Tag Archives: Violence

Evan & Gordon Talk/Culture War Correspondence: Is It Okay to Punch Nazis?

EVAN: Ladies, gentlemen, and the rest, it has been almost two whole years since we released a “Culture War Correspondence”, the feature formerly known as “Evan and Gordon Talk”.

You can thank/blame my co-writer for its momentary revival, and I’ll let him be the one to introduce the topic for this week-

GORDON:  “Is it OK to punch Nazis?”

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Some of you may remember back in November, when alt-right spokesman Richard Spencer was clobbered during an interview with an Australian news channel, an event which prompted many across the nation (and indeed, the world) to ask that very question.

EVAN: When you first broached this topic with me I remember saying “Is the answer not ‘always’?”, to which you responded “Not by my book, no.”

That in turn led to me greenlighting this whole thing, because I think that may be as much a surprise to our readers as it was to me at the time.

GORDON: I guess part of that stems from who you define as a “Nazi”. I mean, sure, there’s the folks who stomp around in jackboots with swastikas tattooed over their chests…

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…But there’s plenty of folks- including Richard Spencer, who totally is a Nazi- who claim to be simple “White Nationalists”. As if there’s any ****ing difference.

I guess that’s to say I probably wouldn’t lay the almighty smackdown on someone’s bigoted grandma, y’know?

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Unless you cut me off in traffic one more time, Helen…

EVAN: It sounds like your stance, if you want to really boil it down, is to attack the able-bodied or “those who can take it.”

GORDON:   I don’t know if I’d say it’s about attacking those who can take it. Not that I’m in favor of wailing on the feeble (something that the Nazis, for the record, are all too eager to do), just that I don’t view someone’s bigoted grandmother as an actual threat.

If Agnes winds up pulling off the retirement-home-putsch, that might be another story.

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It’s not like the Fascist leadership in Germany, Spain, and Italy were all hip youngsters…

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The 2017 Women’s March: A Q&A Guide for Dummies

What rights have been taken away during Trump’s first 24 hours in office?

The ACA is presently being dismantled, meaning millions of Americans will be deprived of health insurance. Of this number, women are uniquely affected. As explained in The New York Times:

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care.

As deeply flawed a system as the ACA is, outright elimination will result in a sudden and fundamentally arbitrary penalization of women on the basis of their sex. The added cost will be especially detrimental to women in or near poverty (besides sucking for everyone in general).

So this is about Obamacare?

Not necessarily. The dismantling of the ACA is merely one of the many issues being protested by the millions of women marching in the US and around the world. Points include (but are not limited to):

  • Gay Rights – As the vice president has openly stated that gay marriage signal “societal collapse“, and has actively legislated the exclusion of gays from the military and a number of other civil rights issues.
  • Public Services – Which have been threatened with reduced funding, if not complete elimination, by high ranking members of the administration.
  • Defense of Racial and Religious Minorities – particularly people of color and Muslims, who have received ample disparagement and hostility from almost everyone within the administration.
  • Environmental Issues – The very existence of which Trump has denied, claiming global warming to be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
  • And easily a dozen more…

Bah! These protesters should be grateful for how easy they have it. Now women living in the third world, they experience real oppression. Why isn’t anyone speaking up for them?

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Will You Really Be Afraid This Halloween?

‘Tis the season to be afraid.

That’s the whole point of the tail end of October, isn’t it?

Just last night I went to Canada’s Wonderland to experience their Halloween Haunt event for the first time ever. As one might assume from its name, the amusement park sets up a number of “Haunted Attractions” which feature such individuals as-

-this lovely couple-

-who stand just out of sight waiting to step out of the shadows and shriek inches from behind your head. Their co-workers also stalk the areas outside, lunging at unsuspecting attendees just trying to get to the next thing before the park closes at midnight. Also included in the event are the rides, which likewise draw crowds looking to be terrified, though in this case by great heights and breathtaking falls [I’m looking at you, Drop Zone {I know it was renamed, but you don’t see me calling the Skydome the Rogers Centre}].

What I’m sure reads very much like an ad for Halloween Haunt 2016 at Canada’s Wonderland aside, that entire evening had me thinking long and hard about fear.  Continue reading

Don’t Call the Shooter “Crazy”: Toxic Masculinity, Mental Illness Stigma, and the Red-Herring’s of Mass Shootings

Our country has a serious gun epidemic.

We’re all aware of it, and it seems that almost weekly now we’re presented with yet another account of a mass shooter wreaking havoc among innocent civilians. We talk about gun control. We talk about mental illness. We talk about religious extremism. But we always seem to skirt around the underlying issue. By doing so we often cause harm to more innocent lives.

There’re so many “red herring” distractions to mass shootings, but the real issue lies much deeper in our society. Through our language, the media, our laws, and our acceptance of gendered norms, we manage to allow these massacres to continue and instead place undue pressure on mental illness. Sufferers of mental illness are often the target, although statistics show they are rarely violent people. The issue lies elsewhere: within toxic masculinity and the need to seek control.

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Another Mass Shooting, Always One Group to Blame

Mental illness is commonly brought up after a mass shooting. News anchors will emphasize the importance of mental illness awareness, and will suggest laws to evaluate the mental stability of gun owners. It’s an easy target to paint: those that kill others must be crazy.

The word “crazy” is used so loosely in our society, but it’s with this type of language that we perpetuate the stigma around mental illness. Entertainment and television were large perpetrators of spreading harmful stereotypes for a long time, but that is slowly changing in fictional media. News-centered media is still behind the times, however.

It’s taken us a long time to get where we are today in mental illness treatment and care. According to Bradley University’s research about 18% of the American population admits to suffering from some sort of mental illness. Of those 43.6 million people, only 6.7 million sought and received treatment for their varying ailments. Those who did seek treatment found that it was extremely beneficial, but still only a fraction of those suffering seek out the help they need.

Language and negative connotation are one of the main reasons people avoid seeking help. Despite that fact that only 3-5% of violent acts are committed by sufferers of mental illness, the issue is always brought up around cases of murder and shootings. The mental health of the shooter is put into question, and the media is quick to jump on the blame train; to distance themselves from the “crazy” or “unstable” population.

“We aren’t responsible for this, because we’re not insane.” Continue reading

If We Whined About Other Groups The Same Way We Whine About Black Lives Matter

v2my2blSince the movement’s inception in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, the Black Lives Matter campaign has taken its share of criticism. As the number of unarmed black men killed by the police has mounted over the past years, so have the responses from- and towards- the movement. So much so that they’ve become cliche at this point. Still not so cliche that we won’t try to respond to ’em, however.

Let’s imagine, if you will, a world where white folks are also the victims of police brutality. Where white folks have been arbitrarily discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic, national, and religious background. Where exploitation and oppression have left enormous swathes of white folks in abject poverty.

Imagining that world should be pretty easy, because it’s the one we live in now. But let’s say that a movement existed to argue that maybe- just maybe- random violence inflicted by the state on white citizens isn’t something that should just be suffered silently. I’m betting we would still have people who sound like this:

I’m white and I hate white lives matter.

And because I’m white I can say that and it somehow feels more justified. Like “well, he’s white– so you know he’s got more authority to speak on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior for other white people.” Like with clothes.

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We all know that sagging your pants is an offense that should allow cops and scared white folks who embarrass self-respecting gun-owners  vigilantes to kill you on sight, so what about these guys?

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I mean, this guy’s wearing a wife beater, a gold chain, and he’s got slicked back hair. You know who else wears clothes like that? That’s right- the mafia.

I mean, I assume so.

Truth be told, I’m not a criminologist and I can’t really claim to know what all criminals wear, but I’m going to assume it looks like this because having to think for extended periods of time makes brain go hurt-hurt. But I see someone who fits the image that the media has created for me and I just go “well if TV says a thug looks like this, then this guy must be a gangster. When has TV ever lied?” Continue reading

Why TF2 Doesn’t Have Female Characters [And Overwatch Does]

I’ve played 31 hours of Overwatch to date. Now that pales in comparison to the 322 I’ve clocked on Team Fortress 2 [often shortened to TF2], but the former has only been out since late May and I’ve had the latter for several years now. There’s time to even the scales, is all I’m saying.

31hoursNow those 31 hours may not communicate this this very well, but I am all about this game. As a self-proclaimed Blizzard [the studio behind the game] fanboy who has spent actual cash money on every one of their recent releases save for World of Warcraft I’ll admit that I was already primed for it, but where Diablo III: Reaper of Souls languishes half-finished I don’t see any excitement drop-off in sight for Overwatch.

Counting herself as a fellow member of the game’s 10 million or so players, Polygon contributor Susana Polo’s interest stemmed from a different place. To wit, the presence of so many playable female characters was a huge draw for her in spite of not being “a big shooter fan”. While as a whole the its roster is startlingly diverse [it ostensibly only has four Harveys; see here for an explanation of the terminology] it’s Polo’s perspective, primarily her comparison between Overwatch and Team Fortress 2, that I want to focus on.

Comparing Apples Blues and Oranges

Her article has its foundations in a conversation she had with a former co-worker, namely regarding the fact that “It’s shitty that Team Fortress doesn’t allow you to play as a woman”. As another class-based shooter with a focus on objectives over kills juxtaposing the two only makes sense.

Team Fortress 2 was released by Valve in 2007. The game offers a total of nine different classes to choose from, most of them White, all of them male [as far as we know]. While there has been much speculation about the Pyro [who is fully masked] being a woman there has been no confirmation from developers at this point.

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Overwatch has 21 heroes, with Blizzard already teasing another on the way. Of these characters eight of them are female. While not as close to 50% as the actual number of women in the world, it should be noted that of other 13 two are Omnics [robots] and another is a hyperintelligent gorilla.

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Now what we could do is chalk up the creative decisions made by the studios as simply matching the current climate surrounding consumer expectations. While female gamers have always existed it’s within recent years that they’ve become more vocal and made their presence more known, something which the industry appears to have tuned in to.

Given that TF2 was created nearly a decade ago maybe we can cut Valve a little bit of slack for merely keeping up with the times, such as they were. Having made that decision let’s instead change gears and ask a different question: “Why hasn’t Valve added female skins to TF2 in the nine years since it was released?” Continue reading

The Evolving Feminism of Game of Thrones: Evidence that Viewers Can Change Problematic Television

There are spoilers below, so very many spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I’ve often felt conflicted about Game of Thrones. 

From the beginning, I’ve been irritated with the gratuitous sex and nudity. I understand that this can sometimes be used to move the plot in an effective way (i.e. Cersei’s walk of shame). But, generally speaking, GOT has used naked ladies as window dressing to keep straight male viewers watching. HBO has been notorious for finding any and every opportunity to throw a couple of boobs into any given scene in all of its shows. However, as CollegeHumor points out in their NSFW video below, HBO’s gratuitous nudity only goes one way.

Unfortunately, Game of Thrones’ sex scenes have not only been irritating, some have also been majorly problematic. In the first season Daenerys Targaryen is sold into marriage with warlord Khal Drogo, who rapes her on their wedding night. While their relationship eventually progresses into “love,” this first scene made it impossible for me to ever really view their relationship as a loving one. It made me even more angry when I learned that, in the books, this scene between Daenerys and Drogo was actually consensual. Continue reading