Friday, February 21, 2020

A Bit about Cancel Culture and Academic Freedom

I've written before about how I support free speech but don't support giving platforms to "White Nationalists" or neo-Nazis or any other racist group who could use the venue to garner more followers. My concern is with audience members who might be easily led or looking for a place to direct their saved up anger. I believe we must act together to ensure that racist or bigoted values don't get amplified. People aren't barred from speaking and sharing their views otherwise, but I'm fine if they are denied a stage, particularly in a public arena. It's not just that I don't like their views, but that I fear that their views, if accepted by a greater number of people, could normalize harmful actions and threaten the safety and security of my friends and neighbours.

But Peter Singer??  [ETA a recent interview about it at RNZ]

Here's a bit of background on this ethics philosopher. He is, if it's possible, the direct opposite of a neo-Nazi. He's all about decreasing suffering worldwide! He advocates for vegetarianism and goes so far as to suggest that, to live a truly ethical life, we should take any extra money just sitting in our bank accounts and donate it to charity to alleviate global poverty. He's ever concerned with us living the best life we can have in the most ethical way possible. But one of his many arguments around alleviating suffering, from a chapter in a book he wrote back in 1979, Practical Ethicsis about the right of parents to euthanize severely disabled infants. Disability activist groups want this view shut down.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Slowing Climate Change Doesn't Have to be so Confusing!!

Some people insist that we can't put it on individuals to make the changes necessary to affect climate; we have to change industry and vote differently and all that jazz. But it's only with individual efforts to change our behaviours AND to effect industry and petition politicians, as individuals, that anything will change. Here's a rundown of everything that causes the big issues today, why it doesn't really, and why that other thing should be our focus, and why, just maybe, we really have to DO ALL THE THINGS and ALL AT ONCE if we hope to eke out an existence on this beautiful planet!!

What's everything? Here's the solution in a nutshell: As much as you can, given your own personal limited resources, try to plant trees, petition the government, vote in climate-focused politicians who aren't full of shit and who won't invade other countries, reduce car and plane travel, reduce energy usage, reduce meat eating, avoid plastic, reduce unnecessary purchases, don't think you need kids to feel complete, and spend some more time in nature. Think of the money you'll save and the benefits to your body and soul by buying less crap and walking in the park for the afternoon instead of driving to the mall! It doesn't really matter which is the best and brightest method because no one thing can be at the expense of all the others. We have to do them all as much as we can manage!!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Getting My Head Around Privilege and Protest

This is a bit of a round up on this issue, just of opposing positions floating around social media. First let's look at Andrew Scheer's comments:

On "ideologically motivated protestors":
I hate how the existence of  'ideologies' has been spun to be a problem in the world. I get the idea that some people are so embedded in their beliefs that they can't see outside of them, but having a value system common to a group of people isn't a problem in itself. All protesters and politicians are motivated by their way of looking at the world.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

On Resisting Decadence

“America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.” - Oscar Wilde

Ross Douthat explores our trajectory that has led us to decadence, which he defines as,
"cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development. Under decadence, Barzun wrote, 'The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.'"
The Fyre Festival, Theranos, and Uber's financial losses point to this "Age of Decadence." Climate change is strikingly absent from this lengthy article, though. The fact that we have this huge, looming problems, and we're wilfully ignoring it in order to continue living with our many conveniences, is the epitome of decadence! He also misses that there are cultures that haven't bought into this neo-liberal mess, and, here in Canada, our mounted police are trampling them to get them to stop blocking progress in the form of more oil and more growth. The CBC just had a piece on Timothy Ornelas documenting the traditional homelands of the Indigenous in Los Angeles, on land currently occupied by Universal Studios. That's not in here either, but it's still an interesting read, at least in brief:

Monday, February 3, 2020

Let's Talk about Population! (ducking projectiles)

Back in November, 11,000 scientists declared that we need to stabilize or gradually reduce the global population. Since then, I've bumped into a few people, online and in real life, who become absolutely irate at the suggestion that climate change is in any way affected by the growing population on our finite planet. There was an upsurge in vocal opposition to any discussion of population after Jane Goodall recently commented on it at Davos:
"All these [environmental] things we talk about wouldn’t be a problem if there was the size of population that there was 500 years ago.” 
This cartoon gets the gist of the concerns:

On Twitter, Felix Trash Goblin sums up concerns like this,
"Overpopulation is a myth that leads to genocide. If you’re Irish you should know this. The famine was allowed to happen because the Brits thought Ireland was overpopulated. It was seen as a good thing that a million people died, because there were already too many wretched Irish . . . We humans have become so incredibly efficient at producing food. We could feed everyone in the world if we tried. The issue is capitalism. The reason people are starving. The reason people are homeless, choking in toxic city air, unable to drink clean water. IT’S CAPITALISM. It’s so fucking sickening to see this overpopulation bullshit come back up again and again. China had the OCP for years and now they have a wildly unbalanced population. Studies overwhelmingly show that education and economic development cause population to plateau naturally."