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politics The Génocidaires: People

Eugenicists need broad centrist support🔗

Now, a lot of people pushing the anti-trans agenda aren’t actually murderers or overt political fascists. The extremists are still the extremists. Moderates sustain these genocidal movements, but they don’t drive them. Unlike the center, the people who rise to the top are always the ones drawn to the movement because of its viciousness. It still matters, though, whether the people towards the middle are willing to help them or not.

It’s still true that legislators and anti-trans activists are not pursuing moderate treatment (psychotherapy, etc); they’re distinctly aiming for obliteration. But that message only works for people who agree with those people openly willing to back genocide outright, or people who can agree with the lampshade.

Even most of the republicans don’t actually know the people they’re voting for are full-on cuckoo-bananas. But the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” types end up pushing this agenda, even if they’re unaware. People see a ballot where one choice describes a more convenient world for them, and they tick it. They’re not supposed to think about the violence it takes to make that happen.

People like framing the idea of pride like they frame the abolition of slavery or civil rights: as a celebration of a positive political change that happened in history, rather than an ongoing conflict. As soon as pride feels like a conflict, it feels like a conflict they’re on a side of, because they are.

r/pansexual: You're not welcomed

Buying the euphemism🔗

A lot of the people helping propel the cause of genocide don’t actually believe in the case for genocide; the genocidalists depend heavily on people buying the euphemism. That’s another topic I want to do a longer piece on someday, but here’s a brief summary on how rhetoric works on marks.

The mark says they don’t want children to be abused. Now, the people pushing the anti-abuse laws don’t care about children being abused, and their laws don’t prevent abuse, but anti-abuse is the euphemism they’re using to disguise their intents, and the mark agrees with that euphemism, so they think they must agree with the policy. In effect, the fascist hijacks the legitimate cause, just like they hijack institutions.

Even though the marks would, in isolation, be opposed to the real agenda of genocide, they believe enough in the cover story that they show up to support the genocidal cause.

The Shirley Exception🔗

Another key factor in why people support policies they disagree with is the so-called Shirley Exception. Transphobic culture and legislation are both perceived as uncomfortable and inconvenient for a few people – adding some hoops they have to jump through – but they’re usually not seen as being explicitly genocidal.

politics The Génocidaires: Exterminationism

Okay. We looked at law. Let’s keep looking. Let’s gaze straight at the horrors until our stomachs churn and our eyes bleed.

Rhetoric background info🔗

Before we get too deep into the craziness, I want to explain a couple common talking points.

The Social Contagion lie & Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria🔗

In real life, the scary sounding “social contagion” is just the study of the propagation of ideas across a social network, more commonly known as memetics. As applied to transgender people though, “social contagion” is the conspiracy theory that transgenderism is an invented evil that is being spread to children through education and social media. This idea helps keeps people from seeing trans exterminationism as a true genocide: transgender people aren’t a “real” group of people, they’re actually an effect of people being tricked by “biased out-of-control transgender activists”, psychiatrists, scheming liberals, a cabal of elite pedophiles, or just Satan himself.

Ross Douthat, “How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War”, NYT op-ed What we’re seeing today isn’t just a continuation of the gay rights revolution; it’s a form of social contagion which our educational and medical institutions are encouraging and accelerating. These kids aren’t setting themselves free from the patriarchy; they’re under the influence of online communities of imitation and academic fashions laundered into psychiatry and education — one part Tumblr and TikTok mimesis, one part Judith Butler.

At first this seems like the same basic myth as the debunked Homosexuality as Contagion false narrative now understood as the left-handed fallacy: the real cause for the increase in visibility is of course reduced social stigma and advancements in social and legal recognition. But the contagion myth has been recently “legitimized” by the pseudo-medical label of Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria, describing a phenomenon where “children seemed to experience a sudden or rapid onset of gender dysphoria, appearing for the first time during puberty or even after its completion” correlating with “an increase in social media/internet use.” The only paper in the medical literature about Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria is the one that invents the diagnosis: Lisa Littman’s Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports.

Littman’s study has been widely discredited by actual medical doctors – a thing Littman is not – for pulling numbers from online straw polls in order to claim discovery of a brand new disease without even attempting to assess single case of it. The real fatal flaw, though, is right in the title: it’s a study of parental reports, where untrained parties not actually afflicted by the alleged condition are asked to assess its existence in people, who in many cases are actively motivated to conceal it for fear of abuse or rejection. Worse, due to the ultrapartisan anti-transgender bias of the websites on which the polls were conducted (4thwavenow, transgender trend, and youthtranscriticalprofessionals. No, seriously.), the data was from parents who were already upset about their children coming out as trans and looking for an external, pathological factor to blame.

politics The Génocidaires: Laws

So, we’ve talked broad strokes. Here’s where we start seeing specific policies emerge as part of the agenda.

Genocide as a core of the platform🔗

In the last year or so the mainstream political attitude towards transgender people has gone from generalized bigotry to trans genocide becoming a pillar of the republican political platform.

Right off the bat, here’s Trump boosting the “activist teachers are infecting your children” social contagion rhetoric while emphasizing “parents’ rights” to… keep their children from wanting to be trans, I guess? To raucous applause, of course:

The republican party loves the tribalist us-vs-them mentality. When the democrats are painted categorically as sexual predators and threats to children, family, and the American way, that only helps them. Here’s Rebecca Boone connecting some of the dots in “Right-wing extremists amp up anti-LGBTQ rhetoric online”:

A toxic brew of hateful rhetoric has been percolating in Idaho and elsewhere around the U.S., well ahead of the arrests of the Patriot Front members at the pride event Saturday in Coeur d’Alene.

A “massive right-wing media ecosystem” has been promoting the notion that “there are people who are trying to take your kids to drag shows, there are trans people trying to ‘groom’ your children,” [extremism researcher] Lewis said.

The rhetoric has been amplified by right-wing social media accounts that use photos and videos of LGBTQ individuals to drive outrage among their followers.

Because I literally can’t write fast enough to keep up with the horrors, here’s the Texas GOP Report of the Permanent 2022 Platform & Resolutions Committee. As of 2022, the core platform (which is a hodgepodge of christian nationalist nonsense, in addition these bits) includes:

politics The Génocidaires: Intro

Genocide. It’s a big word. It describes possibly the worst atrocity the institution of society can commit. It’s so mind-bogglingly terrible that a staple holocaust denial argument is that it was simply too bad to have really happened.

Genocide is such a big word that I didn’t title this “The Case for Genocide”, even though that’s what it’s about: the case people actually make for genocide, here, today.

“Genocide”, definition, semiotics🔗

It’s counterintuitively difficult to talk about genocide because of how thoroughly the word has become shorthand for pure evil. So first, let’s define the word itself. The United States Holocaust Museum has an excellent page on the definition of the word here:

Genocide is an internationally recognized crime where acts are committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

This is the “narrow definition” found in the 1948 Genocide Convention, written as a response to World War II and the atrocities of the holocaust. Modern groups like Genocide Watch classify other genocidal crimes like ethnic cleansing and political mass murder as genocide.

Genocide literally means “to kill a tribe”, or “to kill a population”. It has the -cide suffix, meaning to kill, but the “geno” is a population. The crime is the extermination of a group, not just the murder of its members. So, if someone decides that they want to make a thing no longer exist, and that thing is a kind of person, executing on that belief is genocide.

In practice, genocide is not just the crime of the act, but also the agenda. Directly killing members of the group is one act of a genocide, but so is “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” or “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” – economic oppression and eugenics, respectively. Genocide is “a coordinated plan to annihilate the individual lives of a targeted national group through disintegration of the institutions of culture, economics, language, religion, and destruction of other essential foundations of personal security, liberty, and dignity”. In addition to the effects of the act, there is also a premeditation on behalf of the organizers and drivers of the agenda.

This usually maps well to a political faction, but it isn’t necessarily driven by one particular authority: James Glass’s paper talks about the “Idea as leader” in the psychology of genocide: that the ideology is a kind of shared fantasy in a psychological space, and that Rousseau’s “fervour of intolerance” can be amplified in willed belief and enthusiastic participation in an idea greater than oneself.

There are obvious examples of genocide, both historical (like Nazi Germany) and current: the ongoing Uyghur genocide in China, but also cases where it’s not yet generally understood that a genocide event is even occurring.

(Trans people. I’m talking about trans people.)

I shouldn’t need to explain how genocide works in practice. How it starts with “us vs them” ingroup/outgroup polarization, how it’s used by authoritarians to pin the blame on their own failings or unavoidable facts of life on subgroups that can be demonized and persecuted, how the importance of national identity becomes prioritized above the people who make up the nation, how the outgroup is made to be recognizable and distinguishable in order to facilitate attack, how the definition of that subgroup shifts to meet the political needs of the people in power, how the perpetrators dehumanize the outgroup with language that equates them with animals, filth, and disease in order to numb human empathy, how the dominant ingroup wields political and societal power to deny the victims full rights of citizenship, and how the victims are ultimately persecuted, displaced, deported, or killed (extrajudicially or otherwise). Above all, the unabashed cruelty that ensues. You should know this. After the 20th century, all educated people should know this.

So here it is. A genocide is happening right now in America and Europe against trans people with the goal of eradicating the population. So let’s take a good, hard look at it. Let’s really crack this egg open.

politics people who know more than me talk about Epic acquiring Bandcamp

March 2, 2022: Bandcamp puts out a press release about their “joining” Epic Games. This follows in a line of eerily similar acquisitions of companies catering to indies, namely Sketchfab and ArtStation.

There are lots of interesting topics intersecting here:

  • Venture capital and the associated perverse incentives
  • Antitrust and general issues with corporate consolidations
  • The takeover of existing institutions, especially technical infrastructure
  • The false narrative of corporations as indie and non-corporate
  • Epic vs Apple and problems of platform monopoly
  • Bandcamp’s correct but rare approach to piracy, which is endangered

I’ll talk more about those some day, don’t worry. For now, though, have some tweets.

politics Winners and Losers

I can’t write about antitrust. There’s too much to talk about. So I have to break the idea down, way down, to something manageable. I’m going to chew on one phrase here, “the government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.” It’s a favourite of the pro-monopoly types and it almost sounds reasonable, so let’s think about it for like a minute.

First, when pro-monopoly types say “the government shouldn’t pick winners and losers”, what they’re picturing as the “win state” is market domination. They don’t see it as a bad thing, because they feel that success correlates with virtue, so if a corporation beats out its competitors that’s because it was right and good. We know what it’s like when corporations actualize on this; complete market domination, customers have no option but to go through you, it’s impossible to start competing against you. 100% domination, company towns, corporate rule. But that theoretical “win state” is the answer to the question of what corporations “want”.

“Corporations”, as entities, are little optimizing robots. Executives and boards and shareholders are the cogs and wires, but the thing they come together to form is something of an entirely different nature, something artificial. This is intentional; people want corporate entities instead of humans specifically because corporate entities and humans are different. Corporations last, corporations have a focused goal, corporations have that machinery to scale and pursue it effectively. That thing they form is a very primitive artificial intelligence that uses its cogs and wires to pursue a specific goal.

And the thing they aspire to, the thing they try to maximize, is market share. Revenue is great, but market share prints money. And, in theory, when nobody is cheating or exploiting or being anticompetitive, this actually works. Corporations compete against each other for customers, customers pick the best products, innovation disrupts markets, yadda yadda.

But of course that doesn’t happen with cheats at the helms of these companies. And – as with any model, sport, or competition – without enforced regulation the market rewards the cheats. And what it rewards them with is power to charge more, power to make exploitative products, and ultimately power to keep competition from disrupting them.

In an environment where corporate crime is tightly prosecuted and nobody is “light on crime” even when it comes to the wealthy and powerful, this doesn’t happen. Cut out the cancer and you heal the body.

But keeping companies from being exploitive would be “picking winners and losers”! And that’s obviously wrong, they whine.

Now, in addition to what the words mean and what the states look like, the language “winners and losers” is also absurd because it spins the conversation with an undue emotional connotation. “It’s not fair for you to regulate companies such that they might lose money, because they’ve earned it.” Poor little guy. They’re hurt, and we’re stealing from them. Except no, that’s obviously a lie. Corporations aren’t people, they don’t have emotions or feel pain, they’re organizational structures composed of individuals who are not unduly harmed by antitrust regulation.

The actual humans in this equation, the only party anywhere near this question who we should worry about harming, are the consumers. The people, who depend on access to food and medical supplies and technology. The people who are actually harmed by monopoly, requiring antitrust in the first place!

Antitrust isn’t punishment, it’s correction of situation that has gone wrong. It’s fixing a machine that is producing undesirable results. It’s a correction to the AI’s value function; there was an undesirable outcome that was accidently being rewarded. The regulatory response needs to be either “whoops, you found a new way to hurt people we haven’t made illegal yet, let’s patch that” or “whoops, you’re overtly committing crimes, and there is a consequence for that because that is what rule of law means.”

The scoundrel is the one who makes the argument that because he got away with hurting people at a profit once, to stop him now would be unfair to him. Doing right by people is bad for his business model, so it’s impossible to say who’s right or not. It’s a transparent excuse for politicians who don’t personally agree with the law because they like the company, or like the money they spend to pick the company as the winner by means of policy drift.

The question of winners and losers doesn’t matter because what “winning” is for corporations is bad, per se. Corporations are artificial creations who perform by setting goals and pushing themselves toward them. And that (competition) is enormously beneficial! But just because some state is the best thing for a nonhuman entity doesn’t mean that should happen. In fact, every way in which that state is different from one that prioritizes people is a compelling argument against it.

fandom Psycholonials Commentary, selections

  • Posted in fandom

The following are exerpts from my fully transcribed playthrough of Psycholonials, which I wrote last summer. If you aren’t familiar with psycholonials or haven’t played the game, I recommend reading that to catch up.

bonk

If you’ve already played Psycholonials though, here’s some food for you. Exerpts though, not the whole thing.

politics Alma Mater

I went to my old university today.1 I wanted to use the library.

It was a strange experience. There were things about my time there I missed, but I didn’t miss my time there. There was too much wrong. Ways I didn’t fit.

I looked around. It was passing period, and there was a throng of students coming and going both ways. The pavement was nice, new construction. People were laughing and talking and introducing each other.

Was I wrong? Should I be missing this? There is still so much good here. So I asked myself what it was I saw, exactly. And I looked out.

tech You can Google it

  • Posted in tech

The other day I had a quick medical question (“if I don’t rinse my mouth out enough at night will I die”), so I googled the topic as I was going to bed. Google showed a couple search results, but it also showed Answers in a little dedicated capsule. This was right on the heels of the Yahoo Answers shutdown, so I poked around to see what Google’s answers were like. And those… went in an unexpected direction.

Should I rince my mouth after using mouthwash? Why is it bad to swallow blood? Can a fly live in your body? What do vampires hate? Can you become a vampire? How do you kill a vampire?

So, Google went down a little rabbit trail. Obviously these answers were scraped from the web, and included sources like exemplore.com/paranormal/, which is, apparently, a Wiccan resource for information that is “astrological, metaphysical, or paranormal in nature.” So possibly not the best place to go for medical advice. (If you missed it, the context clue for that one was the guide on vampire killing.)

There are lots of funny little stories like this, where some AI misunderstood a question. Like this case where a porn parody got mixed in the bio for a fictional character, or that time novelist John Boyne used Google and accidently wrote a video recipe into his book. (And yes, it was a Google snippet.) These are always good for a laugh.

Wait, what’s that? That last one wasn’t funny, you say? Did we just run face-first toward the cold brick wall of reality, where bad information means people die?

Well, sorry. Because it’s not the first time Google gave out fatal advice, nor the last. Nor is there any end in sight. Whoops!

gaming Hack 'n' Slash is awe inspiring

  • Posted in gaming

Hack ‘n’ Slash is a game about hacking (and comparatively little slashing) published by DoubleFine (of Psychonauts fame) in 2014. It features art by Raz Mavlian and it’s directed by absolute madman Brandon Dillon. It’s not a “programming” game (like 7 Billion Humans, a Zachtronics game, or even Quadrilateral Cowboy), and it’s not at all the action-adventure game it pretends to be at the beginning. It’s very much a game about game hacking, and that goes to some fascinating places.

I’m looking now and of the ~16 games DoubleFine has on Steam, Hack ‘n’ slash is the only one with “Mixed” reviews. This is a tragedy, as Hack ‘n’ slash is most interesting games I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a strange case, though. Although I have an overwhelming amount of praise to give the game, there are a few oddities that make it hard for me to directly recommend everyone buy and play it. I’ll get to that later.

Why Hack ‘n’ Slash is incredible🔗

or, the ride the game takes you on