Saturday, August 3, 2013

Duncan's Ménage à Trolls

Updates below:

This is a blog post that I would never have written without repeated provocation.

Eschaton is a blog were I used to be a regular commentator, I thought it was a blog worth going to and participating in, with potential to help move American politics to the left.  I don't think that anymore.

Over the years many of its most active commentators have left.  Some of those who left regularly had more interesting things to say than what was said in the ever diminishing posts written by Duncan Black,  Atrios, the owner of the blog.  These days he hardly writes anything for the blog, which I'll document in a later post.

Some of those who left provided Eschaton with its most original and interesting material.   Some, such as the well established Eschaton institution,  "Holden Caulfield," ('Holden's ponies") started or increased their writing for their own blogs and either decreased their participation or left, entirely. "Athenae" is arguably another of those, though she posts comments once in a great while at Eschaton.   Some, such as one of the most original and informed of former Eschatonians,  "Phila," seem to have become discouraged and given up on blogging altogether.

Others left for other reasons.  In one case, that of "Woody Guthrie's Guitar," it was reported that Atrios banned him in 2007 for being overly rude to the dead Jerry Falwell.  It was also reported that another participant I'd always found interesting and informed, Tena, left as a result of his banning.

The next year, I took about six months off during the 2008 elections due to the flood of sexist comments made against Hillary Clinton and her supporters from those who supported Barack Obama for the nomination.   Also,  and to a far lesser extent, due to racial comments made about Obama, though as I recall those were almost always made under extreme provocation from the boys who unloaded mounds of sexist vitriol there.  I didn't think there was anything good in those comments.  Writing for another blog, Echidne of the Snakes, I thought it would be irresponsible to join in the potential of dividing the left and, so remained uncommitted to either, both in my writing and in reality.  I didn't vote in the Democratic caucus that year, the only one uncommitted in my town's record breaking Democratic caucus of 2008.

Eschaton and alleged leftists elsewhere were aiding the Republican party during the period when it was possible to end the most corrupt, the most criminal and the most indifferently incompetent administration in the history of the country.

I made it a point to not take sides but said, repeatedly,  that I'd support which ever of the candidates won the nomination.  But that wasn't the POV expressed on Eschaton comment threads.  They were an example of what was bound to be counterproductive.  Those things being said on what was presented as a major new voice on the left,  by Atrios, other leftish bloggers and in the self-congratulatory comments on Eschaton, had enormous potential to damage the efforts to keep Republicans from continuing on the crime wave of the Bush II regime.  What reportedly got Woody banned didn't have that potential.  It was merely rude and in arguably bad taste.  That demonstration of irresponsibility in allegedly liberal-leftist blogging and commentary had a profound and decisive effect on my political thinking and action.  But that isn't something I really understood , myself, until 2011.


When I went back after the 2008 election I noticed a definite change as many of those who had been valued members of the commenting community had also left, especially those who were angered and disgusted with the tidal wave of sexism that the boys of Eschaton had unleashed on Clinton and her supporters.  A few of those gradually trickling back, but it had changed.

Increasingly, a clique more interested in imposing ideological speech and thought codes than pushing political progress seemed to have taken over.  Turning what had seemed, before the 2008 campaign, to have so much potential for positive change, into something that seemed all too familiar to me, the same kind of thing that had stalled out the progress of the early to middle-1960s.  I should have realized that it wasn't what I'd assumed it was in the preceding years. But I held out hope for a lot longer than I should have that it could return to what it had seemed to be*.

Another thing that happened in 2008, another  regular commentator who would also leave, NTodd, documented that some of the supposedly right-wing trolls who had annoyed and harassed the commentators over the previous years, were actually members of the Eschaton community using assumed identities to attack other regulars.  He made quite a convincing case and there were a few angry deniers whose too-much protests seemed to me to rather confirm his point.

Trolls had been a regular and annoying presence at Eschaton, I was one of those who took the time to counterattack, writing derisive limericks and verses in the form of Burma Shave signs as well as refutations.  I also came to believe, along with many of the other regulars, that some of the trolling was organized and, we speculated, funded for the purpose of disrupting what might have developed into an important political force for the left.  On one occasion, by the merest of chances, Pheonix Woman outed one of the trolls and associated it with a name I just happened to know,  between us and with the help of others tracing him to a frat house at The University of Southern Maine, more or less proving that some of the trolling was, in fact, organized.

If Atrios did anything about that, other than to strike a libertarian pose - one he had certainly not taken in the case of Woody - and protesting that he didn't have time to police the comment threads of HIS blog, I didn't see any evidence of it.   I don't know exactly when NTodd stopped commenting at Eschaton but, eventually, I noticed his absence.   Those who left seem to have left a hole in Eschaton that would be filled.   Those who NTodd exposed weren't among those who left.


One of the regulars who stayed past the 2008 election went by the name "Rootless".  Over the next few years, as the inevitable happened and Obama fell short of hopes and expectations, the former supporters of Barack Obama, those who had slammed Hillary Clinton in the most sexist terms, turned on him, sometimes making racially tinged comments against him.    I was also very disappointed, though I'd known all along I would be.  Considering the investment we had in him and the enormous effort it had taken to defeat the Republicans,  I was willing to give Obama 2009 to see if he would turn out to be a better Democrat and more politically skilled and imaginative than he turned out to be.  I never turned on him the way many at Eschaton did, though I lost any expectation that he'd return the country to the road Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson took in domestic policy.

Rootless, however,  remained something of a true believer,  increasingly at odds with the commenting community, increasingly harassed and increasingly targeted for trolling on other blogs by other regulars.  At least one of those who had been exposed as a sock puppeteer, Steve Simels, made reports of his trolling of Rootless a regular feature at Eschaton, to the delight of some and the tut-tutting of others,  Though the disapproval of his doing to others what we'd all protested when it was done at Eschaton, didn't go far.   In looking at the Eschaton blog threads to research this post, I saw he was doing it within the past few days to the approval of ql, someone who had agreed with NTodd's condemnation of it in 2008.  Indeed, things are different at Eschaton.

I'd have happily gone on ignoring my former regular blog, Eschaton, except for the trolling of my blog and my comments by people who still go there, such as Steve Simels, and who regularly report distorted versions of things I wrote to the remaining Eschatonians, obviously eliciting their derision of things they haven't read and apparently don't intend to read.  I'm far from the only former Eschaton community member who is being trolled and harassed in that way on their own blogs and in comment threads of other blogs.

Last week it was called to my attention that one of the formerly most popular members of the community in my time, GWPDA, was being harassed at TBogg, by cahuenga, another Eschaton regular who, as GWPDA showed in her later comments, had declared his intention at Eschaton of harassing both TBogg (I seem to remember him as a former regular at Eschaton) and GWPDA at TBogg's blog.


As I said, I'm one of those who left a couple of times before I left the last time, for good.   After I wrote a couple of blog posts critical of the commenting community and, by implication, Atrios, he apparently banned me from commenting.  It took me a while to find out because I'd decided to stop commenting there and had so stated, at Eschaton, earlier that day.

When it was pointed out to me that some of his regulars, especially Steve Simels,  were lying about what I had said in recent posts on my blog at Eschaton, a blog that still has some influence and many hits, I was unable to refute what was said due to being blocked.  I could do what the real trolls did and use various subterfuges to get by the blocking but I'm not interested in that.

Now it's personal, Duncan Black.  Your blog is a safe harbor for trolls at least one of whom is indisputably trolling me and has been for years, now, crowing about it at your blog.  I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for you to ban the people who are using your blog for what you used to decry when it was done to your blog and your commenting community. But, then, you didn't do anything about it when they were exposed five years ago, either.

* The pubic face of the occupy movement seems to have had a similar history, anyone who had nothing to say insisted on time-wasting theatrics and ideological snarking turning it into an assertion of their personality and anyone who had anything of value went in other directions.   It's happened often enough to the left that studying that has also had a major effect on my own thinking in the past two years.  Liberals need to stop wasting their time and too few resources on what turn out to be platforms for jerks, grandstanders and pseudo-liberal-leftist ideologues who will only drag us down with them.

Update:  I'm busy with a family situation that suddenly came up, until Wednesday, so I'm going to leave this at the top of the page for a while.  I will have more to say about Eschaton, its owner and commenting community soon.   UPDATE TO THIS UPDATE:  My sister got Monday off to help so I'll be posting today, after all.

Update 2.   Answers to e-mails.  1.  It would be rather difficult for me to say at Eschaton what I've said here as I was apparently blocked from commenting.   2.   If you are going to express bafflement as to why I've said what I have, maybe you should try reading what I said instead of what the people I've criticized have said about it.  But, then, you probably don't even know I've written this answer because you didn't read the post before flaming me.  Typical Eschatonian behavior these days, apparently.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Linked Index of Anti-Pornography Posts

A reader has asked me to put up a linked index to the critique of pornography.    It includes other posts I've written on the topic here and at Echidne of the Snakes where I used to write.  My approach to the issue is one that takes the values of liberalism seriously enough to use those to make some pretty difficult distinctions that couldn't be less fashionable but, as the Ariel Castro case shows, are avoided at the costs of the victims of pornography.

The Never To Be Met Demand for "PROOF" That Porn is Harmful  or How the Pro-Porn Pseudo-liberals are like the Zimmerman Jury

..."Addicted to Pornography" Ariel Castro and Where He Learned To Do What He Did

The widespread, though highly selective, use of psychological explanation as an excuse for crime doesn't do a thing to make the crime disappear from history.  When it is a crime like Ariel Castro's, nothing can make the fact of what he did go away nor does understanding its motivations do anything to absolve him from his selfish, sadistic choices.  Even understanding everything about that doesn't change the fact that he was the one choosing to abduct women, keep them in a sadistic sexual bondage, torturing and terrorizing them, objectifying them, depriving them of their rights and in doing the same to the child produced by his rape of one of them.  The whole catalog of his crimes against those women, the child, the families of the women and the community that were also harmed and terrorized lies at the feet of Ariel Castro.  Each and every second of the eleven years of those crimes was an opportunity for him to stop being a selfish, entitled male and for each and every second of those years he failed to stop being evil.

Yesterday, as he was being sentenced and knew he would be spending the rest of his life in prison, as he knew that his name and his person would always be defined by his crimes, he demonstrated one of the more repulsive aspects of the field of psychology, its use to deny moral responsibility for someone who is obviously mentally equipped to practice moral choices.  There is nothing in any of Castro's history outside of his crime to demonstrate that he wasn't so equipped.  But after a century and a quarter of Freudian and other schools of psychology giving people such as him the vocabulary of denial of personal responsibility, of the out of claiming an uncontrollable compulsion, a selfish man such as he will use that language to game things for his benefit, or at least to avoid having to face his own guilt, himself.   Perhaps a good cut off point in those who are truly unable to stop themselves and those who could is having the ability to make the argument that "I am sick" to a judge who is about to sentence them.  It's the moral dilemma presented to the court of criminals who tried the child murderer in Fritz Lange's movie "M".  But more on that in a minute.

Of course, Castro having claimed to not be responsible due to his addiction to porn and with what I've been writing about for the previous week, I need to address it.

When Castro used pornography as an excuse for what he did, he could have been using the truth to a dishonest end.  I didn't follow the case to know if the police found that he had pornography in his house or on his computer but that would certainly be worth knowing and could be.  As in the case of Clarence Thomas, it was possible to link what he had said as sexual harassment to specific pornographic material, it is quite possible that there is a direct link to be made in this case.   And the opposite is true, crimes are often the source of inspiration of pornography.  One of the disgusting genres of porn is inspired by the pedophile priest scandals.  I wouldn't be surprised if some totally degenerate group of porn producers isn't using the description of Castro's crimes as inspiration of pornography even as this is being written.  As I noted the other day, exactly what Ariel Castro did he could easily have found in an enormous percentage of pornography.  The abduction, imprisonment, binding, rape, torture, degradation, terrorizing of women is mainstream in the pornography that the free-speech industry, the media, the judiciary up to the Supreme Court and, of course, alleged liberals hold has no danger to society.  Ariel Castro could have done everything he did on the suggestion of pornography, if he says that's where he learned to do what he did, that is certainly not implausible.  His saying that is what inspired him, the gravity of his crimes and the known content of pornography makes it impossible to ignore those issues.   That what he very well may have used as inspiration has the full approval of the Supreme Court and a sizable percentage of those who substitute supposed "First Amendment" advocacy for a religious code of conduct.   For many, especially those who have rejected other sources of morality, that advocacy is often the extent of their moral imagination.

To champion the free distribution of pornography of even the most depraved content - something which the internet makes an every day reality for even the youngest of children -  is to champion the pornography that teaches Castro's behavior, making its lessons as attractive as sexual gratification especially through the aggrandizement of male supremacy.  Which is what the subjugation of women is motivated by, at its foundation.   It is to advocate beliefs and attitudes that are indivisibly bound to the the most extreme subjugation of women by men under fundamentalist religion that those same champions may feel very gratified in condemning in other cultures removed from their own with other alleged motivations.  But, as in the use of psychological excuses, those motives do not change the nature of that subjugation, it doesn't diminish the crime,  it does nothing to change the fact that women's rights are harmed and destroyed, the rights to entire and complete equality is attacked for some alleged higher purpose.  "Honor" in one case, "freedom" in the other.  But it is the "honor" and the "freedom" of men, in the end.  It is domination, dehumanizing and, in fact, destruction of those who are dominated.  And, as can be seen in so much of gay porn, that can be turned on men in the context of physical strength or other factors.

In the movie, "M" once his crimes are laid out to him, undeniably, Peter Lorre's character makes a similar plea, that he is compelled to murder little girls.  The mobster judge says that he has just given the reason that he has to be killed, that he will be a danger to children as long as he lives.   Lorre's advocate points out that the very mobsters who have put him on trial have also murdered people and that they didn't do it out of psychological compulsion.  The very same people who are, rightly, disgusted with what Ariel Castro did who are sickened by the details of his crimes, the very same judicial system that has, rightly, condemned him to life in prison, are also those who, when it is a matter of pornography that even he admits inspired him,  give his inspiration their blessing.   That, dear readers, is a problem.  I will almost guarantee you that even as we are disgusted by what he did there are those who are so self-centered, so gratified by those things he did, that without something to restrain them, they will use his case as a learning opportunity on how to do it more effectively without being caught.  If you don't think that taking whatever means can be taken to express the deepest level of disapproval is worth the slight risk to other discourse,  you've said that the past eleven years of torture and violence inflicted on those women, on women unknown to us, children and men held under similar conditions, is a price worth paying for what is certainly not a necessity of life.   That is the bottom line of this issue.  Who pays a price for pornography with their life?   How many women, children, men, are successfully given life imprisonment by those Ariel Castros who don't get caught, who get to play out the perverted porn scenarios to the conclusion favored by their creators and consumers?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Katherine Anne Porter Interview With James Day

I've loved Katherine Anne Porter's stories and her massive novel, Ship of Fools, for decades.  Finding this interview with her, listening to it, I was surprised at the sound of her voice, never having heard it before. Nothing like it sounded during my reading of her. .  She was quite old during the interview.  At first I was a bit disappointed but with her telling the story of what years later would be called, I suppose, her near death experience I realized how she sounded like a character in one of her stories, which, as she kind of points out, is only natural.  It's a wonderful music, her speaking, her entirely natural, not affected charm is wonderful and her constant revelation of her thought and art even during the interview shows that her stories are just a fixed form of her constant telling of experience and thought and observed truth.

Here it is, also a memory of a time when public broadcasting in the United States had such programs on, a lost world, it would seem.

I'll be going back to re-read all of Pale Horse Pale Rider, which I don't think I've read again since near death experiences came to be talked about, thirty or so years back.   Maybe there will be more to say about that

Martha Davis & Her Spouse

"We Had To Be Smarty" Dorothy Parker

One of the most effective means of suppression of  real liberalism as opposed to pseudo-liberalism is the peer coercion that enforces a code of expression, of  preventing anyone from violating the kind of middle-brow idea of something called "modernism".  Or, more often, the something being violated isn't actually there but is some vaguely sensed notion of What's Unacceptable To Those Cooler Than You.   Often that takes the form of associating the person who violates being up-to-date with dreadful people or some region of the country.  I suspect some of that comes from those nervous provincials who, intellectually able but very unsure of themselves, try to fit in to some self-defined sophisticated scene in New York or some other Big City.  The price for violation of their code is deadly, to be shunned as a hick.

Hilariously, for me in the past weeks pornography discussion, that has taken the form that I was, "Like a gay Clarence Thomas."  Oh, yes.  The entire world must have seen the similarity between my arguments against pornography  as inevitably objectifying women, men, children, violating their rights, their dignity, their safety and lives and one of the most infamous porn consumers and sexual harassers in recent American history - "a pubic hair in my Coke can" "The Adventures of Bad Mama Jama" -  and who, for the record, is a reliable vote in favor of porn on the Supreme Court.  There were other equally absurd comparisons.  I only pointed that one out because it was so hilariously clueless.

Those attempts to give someone who violates the pseudo-liberal code of thought cooties give rise to all kinds of hilarious and silly statements made with the brainless self-assurance of someone who knows they're upholding a conventional point of view but who doesn't know much more than that.   The way to free yourself from them and their index of prohibited thought is to go right ahead not caring about them.  They're not the world, they're certainly not worth losing your soul over.   We're online now, it's a big internet.


But I'm going to start somewhere else with an excerpt from an interview that Dorothy Parker gave late in her life, when she was sadder but wiser but still paying a huge price for her former days.

It’s a popular supposition that there was much more communication between writers in the twenties. The Round Table discussions in the Algonquin, for example.

I wasn't there very often—it cost too much. Others went. Kaufman was there. I guess he was sort of funny. Mr. Benchley and Mr. Sherwood went when they had a nickel. Franklin P. Adams, whose column was widely read by people who wanted to write, would sit in occasionally. And Harold Ross, the New Yorker editor. He was a professional lunatic, but I don’t know if he was a great man. He had a profound ignorance. On one of Mr. Benchley’s manuscripts he wrote in the margin opposite “Andromache,” “Who he?” Mr. Benchley wrote back, “You keep out of this.” The only one with stature who came to the Round Table was Heywood Broun.

What was it about the twenties that inspired people like yourself and Broun?

Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, “You’re all a lost generation.” That got around to certain people and we all said, Whee! We’re lost. Perhaps it suddenly brought to us the sense of change. Or irresponsibility. But don’t forget that, though the people in the twenties seemed like flops, they weren't. Fitzgerald, the rest of them, reckless as they were, drinkers as they were, they worked damn hard and all the time.

Did the “lost generation” attitude you speak of have a detrimental effect on your own work?

Silly of me to blame it on dates, but so it happened to be. Dammit, it was the twenties and we had to be smarty. I wanted to be cute. That’s the terrible thing. I should have had more sense.... 

You have an extensive reputation as a wit. Has this interfered, do you think, with your acceptance as a serious writer?

I don’t want to be classed as a humorist. It makes me feel guilty. I've never read a good tough quotable female humorist, and I never was one myself. I couldn't do it. A “smartcracker” they called me, and that makes me sick and unhappy. There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words. I didn't mind so much when they were good, but for a long time anything that was called a crack was attributed to me—and then they got the shaggy dogs.

How about satire?

Ah, satire. That’s another matter. They’re the big boys. If I’d been called a satirist there’d be no living with me. But by satirist I mean those boys in the other centuries. The people we call satirists now are those who make cracks at topical topics and consider themselves satirists—creatures like George S. Kaufman and such who don’t even know what satire is. Lord knows, a writer should show his times, but not show them in wisecracks. Their stuff is not satire; it’s as dull as yesterday’s newspaper. Successful satire has got to be pretty good the day after tomorrow.

And how about contemporary humorists? Do you feel about them as you do about satirists?

You get to a certain age and only the tired writers are funny. I read my verses now and I ain't funny. I haven’t been funny for twenty years. But anyway there aren't any humorists anymore, except for Perelman. There’s no need for them. Perelman must be very lonely.

Why is there no need for the humorist?

It’s a question of supply and demand. If we needed them, we’d have them. The new crop of would-be humorists doesn't count. They’re like the would-be satirists. They write about topical topics. Not like Thurber and Mr. Benchley. Those two were damn well-read and, though I hate the word, they were cultured. What sets them apart is that they both had a point of view to express. That is important to all good writing. It’s the difference between Paddy Chayefsky, who just puts down lines, and Clifford Odets, who in his early plays not only sees but has a point of view. The writer must be aware of life around him. Carson McCullers is good, or she used to be, but now she’s withdrawn from life and writes about freaks. Her characters are grotesques.

Dorothy Parker, The Art of Fiction No. 13
Interviewed by Marion Capron


If Dorothy Parker had  talked like that on online comment threads she'd have been told she sounded just like some right wing Republican hack and told to "lighten up" or something.   She left her entire estate to The Reverend Martin Luther King, jr.   I remember some people were stunned that she had a serious idea in her head, never mind a moral and spiritual center.   She paid an enormous price for being part of that famous Round Table.

Update:  I just noticed that I neglected to indicate the ellipsis, where I left out material from the interview that didn't address my point.  I hope the link provided to the complete interview prevented possible misunderstanding.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taking a Day Off

As I indicated last night, I could say a lot more about the obvious harm porn does to people and the entirely undeniable torture and killing of animals in pornography and related media catering to the pathological variety of porn fans who enjoy seeing animals killed for their sick pleasure.  When Michael Vick did it, it was, rightfully, a crime, when it's done to be filmed and sold for the edification and instruction of degenerates, it has the protection of 8 out of 9 of the Supreme Court with the full approval of the pseudo-liberals.   Apparently the same judges who can follow the minutia of intellectual property and financial cases surpassing the mythological requirement to count angles dancing on pins and outdoing Solomon's judicial errudition can't distinguish the truly dangerous situation in which total and murderous depravity is encouraged as entertainment and sexual gratification, instructing those who will emulate what they see ....    But don't get me started on that just now.

I need a day or two off.  I'm keeping my blogs on comment moderation because these topics bring out the trolls like little else does - you should see how my filters filled up my e-mail trash files.  Files which I  delete unread.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Answer To An Accusation Made on Another Blog

Accusation:  "He's obsessed with it."  ["It" being opposition to pornography.]

If you knew how little of the research I did on this topic is covered by what I've written so far and which I've avoided writing about for a long time, you would know how wrong that idea is.   What I am is opposed to it for all of the reasons I've stated.  I'm against it because I am an American liberal who takes the basis of that seriously.   There is no exception to equality, there is no suspension of inherent rights, there is no exemption from the moral obligation to observe those equally and to the full extent of their limits.  

Lots of Gay Porn is Absolutely Indistinguishable From Fascist Gay Bashing

I will violate my intention of not linking to images and descriptions of sadistic abusive porn because this image was sent to me an hour or two ago with a link to a Daily Kos diary about Russian fascists luring gay Russian boys and men, online,  to meet for sex but who are then assaulted, brutalized, tortured, humiliated and degraded by them.  I don't think the person who sent me the picture and the link realized how, if someone had not told me what the picture was, I'd have taken it for a large part of the gay porn you can see on porn sites, Tumblr and other blogs, only this would have to count as one of the milder images presented as sexually gratifying on those blogs.  The description of what the Russian fascists do could be a caption for any number of those images, GIFs and video clips.

The group also released this video of a gay teen in Moscow who was lured into the kind of trap described above. It shows him being "bullied, tortured and sprayed with urine in the broad day light."

Watch it at your own risk. You don't need to know a word of Russian to understand how terrified and humiliated this poor young man is.

If I had chosen to link to Tumblr blogs and other sources of porn I would have given exactly the same warning.

The Kos Diary points out that the police do nothing about this but, as anyone who has studied pornography knows,  that behavior, presented as pornography, sometimes explicitly stated as involving Russian,  Eastern European or third world* victims is held to have First Amendment protection here.  As also mentioned in this series,  there is no requirement that those presenting the images prove that the person presented as the victim of pornography is of legal age and is participating of their fully informed and free volition.

I won't link to any pictures of that being done to people or of drawings but the captions on many of those are, practically verbatim,  what is said in the description of the video above.

A friend of mine who had the misfortune of growing up rather obviously gay in a small town once told me how remarkable it was that some of his most violent tormentors in school later went on to work for a rather notorious contractor and small time organized criminal who, rather openly, had sexual relations with the young men who worked for him.   It's not all that uncommon in the experience of gay men who had been similarly brutalized by those who would go on to have similar life stories.  Only, if the same Russian fascists went on to do exactly what they are described as doing and selling it as porn, it would go from being a great and decried crime to being a First Amendment cause célèbre.  Surely I'm not the only one who sees a problem with that.

One of the things I've pointed out that has gotten a lot of surprised reaction is, by an enormous percentage, the predominant media presentation of gay men is pornography.  And when I say an enormous percentage, I mean thousands of texts, photographs, videos and full length porn deceptions to one non-pornographic media representation.  Another thing that gets a shocked reaction, especially from straight liberals and pseudo-liberals is when I point out that, by far, the largest corpus and the most extreme expression of gay hatred is also found in gay porn, with some also found in straight porn.  Pornography is not a great source of gay liberation or gay pride.  In line with its explicit messages, it's more likely to intentionally degrade, humiliate, presenting images of gay men being  "bullied, tortured and sprayed with urine" for the sexual gratification of other people.

*   On one site I just found through a casual web search, it offers 137 videos of Russian boys in bondage the same site lists 1540 videos under the heading "Brutal",  1786 under "Pissing", the descriptions of what is done to people in photographs or videos in a lot of gay porn and just as much so, straight porn,  are no different from how the fascists treated young gay men.   An impromptu google search using the terms "russian brutal pissing gay" returned About 33,700,000 results (0.35 seconds)

Answers To Two Objections on this Topic

Two of the old and moldy chestnuts of the porn debate have been deployed.

"Why do you care about women in porn, you're a gay man?   What's it to you?"

First, I'm a traditional American liberal, the folks who brought you abolition, women's suffrage,  humane treatment of the insane and prisoners, children and animals, labor rights, .....  Being a liberal isn't anything about what's it to you, IT'S ABOUT WHAT'S IT FOR THEM.   Pseudo-liberalism becomes pseudo partially by buying into the practice of turning everything into a story of self-interest.   Doing that merely ignores the fact that the entire difference between an act of self-interest and a selfless act is far more obvious in the effects of those than anything the cynical, fashionable, fictitious hedonist analysis is based in.  The difference makes all the difference in the world in the experience of the recipient of action.  The hedonistic analysis is done for selfish reasons, it gives permission to be indifferent to even obvious depravity and cruelty. As in the post about the pseudo-liberal approval of and acceptance of porn when they believe its effects can be kept at a distance from them and their loved ones. 

You may have guessed  the second one already, 

"You don't have to look at it if you don't like it. Turn off the TV"  

That's a good strategy when it's a matter of not  listening to annoying pop-music,  it's not a liberal argument about anything of more importance in the world.   I can't imagine it would have quite done it to end slavery or helped labor to organize for its rights, it is what allowed Steve Jobs to be raised up as i-God even as the sweat shops that drove people to suicide as they were crushed by increasing production of his latest Richie-Rich toy were being exposed. 

While I am loathe to do it, that second dodge of  preening pseudo-liberal slackerdom does have a rather effective self-interest argument to be made against it.   If you turn off the fascist propaganda - and porn is propaganda for sexual and gender fascism - the kid down the street is watching it.  The one you live in the same town with, the one who goes to school with your daughter or son, the one who they might date or hang around with, the one who may choose them to prey on as instructed in that unpleasant-making thing you turned off so as not to be bothered by it.  

Once when I was sick and slumming,  watching City Confidential, cabloid crime porn going into extensive detail about some gruesome crimes, how they were committed, how the depraved criminals got away with it to go on to commit more crimes and how, eventually, the police caught up with them,  Even as I was feeling cheap and thinking I should turn the TV off and do something useful, I realized that the program could serve a few of those watching it as a how-to manual of how to commit similar crimes and avoid the mistakes their fellow criminals had made that led them to be caught.

The copy-cat phenomenon in crime is frequently suspected and, in some cases, has been documented. Some of those copy-cats getting off on those kinds of crime programs, looking on some of the more infamous serial killers and mass murderers as heroes to emulate will be looking at how to improve on what they did.  There is no reason to not suspect that people with violent criminal plans aren't attracted to that kind of media, taking inspiration for their actions and getting instruction from what, for most of us, as a rather corrupt form of entertainment.   There is no reasonable doubt but that is how the criminally insane use the same media that most of us will, eventually turn off in disgust.

Adam Lanza was fascinated enough with the Norwegian mass murderer,Anders Behring Breivik that he kept clippings of several news stories about his crime.  I don't know the extent to which they would be able to track Lanza's TV and online viewing of someone who he may have considered a hero to emulate and outdo but we do know that he tried to do something very similar,  murder lots and lots of children in one location.  Anyone who dismisses the link between the news stories about Breivik and Lanza's copy cat massacre is making a case that isn't credible.  You would have to get past the fact that it is known he was a student of many other mass shooters.  He obviously considered himself to be rather expert in the topic.

Between August 2009 and February 2010, the same user name linked to Lanza made revisions to 12 Wikipedia entries about massacres across the world during the same 2009 to 2010 time frame as the gun website and gaming chat-room posts.

One entry meticulously specifies the weapons Kip Kinkel used at the age of 15 to kill his parents before going on a shooting spree at his Oregon high school, where two were killed and 25 were wounded in May 1998.

A revision involving the Sept. 13, 2006, shooting at Dawson College in Montreal, in which one student was killed and 19 others wounded, is quite particular about how the article posted on Wikipedia describes the firearm used by the killer.

...  The poster believed to be Lanza delves deeply into Wikipedia's account of the ESL shooting, revising it on at least four occasions in February 2010 and adding such details as the caliber and manufacturer of weapons in Farley's arsenal.

There are striking similarities between the ESL massacre and the Sandy Hook shooting more than 20 years later. Farley, carrying more than a thousand rounds of ammunition on a vest and wearing earplugs, shot through the glass of a door of ESL, gunning down employees as he encountered them in the building.

The poster suspected to be Lanza also corrected Wikipedia entries about mass shootings at shopping centers, including the Sello mall massacre in a town near the Finnish capital of Helsinki in December 2009 that left four people dead, and the Westroads mall shooting in Omaha, Neb., in December 2007, in which a man with a rifle opened fire at the busy mall, killing eight people before taking his own life.

As most of those reading this,  the willful blindness of the NRA and the paranoid gun nuts it caters to regularly enrages me as they dishonestly refuse to acknowledge the clearest lessons learned from mass murders and the largest of all mass murders committed that happens every year, month, week and day in the United States, in multiple locations by multiple people.  Their irresponsibility is epic, it is related to the voluntary ignorance of those who actively ignored the crimes of the Nazis and fascists, who overlooked the massacre in Rwanda and Kosovo  even as those were happening and they could have been stopped.

We are especially enraged by their irrational and dishonest citation of the Second Amendment.  But even many of those who are regularly enraged by the irresponsible protection of the gun industry do exactly the same thing when it is the media whose financial and ideological interests lead to murders and, especially sexual crimes.  For pseudo-liberals, the First Amendment is often their Second Amendment, it is the thought blocker that serves as the barrier that shuts down debate and thought and reason, even in the face of criminal depravity.   Their willful denial of the results of the free availability of the encouragement to murder and, especially to objectify, use, rape, damage,  enslave and torture people as sexual gratification is every bit as willfully blind and is frequently funded by the porn industry in exactly the same way that the gun industry funds the ideological opponents to gun regulation.

Adam Lanza's mother was irresponsible in ways similar to those parents I mentioned yesterday who introduced their children to hard core porn before they reached puberty.  We know the results of her irresponsibility,  I have no doubt that there are also consequences of having millions of children growing up on porn, I think you can see that in stories of mass rape of girls who will then be blamed for what the men and boys did to them.  Porn instructs them in that, it instructs them to think of their victims in those terms, that lesson has become embedded in the culture.  If it was there before porn might have had an influence on it, that attitude is confirmed by the contents of pornography.  Pornography teaches that kind of behavior.  It may not produce undeniable depravity in all of the people who watch it but it does in some.  To favor gun regulation in the one case and then to rule out any consideration of regulation in the other is insane.  As the results of porn become ubiquitous, including the deaths and murders of many people, it is as much a moral atrocity.  The two are equivalent in their effect.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Smug, Self-Satisfied Denial of Reality Right In Front of The Noses of the Preening "Reality Community"

It's always hard to know when to stop making a point about something like the damage that pornography does to people.  Its harmlessness is such an entrenched lie in the educated class of the United States, Europe and elsewhere, held by people who fully believe that they constitute the rational, realist class of the human population, who reject mere belief and, in the more extreme form of that self-congratulating conceit, believe they "know" what they "know" based on evidence, especially "empirical evidence".   To get through that level of invincible ignorance held by those convinced of their enlightenment is going to take a long and massive fight.  The consequences of giving up, as the "sex pos" "feminists" have, are so bad for women and everyone that giving up is no real option.  It is capitulation to the worst of the past and the present.  It would be like black people willingly going back to Jim Crow, agricultural tenancy and, in the most explicitly obvious way and in every way, enslavement.

As I pointed out already the evidence is that the production of pornography that uses the bodies of people expose them to dangerous sex with other people who have extensive histories of dangerous, professional, sexual intercourse with other people with the same history.  All at the behest of the paying customers of pornography and, so its producers, directors and, um, "writers".  As internet porn has developed, that has included demands for ever rougher, ever more violent sex, without even the minimal protective equipment of condoms.  As mentioned the Los Angeles porn industry is trying to overturn the almost unique law requring condoms being used on the set.  So, for profit, the people you see onscreen, the raw material of pornography, are compelled to become one of the most fertile vectors of sexually transmitted disease.

But, with that massive evidence that porn damages the people it uses, uses up and discards like worn out machinery, if not industrial waste, the claim that no one is hurt by it is one of the major articles in the catechism of the educated class of the United States and elsewhere.

Another harmful effect of pornography that is documented with evidence and the sworn testimony of its victims is in the widespread use of it by pedophiles  in "grooming" children to be raped, prostituted and photographed or filmed while being raped by the very pedophiles that used pornography in the audio-visual indoctrination of their intended victims.   There have been court cases and sworn testimony from the victims, far more than even the sleaziest of "First Amendment lawyers, " those whose practice centers around in getting porn producers out of taking responsibility for what they make billions of dollars from, can brush aside.

But not the journalists, the primary pushers of the line that porn is everything from harmless to a positive social good.  Even as their newspapers and magazines carry reports of trials in which that testimony of the use of porn in pedophile "grooming," setting up even very young children to do what the adult, and increasingly teenage, child rapist wants.  While the hard reporting of court cases and, more rarely, investigative reporting of children used by pedophiles, pimps and porn producers document that use of pornography, those on the op-ed and other "opinion journalists" will recite what they'd have to know was a lie if they even read their own paper.

About twenty years ago someone told me about a couple who of an evening would watch videos of hardcore porn in the comfort of their living room with their children, under the age of ten, watching along with them.   Call me naive but it had not occurred to me, until that point, that parents would do things like that.  Of course I'd known of fathers, especially those who considered themselves sophisticated and progressive, would give their sons  straight porn and, reportedly, would even bring them to have their first sexual intercourse with prostitutes to celebrate a birthday.  Some psychologists recommended such stuff as prevention of "homosexuality."   Those stories are as old as the hills.  But with the widespread introduction of in home theaters that innovation in child neglect and abuse hadn't suggested itself, to me at least.

And increasingly it is reported that boys, especially, are exhibiting the beliefs about girls and women gained by watching porn at home and, now, online, that they want to do what they've seen, that they regard even quite young girls as objects available for their use - males are not the bottom in all but some of the rarer tastes in straight sex.   By a massive percentage, straight porn is a man's world, the women to be used and used up.  To the extent that boys are acculturated by porn, to that extent will the rights and welfare of women be disadvantaged.  To the extent girls are presented with those role models available to them, to that extent will they be taught that they should accept that. Teachers have been reporting seeing the far from harmless effects of the acculturation into pornographic thinking for quite some time, in even the most unsophisticated and rural of schools.  Pornography is generally far closer to the view of women that the Taliban has than it is to anything in line with feminism.  The role of women in all but some of the kinkier sado-masochistic porn in which it is the male who is dominated and abused  - reportedly not all that popular with most men - is that they are to be subjugated.

The themes of pornography are the greatest evidence of what its effects in the general society will be.  Objectification of people is the very act inherent to pornography,  the use of one person seen as passive by another person seen as dominant, the story line of almost all of it.  Then there is coercion by the dominant male (in all by a tiny percentage of porn) of either women or weaker men or children, into consenting to the sexual acts they want.  Ramping it up, there is rape, ramping that up there is rape with harm, degradation, humiliation, injury and everything up to murder, generally simulated but, in some rare reports, real, as sexual gratification.   The well beloved pornographer and complete slime, Larry Flynt's infamous picture of a woman in a meat grinder is the porn industry in one image as presented on the cover of his, flagship porn magazine.  Yet we're all supposed to not notice that and are not to come to a rational conclusion as to what it is selling, what, as pointed out yesterday, it is selling as possible behavior.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pro-Porn Journalists Declare That Their Profession Is In Effect A Fraud

In attacking me over the porn issue, the pop-music critic Steve Simels, formerly with Stereo Review magazine, quoted a pro-porn alicublog post by the Village Voice columnist Roy Edroso.   As pointed out Thursday, the old claim was made by both that pornography is harmless, that it has no effect on the behavior of those who consume it.

"No one can prove that oceans of internet porn have done anything worse to humanity than give Goldberg another opportunity to embarrass himself..."

The Goldberg in the quote is that blight on humanity and the same to their profession, journalism, Jonah Goldberg, one of the numerous legacy hires of opinion journalism, someone for whom I have no respect and with whom I agree on little to nothing.  Even our opposition to pornography is from an entirely different perspective.  On the other hand I agree with much of what Edroso has said in those columns of his I've looked at, even as I really believe his political orientation is fundamentally based on different and quite flawed foundations.  On the porn issue  those different foundations make a complete difference in the end.

I can't remember where I first heard the ever repeated claim that pornography is harmless, that it has no effect on the behavior of those who consume it but I am certain of one thing, I certainly read it being said in either a newspaper or a magazine.  It may have been Nat Hentoff,  it may have been some other now ex-liberal columnist.  I certainly have heard it and its variations most often from journalists, especially what later were sold as "opinion journalists".   The claim being that repeated exposures to descriptions and images of sex, of sexual practices have no influence on behavior.   And that is about the most obvious lie told by journalists who would have to know it is a lie even as they say it, if they thought about what they were saying even in the absence of survey figures or other fictoids usually fluffing out the discourse on this issue.

Porn isn't a non-participatory entertainment like watching a half-hour sit-com, its consumption is a participatory act, probably most often, the act is one that is harmless enough, solo masturbation.  So even in its most typical use, porn has psychological and physiological effects on the person using it.   Masturbation, in itself, isn't any more harmful than the person doing it to themselves is willing to make it.  Whether the things presented by pornography which the person finds will most effectively elicit those psychological and physical gratifications of arousal and eventual orgasm will be extended into what its consumer does to other people is less clear and harder to "prove" but the claim that pornography has no influence on that,  made by journalists, is hypocritical.   Given the business end of the media that Hentoff, Edroso and Simels work in, the idea that repeated media messages have no further effects on behavior is obviously self-serving and entirely undeserving of belief.

This morning, looking at alicublog to get that quote, I saw an advertisement in the sidebar, for a moving company on this page view.  I'd expect if I refresh the page some other ad will appear.  So Edroso's blog posts advertising.  Advertisments are media messages sold by media companies with the claim that they will effect peoples' decisions and change their behavior, leading to them buying things.   It would be the rarest of American adults who have not been subjected to hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of ads in their lifetime.  And anyone with something more than a vestigial brain would have to have noticed one of the commonest advertising strategies, selling it with sex appeal.  The oil industry hired the once alleged journalist Brook Alexander on the basis of her sexy, cool blonde appearance and voice in order to sell their lies about the extraction industry.  Those ads are placed in news programs for the purpose of using her to change beliefs and how people vote in order to change laws. You can't avoid them on the liberal ghetto hours on TV, the nighttime lineup on MSNBC, on programs where you will also hear the line that porography has no important effects on behavior.

I'll emphasize that point, even as their advertisers are using sex to effect political behavior, journalists claim that sexual messaging has no effect on sexual behavior.

They say that even as their advertisers are using sex appeal in order to elicit a rather complex and important action, of using sex to cause a political behavior.   And, if you know that ad campaign, you'll have seen scores of thousands of other ad campaigns using sex to have the same effect, using images of sexy women and men and, disgustingly, children to effect buying behavior.  The very same media companies that have major departments to convince corporations that they can use sex to change behavior, are then in the business of claiming that even stronger and more targeted use of sex in the media will have no effect on behavior.  And if you don't see a conflict of logic, not to mention total hypocrisy in that, you may have a future in "opinon journalism"

Roy Edroso's newspaper, The Village Voice, used to be the home of the annoyingly self-appointed biggest champion of free speech-free press in the world, Nat Hentoff.  It has been one of the more influential voices promoting the idea that pornography should be freely available.  That it also had one of the early and more infamous personal ad sections in which ads for commercial sex figured rather obviously, everything from non-commercial hookups to rather openly and formerly, slyly phrased ads for prostitution or "escorts" made money for the company.  The contention that those media messages had no effect in the real world are absurd.

A couple of years back there was a lawsuit brought by a teenage victim,  trafficked by a convicted pimp who advertised for business in the Village Voice.   While the Village Voice got the lawsuit thrown out by a federal judge and they dispute some of the allegations on rather technical issues, the fact that people are pimped by pimps in The Village Voice doesn't seem to be in dispute, some of whom like Latasha Jewell McFarland are in the business of prostituting minor children,.

But there is an even more basic hypocrisy on the part of those who have endlessly recited the unfounded claim that pornography doesn't influence the behavior of those who consume it.   Edroso is an "opinion journalist" who is in the business of changing minds and behaviors, that is the basic reason for the existence of his profession.  For him to sell his writing on the basis of its ability to change hearts and minds, political choice and voting on one hand and then to claim that media messages have no effect in line with its content is absolutely hypocritical.  As he is the one who insisted that there is no proof that pornography, the act of turning women, men, children, into objects to be used has no harmful effects based in its content, he should be required to prove that there is a difference in effect between what he gets paid for and what pornographers get paid for.

Steve Simels was paid for writing about pop-music for a magazine that those of us who worked in music often regarded as an advertising vehicle.   Music reviews, especially of recordings, are written to effect opinions of the readers but they are also published to effect behavior, the purchase of records and concert tickets.   If they don't have that purpose the same magazines and other media that pay people to write them wouldn't be able to sell advertising space and time to the very companies their journalism covers in its content.  Well, they might be able to sell it but it would be an act of fraud, their claims of being able to produce those effects on behavior, fraudulent.   That many people who have worked in music have considered the kind of commercial music Simels specialized in a form of musical prostitution is for another post.

So, even before getting into the distractions of dubious to improbable to ridiculous surveys and psychological claims, it's a closed case that journalists making the claim that pornography has no effect on behavior are hypocrites with no leg to stand on.  If they never got paid for influencing behavior they might have at least personal integrity to make those improbable claims but, then, no one would ever hear them through the barrage of commercial media that is in the business of selling the eyes and ears and minds and actions of their readers and watchers to people trying to sell you something.  Or, more to the point, to get you to do something, probably more often than not, something you shouldn't be doing, something that will do you, those around you and the entire ecosystem, no good at all.