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Bruce Jenner and Signalling Superiority

6 Jun
Whom do you want to stop hearing about first:  Jenner or the Duggar’s?

Bruce Jenner’s transition to the personae of Caitlyn Jenner is the occasion for many things I suspect Jenner does not intend.  First, silencing of anyone who wants to discuss the topic, along the lines laid out by Kirsten Powers and Mary Katherine Hamm and Guy Benson in their new books (after all if you say the wrong thing, a transgender kid might commit suicide!).  Second signalling one’s (effortlessly attained) superiority to those who don’t share one’s views about sex and gender (for instance,the reliably kookie and admittedly attention seeking Sally Kohn, who wants her kids to be like Jenner).  Third, as a Washington Post typist claimed today,  the creation of a new wedge issue for flailing Democrats (to distract from a shrinking economy, Clinton graft, and cyberattacks), the alleged war on transgenders.  

In the way an earlier generation might have adopted all things Madonna to signal one’s affirmation of sexual liberation, one adopts Jenner to signal your enlightened views on gender.   Consider this graphic, where Republican Presidential wannabee Mike Huckabee goes under the knife for alleged hate speech  

It’s funny how this meme misrepresents Huckabee. I bet most of the people “liking” it on social media never heard Huckabee’s remarks, but only other people’s commentaries, people who talk mainly to signal their superiority and to feel good about their moral “achievement” and enlightenment. Huckabee clearly was not suggesting that transgender M-to-F people just want to creep on women, since he uses himself, not a transgender person, in his example. He was saying that pervy guys, including many a teen boy, might want to claim transgender status if it means they can visit the girl’s shower room. (This reminds me of people lying about things Palin said to attack her, spiraling down into rape jokes about her kids. They might, with some work, have been able to find legitimate criticisms of these people and not have to misrepresent what they say.)

I’m not sure this meme is explained merely by an intellectually limited “progressive” graphic artist assuming that when one of his Boogeymen, like Huckabee, says something it had to be ignorant, stupid, and racist/sexist/transphobic/heteronormative, without actually attending to what was said.  More likely this is another case when all the “progressive” is doing is a kind of masturbation or self-soothing (which must be psychologically necessary now, with the Obama regime failing at everything but destruction and Hillary Clinton daily exposed more and more as a felon).  The “progressive” is signalling to their support group that they are all in fact superior to all those bad people (despite what reality tells them).  They weren’t wrong!  They aren’t dupes!  Meanwhile “progressives” ignore some of the actual real threats to transgender people just as they have with gays:  just as urban gays have been viciously mugged by criminals of color for decades, poor black transgender women seem anecdotally to often be victims of black teenagers, including teenage girls.   But the “progressive” toolbox has always been short on ways of addressing these real issues.

As libertarian documentary film maker Sean Malone put it:  I have seen about 10 times more posts either praising Jenner, explaining why she is heroic, and ridiculing/dismissing those critical of her than the critical posts.

And I have seen zero actual hateful or particularly offensive posts. Some people expressing dislike or disagreeing with the “hero” label, but no one I seem to know is the kind of awful most of the articles keep posting seem to think are everywhere.

…I am more interested in noting the signalling and the counter-outrage I see. Where are all these horrible bigots?


I was wondering if my college microeconomics professor, Dierdre McCkloskey, who was Donald McCloskey when I studied under him, would comment on Bruce Jenner (especially since they are now the two most famous politically non-“liberal” transgender people.  McCloskey penned a book on her transition, Crossing, as well as many brilliant books on the theory and history of the market economy.) She did, in a piece in this week’s Des Moines Register, where she gave her perhaps expert and learned opinion on how the rest of us should deal with something we don’t personally understand:

My dean at the University of Iowa, Gary Fethke, said at first when I came out, in a little comedy act, “This is great for our affirmative action program: one less man, one more woman!” Gary, like me, is a free-market economist. So his next joke was, “Thank God! I thought you were going to tell me you were converting to socialism!” Then he acted as my friend and advocate….
How to stay calm? Stop thinking of gender change as being about sex, sex, sex. Stop believing the locker-room theory that gender changers are gay, and gays want to be women. Whom you love is not same thing as who you are. You can love your dog without wanting to become a dog. You can want to become an adult, as our kids do, without having much of an idea of what it’s actually like to be an adult.
Stop imagining that all male-to-female gender crossers become prostitutes. Stop imagining that “men” enter the women’s room to spy on born women or commit rape. Stop thinking of gender crossing as an indulgence. Believe me, I would much rather have realized at age 53 that I was gay, or wanted to ride Harleys, than to go through a dozen operations and a lot of funny and terrifying embarrassments.
But I realized in August of 1995, after 30 years of a loving and successful marriage, perfectly normal all around, that I wanted to become an old woman, not an old man. I had wanted it since age 11, but people can adjust, and I did. Captain of my high school football team. Macho economist. Pretty good father, pretty good husband. I can still change a tire — but would rather watch some man do it.

As Malone notes, it doesn’t really matter whether people who want to change genders or feel they were born in the wrong gender are wrong or right: Sidenote: I wouldn’t actually disagree with the idea that transgender people are suffering from a mental “illness”… But unlike agoraphobia, which prevents a person from living any kind of a life at all, we can actually “indulge” a person’s desire to change sexes and if that’s how they want to handle the problem as adults capable of making their own choices, and they don’t coerce anyone into participating…. who am I to care?

In other words we should take a libertarian position and leave these people alone (and treat them as individuals).  And that includes not using them as cannon fodder in the culture war to prove we’re superior to the benighted people who don’t support our party or candidates.

TSA steals clothing from videographer Sean Malone

29 Oct
Mr. Malone’s friend Marian Dougherty reports:

This is a belt buckle that the TSA at DCA tried to steal from Sean Malone. For “safety.” Fortunately someone two supervisors up from the standard violator had enough of a brain to return Sean’s harmless belt buckle and send him on his merry way.

Apparently no one at LAX has a brain or common sense, though. The TSA “confiscated” (read: stole) this belt buckle this morning.

Yes. A belt buckle that looks like (half of) a tiny metal raygun that would fit in the palm of your hand. I’m sure everyone on that flight feels safer now.

This Week’s Leftover Smear Merchantry – WaPo’s Paul Waldman

15 Aug
That Mr. Bezos is so nice to offer jobs to so many retarded Americans.  A gimp named Paul Waldman complained that Rand Paul had not spoken on the Ferguson, MO killing of an innocent (African American) man. [ Senator Paul did later speak out about it before President Obama did, and also wrote a piece for TIME magazine.]

The presumption is that Rand or Ron Paul are the sum total of libertarian voices, and that the libertarian twittersphere and blogosphere that Waldman and other stalinoids are ignorant of doesn’t exist.  Sean Malone took him to task.
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  • Sean Malone 

    “Dear Mr. Waldman,

    You’re kidding with this, right? You’re just here to troll the Washington Post readership with some satire, yes? 

    You claim that ‘libertarians” aren’t talking about Ferguson… But Radley Balko, a libertarian journalist who has spent about 20 years fighting police abuses and who’s work actually contributed directly to freeing Cory Maye from death row (http://reason.com/archives/2006/10/01/the-case-of-cory-maye) and who has absolutely talked about it at length, works for the Washington Post! 

    In case you weren’t aware, that’s the same newspaper that published your stunted excuse for an article.

    Also, Reason, the widely circulated print & online libertarian news magazine (where Balko used to work, by the way) has covered the events as they’ve unfolded in Ferguson extensively. Read this for example:http://reason.com/…/officer-who-shot-mike-brown-might…. Likewise, “The Independents”, a libertarian news show on Fox Business with which you’re obviously unfamiliar, is also covering the story and I believe will have guests on to talk about it tonight.

    As an active libertarian myself, I can say anecdotally that my entire social-media sphere is blowing up with posts about Ferguson, MO as well since Michael Brown was shot. All, by the way, decrying the state of police violence in the country and supporting the feelings and ultimate aims (if not the specific violent/damaging actions) of the rioters and outraged people of the town.

    But I guess doing the 5 minutes of Googling it would have taken to find out any of this was too difficult?

    Perhaps next time you should try and find a shred of journalistic integrity and – oh, I don’t know – actually learn a little bit about your subject matter before posting such idiotic tripe… Not that you will. Better yet, you and your editors should simply never be employed in the news business by anyone.

    Good day, you mentally incompetent hack.”

    reason.com

    A cop is dead, an innocent man may be on death row, and drug warriors keep knocking down doors.

  • Sean Malone Waldman:

    “I’d encourage you to read the actual piece, and to read Balko’s blog. If you do those two things, you’ll find out that I mentioned Reason’s coverage of the Ferguson case, and you’ll also find that Balko hasn’t actually written about the Ferguson case yet, though I’m sure he will eventually.”

  • Sean Malone Me again:

    “Thanks. I did read the actual piece. Balko hasn’t written a piece for WaPo yet, but he’s written several things on social media (where he has a sizeable following) about it. That doesn’t count? 

    Your article slanders a massive group of people whose actual work in this area has far outpaced that of basically any major progressive/liberal group in this country, and instead of focusing on the libertarian community’s lengthy history of excellent work on police militarization, police abuse, and specifically the way in which police power is used more aggressively against minority communities, you try to paint us all as hypocrites and insinuate a disdain for the poor and possibly minority communities instead. And all because two politicians wouldn’t immediately get back to you with a public statement about something that is extremely politically sensitive. 

    Surely you realize how utterly disingenuous your article is. It’s some of the shittiest, most underhanded journalism I’ve ever read and as a libertarian, I’m pretty used to smear-campaigns from ignorant partisan blowhards at this point.”

Libertarian cuddle party for Oscar Night – LEGO my LEGO

2 Mar
Libertarians have been debating the merits, and libertarianism, of the LEGO movie

Mollie Hemingway argued over at The Federalist that this is the most libertarian movie ever, which is kind of funny since during the same month the same claim has been made about Ghostbusters and about Dallas Buyers’ Club.

Economist and bleeding heart libertarian Steve Horwitz votes Yay:

Okay, LEGO movie. First and foremost: completely adorable and HI-larious. I laughed my ass off the first hour. Liam Neeson and especially Morgan Freeman were brilliant. The kids there missed over half the jokes, but who cares? It was just great, fun movie-making. I was still smiling in the car on the way home.

Second, the message: I get Sean Malone‘s point, I really do. You could walk out of there with the “everyone’s special” and team nonsense, but not if you’re really paying attention. Everything that *worked* to keep people free in that movie was a result of the messy, crazy, patch it together imperfections of decentralized, creative human action. There is NO doubt that the enemy is centralization, regimentation, and The Plan. It is a case for the dynamic and messy over the static and (on the surface) perfect. THAT is the case for the market. What matters is whether stuff works, and it works in messy, imperfect, weird, wacky, wonderful, Jeffrey Tucker-like ways. It was a largely right on tribute to the power of spontaneous order asJohn Papola has argued. In the end, the message is NOT top-down teamwork, but bottom-up comparative advantage and the power of imperfection.

Yes, it’s “Lord Business,” but, again, if you’re only paying a hair of attention, it’s clear that it is the state. They have cops and jails and all the rest. For all its silliness, the heroes live in the My Little Pony version of Galt’s Gulch (“no government”) and that’s where stuff gets done – no one needs instructions there. So yeah, I wish the bad guy had a different name, but that didn’t obscure, for me, the message. Sean’s fear is real, but I think it fades in comparison to the more congenial message for anyone who is really paying attention (and maybe people aren’t…).

International Irish-American sexpot and writer/drector of the new documentary No Van’s Land Sean Malone says Nay:

To all my libertarian/anarchist friends who are joyously extolling the “libertarian” themes in the LEGO Movie. You all need to take one gigantic step back and try to think about the lessons that people who aren’t already libertarians will *ACTUALLY* get from the film. They are not what you think.

The moral lessons are either that business is cold, static, and evil – which is exactly the opposite of what you want them to understand – or that everybody is a special little snowflake, no matter how mediocre they actually are and all you need to do to be the hero is “believe”… Lessons about imagination and spontaneous order do not translate in a way that is at all actually libertarian in nature, just that playtime can be more fun when you don’t follow the instructions.

Y’all need to get a more realistic perspective on how audiences perceive pop culture and art if you hope to learn anything about how to convey this message to people who aren’t already members of the choir.

Liberty on Film – Libertarian Film Makers

30 Aug
Three film makers showed shorts, or clips of shorts, or trailers from short films (some cannot be viewed in their entirety until they preview later this year at Film Festivals), sponsored by America’s Future Foundation.

We bring you the Q&A:

Here are links to more info on their films:   Juche StrongDog Days, and No Vans Land. 
Learn more about America’s Future Foundation and the co-sponsoring organizations: Moving Picture Institute and Taliesin Nexus