Rape, "Social Justice Bullies" and Older White Male Aristotelis Orginos

Aristotelis Orginos writes about "social justice bullies" and "identity politics" by examining the Rolling Stone "rape article" incident.

He points to Millennials as the problem, when the real problem is a character issue not specific to either political beliefs or a generation. Both left and right political stripes have narrow-minded, intolerant believers. In a short-lived blog in DailyKos, I was attacked by liberals for suggesting that Amazon tribesmen should be given the option of getting housing and health care. The belief was that "their way of life" should be left untouched. Fine, if that is what they want. But shouldn't they be given the right to choose? None of my detractors would give up their air conditioning and clean water to return to the practices of 500 years ago. "They live longer, healthier lives" while naked in a dangerous Amazon forest, were the claims - which is patently absurd. Many commenters hadn't even left the U.S., relying on stories of shoeless children in the American south to inform their opinion. Never mind how that relates to the subject. It doesn't.

My DailyKos experience showed me that narrow-minded, irrational thought is not isolated to a generation or political party. It was quite a shock. I will admit to the elitist presumption that such character traits were limited to uneducated, conservative watchers of Fox News. I was wrong.

The rape dialog is separate from Originos' complaints about an entire generation. His reasoning misses the mark. The point of taking identity into account is including an introspection of one's own biases in analysis.

Nowhere in Orginos' remarks does he include his own experiences as someone who knows a person who was raped. It would add to the conversation to know what the culture surrounding accusations of rape when he was young. What does he remember? I want to know how his life has informed his thoughts, analysis, and yes, possible bias.

Because we all have bias. Analysis without acknowledging our own perspective and its limits and strengths is limited. That is the strength of identity politics.

Do you want a discussion of rape, and the presumption of belief? Let's.

Petula Dvorak and Plagarism

A common practice in the print media before the Information Age was:  if you gave anything to a reporter they could put their name on it and say they were the ones who did the work and had the idea.

All that is over now, of course.  Most people get their news from Facebook and Reddit.

But old ideas die hard, it seems.  Reddit user KATSUICHI observed recently that Petula Dvorak is trolling Reddit threads for her column in the Washington Post.  

Accusation aside, reporters who lift information, or quotes, or ideas from Reddit without attribution are plagiarizing.  I know, it is what has always been done.  Power of the pen, and all that.  Words in a newspaper have led to big changes in our world since our country was founded.  A watchdog media is part of our democracy, and any attack on independent media in other countries is seen as a rise in authoritarianism. Not going to argue that point.

But all the while, it really has been "power of the printing press."  Writers, alone their garrets, do not influence government and laws.  People need to be able to read what is written.  They need to be moved by the words.  They need to read them in the first place.  It may be one of the reasons for the squeals of rage from the mainstream media:  loss of power. News organizations were the gatekeepers of what people knew and believed.  

Now everybody has a printing press, and taking ideas from people isn't seamless and invisible.  

Being "qualified" to be a reporter for the Washington Post no longer means accomplished and special.  Petula Dvorak's actions demonstrate that it probably never did.  She "trawls," in the words of KATSUICHI, for ideas, rewrites them, and presents them as her own.  Plagiarism.  It's been going on for over a century.

When I wrote for Georgetown & Country,  a local paper centered on Georgetown happenings in the Nineties, a Washington Post reporter phoned our garden editor and asked that our paper be sent to her each month "because we have such good ideas for stories."  No attempt at hiding a bald intent to steal ideas.  Why would she?  It is how things were done, prior to the Internet.  Our garden editor refused and hung up.

The Washington Post is no stranger to plagiarism scandals.  It's only a suggestion, but now would be the time to update your policies on that, before another kerfluffle forces it.


Karl Marx Won - But Not in the Way He Imagined

For anybody who has read Karl Marx' Das Capital, it is a tough book to read.  Not because it is so complex or deep, but because that jerk is so offensive.  Das Capital provides a thought map to the earliest communists, and damn if I don't just want to hop into a time machine and slap their faces.

My favorite Marx term is "lumpenproletariat."  He means lower class people who he compares to animals, including that they are disposable for his political cause.  Marx rails against the class system, but as sure as an anti-gay politician in a public restroom, he is blind to his own ironies.

But, as the Buddhists say, you can't have flowers without the manure.  Marx did have some valid ideas, and arguments could be made that the manure of his personal attitudes are what fed them.

Karl Marx did win, because he predicted that workers would gain power and organize.  They did.  And despite the fall of union political power, that gain can be seen in other ways right now.

I'm talking about flexible workspaces.

During the '90s, worker power could be seen in relaxed dress codes, flexible work hours, and open space architecture.  Workers needed to be kept happy because they were really needed, since people had more options for making money.  Articles were written about how the U.S. State Department was losing talented young foreign service officers to private companies.  This was a situation that was new and frightening to the established hierarchy there.  Heretofore, young people with an interest in foreign affairs had one option: the State Department.  In that little fishbowl, advancement was doled out to the loyal and obedient.  Enter the modern economy, with much need for energetic people with new ideas.  Suddenly, there were options.  No one had to suck it up and play the game.  Hence, the talent drain.

Of course, here and now unemployment is a serious problem.  The official statistics are lies and have lost credibility - we all know unemployment is widespread.

But one essential truth remains, workers are needed to do work.  So the return of the post-collegiate worker space is a sign of optimism.  Otherwise, why would there be a need to keep workers happy?  No one would bother with it.  Wages are increasing also.  The term "livable wage" has been created and is well-known, even by Marx's lumpenproletariat.

So the worker's paradise isn't looking like Marx expected.  It is clean air, water, a living wage, rest time and health care.  Owning the means of production, as Marx predicted, is done through the marketplace of the stock exchanges and the pension funds that own those stocks.  It is a pleasant office environment that fosters creativity from employees and support their ideas.

It isn't about controlling all the capital at all.  Sorry, Karl.