Sort out the NFL protests on the flag and racism: libertarian views win out

OK, let’s lay things out in the whole problem of the player protests in the NFL and NBA over racism during the playing of the National Anthem at games.

First, I can’t imagine how kneeling (or locking arms) is disrespectful of the flag, or offensive.  At least personally.

The best information suggests that NFL and NBA owners seem so support the protests, and are not doing so out of fear of player “rebellion”.

Players do have a First Amendment right to protest when a national symbol is displayed as far as the government is concerned (including president Trump) but their employers have a legal right to constrain what they say on the job, and sometimes off the job in public mode if the speech can cause disruption to legitimate business interests (essentially “conflict of interest” in speech).

The NFL and its associated professional sports franchises are private businesses.  Same with MLB, NBA, NHL, soccer, etc.  They can regulate what players say on the job, or what they do on social media if behavior affects business.  But they don’t have to.  If the leagues and the owners want to single out the issue behind the protests (especially police racial profiling and BLM) they are free to do so.

Apparently, yesterday, the support for the protests in the NFL was overwhelming, including at the Washington Redskins’ game  (a 27-10 win)Sunday night (and this is ironic given the controversy over the team name and trademark as a potential slur against Native Americans).

In the past, however, the owners were not as supportive.  Consider the history if Colin Kaepernick.  This morning, Bob Costa said on CNN that Colin has said before that voting was useless because of the current power structure (reportedly he said that before the 2016 election).

I do have problems with a couple of areas.  One is if another group (BLM or anyone else) decides that its issue must be implemented in such a way that anyone else (like me, as an individual speaker an author) must somehow pay them homage to have a voice at all.  There are many examples of oppression, and I can’t say that one is always more demanding than another (Charlottesville and Trump’s “both sides” notwithstanding).    Along these lines, Juana Summers piece on CNN “It’s impossible for black athletes to leave politics off the field”.

Another is that I had my own issue back in the 1990s, where I had a potential “conflict of interest” over my planned speech on gays in the military when I was working for a company that served members of the military as a fraternal provider. I wound up transferring to Minneapolis (and having some of the best years of my own life).  There was a time when a family medical emergency (Mother’s surgery in 1999) might have forced me to come back, conceivably costing me my job as a result.  I did not have the right to “hide” behind “systematic oppression” as an out.  Fortunately, this worked out OK on its own.

President Trump was certainly out of line Saturday night in Huntsville AL when he “demanded” that NFL owners “fire” players for protesting.  The President doesn’t have the right to tell private businesses what protests to support or allow on the job.

Major league sports have come a long way in dealing with discrimination, particularly MLB with its various statements including sexual orientation.

But the NFL may have problems with its own treatment of players regarding head injuries (the recent revelations about Aaron Hernandez are among the worst).  Trump wanted to deny even football brain injuries (WSJ editorial).

I want to mention Margaret Sullivan’s Washington Post (Style section) article today about new state laws restricting protests that disrupt traffic or businesses.  She says that the kinds of protests that ended the Vietnam War (and the draft) might be illegal in many states (well, remember Kent State in 1970). We’ll have to come back to this.

I also want to mention Villasenor’s study for Brookings on attitudes toward free speech on campus.  Younger adults, without the same grounding in civics classes that my generation had, seem to gravitate to a more authoritarian concept of how speech works in society.  That is, the intended effect and likely actions on the listener or watcher matter (“implicit content”), as does the idea that words can be weaponized (even if by Russia on Facebook).

(Posted: Monday, September 25, 2017 at 11 AM EDT)

Some elements of the GOP go out of their way to marginalize LGBTQ people, and then fail to address infrastructure and health care with real policy

I’ve had a running debate on Facebook Messenger with a particular friend in northern Virginia’s LGBT leadership, and he asked that his name not be reproduced because be feared (however facetiously) the “alt-right”.

I have said to him that I resist being drawn into specific initiatives sponsored generally by the political Left on narrow issues mostly having to do with discrimination (however “systematic” the “oppression”) against (members of) self-defined groups.  Likewise, right now at least, I don’t raise money under my own name (like with GoFundMe) for “other people’s causes” however compelling (I don’t ask people to give for the Houston flood, except maybe here in this post; I simply do it myself.)  That could even change in the future with certain circumstances.  I’ve said I want to focus on civilization-threatening problems like North Korea, nuclear weapons, power grid security.  I also want to focus on subtle free-speech (and gatekeeper resistance) problems, like downstream liability and implicit content. I’ve said that “we” have bigger problems than bathroom bills.  (As I type this, I hear on CNN that North Korea claims now to have miniaturized ICBM-mountable hydrogen bombs, not “just” Hiroshima-like atomic bombs.  And we have Trump with the nuclear suitcase.)

My friend (whom I see as pretty centrist between Left and Right, more or less with Hillary Clinton’s positions on most things, much more conservative than Sanders or even Obama) agrees that the GOP should focus on actually fixing healthcare, securing infrastructure security and solving the problems with refugees, and with enemies like ISIS and North Korea  — and facing the responsibility to future generations on climate change.  He says it is the GOP that looks for scapegoats (right now, transgender people) with bathroom bills or pseudo-religious freedom bills. I agree.  And some parts of the alt-right make scapegoats of all immigrants, and are more aggressive in a desire to subjugate non-white people than I would have believed.  This puts pressure on me to come back to focus on defending “oppressed groups” rather than paying attention to existential problems that can affect us all.  In my situation (benefiting from inheritance and trying to downsize myself out of a house partly for “political” reasons), it gets harder to work on what I want than on what others would demand of me.  It’s harder to stay away from unwelcome personal entanglements.

Here are a few of his comments:

“Focusing on infrastructure like FDR did during the Great Depression, of that scale, is definitely the winning ticket. The real problem is the GOP in Congress doesn’t want to spend money, especially on big national projects. However, they will if it is funneled through the largely Republican controlled states. So the grid and space projects all have to be designed as pork spending to states with only a small national office to coordinate, if that. Moreover, the money has to go to key swing states.

“I’m getting tired of this extreme bipolar discord manufactured by billionaires who spend their money on this negative crap rather than helping society in productive ways. None of this was in the news (Page 1) until Trump began dangling red meat at crowds to capitalize off fringe. Even the labels of left and right are becoming meaningless. Whatever happened to a sense of decency? It’s been replaced by circus clown.

“I look at another way. The bathroom bills are pushed and funded by right wingers who make it a priority over everything else. The LGBTQ-activist aren’t to blame for reacting. The blame lies squarely with the well-funded right that wants to obliterate all the gays off the face of the earth. And any progress made in the last 20 years. Why pinpoint blame people who fight against them for human rights and social justice. It makes no sense to me. You are right however, that the priorities of the nation need to be focused on things like infrastructure and beefing up national defense.”

Here are a few of his best links:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State: “The Religious Right’s War Against LGBT Americans

I think there is more to say here.  People “on the right” see meaning in forcing others to comply with the same moral rules they think they should follow; that’s their answer to “inequality”.  They also have to deal with the logically existential idea of personal “rightsizing”.

Emily Crockett, “How the Left can stop arguing and beat Trump”.

James Hohmann “The Daily 202: False moral equivalency is not a bug of Trumpism; it is a main feature”.

George Michael’s “The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America”.

It strikes me that the alt-right uses identity politics and even “intersectionality” much as does the radical Left.  The groups are different.  But the exploitation of “relative deprivation” (and the personal undeservedness of others) is the same, even if the Right seems to have much less justification in history.

(Posted: Saturday, September 2, 2017, at 9 PM EDT)

Trump must call out specific hate groups — something I would rarely say, after Charlottesville

I tuned on to CNN early Saturday morning in time to see the confrontations and fights breaking out in Charlottesville near Emancipation Park.  I saw coverage of the report that the “Unite the Right” rally would be canceled by police order.  I went to see a film Saturday afternoon and did not learn of the vehicle attack, that had happened at about 1:30 PM, until about 5 PM, even after running into friends.  So my perception of the gravity of what was going on changed throughout the day. Frankly, I had not been aware that such a large assembly of “white supremacists” could congregate. And, yes, this is domestic terrorism, from a right wing group(s).

I sometimes film demonstrations, without participating In them, which some people consider the “cowardly watcher” syndrome.  But not this time.  But had I gone,  I could have been killed as easily (by chance) as they young paralegal woman who died.  Generally, I do not like to be asked to join movements against specific enemy groups by name.  (We get into Trump’s “on many sides” exit.)

My first reaction concerned the statute (of Robert E. Lee) itself.  I’ve seen it, having visited gay pride celebrations in Charlottesville (most recently in September 2015). I would say, we can’t deny or hide history. We shouldn’t hide the Holocaust, or hide the Civil War.  But, of course, no one would support a sculpture of Hitler for the sake of “history”.  The Civil War generals fought on the wrong side.  Yet, we accept the idea of a Lee mansion park run by the NPS in Arlington Cemetery.  We accept the monuments in Richmond (or maybe we don’t).  We’ve come to the point (begrudgingly) that states should not fly confederate flags on their properties.

It’s important, however, that we remember history, even if we have to be careful about what we commemorate.  Think about how these ideas apply to the Vietnam war.  Some people would rather not talk about some aspects of it at all, like the military draft, for fear that it could come back and divert attention from more immediate needs of “identity groups”.

I was not aware at first how connected the Charlottesville “event” had been organized by “white supremacists”, the KKK, neo-Nazis, and then the likes of David Duke and Richard Spencer (with various “alt-right” factions).  My first impression of the counter protest that it was likely to be an example of a combative, militant left (“ANTIFA”) against a militant right (as at Milo Yiannopoulos’s events).  This doesn’t seem to be true.  My understanding that they were mostly non-violent protestors.  But I may have gotten my first impression from seeing the fights live on CNN.  Some counter protestors apparently did bring weapons.  Personally, I ignore “white” identity politics the way I ignore the identity politics and intersectionality on the Left.

Now, there is the question that President Trump did not call out the right-wing groups by name and condemn their existence.  Trump, as did his spokespersons, blamed violent behavior on both sides.  That’s generally how I feel about something like this.   Yet, I would condemn ISIS, as does the President.  It seems that the president should publicly condemn the KKK – a different enemy, but one that wants to use force and intimidation. You should condemn groups not of partisan or religious affiliation but because of the tactics they want to use.  Consider, however, what the Daily Stormer said (CNN, and NYTimes account), that Trump had given them an out. It’s also relevant that media has reported that many participants from the (alt-right) groups carried pepper spray and tried to use it on counter-demonstraters.

Coercion, from a combative group of any ideology, can become dangerous for almost any individual in a free society, even if by happenstance.  Yet, in my mind, there is no honor in being remembered as a victim, something I’ll come back to later.  And there is no honor in having one’s live expropriated, possibly because of one’s own questionable karma (regardless of who the enemy is), and being forced into somebody else’s “mass movement”.  It seems that sometimes personal neutrality is not good enough.

There are reports on ABC that some people are being fired from jobs today for being identified as participating with the right wing groups.

This is a grave distraction from focus on North Korea.

Wiki: Monument parade in Richmond.

(Posted: Sunday, Aug, 13, 2017 at 7:30 PM EDT)

Is it “morally” wrong to exercise racial or other physical preferences in your own personal life when seeking intimate partners? Political correctness in dating? It’s not just about apps

OK, as a 70+ year old man, I don’t use dating apps anyway.  But recently I’ve seen some articles online equating limiting race when using apps for personal dating as “racism”.  Really it goes way beyond just race.  For example, it used to be common to see “no fats, no fems” in print ads for dating.

One article I saw a couple months ago by Samantha Allen on the Daily Beast, “’No Blacks’ is not a sexual preference; It’s racism”.   And very recently, Donovan Trott opined “An Open Letter to Gay, White Men: No, You’e not allowed to have a racial preference”.    Milo Yiannopolous would dive right into this one on his new site here.

Superficially, if a dating app were a “public accommodation”, this would make sense.  I am reminded how things were around 1970, when I was living in Princeton NJ (having started my first job) and contemplated joining a singles social club (before my “second coming”).  One club had no shame in saying it was for “Whites only” because “Blacks have their own clubs”, like on “Amos ‘n’ Andy”.  (Loving had already come from the Supreme Court.)

Trott’s article does indeed become a head trip. The heart of his argument seems to be “If your preference for  partner supports an existing racial hierarchy which marginalizes minorities, then your preferences are racist.”

I can rationalize my own actions somewhat by saying, I don’t even state preferences on a commercial site, perhaps; but I do go to gay bars and discos, although less than I used to. Consider Peter Laarman’s essay in the LA Progressive, “When a Pride march means owning the shame of racial and economic justice”.   There is discussion of the idea that some gay bars and discos seem to cater to white cis gay men.

As a practical matter, the gay bars I have visited recently in Washington, New York, and Rehoboth seem to have plenty of women, plenty of non-white men, and plenty of older people who don’t fit anyone’s   stereotype of perfection.   Some establishments do have a higher non-white clientele than others, and some have specific events and shows intended to attract sub-minorities, other have these less often.

I’ve even noticed a behavioral change. I may be standing “watching” (or “spectating” which can mean mentally “criticizing”) certain men who may be closer to my own tastes dancing.  Often, a minority person, especially a female, will notice and ask me to dance.  Sometimes I don’t want to be distracted, and the other person becomes angry.

Now I’ve explained “what makes me tick” in my books (especially DADT III, Chapter 2) and other sites as here (also June 25, 2014; the WordPress category “upward affiliation and complementarity” explains this whole psychological area).  One important idea was that, when I was growing up, women were encouraged to be valued for external beauty and men were not.  Another biological observation, where race matters, is that among Caucasian men, the relative amount and distribution of body hair can “distinguish” men from one another (when visible to women, as a part-object of symbolic marker for reproductive fitness and likelihood of more children), but that is not so very much among non-white races.  Like it or not, environment (that is, evolving in colder and less sunny climates) has led to genetic adaptations that eventually mediate sexual attractiveness within certain populations.  On the other hand, intermarriage and having mixed-race children probably means fewer genetic diseases and quicker evolution of the strongest traits (indeed an argument against “erotic racism”).  But personal tastes in potential partners becomes a very personal matter indeed.  Even so, in today’s world, there is “no double life” anymore, and when someone like me makes himself visible online, then his behavior regarding potential dates and partners (even at a fantasy level, as I had to deal with a NIH in 1962 after my William and Mary expulsion) might be viewed as having an effect on others.  In DADT III, I called all this “my alien’s view of anthropology”.

All of this has a bearing on the salability of my novel draft (“Alien’s Brother”) and DADT screenplay (“Epiphany”). In both there are major gay male characters, and how well certain characters fit into a preconceived idea of being “Desirable” (to quote a buzzword from my days at Fort Eustis in 1969) does affect how they turn out.  It does seem that the cis males win out in the end.  (Were a movie to be made, I can imagine questions about “casting diversity”, because interchangeability doesn’t work for a few characters.)   In more recent years, I’ve gotten subtle (or not so subtle) suggestions about joining the parade of pimping gender fluidity because it would make me popular and sell books, but I cannot bring myself to do that. That is simply not what I believe.  Twenty years ago (when DAT-1 came out, in 1997), nobody would have challenged me this way, as far as my own creative output is concerned.  Indeed, there is no double life anymore, not even in make-believe.

(Posted: Monday, June 26, 2017 at 5:45 PM EDT)

“Nobody’s Tool”

In Terry Gilliam’s artsy futurist film “The Zero Theorem” (2013), precocious and charismatic teen Bob (Lucas Hedges) tells the besieged computer operator Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), “I’m nobody’s tool”.  (Hedges would play a similar role in “Manchester by the Sea”.)

It’s true, I “went public” with a controversial persona narrative with my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book in the 1990s – specifically striking a nexus between the past history of conscription with the debate over gays in the military (as it had evolved then under Bill Clinton).  I would wrap every other issue, mapped onto the tension between individualism and the need to belong to the group, around it and become a commentator, a pundit, someone who, however, needed to keep a certain objectivity and distance (even emotional aloofness) expected of journalists.

As President Trump complains, it’s too easy to criticize when you sit on the bench ad don’t play.

So, in the “aftermath” of the book(s), websites, blogs and now social media accounts, I have made it absolutely impossible for me to earn money (in “retirement”) by selling somebody else’s message, or being someone else’s spokesperson.  No, I can’t have Sean Spicer’s job.

After my layoff and forced retirement from old-style mainframe I.T. as a post 9/11 sequel at the end of 2001, at age 58 (73 now), I learned “the truth” about what the world seemed to expect of retirees: Sell! One of the earlier interviews (while I was still in Minnesota) as with PrimeVest   The interviewer became defensive about my questions over his presentation, even though I agree that for some consumers, converting whole life to term is a reasonable strategy. But a $40 trillion market?  The interview was concerned over how “analytical” I seemed. I checked and investigated everything.  “We give you the words,” he said.  To a writer who has followed his own direction, that phrase sounded very insulting, like throwing an inadequate tip at a bartender (which I once did).

There would other attempted offers to throw husckerism at me. True, life insurance agent or financial planner sounds legitimate enough. But I don’t want to troll people’s Internet ad hits in order to cold call them.

I also find myself resisting attempts to get me to “join a resistance”.  HRC is on my regular donation list, but I felt a little taken back by a recent email inviting me to be trained to become a grassroots activist or part of a resistance.  I know that Barack Obama was a “community organizer” in Chicago at one time, I have my own message set.  I don’t need to have an organization tell me what to say.

Even worse was a similar ploy from the political right. GOP candidate for a runoff in a Georgia House race, Karen Handel, writes, addressing me personally (by an automated plugin – again insulting) “This is the email I didn’t want to have to write. But after seeing the latest public polls – I have no choice.” She whines that bigwing Democrats have raised so much money for her opponent, so “Will you help me fight back?”

No, I like to think of myself as better than that (including any public participation in overtly partisan politics).  But of course I know the argument.  I saved well when I was working.  But I also have some of what the left-wing considers a poison pill, inherited wealth.  I don’t have to make everything I do pay for itself.  I don’t have to sell other people’s messages for a living. But I can imagine people thinking, if there weren’t people like me around to dilute them, they could make a living by “selling” because everyone else would have to.

I’ve railed about identity politics here before, but the way I argue policy issues is relevant here.  Of course, I agree that current GOP plans for health care (variations of the Americam Healthcare Act) could, as structured now, throw millions off affordable health insurance, while solving problems of premium hikes for unneeded coverages for some people adversely affected by Obamacare’s implementation (and probably exacerbated by some states). I agree that the changes could affect racial minorities adversely.  They could also affect gay men (depending on what happens with PrEP and protease inhibitors).  But I don’t argue something because it hurts “me” or anyone as a “member of a group” (even though “belonging to groups” has become, unfortunately, the legal cornerstone of the way equal protection of the laws works).  One of the reasons AHCA would affect people in certain groups is the way it would shift the responsibility for Medicaid back to the states.  So it becomes a federalism problem.  States should do the right things, but we know from the history of Civil Rights through the 1960s that sometimes they didn’t (and we lost young men like Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney as a result in what was the moral equivalent of crucifixion).

I don’t respond personally to “Leftist” appeals for “resistance” because this policy hurts members of their particular client groups (even if I belong to one of them, and everyone belongs to something). I think you have to solve the problem analytically.  Some countries, like Switzerland, have kept an effective private health care sector in a way that works, and we could do that. I think you can have assigned risk pools again, so that rich people with pre-existing conditions can pay their own way (an inherent advantage of the GOP setup) but you have to subsidize the premiums of people in the middle class and below (tax cuts alone aren’t enough, you need subsidies, but you don’t need to use Medicaid as the vehicle for subsidies), or use reinsurance for excess claims.  You have to be determined to make it work, and you have to pay for it.  So maybe you can’t give the rich all their tax cuts.

Likewise, I reject group-oriented resistance politics on an issue like police profiling.  I understand Rudy Giuliani’s claims about how “broken windows” policing in the 1990s made New York City much safer than it had been in the 1970s when I lived there. But I have so say, that particularly a couple of independent films (“Whose Streets?” and “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes” and well as “I A Not Your Negro”) have pointed out that in some communities, police departments have regularly extorted fines from black residents with the “garbage jail” approach. This is illegal and even criminal and not acceptable.  Why won’t the usual system of litigation put a stop to this?

I’m left to ponder the mentality of the doomsday preppers, who think that civilization cannot be depended on, and that it is morally imperative for everyone to learn to become self-sufficient locally and within the family.

(Posted: Monday, May 22, 2017 at 11:30 AM EDT)

On “Solutions Sunday”: “Step outside of your own comfort zone”: Does that capacity really start with families?

This Sunday morning, CNN referred today as a “Solutions Sunday”, where people were encouraged to have Sunday dinner in a home with people of another race besides your own.  Republican Senator James Lankford on Oklahoma was one of the hosts.  Lankford said “Step outside your comfort zone and invite someone into your circle”.  Maybe your inner sanctum.

Despite living in an “inherited” trust house, I really haven’t been in the “business” of having guests at home, because I’m so busy with personal projects.  Events these days are nearly always in facilities.  So there’s nothing unusual about great diversity in public spaces, but I have to admit that at home it sounds a bit novel.

When I lived in New York City, and sometimes before in New Jersey, I did sometimes have house parties or events, and I have had a few house guests over the years, mostly related in the past to college, chess clubs, or people in the LGBT community (not just “tricks”, although that happened a little in the 1970s).  I’ve stayed with people , but very little since probably the 1970s. The largest event I ever held in my own space was an “Understanding” meeting (I think it was Wednesday, May 19) with about 25 people crowded into my own little studio apartment in the Cast Iron Building on E 11th St.

But it is very hard to help people without openness to letting it be personal if it need be (countering the “mind your own business” society), and for older adults, that’s often frankly easier when “you” have had and raised “your” own kids first.

I get a lot of pressure from others these days to become more open to “gratuitous” socializing and even dating, in my own home court, partly so that I don’t (at 73) remain “an accident waiting to happen” (to quote Jonathan Rauch in his mid 1990s book “Gay Marriage”).  Yes, I prefer to remain individually productive and get recognized for my content (but not just with hyperbolic phrases like “esteemed author”).  But it seems people see a continuum bridging fixing inequality in an economic or politic sense, and the way people actually make social and intimate “choices”.

Maybe nowhere is that idea so stark as in the issue of assisting refugees and asylum seekers, all over the world, but most of all in Europe, and then Canada, with the most comprehensive private sponsorship program in the world.

The New York Times has a booklet-length story today by Jodi Kantor and Katrin Eimhorn, “Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year;  Then Came Month 13”.  Refugee families were supposed to be cut loose from dependence on the private groups (usually of 5 people or 5 families, associated with various faith-based and sometimes secular groups) for rent and many other expenses.  (In the US, where there is no private sponsorship as such, refugee families get some benefits, but generally depend on congregational offerings for some of the rent, almost always in commercially run apartments;  in the US you have about 20 families in a congregation assisting one refugee family instead of just five as in Canada).  What’s interesting about the story is that in Canada, many of the refugees did not speak English and had few job skills, and needed intensive personal attention from sponsors.  In the US, generally, most of the refugees allowed in have male providers with considerable job skills and can speak English.  “Blame Canada”, as in “Southpark“?  The country seems to produce outstanding citizens.  Look how well they do in Hollywood.

The New York Times missive bares some comparison to how the Mariel boatlift was handled in 1980, where churches asked people to put up refugees (often LGBT) in their own homes, very suddenly, mainly in southern cities.  But it turned out that many refugees would need constant attention as many did not speak English and had no skills.  Very few found “sponsors” on the spur of the moment.

Asylum seekers, as I have covered here, face a different situation, as they (usually) have already been in the country legally because of school or job skills.  (That doesn’t include those put in detention and the border, and are generally released only if there are relatives who know them.)  Canada’s reputation of relative generosity (especially relative to Trump) has led to some US asylum seekers crossing into Canada, especially Manitoba.

I’ve covered more details on my own situation on another blog, here.

(Posted: Monday, March 27, 2017 at 12:15 AM EDT)

Women and most minorities don’t participate as well in online speech as well as “white men”

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The Center for Innovative Public Health Research in New York City has published a study “Online Harassment, Digital Abuse, and Cyberstalking in America” here (58 pages), by Amanda Lenhart and Kathryn Zickuhr, link.

An article on Quartz by Alice Marwick says “A new study suggests online harassment is pressuring women and minorities to self-censor.”

The Internet, most of all modern social media, was built largely by economically advantaged white and Asian men, the article goes.  It also says “straight”, but there is “masculine gay” (mirroring straight values about power and success) and there is, well, “queer”.

The people who built social media they way it is are personally not very vulnerable to harassment or risk.  (Imagine who invulnerable the young Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network”, even as played by Jesse Eisenberg, looks – as well as his dorm buddies (one or two of whom were gay).   But people in various “groups” often are, and that includes most women, except for the most competitive or individually successful.  Women may be less likely to share because of fear or retaliation or stalking.  And in some families, individuals have to be concerned about bringing harm upon other family members (besides spouses and direct children).

Personally, I don’t like to share events I am going to on Facebook ahead of time, for security reasons.  Yet some people run events and organizations in such a way that they expect others to “play ball” in the way they use social media.  That works better with people who use Facebook with full privacy settings.  I do use Facebook as a quasi-publishing tool.  That has its own risks, which are more connected to politics than directly to personhood.  But that’s become my life.

Because I use these platforms now as a publishing too, I am fully empowered as a participant in the debates and resent others trying to claim I need to support their speaking for me.  But the study indicates that online self-censorship, out of security concerns, limits the participation of minorities even in debates, in the ability to speak for themselves, with the effect of democratization the Internet is supposed to offer everyone in the West.

Another issue of self-censorship, though, is many college campuses, with their trigger warnings and speech codes.

(Published: Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

On immigration, race, IQ, and real need: science doesn’t seem to follow political ideology

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I had some discussions all day Sunday in New York City will old friends connected to my past experience at the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s and the Paul Rosenfels Community.

Some of that video should appear later, and other materials will also

I wanted to make some specific note of comments regarding my prospect for becoming more directly helpful to other people, especially with respect to the refugee and asylum seeker needs.

One comment concerns the “generous” treatment of refugees in western Europe, especially Germany, where the government reportedly built many new apartments from them.  Reportedly, when some time limits expired, some refugees expected to be kept housed in relatively luxury at state expense.  And there have been cases of burglaries and sexual assaults reported by a few young male refugees, and prosecutors are unwilling to pursue those guilty energetically for political reasons, leaving female victims without justice.

It was reported that western European governments, especially Angela Merkel’s Germany, have interfered with the press and media, and even amateur bloggers have gotten in trouble.  We usually hear this kind of things about China, Russia, and Middle Eastern countries.  There is “no freedom of speech” because the Welfare State wants to protect itself.

There was also some discussion as to whether immigration from poor countries is good for established countries today.  I’ve written before of the pro arguments from libertarian think tanks like Cato and Niskanen, and of the papers showing long term economic benefits of active immigration. Immigration helps the United States maintain its population at replacement levels.  But in Europe, the original populations we think of as “white European” are declining and replaced often by Muslim immigration and by less educated people with higher birth rates, to the point that implementation of Sharia law in some areas can no longer be viewed as a right-wing fantasy.  The “Aryan” birth rate plummets despite generous paid family leave, because taxes to support the welfare state (and immigrants) have been so high. At least, this is some of the thinking of the “Brexit” right.

Immigration may also be “brain-draining” poorer countries., who should be given more nudging to build their own infrastructure and economies, even with the help of ideas like private micro-lending.

But does immigration of poor and especially non-white populations weaken the “peoples” of the new host countries?  This gets into the taboo topic of genetics and race, that a few libertarian-leanings scholars (not just Charles Murray) have been willing to explore.  Here’s a piece from May 2014 by Nicholas Wade in Time Magazine.

Wade argues that populations, separated in different parts of the world, will usually develop some genetic differences that can affect IQ, cognitive sentience, and individual self-concept.  One important idea is the ability to delay gratification, which generally is associated with greater cognitive development, “seeing around corners”, and social maturity – and more accomplishments as individuals even at young ages.  It’s also generally associated with individualism and relatively liberal social values, but rather literal expectations of the rule of civil law, as we know it in the West.  Cognitive ability also resists tribalism and, with some nuance, a lot of religious fundamentalism, or a tendency to be drawn in into cults and mass movements.

Poorer populations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, have lower IQ’s because of childhood disease, poor nutrition, poor maternal care, and a host of reasons.  Some practices, like familial intra-marriage, affect genes (as do sickle cell).

It’s also important to remember that, when it comes to race, it’s not really about skin pigment itself (although evolving in a cold climate may stimulate innovation).  It’s more about geographical separation for long times.  Most Middle Eastern peoples are still “White” or Caucasian.  It seems possible that Caucasians in some areas may have inherited some Neanderthal genes, and kept me best ones in adapting to cold climates.

Interracial marriage and child-bearing may improve genetic variety in a people, because the genes of opposite-raced people may be more different with less possibility of genetic disease.  But marriage with a people of “inferior” genes because of some factors associated with historical isolation could weaken descendants. So racial intermixing, from a “natural selection” viewpoint, is indeed a mixed bag.

If someone is contemplating becoming involved deeply in helping refugees, that person might want to think about which refugees and asylees, and how valid the moral claim on his or her time or resources seems.

Some asylum seekers (as I noted on a comment posted today on my July 20 posting) may have indeed entered the country under legally questionable circumstances (such as smuggling through Mexico).  Donald Trump would be justified in stopping these kinds of entries into the country to start with (but then Trump, appealing to “lower IQ” voters, runs away with his profiling promises.  Some (like in my circumstances) might want to consider the “moral” claim underneath.  In the LGBT cases, it seems that the most disturbing aspect is that the asylum seeker had expected to return home after expiring a visa, when the home country (like Russia or Nigeria) passed a horrific law, so hosting an asylum seeker would, at least, be making a personal contribution to promoting international human rights.

One fact that I’ve so far overlooked, by the way, is that apparently in the LGBT cases, asylum must be applied for within one year of arrival (Jacob Kerr article from May 2015 in the Huffington index on LGBT asylum problems).

When it comes back to the question as to whether American private citizens should accept more personal risk and sacrifice to help refugees fleeing violence, many good questions arise.  Why don’t we have more aggressive sponsorship or housing programs (even involving private homes) for our own homeless or domestic violence survivors?  Why don’t we expect rich Muslim countries (like Qatar, UAE, etic) to do a lot more?

All of this sifts down, as I ponder what should be “expected” from me, having “inherited” a house that I don’t fully “need”.  I get the potential left-wing lectures (and sometimes hear them).  I must say, it could make sense to have responsible person living with me as I get older.  I wonder if there are programs to match domestic homeless with seniors, but I never hear about them at local churches.  I can imagine the benefits, and the difficulties.  If I get involved in this, it should be sometime that I know about and have written about.  Yes, the Russian problem sounds like it could be very much my business.

But the skepticism that many people feel about their being expected to welcome refugees and help asylum seekers does have some reasonable basis.  Donald Trump, though, appeals to the lowest common denominator – with irony.

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As for what I should do (and those Ninth Street Center talk groups would have demanded that I be “concrete” and use my own experience, not externalities in the world), I’m struck how housing someone means letting him depend on “me”.  That gets into issues like sponsorship or guardianship (legally murky at best).  The person I met with thought that being prepared to adopt or foster-parent children sounds more valid and perhaps prerequisite to housing refugees or asylees from foreign violence or discrimination.  And that would be easier to “contemplate” had I fathered my children (at least one).  She even thought that it is important for people entering marriages to accept the idea that the other partner may become dependent on them financially (most obviously during motherhood, but also illness).  I have to walk back to the irony of the conservative, meritocratic value system that precluded me from feeling interest in parenthood as I came of age.

(Published: Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at 11: 45 PM EDT)

Prosecuting police for “profiling” misconduct will not be easy; look at Freddie Gray case

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The acquittal now of Caesar Goodson in the Freddie Gray case  (CNN story, NY Times story) suggests that criminal prosecutions of the six officers will not be successful, and that Maryln Mosby has grossly overcharged.

On CNN’s “Legal Guys” Saturday, defense attorney Richard Herman said bluntly that you cannot use prosecution just to prevent riots. Herman believes there should not be any more trials.  “Hot Air” offers a similar perspective.

The bench trial probably helped the defendants, as a judge is more likely to apply criminal law literally and not consider politics or victims’ emotions, as a jury might.

The Baltimore Sun had discussed a novel theory for prosecuting Nero, which the judge did not buy, based on the fact that Gray should not have been arrested in the first place.

I did film some of the protest marches in Washington DC in late 2014, and visited the site in Baltimore’s Sandtown the last week of April 2015.  But I suppose people will come on me, that I don’t “join in” with protests, as if that were beneath me.

It does seem that the officers in the Freddie Gray case and in most of the similar cases around the nation behaved improperly, used excessive force, used racial profiling, and particularly failed to provide medical assistance when needed.  (The Darien Hunt case in Utah is interesting.)  Non-violent protests are quite justified, as are civil lawsuits.  I don’t know where police actually have criminal liability in cases like this.  In Maryland, according to the judge, the bar set by state law for a criminal prosecution of police officers is quite high.  It may be lower in other states.  Legislatures could review the wording of statutes in these situations.  Such review seems needed in Maryland. The future use of body cameras as evidence certainly needs careful attention.

The one major case where I disagree with the protestors a lot is the original incident in Ferguson, Mo.   In this case, it appears that Michael Brown’s own behavior (starting with an apparent petty offense in the convenience store and then his actions when confronted by Darren Wilson) had a lot to do with the tragic outcome.  In fact, Michael Brown supposedly had a promising future with college, and his behavior seems inexplicable.  That Wilson would wind up practically living in hiding is totally unacceptable.  Wilson’s defense seems, objectively, credible.  But this is not the case with most of the other high profile cases involving police misconduct or profiling.

(Published: Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 2:15 PM EDT)

Supreme Court upholds very narrowly tailored race-conscious affirmative action at University of Texas, Austin

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The Supreme Court has upheld the University of Texas admissions program, that takes race into consideration in admissions decisions for students who don’t otherwise automatically get admitted by grades or finishing in the top 10% of  a class.  The vote was 4-3, with Justice Kennedy voting to accept the program. The opinion for Fisher v. University of Texas is here.

Ariane de Vogue has a typical story on CNN

Experts say that the ruling was narrow (staying barely within the Equal Protection Clause) but could provide a “roadmap” for other universities to follow.

The plaintiff had been Abigail Fisher, a white woman who had argued essentially reverse discrimination.

Lambda Legal, curiously, went out of the way to support the decision today in providing the Amicus brief from the National Women’s Law Center, embedded here.

I have never been a fan of affirmative action for its own sake, and I have never warmed up for “fighting for my rights” only as a member of a group and nothing more (therefore having to fit into the socialization within the group).  I guess that makes me a bit spoiled.

Back in 1997, when I was placing a copy of my new DADT book in a bookstore in Richmond, VA, I was surprised when the (white) owner spoke so firmly for affirmative action.

(Published: Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 2 PM EDT)