ve got something to fear about you if you’re standing up."

This article isn't about bullying either - rather, it's about the complicated issue of social media, privacy, surveillance, and behaviour.



dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
Ah! A small insight. I was reading some definitions of bullying online, for example at stopbullying.gov, Beyond Bullying, and Bullying. No Way!. Each refers to the power imbalance that is sometimes present between bullies and their targets. A bully may be physically larger and stronger than the target, for example, or be the target's boss.

Where is the power imbalance in "social justice" bullying?* The accused person** has, or is assumed to have, privilege that the group they have offended lacks. When they receive a flood of abusive messages, aren't the people sending them "punching up"?

No, for two reasons. One, perhaps this only reflects my own experience, but "social justice" bullying is mostly carried out by people with similar status to their target: to put it bluntly, it's mostly white girls picking on other white girls. Two, and more importantly: if there are dozens or hundreds or even thousands of them to just one of you, it isn't punching up. That's the power imbalance: numbers. The bullying target may be told, and may believe, that their entire community rejects them***. A situation in which one or a few genuinely upset people confronted the accused person would not be bullying.

Now, the enemies of social justice accuse us of mere "virtue signalling" - of merely saying the fashionably correct thing. A dogpile is exactly that, with the abuse heaped on the accused acting as "social glue": each individual indicates their membership in the group by marking an outsider. "I'm not a racist - she is!" The outbreak of bullying may be triggered by legitimate hurt and anger, but once the dogpile gets rolling, the ratio of sincerity to self-righteousness drops like a stone.

Some of the people attacking the accused may be genuinely upset. But bullies keep an eye out for the opportunity to abuse an "appropriate" victim - someone who "deserves it"****. They know that others will join in, because they, too, are bullies, or because they fear being bullied themselves. Or - and this is what I know I've done myself sometimes - they just let their own outrage fly without thinking. It's the decades-old danger of Internet communication, quick and shallow. Any of us can fall into bullying behaviour just as easily as we can make a thoughtless, hurtful remark about race. We - I - can only take better care online.



* I put social justice into quotes here, not to mock (for example) anti-racism, but because "social justice" bullies misuse anti-racism etc as an excuse for their self-gratification. And also as "social glue": a dogpile is a series of individuals indicating their membership in the group by directing aggression against an outsider. (I once described this, accurately if unclearly, as "hooting and gibbering", in imitation of the angry group display of the siamangs at Western Plains Zoo "threatened" by outsiders - the tourists.)

** Here I say "the accused person", because the bullying target may have deliberately and knowingly said or done something hurtful, may be a clueless or even conscientious person who has said or done something hurtful unintentionally through clumsiness, thoughtlessness, or ignorance, or may not have done anything wrong at all. In the first two cases they are responsible for their actions. In all cases the bullies are responsible for theirs, including (mis)interpreting their target's words and actions in the worst possible light to justify their abuse.

*** Here's a just-so story: the human species has survived by being social. Alone, we're not particularly fast, strong, or tough; we're easy prey. Take away the group and we're dead. No wonder being made an outcast is so psychologically devastating.

**** I'd be offended if someone equated cyberbullying with sexual assault. But victim-blaming always involves the same bullshit, whoever the victim is and whoever's doing the blaming.

dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
1. This isn't an emergency. Don't respond at once, except possibly to make any necessary apologies - maybe something like "Sorry about this note and the offense it's caused. I'm going to think about it carefully before I say anything more." That'll buy you a couple of days' breathing space, if not let the whole thing blow over.

2. Write all the responses your brain coughs out into a file and leave it on the desktop - don't post it until you'll fully digested it. Responding provides some relief, but it also triggers the next round of shit.

3. Monitoring further responses is a powerful compulsion, but it's a mistake. Just respond gracefully to any legitimate anger in the original blowup - make it a one-on-one between you and the original offendee, not a one-on-many with the mob.
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
is a pain in the arse. The sensible part of your brain is going DISENGAGE DISENGAGE DISENGAGE, while other parts are unrelentingly writing that next response - you know, the one that will at last stop the abuse*. It's when you realise the next response is "Madam, perhaps I could invite you to SUCK MY METAPHORICAL DICK" that you know you're going to be all right.

Seems like a good opportunity to re-post some links from lj:

ETA: This is beyond price: Certain Propositions Concerning Callout Culture (Thing of Things, 13 December 2014) "Callout culture essentially means that when you do something oppressive, everyone is allowed to yell at you as much as they like and whatever they like, even if you apologize. It reaches its epitome on Tumblr, in which people occasionally tell suicidal people to kill themselves because they used the word 'crazy.'" "... until you’ve seen a woman of color told that she’s ignoring the voices of women of color, you haven’t lived." "Callout culture comes from a place of class, educational, and ability privilege." And much more.

A similar, more detailed analysis: Come one, come all! Feminist and Social Justice blogging as performance and bloodshed (originally from Tiger Beatdown, 17 October 2011). "... call outs, and the modus operandi behind them, the pile-on, can potentially kill people. The most virulent call outs can exacerbate existing PTSD. They can drive a person to severe episodes of anxiety and/ or depression, they can lead someone to feel isolated and suicidal."

Fear, self-censorship, and facing into it: "I found myself being vilified by total strangers based on other people's interpretations of a few words of mine in a blog post. I found myself being held up as an example of ignorant, arrogant white privilege. I found a lot of things being said about me that were flatly untrue, grossly misinterpreted, or simply assumptions based on my skin color and gender as portrayed in my blog's icons — in that last case, flatly stated as such."

Internet. It’s Time To Talk. "Bullies use the tools and the language of social justice to do their work. They literally weaponise the very tools we have fought so very hard to create and work with. And they rely on this to maintain the culture of silence."

And my own notes, from books about bullying, etc:

http://kateorman.livejournal.com/860832.html
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/864657.html
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/862592.html
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/864799.html
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/871248.html ("Female bullies tend to assume the role of leader in a core group of peers. They are socially cruel and manipulative. They attempt to ostracise targets through backbiting, spreading rumours, trashing reputations, and rewarding others for refusing to interact pleasantly with the target")
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/872507.html
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/873380.html
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/875669.html (the "Bullying Circle" is very interesting, as are the motivations of bullies)
http://kateorman.livejournal.com/877446.html

ETA:

The tragic irony of feminists trashing each other (The Guardian, 3 May 2013). "That's not the sign of a healthy movement, but it is how one earns credibility in online feminist circles today – nothing looks better than pointing out how everyone else is doing it wrong. Bonus points if those other feminists have had a modicum of success, like a book, a highly-trafficked website, or getting paid for their work."

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and Is Shame Necessary? review – think before you tweet (The Guardian, 15 March 2015) "It is [researcher James] Gilligan’s contention, based on some highly successful therapeutic work with prisoners in Massachusetts, that violence, being mostly an attempt to restore self-esteem, can almost always be directly linked to shame. Ronson doesn’t spell out in full the implications of this thesis but the reader who isn’t content just to gawp, metaphorically speaking, at the casualties of the Twitter mobs and trolls he has carefully lined up for our delectation will grasp precisely what it means."

The Evolution of Shaming (The Atlantic, 24 February 2016). "A new study suggests that we punish people who haven’t directly wronged us to signal our own trustworthiness." "People genuinely feel outrage and moral anger. But at least part of why they care is that it gets them reputational benefits. That also helps to explain why people get pissed off even when the wrong that was done was accidental."



* Don't kid yourself. Nothing will stop the abuse, not apologies, explanations, promises, self-degradation, or suicide. Which tells you that it's nothing to do with you or your actions. This is the basis of Justine Sacco's advice to Sam Biddle: "Just don't engage."  "... she knew the only divine truth of the internet: Do nothing. Never tweet. Never apologize. Never say anything at all. Be an inert bundle of molecules and let the world tear itself apart around you." Eventually they will move on to their next target.

dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
I'm reading Buchi Emecheta's novel "The Joys of Motherhood", set in Nigeria around WWII, and there's a bit where the white master addresses his 'house-boy' as 'baboon'. She writes:
"his laughter was inspired by that type of wickedness that reduces any man, white or black, intelligent or not, to a new low; lower than the basest of animals, for animals at least respected each other's feelings, each other's dignity."
I've sometimes drawn a comparison between my experience of bullying and what I imagine it must be like to be the target of racism. There are crucial differences: the people who continually, unpredictably chipped away at my soul in high school were not trying to keep a whole class of people* miserable, afraid, and aware of how unwelcome they were; and once I escaped high school, I escaped them**. There's no such merciful exit for the young hijabi, the Indigenous athlete, the Sudanese refugee - all the Australians who have to cope with harassment from the media and in the street on top of systemic racism.

That constant drip-drip-drip is what makes people sometimes suddenly explode over seemingly small insults. I don't know what it's like to live with bigotry day in and day out, but I do know what the drip-drip-drip can do to you. When I read Buchi Emecheta's words, the familiar and infinite rage rose up in me. It's there now, in my chest and arms, almost nauseating. I think she may have been feeling something like the same feeling when she condemned the people who stoop to "that type of wickedness".



* Although there was gender policing involved; I would not have been the only young woman being called a "lemon" for being insufficiently feminine.

** With the exception of the Unpleasantness here in lj, many years ago now, which forced me to deal with the damage from high school - as well as requiring me to broaden my horizons, which led directly to the discovery of Emecheta, now one of my favourite authors.
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
to: office@piccoli.minister.nsw.gov.au
cc: Malcolm.Turnbull.MP@aph.gov.au

Dear Minister,

I'm writing to you to ask you to follow the lead of Victoria and the ACT in fully funding the Safe Schools program in New South Wales.

In my last two years of high school, a gang of girls decided that I was a lesbian. They constantly pursued, threatened, and harassed me. Their incessant bullying made those critical years of my education a nightmare. I have no doubt that it contributed to my lifelong problems of anxiety and depression, especially social anxiety, which are typical of bullying targets.

I can only imagine what it would have been like if I actually had been a lesbian, struggling to maintain some self-esteem in a society that still in many ways reflects those girls' attitude and behaviour.

I can only imagine what it might have been like if anti-bullying programs had existed in schools in the late eighties - if those girls had been taught not just that bullying itself is wrong, but that lesbians are normal, healthy, and broadly accepted by Australian society - including being asked to imagine themselves in the place of a lesbian.

Please support Safe Schools and vulnerable Australian children and adolescents.

Yours,
Kate Orman
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
How the Fight Over Transgender Kids Got a Leading Sex Researcher Fired discusses not just a flimsy review of a gender clinic which wasted an opportunity for research, but the difficult, sensitive, and complex question of whether young children have gender identities in the same way that older children, adolescents, and adults do - and if not, then what is the most appropriate way to treat young kids with gender dysphoria.

Colleen Francis and the infamous Evergreen State College incident (The Transadvocate, 13 September 2013). "News" stories about trans people behaving inappropriately in changing rooms and restrooms keep turning out to be lies. | Trans Students Have Caused Zero Incidents in Bathrooms Nationwide (The Advocate, 3 June 2015)

Melbourne transgender man AJ Kearns says he is 'blessed' to have become pregnant and given birth (10 August 2015). We're living in the future! :D

Gay people are less healthy, happy and content than straight people, says a survey (SMH, 16 July 2016) | Majority of LGBTI Australians experience bullying, harassment: Human Rights Commission report (AM, 10 June 2015) | of LGBT Australians, Transgender people face the highest level of harassment (SMH, 31 March 2015) | Beyondblue research reveals alarming levels of homophobia in teenagers (SMH, 31 March 2015) | Study in older LGBTI Australians finds fear, discrimination and pain (SMH, 1 March 2015)

Judge Says That Claiming to Cure Homosexuality Is Consumer Fraud (Mother Jones, 13 February 2015)

When the Rapist Doesn't See It as Rape (NYT 23 May 2015) | Ask 10,000 Men About "Forced Sex," And Rape Statistics Start to Make Sense (Smithsonian.com, 10 September 2013): "Accounting for the widespread prevalence of sexual violence means, essentially, admitting that perpetrators of sexual violence must be much, much more common than we’d like to think... According to the study, which surveyed more than 10,000 men from six countries (Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea), around a quarter of all men admitted that they’ve sexually assaulted a woman... The key to getting men to open up was that they were not specifically asked about rape. Instead, they were asked in a sideways way. “The word 'rape' was not used in the questions, but the men were asked if they had ever forced a woman to have sex when she wasn't willing or if they had ever forced sex on someone who was too drunk or drugged to consent.'"

How economic theory can help stop sexual assault (PBS, 19 December 2014): some pretty clever ideas here, including "information escrow" in which people can report rape without having to contact authorities, and "social norms marketing".

I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic: "The detective looked at me... 'Tell me you made the whole thing up... You can leave, if you just tell me you made it up. Tell me you made it up and you’re sorry for lying, and I’ll let you leave.'... Honestly, at that point, all I wanted in the entire world was just to get out of that room. There are very few things I wouldn't have done, if I could only leave. So I looked at him and lied. I said, 'I made the whole thing up. I'm sorry.'"

True or false? The contested terrain of false allegations (Australian Institute of Family Studies, November 2013)

Kenya's women-only villages offer protection from domestic violence and rape (AM, 19 January 2016)

National women's anti-violence group loses funding, could close (The Age, 24 December 2015) | Domestic violence considered a bigger threat than terrorism, poll shows (SMH 6 July 2015)

Study reveals 'concerning' youth views on domestic violence (ABC, 24 September 2015)

Domestic violence: How does a magistrate decide who needs protection? (3 June 2015)

Police Have a Much Bigger Domestic-Abuse Problem Than the NFL Does (The Atlantic, 19 September 2014): "Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population."

The worse you are at games, the more likely you are to be hostile to women, says one study (PC Games)

The heroic Zoe Quinn has dropped her harassment lawsuit against her ex, the guy who started GamerGate. Bless her for fighting for so hard for so long - and, in the process, changing the world.

Hardcore internet pornography 'most prominent sexual educator' for young people, experts say (7.30, 5 June 2015) | Confusion over 'normal' drives surge in demand for female genital cosmetic surgery (SMH, 15 April 2015)

UN report shows countries where it is hardest to be a woman (SMH 28 April 2015)

Harnaam Kaur: the bearded dame (Life Matters, 13 April 2015): "Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at age 11, Harnaam Kaur began to grow a beard as a teenager. She told Life Matters about the difficult time she had at school, her current anti-bullying efforts, and how she learned to love her beard and herself."

When society isn't judging, women's sex drive rivals men's (Mind Hacks, 1 May 2015) | Study: More Than Half The World Doesn't Kiss (askmen.com, 15 July 2015)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Water shortages, toilet restrictions and constant fear: Details about life on Nauru revealed (SMH, 10 February 2016) "The whistleblower [a former Broadspectrum/Transfield employee], who worked with single adult men, said they lived in tents that were hot, overcrowded, mouldy and infested with mice. 'Water shortages were common, resulting in restrictions on toilets and shower facilities.' The detention centre failed to provide privacy and personal space and 'vulnerable men who experienced bullying or harassment by other asylum seekers' were forced to live among their antagonists after just a few days' respite. Asylum seekers endured long waits for medical and dental treatment and waited hours for a bus to travel to the clinic. It meant some missed their appointments or lost access to an interpreter." Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs separately stated that "Nauru detainees had access to a washing machine barely once a month during water shortages, and lived in constant fear of being physically and sexually assaulted, particularly outside the centre."

Catching up on links:

Children urge Australia to free them from Nauru island 'prison' (CNN, 28 January 2016)

Child refugees tell of bullying on Nauru: 'They are rude to us, they punch us' (GA, 21 January 2016)

Nauru-based refugees take aim at Australia's human rights record, continue plea for NZ resettlement (19 January 2016)

Human Rights Watch blasts Australia's asylum-seeker policies, terrorism laws (SMH, 27 January 2016)
dreamer_easy: (*sympathy)
Ages ago Jon and I listened to an episode of The Shadow radio series, in which a father turns to crime to pay for his daughter's heart operation. His wife, not knowing the desperate ends he's considering, cries: "She's got to have her chance!"

I mention this because, as my mind wandered this afternoon, I thought of all the people who don't exist now because of what was done to them in high school. There are the people who aren't here because they took their own lives, of course. But then there are the people who aren't here now, because the people they were then were bent and broken by their peers, with the tacit collaboration of those who owed them a duty of care. Who would they be now? Who would I be?

Obviously, the same thing applies to any situation where injustice and cruelty denies people the chance they should have had.

Insight

May. 7th, 2015 02:28 pm
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
"I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don't have as many women as we should yet, they're very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now."
Mark Ruffalo on criticisms of writer Joss Whedon for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which have ranged from thought-provoking to an outright torrent of abuse on Twitter (where else?). (Mark's too generous IMHO; sisterhood kills sisters. Happily, Whedon says he has always copped it on Twitter and that his decision to depart was because he's trying to focus on work.)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
I often remark that bullying in the social justice community will not solve social justice problems. Apparently, trainee doctors can face the same kinds of victimisation as struggling allies*: insults, tirades, public shaming. In this "culture of disrespect", hospital staff learn to keep their mouths shut to avoid further abuse - to the detriment of patients.

In my last posting, I referred to "legitimate anger" to try to distinguish the rage, hurt, and frustration of oppressed people from the opportunistic malice of bullies, but [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus rightly raised the question of who gets to decide whose anger is "legitimate". Thinking over it, and in the light of that article about doctors, I think anger is a red herring; the real issue is respect. I don't mean niceness or even basic courtesy. I suppose I mean the difference between assertiveness and aggression - the difference between attacking someone's words or actions, and attacking their self-esteem.

Other stuff:

Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media: because it may cost their job... and yours.

Children bullied in school may have more problems as adults. You don't say.

The Atlantic discusses a study on slut-shaming by women and indirect and direct aggression by women and men in general.

Bullying targets are told to "just ignore it". Since this doesn't work, here are some alternatives, addressing the "trolling" of women online: a column from Jezebel suggests: Don't Ignore the Trolls. Feed Them Until They Explode; and similarly, from the SMH, Duly noted: online abuse will not silence women.

From September last year: Bullied school student Jazmine Oyston has damages payout increased

Another alternative to just putting up with it: Indiana mom sends son to school with stun gun to confront bullies. Her son was expelled; she and he successfully sued the school.

ETA: Bullies and trolls are not automatically the same thing, but there's a lot of overlap in their motivations, their behaviour, and their effect on online communities. So this glimpse into the unpleasant troll mind is worth considering. (A spot of Googling reveals that experts are starting to study the same personality traits in adult bullies.)

* I hate this word, but it's the correct one here. Who makes a tastier target for bullying than a progressive whose own conscience can be turned into a weapon against them?
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Haven't posted about bullying in ages. Just need to get these thoughts out of my head.

Wil Wheaton sent away a "social justice" bully on Tumblr with a well-deserved flea in their ear. I was impressed as hell, but left a little shaky, as is typically the case. The day before, I'd not been shaken but merely disappointed by someone railing against the "fetishisation" of Olympic ice skater Yuzuru Hanyu by anime fans, who was unable to respond to even polite questions with anything other than defensive bluster.

I was reminded of both types of dysfunctional "social justice" blogging when skimming through Lois' Grant's People Who Make Your Life Hell on the bus today. You don't have to look far in online social justice communities to find Grant's "Queen of Hearts", whose method is to explode: "She blows up in your face without warning, taking authority where she has none. She also carves you up with cutting criticism... Some people grovel, hoping for peace through submission, giving the Queen outrageous control." The desperate grovelling is a familiar response; I've done it myself plenty of times in my life, but of course, it only encourages more of the same. In fact, the example from Wheaton's Tumblr was typical, in that his apology itself was the subject of attack.

If no amount of apologising stops the abuse; if the other person misuses the legitimate problem of the "tone argument" as an excuse to behave however they want and treat you however they please; if what you say gets distorted, exaggerated, or simply reversed; if you can't seem to do or say anything right; you're not facing genuine, honest anger, you're dealing with bullying.

Not dissimilar to Grant's "Queen of Hearts" is the "Bear", who "likes to intimidate, humiliate and ridicule in public". The "public" part is a crucial element of bullying in the social justice community; it is, after all, a community, and one very concerned with telling right from wrong - and, unfortunately, the right people from the wrong people. ("Let Wil Wheaton serve as an example of What Not To Do!") Grant's "Cheshire Cat", who always knows better than you, is also a familiar figure. I used to be terribly intimidated by misogynists on Usenet who sounded authoritative. I soon learned their confidence masked ignorance, blunders, and outright lies. Similarly, the Tumblrer attacking others for "fetishising" the skater went to pieces when questioned. Like so many others, I think she'd picked up the concept online, but didn't understand it well enough to discuss it.

I also perused Gerald A. Arbuckle's Dealing With Bullying. He provides some striking examples, including sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and Australia's treatment of asylum seekers. Arbuckle offers one explanation for the distortions and lies used by online bullies: narcissism. "They are simply blocked from hearing the logic of arguments used in favour of their victims so that when positive information is provided in support of them, bullies will immediately attack their victims from another angle."

Arbuckle and Grant both discuss the reasons that bullies mistreat others. I think that, when "social justice" bullies are themselves members of mistreated groups, there may be a direct connection between that behaviour and the damage done to their self-esteem and self-confidence by injustice. Arbuckle writes that violence is provoked by "firstly, frustration resulting from failure to achieve one's desires and, secondly, an attack or threat of attack on one's life, material well-being, self-image or self-esteem." Experiencing prejudice means experiencing that frustration, and those attacks, direct and indirect, large and small. (Arbuckle goes on to describe "symbolic bullying", where the target may represent "a culture which they [the bully] feel is oppressing them.") Grant says of the "Bear" that he believes he has "the right to punish the world for what the world has done to him... other people are his enemy and he has the right to crush them." I accumulated immense damage from the small, continual, everyday assaults on my self-esteem at school; I can only begin to imagine the damage caused by a lifetime of being harassed, caricatured, and excluded by the surrounding culture (let alone being denied basic needs like shelter or medical care). The resulting insecurity and rage wouldn't excuse bullying others, but it might help to explain it.

Of course, they might just be assholes.
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Yes folks, there's no end to it! Let's see:

First, more details from the boat on which asylum seekers allege they were tortured by Navy personnel, who forced them to burn their hands, with a Somali asylum seeker stating that he was pepper-sprayed and burned his hand trying to find his way while blinded. Phone footage taken by passengers shows a Navy member carrying a camera; the Greens have called for Navy footage from the boat to be released. (ETA: More details from the Australian, whose article throws doubt on the original allegations. It would be a great relief if those claims were untrue or misleading; but that can't be settled in the press, but only by a proper investigation.)

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison got a thorough grilling by the Senate Committee on Friday. Mr Morrison claims the government's secrecy, for example over how many boats are reaching Australian waters, is in the national interest. The Committee disagrees. (It emerges the Minister has not read the documents he claims must be kept under wraps.) We're left not knowing how many boats are still leaving Indonesia and - in other words, whether the policy is in fact working, as Mr Morrison claims, by dissuading people smugglers and their clients from making the trip.

(Combine Mr Morrison's refusal to deny that he hadn't read the documents in question with his Department's refusal to state what briefings he's had, and you have a picture of a Minister carefully covering his arse for when the truth does come out.)

Another tactic the government has refused to confirm or deny is the use of zhoozhed-up lifeboats to send asylum seekers back to Indonesia, for example when people smugglers' boats sink; one of them has apparently washed up in Java, to the chagrin of the Indonesian government.

Prison services provider Serco, which runs Australia's detention centres and WA's prisoner transport service, faces industrial action.

Formerly, asylum seekers on bridging visas, living in the community, who were charged with criminal offences would be returned to detention. Under the new leaked code of conduct, they will not need to have broken the law or be charged with a crime to be sent back to detention. Particularly enraging to me is the inclusion of bullying in the code - "making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally or excluding someone from a group on purpose". When it comes to asylum seekers, the government does little else.

One asylum seeker has arrived at Christmas Island, apparently in need of urgent medical treatment. (He was apparently taken from a boat secretly being turned back.)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
So tired and fed up at the moment. One of my many frustrations is online activism. I've shoved a dozen keywords into Tumblr Savior just to avoid topics in which I would once have been deeply interested, just to avoid all the laziness, self-righteousness, and untruths. Constantly fact-checking for my own side is exhausting.

Meanwhile on lj I've been grumbling at people who, in response to a hilarious video in which vloggers encounter Kpop, keep slagging one of the participants off, complete with a dusty charge sheet of his past sins. It's bullying, of course, social exclusion and malicious gossip: although he does nothing objectionable in this video (at least, we assume not, we haven't watched it) you should not watch or enjoy this video, as you will be contaminated by this outcast, and here is the proof (which of course is the unfiltered truth, trust us).

Coincidentally, this morning I stumbled across a clipping from last November's Washington Post - handily, it's online, making it easy to quote the bit I highlighted at the time:
"People hold onto things for all kinds of reasons, many they can't articulate. A common one is that people form impressions, organize them in a way they understand — and hang on to that filing system because it's more secure-feeling than recognizing that over time, they have to reacquaint themselves with the people they supposedly know best in the world."
Columnist Carolyn Hax is talking about a mother and daughter here, but I'll bet this applies even more when you don't know the person at all. It makes sense to me that people who maintain and share their in-group and out-group lists would also maintain and share lists of the out-groupers' past sins. One problem is that these lists tend to be ancient, feeble, dubious - and sometimes incomprehensible, if you weren't present for the initial drama. Another problem is that everyone makes idiotic remarks online; if a list was trotted out every time we showed up, none of us should 'scape whipping. And yet another problem is that this behaviour has a tendency to backfire and make the poster look a lot more obnoxious than their target.

Balls to all that. Here's the video, which is blissfully free of any of the above garbage - and a riot to boot!

dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
An Australian doctor has given a nightmarish account of the inadequate medical facilities at the prison for refugees* and their children on Manus Island. "From early on I was sending lists ... saying 'look, we desperately need this stuff.' Stuff being oxygen, antibiotics, bladder catheters, suckers, tracheostomy equipment, anaesthetic agents, sedatives, morphine, ketamine, and these things didn't arrive... The oxygen was terribly important and it didn't arrive. "Where was it? Where was it?" We kept asking, 'Could we have it? Send it up.' It never came.' At a cost so far of about $1 million per refugee, you'd think we could afford some fucking oxygen.

ETA: The parliamentary secretary for mental health has called for an independent inquiry into conditions on Manus Island and Nauru.

Seven months pregnant, a floor for a bed and $6 a day for meals. Welcome to Australia. They're not allowed to work. And it's still better than Manus or Nauru - or Iran. You poor devils.

The NRA has successfully killed government funding for gun violence research for close to two decades. ER Doctor Garen Wintemute is one of the few who have continued to study the problem. In Australia, research and laws are both being whittled away by the firearms industry.

Amongst other conservative clampdowns, Hamas is forcing schools to segregate boys and girls. Frankly that's more concerning than last week's nonsense... but it doesn't fit the "they're coming for our women" narrative which sells papers and buys votes. (Professor Bulbeck's essay on Australia's illusion of gender equality is worth reading.)

Medicine! Hundreds get jabs after UK measles death | Why fat-shaming doesn't work. Well if it did, we'd all be skinny as a stick of macaroni by now.

Science! 20th century 'hottest in 1400 years' | Greenhouse gas levels highest in 3m years | Is race perception automatic?

Witch hunts! Reddit apologises for Boston online witch hunts | Teen wrongly identified as person connected with Boston Marathon blasts

Literal witch hunts! In Papua New Guinea, women accused of sorcery are being tortured and burned alive.

... fucking hell, what a world.


* Technically, of course, they are still asylum seekers. However, since nine in ten of them will be found to be genuine refugees and thus will eventually become Australians, assuming they survive, it often seems pointless making the distinction.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
You may recall the opposition's efforts to use an alleged crime to call for "special checks" on all asylum seekers living in Australia. That alleged crime happened in our local area - specifically, in student accommodation at Macquarie University. I am proud to report that Ryde Council soundly defeated a motion to supporting kicking all asylum seekers off campus. The Deputy Mayor reminded the councillor who brought the motion: "Remember, statistically, the chances are that you will be shaking hands with these very people at a Citizenship Ceremony in five years' time." (Perhaps after they have graduated from Macquarie with degrees in medicine and pharmacy, as Zainab Kaabi just has.)

Somehow I doubt you're going to encounter a great deal of intelligent discussion of the book so let me recommend Matthew Sweet's review of JN-T: The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner by Richard Marson in the Guardian. I was moved by his remark that for fans, Doctor Who "can form the unifying principle of their lives". It has done so for mine.

The SMH's headline Young people who get drunk aware of risk of sex attack looks suspiciously like a spot of victim-blaming on the part of a subeditor - you'll have to look hard to find any basis for it in the news item itself.

Another misleading headline tells us that Harassed women 'work harder'. In fact, what researchers found was that women confronted by "workplace incivility" - rudeness, gossip, insults, etc - tend "try to improve their work relationships". Although the study examined behaviours that "stop short of bullying", anyone who has tried to placate a bully will know that this is like running as hard as you can to stay in one place.

Last week's Sexpo (my first, and probably my last) was extraordinarily repetitive and uninteresting. The Helpful Hunks were terribly sweet, and there was an excellent introductory talk on BDSM by Kim from MJ's Toybox (attended by many fidgety eighteen year olds), but there was nary a blip on my radar*. Why then am I telling you this? Because Stop the Traffik had a booth there, at which I picked up a pamphlet from the Salvos' International Social Justice Commission. Its elegantly written explanation of social justice was a heartening reminder, in the face of the daily news, that Christianity can be non-judgmental, inclusive, and compassionate.

Apropos of none of this I leave you with a quote from Isaac Asimov:"One of Mars's two moons is not a moon at all in our sense of the word. I refer to Deimos, the outer of the two, which is nothing but a mountain on the loose."


* Far more entertaining was the juggling, fire-eating, and general shenanigans of the Fantastic Toy outside the Convention Centre. Hell, he was sexier, too.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Obama announces widest gun control measures in 18 years. Oh yes, it's on for young and old. The plan includes fixing the holes in the background checks system and reinstating the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines - and also, incredibly, permitting research on gun violence by agencies like the Centers for Disease Control. I am a little wary of the mental health component of the plan, since sane people are also spree killers; but if it really does provide sorely lacking mental health services, what the hell.

Religious organisations, which include some of Australia's largest employers will be able to continue discriminating against gays, transgender and intersex people, and other sinners. (This guy, however, is just fine. ETA: He has subsequently been removed.) Although these organisations rely on government funding, the discriminatees will still have to pay the same tax as everyone else. Here's a cracking response from Joumanah El Matrah, who points out that the "right" to discriminate just shores up the power of an increasingly irrelevant conservative minority and their obsessions, ultimate reducing religion to "a collection of petty bigotries". "I believe in Australia's commitment to diversity and human dignity," she writes, "and I do not want any tear in that fabric in my name as a person of faith." (Both the Uniting Church and the charity Anglicare reject religious discrimination.)

Mum punches student, threatens staff over 'bullied' daughter. I'm keen to know whether the daughter was in fact the target of racist bullying - and why the school suspended her after she complained about it. Alas, none of these details are present in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal judgment.

The slashed single parent payment has some Australian mothers turning to sex work.

Cats in the news: Orlando beats professional wealth managers with his stock picks. | Brazilian prison inmates trained a stray cat to smuggle in escape tools. The cat, which was caught with small saws, drills, a cell phone, etc, taped to its body, was placed into the care of vets. Authorities wittily remarked that they didn't know which prisoners were responsible as the cat wasn't talking.* | In a not entirely dissimilar story, a Japanese hacker taunted police with clues attached to a cat's collar. (I found footage: the collar was removed, and the feral cat, unimpressed with the entire business, ran away.)

Science! Fisher-Price Synesthesia: as well as the magic brain wiring which makes us colour-grapheme synaesthetes superior to you mere humans, there's evidence for a learned component. (My own colours don't match the Fisher-Price letters, nor the Gattengo chart which was present in my primary school.)

* No, I can't read Portuguese! But Google Translate will give you the gist. "The cat, considered by management of the prison as the most innocent of history, was referred to the Center for Zoonoses the city, where it will be held, not in prison, but to receive the veterinary care."
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Food for thought: Raymond Chandler's Private Dick: "Masculinity's central tenet is control — and perhaps most importantly, control of the body. Nothing contradicts that edict like erections. It unmans you, it compels you through sensations you scarcely understand. And it threatens to expose you, to humiliates you, in front of everyone... [hence] rappers who, within the first bar, assure us of their pimp status and thus reconstitute themselves not as mortal hetero men who slave before women, but as street gods who are enslavers of women." | Asking For It: "Women have infringed on [the perpetrator's] right to exist without being turned on."

Ozy Frantz criticises "callout culture" in the online progressive community. Or, as I call it, cyberbullying. And they are not the only one.

Australia's buybacks halved gun suicide and homicide rates. Since then, gun ownership has risen. However, the increase is matched by Australia's population growth, and "military-style semi-automatics" remain banned. But as researcher Philip Alpers remarks: "It only takes one bullet, and the great majority of gun deaths are domestics and suicides." | GunPolicy.org

Africa's fair-dinkum feminism - an opinion piece unfavourably comparing Australia's PM with women leaders in Malawi and Liberia. | See Africa Differently reports on economic and social progress in the continent.

Why You're Never Failing as a Mother: "Keep in mind child rearing was viewed pretty differently not that long ago and you could stick a toddler on the front lawn with just the dog watching and nobody would bat an eye at it."

Science! Via [livejournal.com profile] drhoz, Things I Won't Work With: Azidoazide Azides, More Or Less - extreme chemistry, involving hopelessly explosive molecules which "the whole thing is trembling on the verge of not existing at all. And if you are minded to make some yourself, then you are on the verge of not existing at all, either." See also FOOF (no, really - "Satan's kimchi", free shipping via Amazon!) and Chlorine trifluoride (which bursts into flames when it touches asbestos, sand, "cloth, wood, and test engineers". | First image of insulin 'docking' could lead to better diabetes treatments - a good, clear explanation of the discovery.

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