Feeling The Bern & The Rage on The Road

I displayed my support of a political candidate who is unpopular in my geographic area, and learned something important.

Feeling The Bern & The Rage on The Road

Yes, I am a proud supporter of the Bernie Sanders campaign and I am not afraid to defend it. In fact, I have chosen to be so much of a supporter that I’ve donated a few times in small amounts to his campaign and have since received a moderately sized “BERNIE 2016” sticker. After several weeks of reluctance and uncertainty, I decided to utilize the sticker and place it in the rear windshield of my truck. What has come to follow since the placement of the decal on my vehicle came as a bit of a surprise.

In the last several weeks I have received a handful of harsh glances, dirty stares, and been victim to rather uncomfortable instances of road rage. This particular vehicle has been in my family’s possession for a couple of years, with zero encounters such as these recent ones. At first, I brushed the interactions off and thought nothing about it. After the most recent involvements of road rage, where a “large, lifted, old-dirty truck” came speeding up alongside me only to roll his window down to greet me with a mean stare as he exhaled a cloud of e-smoke, I could not help but start to consider the alternative. Maybe I am being politically profiled when in my truck — to the degree that I am being judged and often a victim of reckless driving habits from others on the road.

Thinking about these encounters that I have been involved in since I placed the Bernie Sanders sticker in my truck’s rear windshield has gotten me to consider something that I haven’t been able to in this degree. I’m now a target for judgment, and ultimately road-rage, based solely on the sticker that I placed on my rear windshield is something that I chose to bring upon myself. I chose to support Bernie with my money. I chose to place the sticker on my vehicle. I choose to drive it, rather than my other car, when going about town. All of these things I have chosen, and if I ever feel that it becomes to be too dangerous to me or my family’s safety I can remove the sticker at any moment. At any time I can remove the “BERNIE 2016” sticker and go about my business forgetting about what it had caused me and not have to worry about it happening again.

But what if I were Muslim?

But what if I were black?

What if I was an undocumented farm worker from Mexico trying to achieve citizenship while working hard to support my family here in the California Central Valley?

What if I were poor?

What if I were disabled?

What if I were physically different in a way that caused the majority of those around me to judge me and think less of me?

If I were any of those people (and, frankly, the list could go on for several dozen more examples) I would have no choice other than embracing who I was and live each and every day within my skin regardless of the judgment or persecution that comes with it. The black protestors sucker punched at a Trump rally can’t suddenly become white. A family that attends the mosque by Fresno State could not suddenly become Christian to avoid the unfortunate “guilty-by-association” blowback received after the San Bernardino incident last December. There is no opportunity to remove the stereotype, no objection to truth, no ability to remove a label that causes others to look differently toward me. The danger that comes with your appearance or circumstance cannot be avoided or removed.

I could very easily remove the Bernie sticker from my vehicle, but I won’t. I admire those individuals that are able to, despite outward persecution, go on living their life as who they are. A sticker on my truck proclaiming a political platform will never equate in the slightest bit being born in any situation as those mentioned above, but the least I can do is keep it there to give me a simple reminder of what it feels like to be of a negatively generalized group of which is persecuted. If the groups of people that we spend so much time persecuting because they are different can continue living life within their skin, then so can I. I can continue to stand up for what I believe. So can I continue to show what person I really am. So can I.


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Politics induce headaches. Music is therapy. Writing is the prescription. Hi. My name is Sean. I am a husband to a beautiful woman, whom I'm unworthy, and a father to two loving children, whom I'm grateful. Follow me on Twitter (@argyleeater) were I mostly deal fist and daggers in lazy 5 line non-sequitur poetry format.

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148 thoughts on “Feeling The Bern & The Rage on The Road

  1. I think this post goes a bit too far in assuming some people have zero agency in culture.

    Speaking as someone who leans Right, the black protester at a Trump rally could just easily have been attacked if they were white. Likewise, a black Trump supporter would probably have found acceptance, because certain conservatives love it when they find a Right leaning black person.

    I also think the Muslim, the illegal immigrant, poor, etc can integrate quite a bit if they choose to squash their personal identity. It’s when they celebrate who they are, like you do with your bumper sticker, that they open themselves up to persecution. That IS a choice.

    Is there appearance-based persecution? Of course. But there are choices that get made even then.

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    • I also think the Muslim, the illegal immigrant, poor, etc can integrate quite a bit if they choose to squash their personal identity. It’s when they celebrate who they are, like you do with your bumper sticker, that they open themselves up to persecution.

      It’s a choice in the same way that paying taxes etc is a choice.

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    • — Don’t make excuses for bigotry. Some of this is really clear, and when viewed in the aggregate it is damning.

      I did not choose to be transgender. I had one choice, actually: to hide or not to hide. For decades I chose to hide. I hated it. It was soul crushing. In fact, it is psychologically equivalent to clinical depression. It kills us just as depression kills. When it does not kill, it drains all the color from life.

      So now I live as “myself,” and about half this country hates me. They frequently let me know how much they hate me, often to my face. Sometimes it is subtle, and I cannot be certain if that guy just made a loud-obvious scoffing noise as I passed cuz I am trans, or if he just randomly does that. People sometimes need to spit, so I cannot be sure if they are just randomly spitting at my feet as I draw close. I cannot be sure.

      But I lived several decades as a (not really) “man.” They didn’t do this stuff before. They do it now.

      Sometimes, of course, it is not subtle.

      So yeah, I get to make choices. I get to choose where I go. I get to choose my clothes, my haircut, how I hold shoulders, how I walk, where I place my eyes. I can pick that stuff.

      But that choice is constrained. It exists in a matrix of cause-effect, which is determined by the fact I am a hated minority.

      DO NOT FUCKING DIMINISH THIS YOU CISSIE WHITEBREAD FUCKS!

      It is a big deal and it shapes every moment of my life. Even my alone-time, I carry this with me. It has the extrinsic parts, that you can see, but all the inner stuff that you cannot see.

      I deal with this. You do not. You know nothing Jon Snow.

      If a Bernie sticker gives someone a glimpse of what it means to be a hated minority, that seems a good thing. But do not forget, it is a glimpse. The full measure is much more.

      Which is the thing about being trans. I lived years with only glimpses, then I transitioned and got a crash course, the full measure.

      Fuck it, you have no idea.

      Blah.

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      • So let’s get a couple things out of the way up front:

        1) While I am probably a lot more sympathetic to what you have gone through than you would ever give me credit for, it also gets a little redundant when you manage to link so many different post topics to your personal struggle and take the opportunity to tell us, again, how tough you have it. I truly value your opinion, but if all roads lead to, “Let me tell you how hard it is to be transgender,” then your responses become pretty predictable. Ending every one of these lectures with a tirade about privileged ciss folks makes it even worse. Which leads me to my second item.

        2) Your personal experiences, terrible as they may have been, do not give you the right to name-call, or just generally be a jerk every time someone pushes one of your buttons. So remarks like this…

        DO NOT FUCKING DIMINISH THIS YOU CISSIE WHITEBREAD FUCKS!

        …are not okay. So consider this a warning.

        *whew*

        So, let me be clear here on what I was getting at with my previous comment. Cultural identity, which is the identity we present to the rest of the world, is not set in stone. We can adapt our appearance, the way we talk, our behavior, etc. I think it’s fair to say most of us do this daily. For example, I might ramp up my Southern drawl when I’m in New England because the girls there think it’s charming, or I might dress different at the country club than I do when I’m at the farm. Lucky for me (being white, male and ciss gendered) I don’t really catch static for any of my cultural identities. Others aren’t as lucky. I am not suggesting that anyone change who they are, just to fit in, but at the same time the OP implies that people have no cultural agency, which is also untrue. A poor white person will, in their lifetime, experience far less prejudice than a middle class black person. Not all black people are going to get attacked at a Trump rally. Muslims are not all treated the same, based on the visual markers they choose to present.

        All I am saying is, if we’re going to talk about this stuff, let’s be accurate.

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        • — I’m calling BS. What you said is deeply misguided and deeply offensive. It is presumptuous in a terrible way.

          The point is, you are ignorant, and I’ve lived this and thus can say how much you are ignorant. So yeah, I’m gonna keep bringing up my own life, cuz in my experience this stuff is really hard to understand for those who have not lived it.

          However, “hard to understand” does not mean “impossible to understand,” but you gotta listen. That’s on you. I ain’t the only person saying this, just the only person saying it here.

          It is not just about being transgender. It is about being any hated minority. But there are few people on this forum who are members of a widely hated minority. Many of them don’t post much, and limit what they say. So I speak up.

          Back before I transitioned, every so often I would hear a black person say that they actually prefered open racists over “good white liberals,” and I couldn’t understand that. But now, after a few years of being widely hated myself, I kinda get it. It’s like, you can try to fit in. You really can. You can put on the face others want to see, but sooner or later they remind you that, nope, you don’t really, not actually, not completely.

          For we trans gals, it’s often, we have a cis friend who is “totes cool” with trans stuff, and then one day she pulls the “real woman card” on you, plus the “tolerance card.” Like, she disagrees with you on some random topic, and all of a sudden she’s bringing up your trans status and her open-mindedness and how “not really a woman” you are and how great she is for “accepting” you.

          And fuck that. “Accepting me” ain’t doing me a favor. It’s a basic bare minimum, and if it’s provisional, then she can fuck off.

          Do you get that? Do you have any understanding of the tremendous psychological cost of provisional acceptance?

          That is what I am trying to communicate. And sure, a muslim can choose not to wear her headscarf, a black man can choose to “act white” in some obvious way — and not only in sense of studying hard or not using the n-word, but in grooming and tastes and friends —

          There is this really funny joke I once heard. It goes like this: “What do you call a black doctor?”

          You know the punchline, right? I don’t have to say it, do I?

          If you’re a black person, you can bet that on the day you’re most relaxed, that you’re finally believing that you might fit in, that racism is not going to dominate your life — on that day — some asshole will drop that joke on you, and now you have to deal with that.

          False hope comes at a tremendous cost. When it is dashed, again and again, you stop hoping. Can you understand that?

          I don’t like to compare prejudice. I really don’t want to try to analyze if a person with a southern accent, living in the north, faces more or less prejudice than I do. How do I measure that?

          I’ll say this, if they find it easy to suppress their accent, in the sense of their personal identity, then the prejudice I face is worse. I literally cannot suppress being visibly trans, not while living any life even half worth living. A southerner can either bare to suppress their accent or they cannot. I don’t know.

          Do you understand? This is not about what happens on the outside. It is about what happens on the inside, the day in day out, the long years of pressure, the trauma.

          Being hated takes a toll. Being hated more takes a bigger toll. Being widely hated for an essential part of yourself can tear you down to nothing.

          #####

          What you said offends me, because my best friend is a trans woman who wants so much to do it. She wants the choice you think she has. But that choice is not real, not in any important way. It is limited by whatever provisional tolerance people will extend.

          In my case, I was a weirdo, punker kid in high school. Which, whatever. The point is, I never really wanted to just “be normal.” I mean, I don’t want to be hated, to be openly mocked, to be despised, feared, and to face the constant threat of violence. But all the same, I laughed when I first read this comic. I was like, yep, that’s me. That’s what life is like. I can rock that attitude. The idea terrifies my friend.

          She tries to make friends with cis women, and it’s just so hard. She passes well enough, but not quite perfectly. Maybe someday she’ll pull off “stealth,” but stealth comes at its own cost. She’s not sure she’ll make it. She’s not sure if she can ever be happy.

          Julia Serano talks about this. One anecdote is this: she was at a lesbian film festival. Afterward she was talking to some new friends, cis lesbians, who began to offer up opinions on one segment of the films, one that featured some queer trans women. The women began to mock the film segment, to mock the women in it, to say degrading things about their trans bodies. Julia Serano is, of course, transgender. She passes pretty well. Presumably her new friends had not realized she is trans.

          And now she has to deal with that.

          Indeed she has a choice. She can “come out” to them, and deal with the fallout. She can slink away, and realize that it’s not really safe to make cis friends. She can suck it up, say “well those are ‘out’ trans women and I pass so magically this is not about me.”

          Except of course sooner or later these other women will figure out she is trans — after all, she’s written two books on the topic. So there.

          I’m kinda glad I don’t really pass all that well. Stealth was never an option, so I don’t have to deal with that kind of pressure. It’s sounds weird, but it’s true.

          So yeah, we get certain choices, but not really. The choices we make are so deeply constrained, and those constraints are humiliating and monstrous and soul crushing. It’s like, maybe once or twice a week some asshole on the subway calls me a freak or a faggot or a tranny. This weekend I was bopping around Manhattan, and maybe three or four times some asshole said some shitty thing to me — which actually I got to flip them off and call them “assholes!” in New York City. Like, fuck yeah!

          I’m not what you would call “conflict averse.”

          The point is, that’s the smaller part of all of this. If that was all that prejudice is, I wouldn’t really care much. It’s the rest of it that is so hard. I got no fucking choice about that. Neither does the black person. Neither does the muslim. When you tell me it’s a choice, that makes it on me, and fuck that. Hate is the fault of the hater, all the way, zero ambiguity here.

          Some things are not complicated. Hate is the fault of the hater. Repeat it till you believe it.

          I’m a hated minority. I got no choice.

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          • So Veronica, that’s over 1000 words that still boils down to you talking about how tough your life is. I get it. Veronica’s life is tough. I also get that you probably know more about what’s it like to be treated poorly than most people. Is that what you need to hear?

            A couple of additional thoughts:

            1) What I hear from you a lot is that no one else gets it so we should all just shut up. So I have to ask, what is your purpose visiting this site? It can’t be that you are really open to other people’s opinions, because you tell us so often that we should keep them to ourselves. It might be some effort to spread your message about woe-is-the-life-of-the-transgendered, but you certainly aren’t presenting it in a way that is very sympathetic. So then what? Do you just need to vent from time to time so you find this a convenient place to go a few rounds with some white, cis, privileged males? And if you genuinely want to change minds, do you think you’re going about it the right way?

            2) While no, I don’t know much about the struggle of minorities, I do know a lot about the process of assimilation. I’ve studied it for nearly 20 years. There are hundreds of examples across history, both good and bad. The one thing I can tell you is near-universal is that successful assimilations usually involve the minority party taking an active role. It’s simply more effective and achieves faster results. So when you talk about being deeply offended, I’m also offended. I’m offended when you, or this post or anyone else suggests that minorities are merely bystanders in the fight for acceptance and that conditions are beyond their own control. That is simply not true and you know better. You’ve seen the way LGBT-lobbied legislation has improved the lives of people in those communities, while at the same time the media, entertainment, etc have come into homes and changed minds. That is not passive. It also means they are taking an active role in how they present themselves and owning their self image and cultural identity. THAT is exactly the kind of choice I was talking about in my first comment.

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            • — No, that is not just about my life. It is about many lives, and if you had a shred of reading comprehension you’d know that. For example, I mentioned my friend and her struggles. I also related these things to the struggles I hear communicated by other people, specifically racial minorities.

              I cannot believe you could read what I just wrote and miss those details. Furthermore, the worse kind of discourse is trying to reduce a difficult post on a complex topic to some half-assed, irresponsible reading. It’s childish and makes talking about this harder than it needs to be.

              In other words, when you say this “boils down to how hard my life is,” you’re being a dipwad. Cut that out.

              Obviously this is not just how hard it is to be trans. It is also about how hard it is communicate what it is like to be a hated minority, of many stripes. It is about a clumsy understanding of how assimilation works or what it is like to be an individual trying to negotiate these pressures — from someone whose knowledge of the topic seems deeply detached from the experience, and who holds hostility toward those of us who push back against your ignorance.

              You can choose to understand these things, and thus why centering the choices of hated minorities (rather than the pressures that come from hate) is going to be met with eyerolls and dismissal by those of us who experience these things. Or you can choose to cling to your ignorance and keep running your mouth.

              In other words, your behavior is analogous to the “wannabe badass” who talks big around actual combat veterans, and gives his bigmouth opinion of what he would do in combat, but he has never seen combat, nor will he. At best they laugh and mock him behind his back. At worst, they tell him what they think.

              I know what it is like to be widely hated. I know what these pressures have done to me. I see what they do to my friends. I see us making a variety of choices, with a variety of results, all shaped by the bigotry we face. The point is, much of this is hidden if you only watch it from the outside.

              In other words, the world is thick with whitebread cisbros who have much to say about what minorities ought to do, but little to say about what bigots ought to do. You are MLK’s “white moderate” and all that implies. And while I’m no MLK (to say the least), I share his contempt for pontificating privileged folks with no real insight.

              In other words, I have context and perspective. I am sharing that with you.

              I am not always nice about it. I got tired of hand-holding and ego-stroking some time ago. Sorry. Been there. Got the tee shirt. Moved on.

              #####

              I don’t owe you an explanation of why I post here. It’s a bullshit question and you know it.

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              • I read your last comment, though I must admit it is hard to pick out all the details you talked about when you choose to cover so much ground. So it wasn’t a lack of reading comprehension but rather me deciding not to play along and respond in kind with 1000 words of my own.

                With that said, this:

                “In other words, your behavior is analogous to the “wannabe badass” who talks big around actual combat veterans, and gives his bigmouth opinion of what he would do in combat, but he has never seen combat, nor will he. At best they laugh and mock him behind his back. At worst, they tell him what they think.

                I know what it is like to be widely hated. I know what these pressures have done to me. I see what they do to my friends. I see us making a variety of choices, with a variety of results, all shaped by the bigotry we face. The point is, much of this is hidden if you only watch it from the outside.

                In other words, the world is thick with whitebread cisbros who have much to say about what minorities ought to do, but little to say about what bigots ought to do. You are MLK’s “white moderate” and all that implies. And while I’m no MLK (to say the least), I share his contempt for pontificating privileged folks with no real insight.”

                This is three additional paragraphs which are (again) you telling me that my opinion means nothing. And that’s fine, you’re entitled to feel that way. But since it means nothing, there’s really nothing else for you and I to talk about, is there?

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                • Blah. Whatever.

                  It’s like, I guess there are a few things I would like people to understand.

                  First, my life is not miserable, nor have I called it that. Often I use strong language about what happens to me, but if you read carefully you’ll see that I’m referring to the bigotry itself as “terrible,” not my life.

                  I guess that is a subtle distinction, but it is an important one.

                  My life is unnecessarily hard. So yeah. Many folks have hard lives, but some of us have sustained bullshit from needless hate. You can decide for yourself if that matters, but if someone gets some shitty cancer or other disease, maybe it’s simply no one’s fault. Life is a veil of tears. When you are a hated minority, however — then fuckit yeah, it’s someone’s fault: the bigots. I think that makes a difference.

                  #####

                  I make analogies to combat veterans a lot. There is a reason for this: people who are not sympathetic to minorities and LGBT people (and so on) are often sympathetic to combat veterans — at least they pay lip service to combat veterans. (Their sympathy seems to dry up when it comes down to political will. Which, I’m no better, so whatevs.)

                  The point is, if people on this forum spent a lot of time talking about combat and war and veterans issues, but the forum had very few actual veterans, then it would be no surprise if some of the more outspoken veterans found themselves frequently speaking up and correcting ignorance. If this ignorance was commonplace and deeply ill-informed, they might find themselves speaking up a lot. If the ignorance was also hella presumptuous, these might be difficult conversations. Sometimes people might say bad words.

                  So your impatience with my “broken record” effect is bullshit. It comes from your own intransigence — and this goes for many of you on this forum. In other words, I might be the only person saying this (although on this thread there are others). Likewise I might say it a lot. Fine. But neither implies that this stuff does not need to be said.

                  I relate things to personal experience because personal experience is how I know these things. In other words, my experience is relevant.

                  Like, if you find yourself asking, “What does the experience of an actual hated minority person have to do with my theory of hated minorities”? — then you’ve gone wrong somewhere.

                  Of course, not every minority person agrees with me. Certainly not every trans woman does. You’re hearing my voice, but not others. But it’s not my fault that diversity kind of sucks on this forum. All I can say is, I do my small part by being a minority here, despite having to deal with bullshit.

                  Part of having a voice is using that voice, or do you only want “nice” minorities, one of the “good ones,” off which to bounce your terrible ideas?

                  Blah. Don’t answer that.

                  #####

                  On assimilation, I have an example to offer. So far as I can tell American Muslims did pretty much everything right, except abandoning Islam. They opened businesses, flew their flags, helped the government, did it all. They were precisely “good Americans.” Many (I hope most) still are.

                  Then 9-11 happened and none of it mattered much. They were hated. They could fly all the flags in the world and they were still “fucking sand ni—rs” or “towelheads.” They were getting murdered and hated and spat upon, on and on.

                  And yeah, some “good white liberals” stepped up and stood in front of mosques. Good. That is admirable, although one wonders, how many of those “good white liberals” were presumptuous jerks who combined their “ally status” with the right to lecture Muslims?

                  That’s a thing, right? You get that? The whole, “I’m helping you, so you have to listen politely to my smug, presumptuous bullshit and if you talk back you’re one of ‘the bad ones’ and I will now lecture you more.”

                  Blah. Fucking ‘allies’.

                  I’m supposed to be grateful literally all the time regardless of the psychological load and fuck that.

                  “But veronica…” you say, followed by the same shit I’ve heard a million times.

                  Blah triple blah. Do not want.

                  Do you understand this stuff? Would you have thought of it yourself? I had no idea about any of this until I lived it.

                  #####

                  I don’t know what trans issues will be like in twenty years, never mind fifty. On the other hand, I might not be alive, certainly not for the latter. So whatever. I live today, under the pressures of today. The choices I make are choices today, with the give and take in front of me.

                  I cannot “choose to assimilate” — like, what does that even fucking mean? I cannot control what other trans people do, nor what those who hate us do, nor what our (so-called) allies do, nor much of anything really. When Caitlyn-fucking-Jenner “came out,” that changed shit and it was totally out of my control. The tabloids wanted a colorful tranny who would say dumb things, and Jenner gave them one. Which, of course. Women like her exist. They will serve themselves up to the media parade.

                  And as expected, the cis public ate it up. And I was stuck riding the train, getting stared at by assholes with a newfound interest in all things tranny.

                  Visibility is a two-edged sword. Do you have any idea? Probably not. It needs to be explained. You need to listen.

                  Or not. Instead you can pontificate from ignorance. I learned this stuff the hard way. You can learn by listening. There is no other way.

                  But my choices — I can choose what to wear, how to carry myself, my posture, my gaze, how much to smile, how to respond to open insults, how to respond to all the subtle maybe-probably insults, on and on. Yeah I get to choose.

                  Your bad sociology (or whatever) seems to have taught you nothing about what these choices are actually like.

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                  • The problem I have, which repeats itself with every one of your comments to me on this thread, is that you don’t seem to be able to share your story and attempt to be persuasive without taking every opportunity to tell me (and others) that we are wrong and need to shut up and listen. It’s a terrible communication tactic and accomplishes almost nothing. On the other hand, as I pointed out in another comment, there have been members of minority communities that are important to the history of this site, who have never taken that approach and in my opinion they have probably done a lot more to help the cause of acceptance.

                    Now you might reply back that you shouldn’t have to change who you are, or moderate your message, or play language games to not hurt the delicate sensibilities of the privileged class…and you are certainly entitled to feel that way. It’s just disappointing to me that someone who has a voice that is unique to this site seems to not really want to have a dialogue with many of us. Obviously you are bright, passionate and willing to share, but it doesn’t work when you keep feeling the need to tell the other side how wrong they are. So again, you do what is true to you, but I don’t really see much point in you and I discussing this further.

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                    • That’s seriously condescending at hell. If my approach doesn’t work on you, yours just makes me think you’re an gigantic smug ass without a sketch of sense. So whatever. I don’t like you. I don’t pretend to like people I don’t like. I didn’t like you from your first post on this topic, when you stormed in with you ignorance. Pretending we have a choice we don’t have is serious bullshit. I don’t play nice with that topic. I don’t hold hands.

                      Furthermore, you’re not an ally. Just cuz you’re not (I guess) openly bigoted doesn’t mean much, except you’re not openly bigoted. But so what? That’s a bare minimum. No cookies for simply not being the worst. You ain’t helping.

                      Anyway, there is nothing left to say here that is not simply personal.

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                      • This got started with pointing out that the phrase “CISSIE WHITEBREAD FUCKS!” is not congruent with this site’s ideals. He was right about that. There were about a million different ways could have expressed the limits on the kinds of choices someone in her situation gets to make that did not involve the use of that epithet. Indeed, I think the comment was just fine up until that point, and it was just fine after it. Had it been “PLEASE DO NOT DIMINISH THIS PEOPLE!” I strongly doubt Mike would have engaged.

                        I’d been hoping that the matter would rest there. I’d been hoping for to say, “Hey, that was probably me getting very emotional about this, I am very emotional about this, it affects me personally every day.” Having been subjected that kind of experience entitles one to point out how unpleasant it is. It entitles one to plea for empathy. There is a ton of empathy for that in our community. We want to hear that story. I want to have that story told on these pages, even though I’ve heard similar stories before.

                        Having this story tell does not entitle one to violate the norms of this community. Calling people names, resorting to epithets are not within those norms. I endorse the caution that was given before about the slur. This is about as gentle a response to a violation of the comments policy as we have available.

                        As to the merits of Mike’s claim to empathy and Veronica’s dispute of his ally status, that’s a substantive disagreement between interlocutors, rather than a matter for further editorial intervention.

                        Seeing more than one flare-up in this thread is making me very seriously consider closing comments here. Which I guess in a way proves the point of the OP: displaying a Bernie Sanders sticker on the rear window of a truck’s cabin has turned out to really be a surprisingly contentious activity, even on these pages.

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                        • “Having this story tell does not entitle one to violate the norms of this community.”

                          Is it possible that we, as a community, would have arrived at different norms if the community and its norm-makers had more stories like ‘s informing their worldview?

                          I know this is getting meta but it seems like something we need to consider.

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                        • Thank you, . I agree that that one particular phrase was out of line, which is why I didn’t use language like that again on this thread. However, this:

                          …Had it been “PLEASE DO NOT DIMINISH THIS PEOPLE!” I strongly doubt Mike would have engaged.

                          I’d been hoping that the matter would rest there. I’d been hoping for to say, “Hey, that was probably me getting very emotional about this, I am very emotional about this, it affects me personally every day.” Having been subjected that kind of experience entitles one to point out how unpleasant it is. It entitles one to plea for empathy. There is a ton of empathy for that in our community. We want to hear that story. I want to have that story told on these pages, even though I’ve heard similar stories before.

                          Mike kind of specifically dismissed my experience and my stories and complained that I was overplaying that hand, etc. So yeah. Granted he did that after I ranted, but all the same, I’m actually kind tired of pointing out how this personally affects me. I think that should be a given. So I don’t know. There is a point where it seems clear, some people actually don’t care about what I experience and would rather not hear it. Personally I suspect this happens for simple, obvious, and not-so-nice reasons, namely that it contradicts what they want to believe.

                          In other words they see it as some sort of unfair trump card. Which actually, the “privilege argument” is really hard for just this reason. But that’s not my fault. It remains true that I know and they do not know.

                          There is no good way to talk about this. Being “nice” doesn’t really work. Cuz the problem isn’t “tone.” It’s they are wrong in awful ways, but it’s so pleasant to think and talk and reason and pontificate and on and on. One can speculate endlessly about things one knows little about. How unreasonable it is for those of us who indeed know, and who personally live in the thick of it, to open our big mouths and ruin the fun! says the privileged person.

                          So blah.

                          Anyway, if someone barges in to an otherwise thoughtful post with a “well maybe this is really about the choices minorities make” — OMG fuck that shit. My saying, “Gee that hurts my feelings,” while true, hardly seems a sufficient objection. Some ideas are grotesque.

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              • I wonder if will show up and tell Veronica that she’s shouldn’t feel so insulted and that she’s being “kinda pathetic”. I doubt though whenever i object to the way high SES liberals treat working class white he rushes in to tell me I’m being to sensitive. While he thinks that working class whites should shut up and take the insults from high SES liberal assholes, he’d never tell veronica the same thing.

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                • What insults have we done this time, dammit?
                  You seem to think that every high falutin’ liberal works at Harvard.
                  I’ll stand with grannydoc, and folks that ain’t too proud to head on down to the dump to talk to the folks that sit there to pick through the trash.

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                  • I have never once said all liberals; I have always specified high SES liberals. I have no objection to working class Hispanics or Iran Range miners. Why is it that people always think “high SES liberals” means the same thing as “liberals”? I suspect it’s because most people here think SES liberal is a redundancy.

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                    • Grannydoc counted as a high SES liberal (college professor in psychology, fwiw).

                      I suppose I ought to count myself as high SES liberal — I do live in Squirrel Hill, in Pittsburgh Proper.

                      Question still remains: what the hell have we done now?

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                      • What the heck is a “high SES” liberal anyhow? Am I one? I mean, I work for a big tech company in our office in Cambridge, MA. I suppose I must be.

                        It seems pretty unfair to slag people cuz they are low income, or cuz they like tractor pulls or fishing or whatever. You make the money you can make. Correspondingly, building big engines and catching fish seem like lovely interests, even if I do not share those interests.

                        But yeah, I’ve seen people slag “country folks.” Likewise I’ve seen them slag “plain folks.” Fine. That stuff sucks. Certainly we have bad economic policy aplenty, and plenty of bad politics all around. On the other hand — well, who votes for whom?

                        Plenty of queers and minorities are themselves “country folks” or “plain folks.” Plenty are rural, or working class, or from gutted-out rustbelt towns. They get a triple whammy. Everyone hates them.

                        That said, economic shit is different from raw hate. They’re related. Obviously this stuff gets mixed together when politics happens. But saying, “My factory got closed” is different from saying, “I frequently get harassed on the subway.”

                        I mean, they both suck, but economics is kinda giant and impersonal, where hate is in-your-face. The politics around each are different, so maybe the conversation around each needs to be different. I dunno. I don’t have good answers.

                        #####

                        That said, personal shit is personal. Like, if someone hates me personally, that does not mean they hate trans folks. I’m my own person with my own way. Likewise, there are a number of people here, somewhat right of center, who are complete asswipes most of the time. I don’t respect them at all, cuz they are passive-aggressive little ninnies and creeps. So yeah. This does not mean I hate working class people, nor country folks, nor “plain folks,” whatever. I hate spineless jerks. Not the same thing.

                        Likewise, I fucking hate evangelicals and bigots, along with the idiots who keep electing them. That should be pretty clear. So yeah. The entire contemporary Republican party is a tragic mass of stupid. I’m gonna say that plain.

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                        • Socioeconomic Status is like sex.

                          People who have a great deal of it don’t understand why people who don’t have a whole lot of it feel as much resentment as they do.

                          The entire contemporary Republican party is a tragic mass of stupid. I’m gonna say that plain.

                          The issue of “how will we, as a society, deal with the stupid?” is one hell of an issue. I’m not sure that we, as a society, have the stomach to discuss it.

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                  • Your pompous jerk who can’t handle it when someone points out your hypocrisy. You and others here who are very sensitive to the concerns of veronica respond to my concerns about liberal cclassism with nothing dismissiveness and condescension. Have you ever worked a service industry job where all of your customers are high SES liberals? I have and condescending jerks like you made my life miserable. People like you run everything in this country but can’t handle it when some random prole insults you. I’m not treating you any worse than you’ve treated me. People like you talk about how “punching up” is ok then act all defensive when someone punches up at you. It proves that you don’t really believe in the punching up/punching down dichotomy but invented it as an excuse to attack low SES whites. If you and your ilk want to punch down at working class whites then you shouldn’t object to working class whites punching down a blacks.

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                    • IF you were actually punching up, we’d be laughing.
                      I can laugh at Sterling Archer, and I can laugh at anti-Semitic jokes too. I laugh at Holocaust jokes, for god’s sake.

                      So, if you’ve got something in particular to make fun of — fine.

                      (Yeah, it’s a little silly below, when Krugman is ticked with Sanders for being “insufficiently pro-soda tax”. Isn’t that a silly thing to talk about when it comes to an election??).

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                      • IF you were actually punching up, we’d be laughing.

                        How the hell am I not really punching up? Is it because you think high SES liberals should be given carte blanche on snobbery because they support the right economic policies?

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                        • I, as a general rule, have pretty damn fucking low standards for jokes. Even “oddball off the wall comments” are often funny for me.

                          So, um, if you want to grab an example or two, and make it insightful (remember the old “why do the anti-abortion girls look like ones you’d never want to bang in the first place?” Low Standards, people!), well, then you’d probably make me chuckle. (I could use a laff!)

                          Just sitting around and saying “You all is snobz!” isn’t humor. It’s insults, and not even good insult comedy (which I also appreciate.)

                          So all I’m saying is “step up your game” and “provide enough examples that folks can actually agree with you”.

                          Please bear in mind that nearly nobody thinks they’re a snob (Saul Excepted!) — and since that word is kinda insulting, well, ya kinda do need some justification.

                          “OMG, I can’t BELIEVE you actually shop at a Shop ‘N Save!!?! It like totally has rats and stuff in there.”
                          “Dude, it’s the only supermarket I can walk to.”

                          There. that’s a joke about some upper SES liberal (clueless college student varietal) just not getting the person they’re talking to on the bus (because upper SES liberals take the bus).

                          I’m not saying it’s a GOOD joke. If I wasn’t using it as an illustration, I’d delete it in shame. But it’s trying, and were you trying just as hard, I’d give ya plenty of points.

                          Raise your game.

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                    • Would you all believe, I used to work at a service station/auto shop, and D. James Kennedy was one of my customers. Yes, this guy.

                      Can you imagine!

                      He was as smug and smarmy as you might expect. I seldom “chatted” with him, you know, since, obvi. Funny thing, tho, he wasn’t my worst jerky, smug whitebread customer. Still.

                      The idea that these idiots are universally “liberals” seems wildly incorrect to me. Some were. Some were not. They were, many of them, rich and stuck up and smug and narcissistic. Quite a few were doctors or whatever. A few were “soccer mom” types, but the arrogant men were the worst. They drove fancy cars and demanded that I kiss their ass, while they droned on about golf and cigars and Rush Limbaugh and this great scotch they just bought.

                      Whatever. I like scotch. You can keep the golf and cigars and flush Rush in first public toilet you find.

                      Anyway yeah, I’ve worked a service sector job. I’ve even done construction. I’ve even dug ditches. I wouldn’t do that now. It’s really hard work.

                      I suspect any general dislike of “liberals” is a pretty bogus prejudice and not based on truth. But you get to have your own experience.

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                      • See I’m around high SES liberals all the time and a large part of my extended family consists of high SES liberals so I know a lot about them. It doesn’t surprise me a bit the high SES conservatives are as bad as high SES liberals, but I have personally never been around high SES conservatives so I wouldn’t know(I believe that had unpleasant experiences with high SES Mormons). High SES conservatives don’t pretend to support the working class while hating all working class people that actually exist; George Will and Tucker Carson don’t pretend to be men of the people.

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                        • I’m generally okay with anyone who doesn’t think that rape and arson and property destruction are a “good time.” (and no, I’m not saying all workingclass people find this stuff fun. I can cite my sources, and I know who I’m talking about).

                          Whether that’s truckers or garbagemen, janitors or Google engineers, I genuinely don’t care.

                          If you leave me alone, I don’t care. (but please, don’t show up to work with a slit throat and only duct tape to keep it shut. That’s a health hazard. Also a true story).

                          I may not like tractor pulls (haven’t been, so I’d like to go, honestly), but, really, what’s it to me? TRUCKASAURUS is awesome, though, so there’s that.

                          I know hunters, I know fishermen — I take good notes, though I’m probably never gonna need them.

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                        • I’ll agree that smug hipsters in trucker hats who wouldn’t be caught dead talking to an actual trucker are — well — smug ninnies. You are correct to dislike those people. They are phonies.

                          I mean, I have a few friends in that demographic, who kinda rise above the general nonsense. So anyway. Clueless kids are clueless.

                          Then there are the “university types,” full of big words and big ideas, but who appear visibly uncomfortable around anyone who isn’t a “university type” — although near as I can tell, male “university types” are as much a threat to women as any construction guy ever could be. I mean, the construction guy is more likely to say shit about your ass as you pass by. Which, whatever. I do have a nice ass, thank you. The “university guy,” on the other hand, is more likely to demand sex or else ruin your career, which seems scary and horrible. Which guy makes women uncomfortable?

                          Blah. Sometimes people are unwise.

                          That said, a lot of young, rough, working-class dudes go out of their way to appear intimidating. I mean, I think I understand why they do this. But still, as a visibly transgender woman, they sometimes succeed in intimidating me. So that’s a thing.

                          I want to arrive home safe.

                          Would I go to a party thrown by a working-class Irish Southie type, which I knew would mostly be attended by other working-class Irish Southie types?

                          I mean, maybe, maybe not. That is not a simple question.

                          Does that mean I “look down” on these folks?

                          That is also not a simple question. It’s complicated.

                          I might go, depending on how well I knew the host, how much I trusted them. Would they have my back?

                          I have hard rocker friends who live in rustbelt towns and work in motorcycle shops (and so forth), and I’d go to their parties — cuz they’ve proven they’ll stand up for me, and do hard shit if needed.

                          Except I’m not talking to my ex-g/f anymore, and these are mostly her friends, so I’m thinking I’ll probably drift out of that social circle. I like the guys. But they’re “her friends,” so yeah.

                          Will my next g/f be working-class? I mean, it was complicated. Our class differences made shit hard, in unavoidable ways. That’s how life works.

                          On the other hand, when you’re a tranny dyke who mostly dates other trans women, you don’t get to be very choosy. In fact, the two women I’m now sorta interested in are both working-class. One is an ex-mechanic, in fact. So yeah. Cross your fingers, cross your toes.

                          I’m very lonely right now.

                          The thing is, tho, the woman I love most is a super-sheltered utterly posh Massachusetts liberal girl who has never got her hands dirty doing anything rough.

                          ‘Cept she doesn’t love me back, cuz everything is terrible.

                          It’s a complicated world. But most LGBT people ain’t rich white liberals. Those smug gay men with great jobs you see on TV — they exist. I know a few. But they are not most gay men, not even close. We trannies — we are legion, and we come from all walks of life, and some of us fix tractors.

                          (I don’t. I’m a math nerd. But whatever.)

                          But my ex-g/f, who’s bound to suffer more from anti-trans hate than me, cuz she doesn’t have the $$$ to avoid the crap like I do, she’s worked her hands raw in kitchens and on North Pacific fishing boats and her daddy was ex-Navy and her step-daddy was ex-Army and her mom lives on some ranch out in Montana now, and so I’m pretty sure she doesn’t look down on working-class folks.

                          But the republicans kinda want her dead, and the democrats largely do not. So yeah, don’t be an asshole when you vote.

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                          • “That said, a lot of young, rough, working-class dudes go out of their way to appear intimidating.”

                            they’re not the only ones. But some people know how to be intimidating mostly towards criminals. (Well, when they’re not playing the “sneak up behind someone and make them piss their pants when you say ‘excuse me’ ” game… trolls, capiche?)

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                    • well, you can slag me all you want; I really don’t care. But what’s contemptible is dragging in veronica into our little tiff.

                      so yeah, you’re a thin-skinned little bully desperate to find validation in abuse by liberals. So here it is.

                      Complaining about LGM here instead of there? Pathetic. Whining about some rich guy’s house in Malibu instead of engaging in the real issues on climate change? Pathetic. Insulting me in a thread I hadn’t even participated in? Pathetic. And, to be perfectly clear, it’s not your income or wealth that makes you pathetic, it’s what you write.

                      I think Veronica is an admirable person with a gripping life story. You, on the other hand, belong in the Rod Dreher school of perceived discrimination. You’re worse than contemptible; you’re boring.

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                      • Notice that I am giving Frances the consideration of responding to what you writes point for point but he never shows me the same consideration.

                        well, you can slag me all you want; I really don’t care. But what’s contemptible is dragging in veronica into our little tiff.

                        I only brought her into to point your hypocrisy. You say that I shouldn’t be so easily offended but don’t have any problem with veronica behaving the same way. You follow me around and insert yourself into any thread where I complain about liberal snobbery. Why does criticism of liberal snobbery bother you so much?

                        so yeah, you’re a thin-skinned little bully desperate to find validation in abuse by liberals.

                        You are a first rate Asshole who can’t handles criticism. One needs power in order to be a bully I don’t have any power, high SES liberal assholes like you on the hand control the mainstream media academia and Hollywood, you have the power not me.

                        Complaining about LGM here instead of there?

                        1) As far as I can tell LGM requires registration and bans anyone who voices a dissenting viewpoint.
                        2) People criticize things written elsewhere here all the time yet you only object when I do. When your fellow snobbish asshole Saul does it you don’t say anything.

                        Whining about some rich guy’s house in Malibu instead of engaging in the real issues on climate change?

                        How is the Malibu home not relevant to climate change?

                        And, to be perfectly clear, it’s not your income or wealth that makes you pathetic, it’s what you write.

                        What I write about is objection to snobbery. Whenever I do so you rush in and defend the snobs. Why does criticizing snobs bother you so much?

                        You, on the other hand, belong in the Rod Dreher school of perceived discrimination.

                        And you are a fucking asshole. Why should I have to put up with contempt of snobs anymore than veronica has to put up with the slights of transphobes? Are you claiming that there is no classism in America? That high SES liberals aren’t classist? I have never once denigrate liberals as a class I have always placed a qualifying word or words such as “high SES” or “Yuppie” before liberals, yet you ignore that and act like I’m talking about the Iron miner in Hibbing.

                        You’re worse than contemptible; you’re boring.

                        If that’s the way you feel stop responding to my posts, but you won’t do that you enjoy being a condescending asshole too much.

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                        • The problem with the whole “punching up/punching down” thing is that it immediately becomes a race to be the downest, which allows one to punch whomever one wishes.

                          As an obese person, let me tell you that you skinny bastards are the worst about this.

                          Anyway, let’s try *NOT* punching.

                          Dand? I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate that you’re saying it. I’m just going to ask you to not be venomous as you’re saying it.

                          Francis? I think that you’d do better to listen to what Dand’s saying as it’s fairly important and fairly representative of a world that most of us here don’t really interact with that often.

                          We’ve sorted ourselves away from views like Dand’s and, in doing so, have allowed ourselves to pretend that we’ve won arguments that we haven’t won. We’ve just moved away from… and because we don’t hear the opposition, we assume that they agree with us.

                          Also: don’t be venomous.

                          Jesus, people.

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                          • Punching up and punching down work pretty well in the big-obvious cases, like white-folks-versus-black-folks. There’s a big difference from slagging lilly-white-mc-whitebread cuz he likes bland food, and slagging black folks cuz — well, I don’t even want to type that shit.

                            Anyway, every aggrieved jerk wants to pretend there is symmetry here, in situations that are wildly asymmetric. Like, I’m kinda bored out of my mind with Tumblr-ninnies upset over the “down with cis” jokes.

                            Cuz the jokes are funny, particularly given the history of the whole meme.

                            (If you don’t know about it, it’s been going down for literally a year, and thus it’s a lot to summarize.)

                            Anyway, whatever.

                            Elitism sucks. That said, Dand sounds like a conspiratorial whackjob half the time, with his imagined army of smug liberals pulling all the strings. It’s not really like that.

                            Which is to say, resentment untethered from reality is it’s own kind of failure.

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                            • Every case is obvious to the puncher and obvious to the punched.

                              “That person had it coming” in the former case and “I didn’t have that coming!” in the latter.

                              I suppose it’s our job to bust out the intersectionality scales and hammer out the extent to which the punchee had it coming (indeed, we all have it coming) and the extent to which the puncher should not have punched the punchee independently of whether the punchee had it coming.

                              Maybe if the puncher were 1/32nd Cherokee…

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                              • Fine. But you and I get to talk to each other based on our shared reality, not based on what some other people think. So, do you think that there is symmetry between some “whitebread mayonnaise” joke and anti-black jokes?

                                Seriously question, do you think they are symmetrical?

                                The fact that not everyone will agree is true, but so what? Not everyone agrees even if we disagree on this — cuz like, you see the obvious thing, right? So to say, “This won’t work as a universal rule cuz there will be disagreement, instead use this other universal rule that …”

                                And there your brain should halt with an error condition, cuz you’ve introduced an impossible-to-meet criteria that you cannot meet either. There will never be universal agreement.

                                So maybe no one can poke fun at anyone else ever for any reason. That’s a rule — that no one will agree on.

                                In short, universal agreement is a dumb criteria that no rule, principle, idea, or otherwise that you have ever proposed on any topic at all ever could possibly meet. I can’t meet that criteria either.

                                But still, punch-up-don’t-punch-down is a pretty good rule about humor, otherwise we don’t really get to make jokes about silly people who act in groups. At the same time, there is a difference between anti-Mexican jokes and anti-rich-asshole jokes.

                                And sure, rich assholes probably feel differently. Duh. The entitled-but-endlessly-aggrieved jerkwad will make his noise, and we get to laugh, while at the same time seeing his “n-word” jokes for what they are.

                                Set your stakes. Step up. Let people see what you’re made of.

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                                • Seriously question, do you think they are symmetrical?

                                  If we’re talking about groups? Of course not.

                                  The problem is that we tell jokes about groups but the jokes are heard by individuals.

                                  At which point we start arguing with individuals and making points about the groups of which they are members… and all of the attendant unpleasantness that follows when an individual is some kind of unrepresentative sellout member of the groups about which we’re trying to make an important point by punching up at them.

                                  We punch up at groups.
                                  But individuals get punched.

                                  Is there symmetry between groups? Absolutely not.
                                  Is there symmetry between individuals?

                                  Well… that’s a really interesting question there, isn’t it?

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                                  • — Right, but you haven’t distinguished punch-up-don’t-punch down from literally any other principle one might apply to comedy. Which is to say, these sorts of things always require judgment. Likewise, they are always hard to codify, and in turn invite rules-lawyering. But these are general problems of human social interaction, not specific faults of punch-up-don’t-punch-down.

                                    For example, Burt just made a post re-asserting the commenting policy around here. In the post, he lists some examples, some general principles, and then specifically lays out the goals and desires, etc.

                                    This will be rules-lawyered. People will disagree. Of course they will. Does that mean these are bad principles, bad goals, etc?

                                    Over on Scott Alexander’s blog, he has a commenting policy that in part goes like this:

                                    When posting, be at least two of these things: 1) true, 2) necessary, and 3) kind.

                                    Those seem like good principles to me. Does everyone agree to them? Does everyone adhere to them? Does every agree on the marginal cases.

                                    Save for that once sentence I wrote, I would maintain that everything I posted on this article was true and necessary (but not so kind). Will there be universal agreement?

                                    To administer his blog, Scott will, on occasion, have to make a judgment call. No rule or principle, however thoughtful and well conceived, will replace that need.

                                    So it goes for punch-up-don’t-punch-down. You have to judge. You have to assert. You have to set stakes —

                                    — just like every other social interaction, cuz social stuff is pretty much impossible to fully codify.

                                    Let’s play the example game, which is relevant to what has been talking about. Is it okay to make redneck jokes?

                                    Well, there is much to say. Let us narrow it. Is it okay for me to make redneck jokes?

                                    I have made such jokes. I’ve laughed at many. I’ve seen The Daily Show style “Let’s make the bumpkin look stupid” segments. I’ve found them funny and sent links to my friends.

                                    As I became more involved in transgender activism and social justice, I began to realize something: I cannot in good conscious support this kind of behavior. I should not do it myself. I should not encourage others to.

                                    I like much about The Daily Show. They are surely “on my side.” But still, to be the good guys, one should strive to be continuously good.

                                    Slagging on “plain, simple folks” is punching down.

                                    As is slagging on nerdy virgin men with unkempt facial hair. “Neckbeard” is a slur. We should not use that word, no matter how much the chaos of #gamergate tempted us to.

                                    (My side fell short on this.)

                                    It is not okay to slag on trans folks. We get enough shit already. That said, if you wanna take some shots at Caitlyn Jenner, be my guest — fucking clueless privileged idiot that she is.

                                    But just don’t slag her for being trans. After all, your jokes will hit targets you did not intend.

                                    If you slag some asshole cuz they are fat, you don’t just insult them. You also insult other fat people. Slagging fat people is punching down.

                                    And yes, people will disagree, cuz they disagree. Duh.

                                    The TERFs complain that there is a “transgender mafia” that controls the media. It’s total hogwash. But whatever. In their conspiratorial minds it is true. They see attacking us as punching up.

                                    They’re fucking TERFs. They are wrong about many things.

                                    I once personally tangled with Steve-fucking-Sailer. (Can you imagine that shitshow!) Anyway, he complained that there was a cluster of super-genius trans women who were hyper-elite and deeply immoral and were dangerous, cuz they would come at you hard and use their super-brains to destroy your life. He mentioned that he’d tangled with such women before.

                                    I’m not making this up.

                                    Honestly I was just hoping he’s correct and that I’m in the cluster.

                                    (Sad, I know. I’m not always as admirable as I’d like.)

                                    Anyway, he sees attacking such women as punching up. I say he’s a complete fucking bigoted piece of shit. So whatever.

                                    I still cut way back on redneck jokes.

                                    Anyhow, punch-up-don’t-punch-down won’t settle every argument to everyone’s satisfaction, but neither will anything else. So what is different about punch-up-don’t-punch-down?

                                    I have a theory. It has to do with how the principle works against the normal distribution of social power. In other words, when it works correctly, it changes existing power dynamics. When things change existing power dynamics, there will often be resistance. Some will resist. Some will support. Quite unsurprisingly, who plays each role is often correlated with who is gaining versus losing power.

                                    Which, this is old-hat.

                                    And indeed, people will argue about who really has privilege. That doesn’t mean that privilege does not exist, nor that it is not an important analytical tool to understand social dynamics, nor that privileged people do not have unearned power, and disprivileged people unearned detriments, nor that we shouldn’t work to mitigate these differences, etc.

                                    In other words, just cuz some people are wrong about privilege dynamics, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Like everything else, this requires judgment.

                                    Did you think social stuff would be easy? Did you think there would be a nice, neat list of black-letter rules over which none would disagree?

                                    Of course there is conflict? Things are hard.

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                                    • The nature of comedy is such that nobody ought to be off-limits. Of course, the nature of comedy is also that if you’re making fun of a group you’re not in, you can be hurtful — sometimes accidentally, and sometimes on purpose.

                                      We can tell people that particular groups are off limits — and even create a sliding scale…

                                      Or we can just acknowledge that sometimes jokes don’t work, and sometimes even when they do work and are funny, you shouldn’t say them because they hurt. (General Audience jokes are different from ones you tell to a few close friends).

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                                      • As I said, it’s always a judgement call. If you’re a white person, and you think that, somehow, this anti-black joke will be different, well go ahead. I guess. Good luck with that.

                                        Don’t come crying to me if you get called a racist.

                                        On the other hand, if I take a cheap shot against narcissistic finance guys in Manhattan, well maybe I offend them. I can live with that.

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                                        • Good humor is insightful. Playing off stereotypes makes it entirely too easy to be boring. (Note: when the real joke is “look at how much they ain’t offended!” that’s a whole different kettle ‘o fish. Still probably shouldn’ta been put on national television)

                                          Eddie Murphy has a joke that he can’t tell anymore about San francisco — it’s crude, and over the top, and hilarious. But he can’t tell it anymore. Luckily, we have tapes.

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                                    • any other principle one might apply to comedy

                                      Are we applying these principles to comedy or are we seeing them as rules for public discourse or what?

                                      Because there are theories of comedy that say that you can get away with anything that is funny… and that rule seems like one that doesn’t map well to public discourse.

                                      Saying that comedy should only punch up is awesome but all you have to do is tell a story to the audience that places you down and, tah-dah, you can now make jokes about anybody. “You must be at least this much of a redneck to make jokes about safe spaces.”

                                      And that’s without getting into the whole “I can make that joke because here is my biography and you cannot make that joke because here is your biography” issue that always irritates the crap out of me because it feels like nothing so much as “testimonial” time at church and you’ve got all of these little kids running around wishing that they had better testimonies. That’s a formula for Mike Warnke.

                                      Over on Scott Alexander’s blog, he has a commenting policy that in part goes like this:

                                      When posting, be at least two of these things: 1) true, 2) necessary, and 3) kind.

                                      Those seem like good principles to me. Does everyone agree to them? Does everyone adhere to them? Does every agree on the marginal cases.

                                      Like most moral principles, I agree with these in the broad sense and will rules-lawyer them in the narrow.

                                      Save for that once sentence I wrote, I would maintain that everything I posted on this article was true and necessary (but not so kind). Will there be universal agreement?

                                      Pontius Pilate talks about this.
                                      I guess my question will be: what is the goal?
                                      If the goal is to bring light to the darkness, I’d ask whether such a thing is measurable (and, if so, how it’s going).
                                      If the goal is to berate the bad people into a sort of learned helplessness where they start to write a comment, hover over the “post comment” button, then say “eff it” and press the back button instead… well, I know that that one isn’t perfectly measurable but we can make educated guesses over time based on types of responses.
                                      If the goal is to feel better and steam clean one’s beef, well, I suppose that that’s qualitatively measurable.
                                      If the goal is to foster a particular type of community, I suppose that that’s qualitatively measurable too.

                                      To administer his blog, Scott will, on occasion, have to make a judgment call. No rule or principle, however thoughtful and well conceived, will replace that need.

                                      So it goes for punch-up-don’t-punch-down. You have to judge. You have to assert. You have to set stakes —

                                      — just like every other social interaction, cuz social stuff is pretty much impossible to fully codify.

                                      What’s the goal?

                                      Depending on what the goal is, that will change on the type of universal agreement we will push for.

                                      Is it okay to make redneck jokes?

                                      Well, there is much to say. Let us narrow it. Is it okay for me to make redneck jokes?

                                      Is it okay for someone with your biography to make jokes about people with their biography?

                                      I cannot in good conscious support this kind of behavior. I should not do it myself. I should not encourage others to.

                                      Is there a problem with still finding the jokes funny?
                                      Is it an issue with telling such jokes within earshot of people who won’t find them funny?
                                      Because the outgroup, man, there are jokes that I find hilarious about the outgroup. I try to only tell them to Maribou who goes on to tell me that I shouldn’t have made such a joke, even to her.

                                      The TERFs

                                      Much of my coming-of-age took place within a space where TERFs were ascendant. It was in the weird period between it being anti-feminist to not want to discuss Dworkin and it being anti-feminist to bring her theories up.

                                      Gender was much more of a social construct back then.

                                      I digress.

                                      Anyhow, punch-up-don’t-punch-down won’t settle every argument to everyone’s satisfaction, but neither will anything else. So what is different about punch-up-don’t-punch-down?

                                      Well, the old morality involved something akin to pacifism.
                                      What is different about punch-up-don’t-punch-down?
                                      It’s coming out and saying that punching is okay. I mean, depending on who is getting punched and who is punching. Here, read these biographies.
                                      Personally, I don’t think that we’re going to like where that ends up. Any weapon we say is allowable by the ingroup will be adoped by the outgroup. “It’s wrong to punch” is a fairly principled stand.

                                      And indeed, people will argue about who really has privilege. That doesn’t mean that privilege does not exist, nor that it is not an important analytical tool to understand social dynamics, nor that privileged people do not have unearned power, and disprivileged people unearned detriments, nor that we shouldn’t work to mitigate these differences, etc.

                                      In other words, just cuz some people are wrong about privilege dynamics, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Like everything else, this requires judgment.

                                      For what it’s worth, I think that Malcolm X had the better argument than Martin Luther King Jr.
                                      I’m not opposed to the idea of punching. I’d much rather it be out there and there be some form of peace through strength rather than an excel worksheet with allowable punch percentages.
                                      Better to argue “punching back is allowed and ought to be expected by those that punch and by establishing that expectation, we hope to achieve no punching” than “hey, it’s cool… I’m punching up.”

                                      Because we’re *ALL* punching up.

                                      I can prove it.
                                      Here, read my biography and my version of yours.

                                      But still, to be the good guys, one should strive to be continuously good.

                                      I could not possibly agree more with this.

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                            • Dand sounds like a conspiratorial whackjob half the time, with his imagined army of smug liberals pulling all the strings.

                              I’ve never suggested there is a conspiracy, just that the people who run cultural commanding heights are almost all high SES liberals.

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                          • Fair enough. Let me be perfectly civil.

                            The comparison between Dreher and Dand is apt; they both appear to be driven by ressentiment.

                            OK, now what? What does a society do with a large group of people full of anger, jealousy and rage and who appear to be immune to facts? Yes, the era of globalization has had enormous impacts on the US workforce, but there weren’t really a whole lot of alternatives. Nationalism and trade wars tend to make everyone worse off. And, for the record, it was liberals who fought hard for labor and environmental standards to be written into trade agreements, only to be defeated by the capitalists.

                            Another fact worth noting is that the US is manufacturing as much as it ever did. It’s just using a lot fewer people. Computerization and robotics is sweeping through industry after industry. Even law, as Saul has documented here.

                            There are no easy answers here for working class Americans. As Mencken may have written: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Communities are fading, families are being broken, some cities are faced with unprecedented losses of population. I certainly make no claim that I have a complete set of policy solutions.

                            But I did think that this blog was trying to develop a community that held to a certain intellectual standard. As much as I disagree with Mr. Deco’s point of view, he brings a consistent intellectual rigor. By contrast, my most recent tiff with Dand was in response to a comment that was largely incorrect.

                            As for my being mocking or contemptuous, my professional career was destroyed in the 2007 recession. My salary has been reduced by about half over the last 8 years. So no, I do not sneer at any group that has faced hardship as a result of the Great Recession.

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                            • This is far from civil:

                              “The comparison between Dreher and Dand is apt; they both appear to be driven by ressentiment.

                              OK, now what? What does a society do with a large group of people full of anger, jealousy and rage and who appear to be immune to facts?”

                              We’re pretty close to the point where this comment thread gets closed, since it has produced a not-insignificant amount of yuckiness on all sides. So let’s dial it back, pretty please.

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                            • The comparison between Dreher and Dand is apt; they both appear to be driven by ressentiment.

                              So it’s resent when object to the way that high SES liberal treat me like shit and make fun of the working class. I asked you this before and you didn’t answer: have you ever worked in a service industry job where your customers were entirely high SES liberals? I have and it is miserable. Why should the people who work in those jobs have to put up with it? People here seem to think that I’m getting my ideals from Rush Limbaugh when I’m getting them from firsthand experience. Your position seems to be that working class whites should shut up and take it when high SES liberals insult them. The lack of empathy that high SES liberals show for working class shows that high SES liberals don’t really care about poor people.

                              OK, now what? What does a society do with a large group of people full of anger, jealousy and rage and who appear to be immune to facts?

                              This could have just as easily been Mitt Romney talking about the 47%. Funny how high SES liberals do that as soon as anyone criticizes them.

                              There are no easy answers here for working class Americans. As Mencken may have written: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Communities are fading, families are being broken, some cities are faced with unprecedented losses of population. I certainly make no claim that I have a complete set of policy solutions.

                              How about Hollywood stop making shows Welcome to Myrtle Manor?
                              How about hipster photographers stop treating rural decay as something cool?
                              How about Ivy League professors stop claiming that people who live in trailer parks have privileged?
                              How about people stop telling redneck jocks?
                              How about not having NEA spend cultural items that appeal to the working class and not just the Saul’s of the world?

                              Why is it so hard to treat people with respect.
                              But I did think that this blog was trying to develop a community that held to a certain intellectual standard. As much as I disagree with Mr. Deco’s point of view, he brings a consistent intellectual rigor. By contrast, my most recent tiff with Dand was in response to a comment that was largely incorrect.

                              All I said was that environmentalists policies cost working class jobs, I never claimed that were responsible for 100% of the job losses. Are you actually claiming the environmentalist policy has resulted in zero job losses? I also suggested several policies that might help the people that were hurt by the decline of coal and timber; you conveniently ignored those so that you could treat me as a simple minded conservative. I have shown you far more respect than you have shown me.

                              So no, I do not sneer at any group that has faced hardship as a result of the Great Recession.

                              Then why do you feel the need to parachute in to every thread where I complain about classism from high SES Liberals and treat me like I’m an idiot for bringing it up. Why can’t high SES liberals ever acknowledge that they are often snobbish and condescending? They seem think that since they support the correct economic policies that they are entitled to treat actual working class people like shit.

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                            • And, for the record, it was liberals who fought hard for labor and environmental standards to be written into trade agreements, only to be defeated by the capitalists.

                              Why the sam hill would anyone want environmental regulations written into trade agreements? If there are externalities which damage the interests of a treating party (say, effluvia in the Rio Grande), these can be handled bilaterally. Countries with varying levels of prosperity value clean air, clean watercourses, and clean streets differently.

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                      • Whining about some rich guy’s house in Malibu instead of engaging in the real issues on climate change?

                        The issues most real would be the decay of academic culture and what happens when you have centrally directed financing of scientific research.

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                        • I’m not sure what you mean by ‘decay’. It appears that certain communities of scientists are becoming more politicized but there are plenty of people who would argue that it is in response to third party pressure.

                          The NSF is regularly accused of playing politics, but I haven’t seem much literature making the point strongly. And stunts like Sen. Inhofe’s snowball certainly don’t make the life of those who reject the consensus on climate change any easier.

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                          • That’s not the compaint concerning the NSF. There are two:

                            1. There’s no need for central direction and co-ordination; and

                            2. Government funding in general has unsalutary effects on institutional and professional cultures (and stokes harassment of dissidents).

                            ==

                            As for the problems with academic culture, to get a sense of it all, all you have to do is pick up the papers.

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                            • I will agree that a lot of academia is silly. Have you ever opened a law journal? The idea that individuals who have, for the most part, gone straight from law school to a clerkship to an academic post have the research skills to write anything of value is ludicrous and yet year after year law school publish volume after volume of entirely unread material.

                              I don’t see an alternative to gov’t funded basic research. While Google could probably afford to put up its own research satellite, that would be a tough sell to its shareholders. I also note that good groundbreaking science is hard to do and even harder to predict. And the institutional pressure to publish striking results long pre-dates the most recent era of partisanship. But over time the corrective pressure of trying to prove the other guy wrong does appear to be pointing us in the right direction.

                              Nutrition science, for example, seems to have been worthless to wrong for the last 50 years, and yet there are finally signs that old dogmas are being seriously challenged.

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                              • American legal academics have a dirty secret that they don’t want to admit. The secret is that law school is a trade school. Legal scholarship is possible but most people go to law school for vocational training and not for the scholarly student of law. The type of law you want to do really doesn’t matter. The human rights lawyer and the corporate lawyer are both learning a trade.

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            • Mike Dwyer: While no, I don’t know much about the struggle of minorities, I do know a lot about the process of assimilation.

              I would suggest that if you don’t know much about the struggle of minorities, then you don’t know as much as you think you do about the process of assimilation, no matter how much time you’ve spent studying it.

              And frankly, the way you equivocate the position that minorities should take an active role in the fight for their own acceptance with the position that minorities should surrender the things that make them unique is disgraceful. As a gay man, I’m personally offended that you are using the achievements that have been made in gay rights as a club against Veronica. I think you have a very flawed understanding of how those achievements were attained, and I think you’ve invented a personal myth about the progress of gay equality that makes you feel better about your relationship with the politics that demonize LGBT people.

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              • “And frankly, the way you equivocate the position that minorities should take an active role in the fight for their own acceptance with the position that minorities should surrender the things that make them unique is disgraceful.”

                I never said minorities should surrender anything. What I said is that they do have choices. And I said that in direct response to this line in the OP:

                There is no opportunity to remove the stereotype, no objection to truth, no ability to remove a label that causes others to look differently toward me.

                I disagree strongly with this. There are plenty of opportunities for minorities to help remove stereotypes. The minority simply shows people that the stereotype is wrong. That’s what I was getting at above when I talked about how the media and Hollywood entered people’s homes and showed them that gays, blacks, latinos, etc were more like them than different. The gay individuals who participate in the Ordinary Times community certainly showed me that they were not the stereotype I believed 7 years ago and I’m better for it. Dennis Sanders, who is my most dear friend on this site, has shown me a new perspective not just on the life of a gay man but also on the life of a black man and a man with strong religious convictions.

                So when North and Jason and Dennis and Russell and others are all demonstrating every day that they are not the stereotype and that they are willing to have a real dialogue about these issues, then yes, they are taking an active role in creating acceptance. And that is what I have a real problem with in the OP. This idea that minorities are powerless. The idea that they should sit back and wait for the rest of society to accept them. The idea that they have no control over how they are perceived. All of my friends here who have actually participated, rather than just lecturing everyone and telling them they don’t understand, proved that acceptance can happen when BOTH sides are working towards that goal. It sounds very much to me like you disagree with that approach.

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                • “I disagree strongly with this. There are plenty of opportunities to remove stereotypes. The minority simply shows people that the stereotype is wrong.”

                  Not because the oppressed/marginalized group is not in control of the stereotype. The people holding the stereotype are. We have a frickin’ Black POTUS and people still think Black folks are inferior (or that Obama himself didn’t deserve it). So, no, they don’t “simply” show people that the stereotype is wrong.

                  Oh, wait, I quoted you. And not in full. I’m ready for my scolding.

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                  • We have a frickin’ Black POTUS

                    His relationship to the domestic black population is as follows: he married into it. When Gov. Blagojevich said ‘I’m blacker than Obama’, he wasn’t lying; there’s a reason Bobby Rush wasn’t impressed with BO.

                    (or that Obama himself didn’t deserve it)

                    BO had the most peculiar resume of anyone who has competed passably for the office in the last century. A sometime lawyer, a sometime law instructor (who didn’t publish), a state legislator of no special distinction, etc.

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            • Mike,
              “While no, I don’t know much about the struggle of minorities, I do know a lot about the process of assimilation. I’ve studied it for nearly 20 years. ”

              Have you studied the systematic and malicious exacerbation of tribal loyalties by the Powers that Be?

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              • Have you studied the systematic and malicious exacerbation of tribal loyalties by the Powers that Be?

                You mean the President, the quondam Attorney-General, the sorosphere payola pushers, and Ben Crump and his sidekick Ryan Julison?

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    • I also think the Muslim, the illegal immigrant, poor, etc can integrate quite a bit if they choose to squash their personal identity. It’s when they celebrate who they are, like you do with your bumper sticker, that they open themselves up to persecution. That IS a choice.

      Holy hell, what?

      Anyone else we should know about whose persecution is their own fault for failing to live in the closet?

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    • Conceding that such agency does exist, what is added to this conversation by hammering out that point? What is taken away? I ask these questions genuinely.

      Leaving aside the response garnered, it strikes me as largely immaterial to the point, which I took to be about the ability to empathize with those who tend to be otherized after finding one’s self in that position.

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      • A major point made in the post was the difference between people that can or can’t change the things that cause them to be persecuted. Unfortunately, the examples didn’t actually demonstrate that. So, pointing that out does seem appropriate.

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        • I suppose it depends on how we define “change”. And that seems like an overly pedantic and narrow reading, something you very recently objected to.

          I mean, theoretically EVERYTHING can be changed with plastic surgery nowadays.

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          • I kind of thought that was the point you were fishing for above. Yes, you got scolded for hyper-focusing on one line in a post and trying to start your own sidebar about it, so I’m sure you were eager to find an example of me doing something similar. The difference though is that Sean makes the references that I was addressing a major point of his post, which means I think the response I made was appropriate.

            Of course, you are free to disagree or we can even discuss the definition of the word ‘change’ but that seems kind of boring.

            Additionally, maybe the whole point of the post was just to say, “I empathized today and it felt good,” but man, I hope he had more in mind when he wrote it. I’m going to choose to believe that he did.

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            • Wow, dude, seriously? You claim to want real engagement and you offer this crap?

              First off, no, I was not scolded and I will not be scolded because I am not a child and you are not in any position to scold me. So stop right fucking there. Get off your fucking high horse. Unlike you, I was willing to hear criticism.

              No, I wasn’t fishing for anything. I engaged *the entirety* of your comment and asked what the point was. When *you* reduced it to something pedantic and nitpicky that I think is largely immaterial to the broader point (in the process creating your own sidebar), I noted the apparent hypocrisy.

              There is much value in what Sean wrote here.

              Your position on these matters remains clear. You think when people from outside the majority culture experience difficulties attempting to work within that culture, that they and they alone are the problem. Which is an opinion you are welcome to have. But it seems a little self-serving to use Sean’s post to ring that bell. Again.

              Honestly dude, I don’t know what to do with you at this point. I’ve attempted to engage you on my own terms and on your terms. I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt. I’ve assumed there is more to you than often appears. But maybe I’m wrong. Because while you may not agree with me or always like my tack, I damn sure deserve our respect and you have not been offering that lately, chiefly here your scold comment. You want to engage with people genuinely? Then fucking do it and stop complaining about it not happening.

              Hey, maybe YOU should change if you don’t feel like your ‘culture’ is working here, right?

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                  • Part of our role as editors is generally not to throw down in heated mood.

                    I don’t know if Mike considers he shouldn’t have gone that far along this path or not, and I’m not trying to speak for him, but I know I’ve certainly found myself doing it and taken a deep breath and said that I needed to stop before. (I think all the editors have, although I don’t know that for a fact.)

                    So I don’t think he’s hiding. I think he’s trying to be a good site editor.

                    (As for me, all I *have* is heated mood this week, part of the reason I’ve had nothing to say on this thread at all. I enjoyed the OP, new writer!! *waves*)

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                    • A fair point, . Thanks for weighing in. Personally I think it is poor form to start the conversation publicly and then try to end it behind the scenes. But that’s me. Why not model how to de-escalate? Anyway, I’m over it.

                      Hope whatever is keeping you heated cools down soon.

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                  • My responsibilities as an editor DO require stepping in when someone is attempting to derail a thread, whether it’s intentional or not. If ‘scold’ is a trigger word for you, feel free to grab a thesaurus and try a different one that bothers you less. Either way, the end result is that you were asked not to do a certain thing in that thread and it seems pretty clear here that you were eager to re-visit the topic the first time you thought I might be doing the same thing. You are welcome to claim innocence, but I have been at this stuff for a very long time and I could see what you were loading up two comments before you actually said it.

                    The reason I suggested you email me is because you were going a bit ‘meta’ with the whole ‘I don’t know what to do with you’ comment. That conversation extends far beyond this comment thread and despite your preference for in-thread sidebars, the most appropriate place to discuss it is via email.

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                    • Honestly dude, fuck you.

                      You did *exactly* the same thing I did. If citing an argument laid out in the OP (as you did!) and responding to it (as you did!) is threadjacking, than this whole fucking site is useless. One of the beauties of OT is the ability for the conversation to evolve. Also curious how you only seem to honor your editor duties on your own posts.

                      No, I didn’t have two comments chambered. I asked a genuine question. That you couldn’t offer a justification beyond being pedantic is on you, not me.

                      You and you alone are responsible for the words you put to paper and the ideas contained within those words. If you don’t like me QUOTING YOUR WORDS and responding to them, don’t write those words. Or write them somewhere that doesn’t allow and encourage a robust comment section.

                      I will not be talked down to. I am not a child and I am certainly not YOUR fucking child. Again, you can get on your high horse and play the word games you want to play and take subtle digs while claiming objectivity while hiding behind your editor status but I’ve come to understand exactly who and what you are and don’t like it. And even in spite of that, I engage with your ideas and comments.

                      Don’t like it? Don’t respond. Or don’t write. Or ban me. Your call. You say you “asked” me not to do something. Well, to that I say, “Fuck no.” I was willing to consider your request when it seemed genuine and aimed at cultivating a certain discussion culture. It is clear that is not your intent due to you doing, ya know, the exact same fucking thing.

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                      • Mike does have editorial responsibilities and he takes them seriously and does a good job with them. He doesn’t do them quite the same way I do, being a different person and all, and that’s okay. I was pleased to see him step in yesterday and issue a caution to another commenter who stepped over the line.

                        As a reader, and even as an editor, Mike’s free to have a different opinion of this post than I did (I was the one who put it in the queue for posting, FWIW). While I’m closer to your evaluation of the post, , than I am to Mike’s, Mike is well, well within bounds to both express his own opinion and to try to guide the tone of comments towards our community’s ideals. Expressing continuing disagreement with statements like “Honestly dude, fuck you.” are not congruent with those ideals.

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                        • That is all well and good and I appreciate your perspective. But I continue to object to Mike insisting that a particular line of engaging a piece is out-of-bounds when he in fact engages pieces in the exact same manner.

                          If it is inappropriate to quote a line or section of a longer piece and respond directly to that, again, I really don’t know what we’re doing here anymore.

                          And, honestly, if Mike is going to wield editor powers, I think he needs to do so far more respectfully than he has in this case, especially given that I am a longterm member of this community in good standing and a contributor.

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                          • To pipe up, I think this could have been resolved a bit better… Probably by Mike saying either “we’re both in the wrong” or “hey, this is getting a little heated. let’s both chill and come back in a day or two”

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                            • I probably didn’t need to go to where I went but I also grow frustrated with the disrespect-posing-as-civility. If we’re going to be disrespectful, I don’t think keeping the gloves on is necessarily superior to taking the gloves off. At least one of us was honest and direct.

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  2. You say that NOW. What do you say when it costs you upward of $5,000 — via an accident or a deliberately destroyed truck? Please bear in mind that the difference between the takehome pay for blacks and whites is probably more than that.

    There are plenty of places I think twice before going now, that I didn’t ten years ago. Times are hard, and people are plenty frustrated.

    Fine and dandy to wear a Yellow Star if you want… but be prepared to pay the full price. That way, we won’t need to listen to you bitch when you gotta pay it.

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  3. Everyone judges everyone else based upon the available info they have at that time. That’s human nature.

    I scoff at lot at Bernie and HRC and Obama bumper stickers because they are on the cars of people around me. If I was living somewhere “conservative” I’d be scoffing at Trump, Cruz, Romney stickers.

    It’s one reason my car is fairly non descriptive and doesn’t have bumper stickers of any kind on it. No sense in pissing off some whack job on the highway, including the cops.

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    • In the days of my yoot, I had a peace sign sticker on my car.

      I got a grand total of 3 tickets while driving that car and each ticket was given me by the exact same police officer. Each ticket was for such things as “failure to use turn signal when changing lanes” or the like.

      I removed the sticker and then went on to drive as I normally did and did not get a single ticket for at least a decade.

      I am always tempted to pay for the membership to Fraternal Order of Police stickers for the car… but, since I don’t have a peace sticker on the car anymore, I rarely get pulled over.

      For some reason.

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      • Well, I do speed. Speed limits being an expression of the patriarchy.

        But I’m sure you’re correct. Noticeable things do have an impact. Also the type of car. I used to drive a “more higher end” car, same amount of speeding. Tickets. Now I drive a sedan in a neutral color and blend. So far, only 1 ticket. :)

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  4. I think it’s sufficient to say that anyone who road rages or otherwise drives differently around a car due to the information conveyed by its bumper stickers is kind of nuts UNLESS the bumper sticker concerned says something like “Caution, Volatile Substances being transported”.

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    • I think there are some bumper stickers that give one a decent reason to suspect there is a volatile driver in the car. Not a certainty, but statistically significant enough to be useful.

      “Live fast, die young” and sentiments of that nature come to mind.

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        • It genuinely boggles my mind that people would do this. I mean, seriously so. When I see someone with a bumper sticker espousing a belief with which I disagree, I’ll usually glance over to see who the person is. But… thinking about it… I usually do this even with someone sporting a sticker I might agree with.

          More than anything, I’m just curious about the sort of person who puts bumper stickers on their car.

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        • Yeah, nothing much makes it a good idea to deliberately crowd someone out or cut them off.

          I was just thinking of the “otherwise drive differently” including giving them more room because you think they’re more likely to do something foolish or rash or maybe just not know how to navigate a local sketchy intersection being from out of town.

          The Canadian Finals Rodeo happens in Edmonton, just a few blocks from my home – on that weekend, I treat all of the following as likely associated with out of town drivers unfamiliar with the various sketchy intersections and weird local road sign conventions in town
          – pickup trucks
          – cowboy hats
          – conservative political bumper stickers
          – anti carbon tax anything

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    • A friend of mine’s first job out of college involved a monthly (or so) trip to Texas A&M to pick up some radioactive material. (I believe it was sodium that they let stew in their reactor). It was used in equipment to scan the inside various bits and pieces of refineries, to see if everything was working okay inside.

      So he’s about 23, in a big white van that handles like a dump truck (there’s about three hundred pounds of lead in the back) and got pulled over exactly once — never did figure out why. The cop asked him to open the back, he did, the cop sees the radiation stickers, see the company logo (rather discrete) and decides the 23 year old Chem E geek can go on his way.

      So maybe a big radiation sticker, if people believe it. :)

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  5. Because of experiences like the one you’ve described, I advocate everyone make a concerted effort to spend times in the role of the “other”. Go somewhere where you are the only X… for whatever value of X you want to focus on. Many folks, especially those with more privilege, tend to rarely find themselves in such positions and I think this makes it more difficult to empathize with people who largely live in that space.

    And even then it must be remembered that most white (and straight people and Christians and men) people, if they so choose, can avoid being the only or one of a few such people in a group. For others, they don’t really have a choice; they sort of have to engage in a world where they are a demographic minority to access much of contemporary American society.

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  6. This is a really good piece of first-person political narrative. I want to hear about what it means to be in your position and how you process the reactions that you get. That is where this post is most powerful. But I have to say that the “What if I were X” parts are gratuitous.

    If you are those things, then I want to hear you perspective. If you’re a white guy telling me about how your empathy for those people makes you such a great guy, eh. Muslims, blacks, poor folks, the disabled, they don’t need you to tell their story. Mostly, they need you to get out of the way so that they can tell their own stories.

    I will likely never be a Bernie supporter owing to economic and policy reasons, but I respect Sanders as a candidate because he doesn’t pander the way that Hillary does. It is his strongest trait, in my opinion. I often wish that his supporters would follow suit.

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  7. I know a guy who has a Trump sticker on his truck who works in SF. You can only imagine how often people have keyed/poured shit all over his ride.

    The alternate title of this piece could be “People are dicks.”

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    • I admit to eyerolling once you have more than three bumper stickers on your car, but that’s for any bumper stickers. Political, bands, bragging about your kids.

      That’s as far as I go though. (And I don’t put anything on my car because, indeed, people are dicks).

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