Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays, You Secularists!

Also: Insurrection of the Intelligentsia

Solstice is the real reason for the season, y'all. So, however you decide to celebrate this time of year, have a good time doing so, and a Happy New Year also.

I don't know about you, but it feels like just yesterday I was hungoverly watching the Tampax Bowl on Jan. 1st. The year has flown by.

Fool vs. Hound! JJ vs. LH! It's the battle of the century! Two similarly minded, left wing lunkheads, with enough difference in background that they could probably spend an afternoon arguing the same point over and over, even if they agree!

If you tuned in to the commentary on the "Inequity" thread, you may have thought to yourself "these two have as much business talking about how women and minorities are affected by media messages, as O'Reilly and Coulter do talking about Affirmative Action."

JJ: East Coaster, stay at home dad, thinks Chomsky's out of date, spends his free time reading dissertations on media, justice, and the nature of God.

LH: Hails from Montana, but has roots in Utah, and New Hampshire (or Connecticut or Rhode Island...the part of the country where "ayuh" is an appropriate response, if Stephen King is to be believed), his free time is spent reading philosophy, from Aristotle to Camus and back again, with trips to Eastern thinking as well. Also fond of reading on martial arts.

I propose a spout off between these two. I would mediate.

The only thing missing in this equation is a topic neither of them should really be discussing. I leave that up to the reader. Should they discuss the appropriateness of female circumcision? What about male birth control methods? The malleability of menstruation?

You decide! I'll be taking suggestions via the comment field.

22 Comments:

At 10:00 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

While there are those of the mind that all New England states are the same--and I'm not so sure I'm NOT one of those people--I should note that my family stomps/rolls in Rhode Island, not New Hampshire. Other than that, all assertions were accurate and fair, in a vague sort of way.

Now will someone pick us a topic already? Jeez.

On a completely unrelated note: Great having you on Jesus day, beige one. All in all, a deliciously slothful day and night was had by all.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Stine said...

Since I very adequately kept my mouth shut on the other thread (it was best for all), I'd really love it if they don't taunt me with debating female circumcision or any discussion of blood pouring forth from female orafices.

Because there are just some topics, wherein logic, plays no part. Female hormones, being one of them.

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Couple of things, Stine:

1) You deprive us of your observations on the other thread, which would have been more than welcome.

2) I am asking for topics, so please bring 'em forth. My examples are merely examples. Though, if none are forthcoming, I may be forced to choose amongst them, and who would be to blame?

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Here's the thing, folks:

We, as a nation, seem to have lost the ability to discuss anything that comes down the pike. We are too afraid to step on toes, we are too afraid to piss others off.

In short, we're afraid to spout off. And so, how do we learn? How do we evolve? How do we make our opinions heard, beyond venting in a blog?

Blogventing (which is too close to O'Reilly's "bloviating" for comfort) is great and all, but look at what happens when no one voices opinions: Bush is still in power.

Okay, okay, that's an extreme. But, still...

And let's be clear about one thing: Spouting off is not to be confused with the bullheaded opinionated grandstanding that passes for discourse these days. Or those arguments you have with the blind right-wingers, where you talk about fact-based opinions and they spout off whatever they've seen/read/heard on Fox News.

This is an actual discussion.

So, there you go. Let the trickle of communication spring forth.

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger Missuz J said...

Ummm--Possible topics

Ending sentences in prepositions--Ignorant or OK?

Pepperment Patty--swinging from both sides of the plate? Was the Chuck crush just a cover for her true feelings for Marcie?

Profanity--What the fuck is up with all the fucking potty mouths?

Should it be way harder to get married and way easier to get divorced?

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

oooooh, nice ones. I may keep a couple of these for future use...One is particularly tempting though.

Others?

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger patrice said...

1. breastfeeding in public, yay or nay?
2. ugg boots, fashion forward or just dumb?
3. cardigan welsh corgi dogs, should fluffs be summarily neutered to keep the breed short haired?
or one close to my heart - say you get a gift you hate. do you tell the giver you want to return it or suck it up?

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

I wonder if JJ knows what a Corgi is.

 
At 10:46 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I myself don't know what "ugg" boots are . . . unless it's just short for "ugly", in which case I'm sure something could be done.

In any case, some interesting suggestions so far. Lemme know when we've narrowed it down.

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

Ugg Boots

In other words, the boots Luke Skywalker wore in Return of the Jedi are now a fashion item.

 
At 9:19 PM, Blogger Stine said...

I had a whole thing typed up Beige, and honestly, I started to feel like I was going to visit the Fray. If none of you know what that is, I'm sure Lhound will enlighten you. Bottom line, I think everyone had points. Both genders get shit on, both think they have it hard in this world, and the answer is yes...D...all of the above. If I get a chunk of time in which to formulate a better response, I'll get on it.

Other possible topics:

1. Blogs - How much information is too much? What to share, what not to share, what will piss some people off, and what won't piss others off? Who the hell cares? Does it matter? Does one have to be pc in one's blog?

2. Catharsis and venting vs. whining/bitching and moaning to the point you drive yourself crazy? When does it stop being cathartic and start becoming detrimental to one's mental health?

3. Should religions be proseletyzed to spread the "word", or gain new followers? If so, which ones? How? should there be guidelines?

4. Pornography/Sex Workers, degrading to women? Men? Does it keep womenkind in the dark ages, or is it a bright new way to gaining personal power and freedom?

Just some stuff off the top of my head. It's off the very tip top, so it may not be coherent.

 
At 9:27 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Got just two things I can squeeze out of my head at the moment:

1) Hell, yeah, let's get it on. This is the only way I can hope to throw down and not piss off, the former of which I love and the latter of which is my nemesis.

2) Stine, don't let anybody off so easy. Are the genders equally slammed in the public fray? Hell fucking no. I mean, shit. Look at Congress, the intricacies of suicide stats, the culture of porn... do I really have to go on? Men have it hard? Puh-fuckin-lease. My dick is hard just thinking how much power and how few taboos I have on my straight white ass right now. I could rape a cop and walk into a job at BofA. Need I say it again - puh-fuckin-lease.

Sorry. Back to drinking myslef into the static for a few hours. Have I mentioned how quiet it is inside there?

 
At 2:43 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

I started to feel like I was going to visit the Fray.

Well, look, Stine, it's about the expressing of opinions, not necessarily about defending said opinions. At worst, you'll be asked to clarify something.

JJ, man, you know, conversations about power dynamics bore me, whether it's race- or gender-related.

It's an easy out, in my book.

Are things unequal along those lines? Yes, but throwing up your hands and saying "I have less power than they do," does nothing, absolutely nothing, towards changing things.

You talk about the culture of porn, when I know for a fact you partake of that stuff like it was mother's milk, as it were.

Do men have it hard compared to women? No, we don't. Women have it far tougher in our society than men do.

However, to assume that a man's path is without its pitfalls and obstacles discredits what life is about. There are still choices to be made, there are still crossroads to decide on.

To cross one's arms and say "cry me a river" helps who, exactly? It may feel good, but it's a cold comfort.

To my mind, that kind of behavior, the nit-picking and tallying of rights and wrongs, just keeps us separated. We've seen how well that goes.

That said, it is still imperative that whatever gains minorities (again, race or gender) make are done within said group. That singular fight is the only way to ensure everyone gets their due.

The least we can do is support it.

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I never said that I assume that man's path is without pitfall, and as a reaction it kind of proves my point. All white people don't have easy lives, either.

Look, I agree that the power of change begins at the individual level, but I believe folks like you undercut that change when you poo-poo discussions of the power dynamics. Sure, you get it (sorta), but how many people don't? One has to understand what the problem is, and even that there is in fact a problem, before it can be addressed.

What I'm talking about isn't nitpicking. It is peeling back the onion layers to show just how deep it stinks.

And it is less historical, often, than it is about unraveling an increasingly intricate tapestry.

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

One more comment, and then I SWEAR I'm done with the gender-power topic because a)I'm bored to the point of nausea with it and b) it's starting to reek of Foucault, and I'm just not going to go with that compelling but intellectually unstable head-tripper on any journey whatsoever without some Sartre to protect me (it's like traipsing in Rousseauville without Sade).

While discussion of power dynamics is equally dull to many--myself probably included--whether on the matter of race OR gender, the two can't really be fairly compared. Gender inequities can be traced to divisions of labor that happened early in our evolution as a species for reasons that were very good at and for the time. This arrangement was, by almost all accounts, consensual. That we've failed to let go of these separate sets of expectations is unfortunate, but it's not quite comparable to the involuntary servitude and massive genocide that have characterized most ethnic conflicts.

A culture without porn is a dead culture. If porn is degrading to women (some is, but I reject the notion that it's intrinsically so), then more women need to write, produce and direct porn to ensure that it isn't.

OK, that's it. I'm scrolling up to see what the REAL topic is.

 
At 8:58 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Look, I agree that the power of change begins at the individual level, but I believe folks like you undercut that change when you poo-poo discussions of the power dynamics. Sure, you get it (sorta), but how many people don't? One has to understand what the problem is, and even that there is in fact a problem, before it can be addressed.

I've spent my whole life waiting for the people who don't get it. Enough postponing our evolution for the dull of wit.

I'm glad your pleasures are so prosaic that your bahaviours don't bump up against any taboos, JJ. I bump up against a taboo every time I have anything resembling fun, and some of it is gender specific. For one thing, it seems I can't blame my body image disorder on the media or on the ways women regard men. Should I be able to? Maybe not . . . but then I have trouble offering the same excuse in the other direction. It really is that simple.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Stine said...

Damn you all for m aking me respond.

Alright, take a seat then...

2) Stine, don't let anybody off so easy. Are the genders equally slammed in the public fray? Hell fucking no. I mean, shit. Look at Congress, the intricacies of suicide stats, the culture of porn... do I really have to go on? Men have it hard? Puh-fuckin-lease. My dick is hard just thinking how much power and how few taboos I have on my straight white ass right now. I could rape a cop and walk into a job at BofA. Need I say it again - puh-fuckin-lease.

- Ok, I think I'm in love. Although I do disagree about the porn issue. I'm a big friggin fan, and I think the majority of those ladies know damn good and well what they are getting into, and love the power of it all. I know I would. Note to self: "Raping a cop" - food for thought.

Are things unequal along those lines? Yes, but throwing up your hands and saying "I have less power than they do," does nothing, absolutely nothing, towards changing things.

- Aren't you doing the same thing when you bitch about this administration and how many ways they've fucked up six ways from Tuesday? You haven't said you have less power then they do outright, but I've heard you rant, and how is that different?

To cross one's arms and say "cry me a river" helps who, exactly? It may feel good, but it's a cold comfort.

- See my topic for discussion idea. When does catharsis/venting turn into whining and stagnation?

To my mind, that kind of behavior, the nit-picking and tallying of rights and wrongs, just keeps us separated. We've seen how well that goes.

- This part I agree with.

What I'm talking about isn't nitpicking. It is peeling back the onion layers to show just how deep it stinks.

- Agreed as well. I don't think "nitpicking" and "peeling back the layers" need be mutually exclusive.

b) it's starting to reek of Foucault, and I'm just not going to go with that compelling but intellectually unstable head-tripper on any journey whatsoever without some Sartre to protect me (it's like traipsing in Rousseauville without Sade).

- Uhm, what Ly? What was that you were saying about "head-trippers"?

I bump up against a taboo every time I have anything resembling fun, and some of it is gender specific.

- In what ways do you "bump up" against taboos? Are these real societal taboos, or taboos you feel society espouses?

For one thing, it seems I can't blame my body image disorder on the media or on the ways women regard men. Should I be able to? Maybe not . . . but then I have trouble offering the same excuse in the other direction. It really is that simple.

- Maybe you SHOULD be allowed to blame your body image disorder on whatever you'd like. I do think the media gives similar messages to and about men, however, women have had more to overcome in that specific arena.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Whether women have had more to overcome than men with regards to media perception is debatable; but the point is that if I perceive myself as being under the thumb of an unrealistic expectation, if I feel stifled, crippled and degraded by this expectation, the point is moot. I can't speak for what "men" experience, but LYAM sees a standard up to which he cannot reasonably expect to live. And that, more than anything, is my point: If LYAM's experience, is shaped by LYAM, why isn't STINE's experience shaped by STINE? And if it is, then why are we still talking about it in terms of gender?

I still maintain, also, that these images are subject to interpretation. It's like the argument regarding pornography, strip clubs and prostitution: Do these things commodify women, or do they commodify sex in such a way that seems to indicated that women possess the commodity (sex, consent to sex or consent to vicarious sexual gratification), and men must secure their permission--through money, favors, whatever--to consume it? And if men had truly been responsible for this commodification, would they have placed the entire supply in the hands of women? Yes, swaths of these industries are probably run by men, misogynistic men at that; and yes, for an anti-Foucaultian, I'm getting a little postmodern and uncomfortably Marxist in this line of reasoning. I'm not all that interested in traipsing down the road of economics and dialectics. I'm not arguing to win, I'm arguing to end the argument, to free myself of the responsibility of recognizing "privelige" in a life that's stultifyingly difficult even without the "obstacles" of gender and race.

I grant you that, first and foremost, it's selfishness and solipsism that drive me: I can barely function as myself without placing an arbitrary barrier of racial/sexual guilt in my path. And when I DO turn my sights towards helping others, I always find I'm more effective when I treat people as people, as opposed to paradigms or representatives of one group or another.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

And JJ--I've never raped a cop, but I question whether BofA would have me. Even a white male may find his priveliged access to these institutions blocked by forces equally outside the known realm (and this is key, because there may always be unknown avenues . . . for all sexes and races) of conscious control. My theory is that it's a mix of class (I'm clearly not of the "banker class", and haven't been since my teens) and social temperament (even in pinstripes, my very manner screams bohemia) that really hangs over our heads, and race and gender are just functions of that when we're talking about economics and level of participation in the system.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Man alive, who needs a topic?

It is peeling back the onion layers to show just how deep it stinks.

And I can get behind this 100%. The question becomes: When do you realize that it's been fucked up for some time, and start making progress? Because this is what I've been advocating.

The way you house your argument makes it sound like it is okay to just keep on peeling away.

Aren't you doing the same thing when you bitch about this administration and how many ways they've fucked up six ways from Tuesday? You haven't said you have less power then they do outright, but I've heard you rant, and how is that different?

When I rant about this administration, I'm pointing out the very inequities they're spreading and exploiting. You may recall my then-seemingly paranoid rantings about the Patriot Act and the kind of behavior this will encourage in our president on the Meese-list. Well, that came to pass, didn't it?

The point of these rantings is to encourage action to be taken. Call your rep, write a letter, tell others, increase awareness. Every time I rant, I do those things. If others don't take me up on it, it's their karma.

I haven't said they have more power, because they don't. They've been given power by people like you and me. So, where does the power lay in that situation?

The whole "my vote doesn't count" is a fairly new phenomena, in the grand scheme of things, and the more we allow ourselves to sink into that ennui, the harder it will be to effect change.

The more we do that, the more likely we'll have to take JJ's remedy of "burning the motherfucker down." To me, this is a last resort, and there's still time to try to effect change in a different manner. It's quickly running out, though.

I guess what I'm saying is that when I'm ranting, I'm also pointing out a way to fix these problems, which makes it less navel-gazing and more problem-solving.

 
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