Saturday, December 31, 2016

The 'Hit' That Ariana Didn't Want - Or Deserve

Last week, a young fan said to Ariana Grande’s boyfriend, Mac Miller, “Ariana is sexy as hell, man. I see you, I see you hitting that!!!" Ariana’s response was rightly indignant: "Hitting that? The f***?? This may not seem like a big deal to some of you but I felt sick and objectified. I was also sitting right there when he said it."

Can we all agree that the fan was totally out of line, not just for saying that in front of her but for saying that at all? It’s a cold objectification of a human being whose value is reduced to her' tappability'.  Ariana desires to be seen as a strong, independent woman whose value comes from an inherent dignity, not her sexual desirability. I don’t blame her for wanting this.  All women deserve to be treated with value, worth and dignity because they are human beings.

Can we also all agree there is some sad irony here? Ariana makes her living in an industry that has normalized the use of ‘hit’ or ‘tap’ to refer to sex – and in so doing, our cultural troubadours have made it acceptable to refer to women as objects whose value is found in how eagerly men wish to ‘tap’ them. Here’s just a small sample easily found with a google lyric search – and I will let her boyfriend, Mac Miller, lead the way. I apologize for the language, is what it is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Assassin's Creed

As best as I can cobble together from the film, this is the background of Assassin’s Creed.

There are these assassins, and they have an initiation creed:
Assassin: "Where other men blindly follow the truth, remember..."
Initiate: "Nothing is true."
Assassin: "Where other men are limited by morality or law, remember..."
Initiate: "Everything is permitted."
Assassin: "We work in the dark to serve the light. We are Assassins."
Yikes. (Anti-hero...check!) What is so important that they are permitted to do anything immoral or illegal to serve this vague light?

Apparently, when Eve ate the apple, she exercised free will and as a result seeded the first sin into the world. Since then, everything has gone downhill: violence, greed, poorly made movies, etc. The Templars at some point decided that they would find the apple and genetically undo the damage that has been done (apparently sin is biological). Sounds great, but that also means free will goes out the window as everybody does what the Templars want them to do. The Assassins formed to stop the Templars from doing this.  

Fast forward five hundred years. The modern Templars are on the verge of getting the apple. They have apparently captured all the modern Assassins and managed, through some sci-fi wizardry, to find a way to send a modern descendent of an Assassin back to relive the life of a former Assassin. By doing this, they will be able to figure out where this elusive apple has been hidden for the past 500 years. One super na├»ve scientist, Sophia, is convinced the Templars will use this power to bring worldwide peace by deleting the genetic basis of violence in everybody (hello, Nobel Peace Prize!). I don’t think it will give much away to say that her plan is not the same as the other Templars.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

National Geographic's Gender Revolution

Recently, National Geographic made headlines by putting a transgender child on the cover.  The response has been mixed to put it mildly, ranging from praise for furthering human rights to criticism for promoting child abuse. In light of that discussion, I thought it worth noting several things about the transgender question that ought to be part of the discussion.


Glenn Stanton offers a list of potential causes for gender dysphoria: the “girl trapped in a boy’s body” conviction; family and parental dynamics (“family noise”); psychosexual disorders; not being directed or encouraged in typical gender behavior; and a mix of many of factors. His conclusion?

"The truth is that no one really knows what’s behind it, even the most cutting-edge researchers and clinicians. A 2014 book for clinicians, Treating Transgender Children and Adolescents, explains, in academic terms, 'No unequivocal etiological [causal root] factor determining atypical gender development has been found to date.' Translation: We’re just not sure what causes it."
Walt Heyer, who was formerly transgender, writes:
Has any biological basis been found that indicates who will develop into a transgender? Is there a genetic marker in transgenders? The answer is no. Researchers have looked for evidence to prove that transgenders are different biologically but they haven’t found any. One study published in 2014 looked at certain suspected areas of the brain for an association with male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism and found none. Another study, published in 2009, looked for “evidence that genetic variants of sex hormone-related genes confer individual susceptibility to MtF or FtM transsexualism” and didn’t find any. Yet another study, published in 2013, found that “gender disorder does not seem to be associated with any molecular mutations of some of the main genes involved in sexual differentiation." Not a smidgeon of abnormality can be found in the genetic makeup of transgenders so, no, transgenders are not born that way. They are normal males and females.
In response to a flyer that read, "“Gender dysphoria is increasingly understood…as having biological origins,” Kenneth Zucker, one of the top researchers in the world, responded, "In terms of empirical data, this is not true. It’s just dogma, and l’ve never liked dogma. Biology is not destiny.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Comet Ping Pong, Pizzagate, And The Pursuit Of Truth

What some are claiming is happening in the Pizzagate scandal is sadly not out the realm of possibility. We know that people at times do terrible things and cover them up. I'm thinking of the story about pedophila in the UK parliament; the under-reported story about known pedophile Epstein and the politicians and celebrities who hang out with himthe recent pedophile ring uncovered in Norway; and the bust of a huge child pornography ring in Canada several years ago. I think that's one of the inevitable results of a porn-saturated culture, but that's a topic for another time. 

The problem of pedophilia is real and apparently growing, and it doesn't help that more and more people are defending it. However, we need to make sure that we are focusing our justified anger properly. This is, of course, the debate about Pizzagate: have people uncovered an actual pedophilia ring that deserves righteous anger and swift judgment, or it is a groundless story that has taken on a life of its own? In an internet world full of fake, biased and distorted news, it's not always easy to tell. 

In the interest of letting you read and reach your own conclusions before offering mine, here is a list of relevant articles that represent lead voices on both sides of this story.