2016-06-11 01:37 pm
Entry tags:

Another Clinton Article


This is a good article, but I'm not sure if makes a strong case against *progressive* criticism of Clinton. It makes a strong argument to Clinton being better than Trump, and that Republican objections to her (at least relative to Trump, or Jeb Bush) is logically unsound. Full marks there.

It makes a strong overall case for Clinton being more honest than most politicians, and experienced, and being unfairly punished for being a woman - and this applies across the political spectrum. Again, well done.

But it seems to be trying to coast on that to "and democrats should love her too." When it claims that "The fact that these views [from left and right] could not possibly apply to the same person does not seem to give either side pause," it fails to take pause itself and consider that, for people on the left, she might be uncomfortably centrist relative to other options. And in this, this article, like many other articles, falls into the trap of false appeals of progressive unity,

For a lot of people, myself included, the evaluation comes down to what policies Clinton will implement *as compared to other alternatives on the left.* She's in favour of abortion access and has a stance on gun control that is in line with the bare minimum for most countries, and these are plusses. But on other issues, how does she stack up against alternatives like Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein (and, fingers crossed, Elizabeth Warren for VP - who is like the political frame of Sanders and the experience of Clinton combined) - not to mention the #1 Clinton alternative above all - Hillary Clinton as she stands with a few simple campaign modifications. And in this realm, Clinton (or current-Clinton) is not as strong as the alternatives, and, worse, she, and the media that supports her, seems to show little interest in addressing her own shortcomings:

1. For example, while this article makes a strong case for the value of speaking gigs, it fails to explain why, despite her "looking into it" she won't make their content public. This seems trivial, and it pales compared to Trump (while also raising the question of who would pay Trump to speak for them, and who would trust someone who makes that decision with any other decision) but it's suspect within the larger context. Like Clinton, it also fails to address where her campaign money is coming from - a problem that Sanders and Stein do not have. Admittedly Stein doesn't have a lot of money and has 0% chance of winning, but the fact that this correlation is normal points to how much we've gotten used to the system of legalized bribery that is "campaign contributions." This is fixable. Yet she won't fix it.

2. For me, this article, like Clinton, fails to address the idea of political dynasties and the concentration of power along class and blood lines that comes with them. I'm willing to give Clinton a cautious pass on this *because* she is a woman and until now she simply could not have run for president and won. If she could have done so in the 90s, Bill would have been first husband and that would have been as good a presidency if not a considerably better one because I think she's a better option than Bill, and I don't think the Republicans could have spun the VP sleeping around into the fiasco that The Sex Trials became. But if were she Bill's brother or some other male relative, I'd want her off the ticket. Still, as it stands, for a country in the midst of a runaway class system to choose a president who further cements an aristrocracy strikes me as a problem. Yes, again, she's "not as bad as Trump," but how does she stack up to other options, including a reflective verison of herself.

3. Most glaringly, this article, like Clinton herself, fails to address her comfort with the status quo of American militarism - which is a HUGE drawback as the US's joyful habit of blowing its riches on an army drives the globe to waste national resources on arming up, diverts money away from things we actually need, kills a lot of innocent people, and perpetuates imperialism. Consider the US "military status quo" campaign policy reframed: "We're in debt and have an ongoing healthcare crisis, so let's keep spending one sixth of our budget on war despite the fact that it's kind of weird for a country with 5% of the population to have 35% of the global war budget, then use our army for spurious reasons, then watch what happens when everyone else realizes that if they don't follow our example, they might get invaded, if not by us, then by someone competing with us." What kind of a political system - and what kind of a candidate for "most powerful person on Earth" - lets this fly unchallenged?

All I want from Clinton is a small amount of movement on #1 and #3, and perhaps, in an ideal world, an acknowledgement of #2 (easily framed as "at least I'm not Bush - ha ha") and I'll take time off from work to come and campaign for her. I don't think this is much to ask. Until then, I resent this and other articles' (and, for that matter, every other worldly instance of) disingenuous appeal to progressive unity - i.e. "Anyone who doesn't shelve their concerns and get onside is motivated by and helping The Other Side." I believe that I can't, and shouldn't, trust a leader who lacks the ability to listen to simple obvious criticisms and make minimal change.

As a US citizen, I will still vote for her. I acknowledge that the US Presidential election is anomalous compared to most of my decision-making as in every other case, from groceries to voting, I have at least two viable choices that are "Not Trump." Here this is not the case, and I agree with the article that she has that going for her. But, in my opinion, she is by her own ongoing choices, demonstrating that she is not a "good" president. Merely an okay one. And if she loses votes because she is too inert to address simple, gender-egalitarian, valid, and rational concerns, she will have brought that on herself.
2016-05-15 11:58 am
Entry tags:

On Sanders supporters people being rude to Clinton supporters

We have a meeting between the chronic problem in leftist organizing and the overall online culture war, which shuts down discourse. Discourse ideally (1) creates ideological synthesis while (2) preventing emnity. In other words, it creates a "true unity" where people support the result because they feel heard. In this regard, neither candidate is doing their duty.

I see the Sanders campaign creating discourse including a variety of voices, having open town halls, adapting to BLM, and engaging a varied mass audience (yes to 1) but failing to structure itself to avoid creating hostility with potential allies (no to 2). By contrast, Clinton's campaign pushes a practical and well-tested manuever of an experienced federal politician pushing moderation as a means to incremental change, using strong old-media messaging to unify democrats against the shambling hungry corpse of what was once the Republican party (yes to 2) but in sticking to message, blows at adapting to criticism (no to 1).

I see the Clinton campaign pulling the manuever favoured by the centre-left and well-off middle aged feminists of demanding unity without putting in the work to create it (and by "work" I mean, changing a few sentences in policy and public speeches), then patronizing or or dismissing critics. (confer: the CFS) I see news articles pushing Clinton as The Only Choice, prominent old-school feminists patting me on the head for not being mature enough to support a woman in the White House (who, if they like policy, were oddly silent on the Greens since their 1996 inception, and if they liked electability over policy, curiously failed to support McCain/Palin) and a clear media push to say that Sanders' campaign can't engage voters of colour despite poll numbers that refute this. I see that even this article conveniently omits that the protestors in the photo were mostly organized by a Latino rights group with some pretty legit grievances.

Then the Sanders "campaign" reacts by turning up the rage and. I use scare quotes as it's more pushing/enabling/harnessing an anarchic social media structure, thus creating a hurricane of vitriol, and ignoring any responsibility for what it's created - which is kind of crap leadership. Nevermind that the rage past a certain point not only just makes people bunker down, it also makes it increasingly difficult to have peace talks later, as outlined two paragraphs down.

This is what happens all the damn time on the left. And it can be fixed. In this case, prior to proper negotiations this could be amended if:
- Clinton stopped ignoring criticism, tweaked her policy, and provided something concrete to indicate that this wasn't lip service (like naming some prospective cabinet ministers or a VP with a better track record - what's Elizabeth Warren up to these days?). While I love Bernie and really don't like Clinton, if she took the necessary five minutes to do this after she almost certainly cinches the nomination, I would take my US passport and go deliver some campaign signs for her. Hell, I'd campaign for any centre-left candidate who was willing to grow a pair of gonads and use the unity they demand to push some innovative policy.
- Sanders used some autocratic power (which, whether he likes it or not, is the province of the head of the Executive Branch) to ask people to either engage in civil discourse or GTFO. As Trump has shown, the culture they create is something that populist candidates are going to be increasingly responsible for going forward. Sanders needs to grasp this and act accordingly.

Like with any other climate of growing hostility, the ideal solution is for candidates to sit down and figure out how to make peace and combine their strengths. Hopefully, this could start in one month, after the last primary.
2016-05-01 11:51 pm
Entry tags:

Re: A Decolonization 101 site

It's good that resources like this exist, and this is definitely worth a visit. I find that the essay here (https://iisaakteachings.com/processes-of-decolonization-by-poka-laenui/) has some conclusions that have some dodgy applications, insofar as they kind of run up against telling other nations that if they're doing decolonization differently (i.e. faster, or with greater hybridity), then they're not doing decolonization right - and when presented in the context of a foundational educational site, that message is especially ill-placed.

One nation's first (or second, or third or fourth) steps of decolonization might looks like the authour's idea of the fifth step of *colonization*. Laenui also claims that if one does not spend enough time in contemplation and goes to the next stage prematurely the results can be disastrous, citing other nations' governmental systems as being too western. Do those other nations see their new government as adequate? Or at least a work in progress, preferable to what came under occupation - to later be amended and improved? Is the authour aware that many of these neocolonial governments have systems of representation that make the British Parliamentary system look like a gerrymandered sham? If a nation has evicted a colonial government and installed its own, even if it's flawed, then is it just to say that they needed to wait and dream longer? Why are these other governments' so suspect while the authour's preference for western style media is taken for granted?

The reason that I'm being persnickety is not to suggest not using this site. It's that when one compiles resources for 101 allyship, teaching that one method of activism is right and another is wrong, without either a pluralistic frame, debate, or a lot more nuance can lead to allies latching onto one school of thought as correct, and alternative schools of thought as, for a lack of a better term, the enemy. Confer: men who join 2nd wave feminist organizations; NT parents who join dodgy autism organizations; etc...

Seems like a good site otherwise though.
2016-04-30 11:40 am
Entry tags:

In response to the drawbacks of letting trans people use bathrooms

The burden is actually on the authour to prove this assertion, not the people objecting to him.

However, I can still take a crack at it. While writing this, I see that Jessica seems to have a handle on it from a rules-based argument. I'll take it from a utlitarian standpoint.

This argument can be boiled down to
- If we let (minority) access (majority) space/benefit, then
1. (majority) will feel uncomfortable, and
2. (majority) will assault or harass minority

Okay - actually, stepping away from utilitarianism for a moment, this can be used to used to justify excluding any marginalized group from anything. It has been used w/r/t women in the army, women in mixed airplane seating (currently on El-Al), women in bars, women in business networking, black americans in desegregated schools, indigenous people being allowed off reserve, gay marriage, whatever. Take from that what you will.

Back to utilitarianism:
#1 is stronger if that marginalized group is a numerical minority. #2 is population-indifferent as the more people who gain access, the more people "at risk"

Since this is a utilitarian argument, we can put aside any (strong) argument to rights to or duties to equality and concentrate on the effect. Throughout this proof, as it becomes increasingly obvious that this is not a complicated argument, I will become proportionately increasingly sarcastic.

For #1.
Once (minority) people are allowed (majority) spaces, (majority) will just get used to it (e.g., we now work next to left-handed people, nevermind the fact that they may be possessed by the devil). Or at least members of (majority) can get used to it if they choose. However, (minority) cannot get used to not accessing the space or service in question, hence the demand in the first place

Thus, indefinitely barring (minority) people from equal access will have indefinite detrimental effect on (minority), while permitting (minority) access will have a detrimental effect on a small portion of (majority) for the finite period of time until this issue will be forgotten.

Note, I say "indefinite" rather than "infinite." This difference is not permanent, as at some point in the future I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, humanity will either go extinct or invent a Star-Trek-like way of making the service in question so obselete that no-one uses it. So, I will concede that if the apocalypse occurs tomorrow or if we invent a way to beam our bodily wastes into the reagent chamber of the antimatter reactor by the end of the week, this argument may not hold, in which case I will be happy to reconsider my views.

However, if we for some reason want to look at the short term (although I can see no reason to do so - unless there's a rogue moon on it's way here right now, or MIT is about to spring something on us) we can still measure this.

X = (the detrimental effect of denial of service) x (number of people affected)
Y = (detrimental effect of provision of service) x (number of people affected).
X >=<Y ? Being able to excrete wastes is a basic biological function common to all life. And for humans to do so so outside of a washroom in a public space is illegal. (leading one to the interesting point where one's dog may have more rights than oneself). So not being able to use public facilities (since trans exclusion effectively bars trans people from both male and female spaces, as the harassment or risk for using the "legal" space can still, in most trans people's estimate, outweigh the benefits of using said space) effectively bar one from any public life in a space that uses washrooms (so this may not apply to some lumberjacks). Most estimates of the transgender population cover around 0.3%. The number of cissexed people who are sufficiently gender-variant to be harmed by trans exclusion from washrooms is harder to quantify, but I'd guess that a realistic estimate is 0.7%. The economy also suffers from this lack of public participation, causing a detrimental effect on society as a whole. Compare this to the inconvenience of being next to someone in the washroom who makes one feel uncomfortable, multiplied by the number of people who *at first* give a flying fuck (10% in schools to maybe 50% at a Ted Cruz fundraiser - I say 50% as, even assuming 100% objection to peeing near a trans person, about half of trans people will pass unnoticed). So on day one of trans integration we have X = Being barred from say half(?) of public life * (0.01) + general economic cost of restricting people from public life Y = Mild passing discomfort * (0.1-0.5) (also: as mentioned above, Y decreases with each passing day.) Argument #2 - In the estimation of the people seeking access, potential harassment during inclusion isn't as bad as exclusion. Unless they are somehow(???) wrong, that's the end of the assessment.
2016-02-15 02:20 pm

In response to "you aren't offering enough for this license fee"

 Hey <NAME>,

In the future, if you have moral concerns when I'm asking people for help, can you phone or PM me first? I'm very happy for you to point out that you are contacting me in public, and I'll make time to speak privately as soon as I can. Then, if you don't like my response, I guess I feel it's fair if you want to go ahead and raise your concerns publicly.

My situation right now is this: after making The Switch, I owe a lot of people *a lot* of money and the income we were expecting hasn't arrived yet. I need to find money to live on, and I'm trying to do it with regards to principles that I think we share. I'm lucky enough to be able to make an income doing things that overlap with my values, but I'm also working contract-to-contract (so that I have a schedule that lets me finish the show), which means I don't have a day job. Until things level out, which might be soon or... might not, sometimes when I'm doing work for pay, I'm asking people to help me do my job well and I'm paying them a cut as best I can. In my experience, when there's something that, whether it's the case or not, makes the first impression of a call-out, even when a public discussion follows that satisfies the original concerns raised, everyone disengages




Revised post (using response from original thread):


I am giving a Transgender-related talk for some UBC psych students. For the first quarter of this presentation, I need some "trans 101" powerpoint slides. If anyone has these and would be okay with me using them, I would like to pay $10 (to you or a cause of your choice) for the okay to do so once.

(See below for how I came up with this figure)


I'm getting $60 for about 5 hours of work. That's what I could negotiate - which is a step up from doing it for free, which is what I'm used to. The rest of the presentation is on related subjects (like the history of trans people w/r/t psychology) where I will have to generate the material from scratch. I'll also be fielding live questions. Plus there was a lot of overhead that went into this presentation. This material will constitute up to 1/6 of the content in the presentation, so I'm paying 1/6 of my fee.

I'm not asking to own the material, just license some of it to be used as a portion of a larger presentation, *once.* If I use it again, I pay again with the exact amount to be negotiated at that time.

(By comparison, as a songwriter, I get about 3 cents every time someone legally plays the song I wrote.)
2016-01-22 03:29 pm

In response to "Trans woman leading men's rights group"



 Oh that is interesting. And, as someone who has a post-bac from SFU's Women's Studies department, yet who does not identify as a feminist (although my politics generally agree with those who do), I have many many thoughts! I don't know if any of these would be good column fodder, but it's pretty much consensus among trans women that being read as a cis woman is much safer, easier and generally more privileged than being read as a transgressively feminine man. In my case, I was shocked to realize that even though I was never perceived as a man in a dress, I still had an easier time with day to day gender stuff after transition than before, insofar as being perceived as a hundred-yarder butch dyke was way easier than being read as maybe possibly gay.

In "Whipping Girl" Julia Serano postited that as hatred of femininty=mysogyny, so discrimination of trans women is actually a clear expression of latent sexism without the veneer of militarist masculinity that prevents the more violent expressions of patriarchy day to day. This sounds smart, and it truly is smart is, and it made a big difference in getting trans women access to community and lifesaving services, but the more I think about it, and most attempts to discuss gender in anti-oppression space, the more I see people trying to discuss observations of prejudice along any axis so as to shoehorn it into what was originally a second-wave feminist frame that was extremely limited and flawed to begin with. Even most of third wave feminism is still built on this foundation, endlessly renovating the limitations of second-wave feminism to fit reality. This would be like trying to modify Lamark to account for Darwinist evolution, or trying to use the language and worldview of elemental bodily humours in Gallenic medicine to describe neurochemistry ("Prozac preserves the fiery character of the sanguine humour, thus balancing out water, and combatting melancholy. It's like a little salamander cage!").
The problem is that every conversation still has to satisfy this original frame. And yet the more *most people* look at gender, the more most people gather that discrimination around gender acts differently than discrimination around race, ability or birthplace. I can't think of any significant downside of being white, predominantly able-bodied, or having dual citizenship in rich countries. But even not looking at what happens to visible trans women, when we look at incarceration rates, lifespan, some forms of homelessless, and gay-bashing, it seems that being male has some really shitty sides. Contemporary feminism tries to reconcile this by describing "toxic masculinity withing a framework of classism, sexism and racism" and ventures into "patriarchy is bad for everyone" but can't seem to ever say that under many circumstances, being (perceived as) male is grounds for some pretty brutal discrimination - i.e. sexism.
Where this costs us is that when people come to an understanding of gender through observation first, and when those observations include watching really awful gender-related shit happen to males they care about, and then they run into feminist theory, and see that it barely acknowledges this, then hand-waves away any attempt to directly address it as a problem unto itself (because the people who disagree either "just need to be educated" or "are the enemy"). Those people then need to reconcile facts with theory. What do they do then? (1) Most people shrug, shuffle and keep their opinions behind closed doors and stay the fuck away from activism, (2) some use the feminist frame to rationalize it, (3) some (like myself) who can both keep up with academic verbal gymnastics and are not highly dependent on anti-oppression circles for security or community can defend their standpoint that acknowledges the range of observations but frames it within anti-oppression social signals in a way that doesn't have them labelled a "traitor" but they never organize because that space is a tug of war between #2 above, and the (4)th option, "Men's Rights Activism."
As near as I can tell, most trans people have intimate personal observations that leave us facing one of the choices above. Those of us at a distance from anti-oppression use #1, those of us in it use #2 because we know we'll lose any verbal throw-down about gender. But this was bound to happen eventually.
The whole MRA scene is a good example of how the left totally fails to reconcile theory (which is usually mostly accurate and wouldn't require that much change to account for data) with fact, and what happens when we do. People whose well-being depends upon a particular problem being addressed go to the right. Because the right will listen to them, give them an explanation and hope for change.
Another good example of this is hiring or admission quotas that acknowledge race but not class. Poor whites who used to be able to make up for being screwed by classism by benefitting from racism, lose part of that edge and now have to compete toe-to-toe with rich whites like myself. They naturally feel shafted. The left could have done the smart thing and fought for race *and* class quotas and made allies (in ways that have been *very* successful in the past like the "Fusionists," to the point that the rich whites of the South built the segregation system to undercut it), but we didn't, and instead we fight against these poor whites. So the poor whites blame anti-racism and vote for Trump. Nice work left wing. Slow clap.
This failure to acknowledge real problems at the top of someone else's priority list even undercuts trans activism internally. AFAB cis-spectrum people who have seen shitty things happen to themselves and other AFAB people in childhood really do have grounds to question what the hell trans women would know about that kind of sexism. Some trans women like myself had a pretty easy gender-related ride in childhood, and yeah, I don't have that particular crappy experience, and I do keep my mouth shut. Other trans women got beaten and raped as kids, specifically because they broke gender rules, and they have a *very* good idea what childhood sexism looks like. But trans activism sticks to a soundbite of "we were always girls" and hopes that no-one questions it. For the most part this works. But when it fails to grapple with people with the above observation, said people find that TERFs are ready with answers.
(See also: when people see corruption in unions and try to address it openly; and for the mirror Left/Right image, how police inability to deal with complaints has lead to the current media state of affairs)
Unfortunately, when you tries to address these problems in anti-oppression circles, unless you're a verbal ninja with in-group social status, either someone tries to "educate" you or they label you as the enemy - and even then, if you want to make change, you *never* go after the central ideological tenets. If we could deal with this and have discussions based on more on reason than ideology, we'd win over a lot more people and win a lot more battles.

2015-12-31 01:17 am

On the cotton ceiling and sex vs gender - trans/terf talking points


It's a little more complicated than that. Consider the sentence "I'd never date a ____________"

Then rotate through a list of marginalized groups. Looks, body type, disability. Then extend from that to "our community is about sexuality. And anyone here who I wouldn't fuck is't really one of us."

Example consequences: A friend of mine is at a diner on the drive. She can hear two women checking her out - perceiving her as a hot androgynous dyke. Then one says, with a note of disugst "oh, check the tattoo" (it reads "Trans Grrl") and they back off.

A gay or lesbian "community' play party where the dominant social groups don't want to see anyone who is trans, old and/or fat.

Or someone saying "oh, she's dating a trans woman - she's not really a lesbian then"

Consider someone also saying "I'd never date a bisexual." Is a bisexual rolling her eyes at this entitled to what's in her pants, or expressing healthy exasperation.

I've also had someone set me up with her queer/lesbian-spectrum acquaintance who thought I was genderqueer-hot. But then she found out I was a trans *woman* and since, in her opinion, trans women can't be hot genderqueers (???) she dropped the idea like a hot potato. This has also happened, where someone who hit on me at a dyke march had a personal profile where she didn't want to date anyone CAMAB. Now I don't want to date either of these people. But that they'd find me attractive and then rule me out because I'm transitioning *towards* what they have explicity said they find attractive is a little fucked up, and it speaks to wider issues in terms of access to community.

Cis bisexuals, heavy people, people of colour and PWD all object to this treatment and each gets dismissed - usually in a very particular way to that group. When trans women do it, we see blogs that this objection is rapey - as that feeds into the frame that when trans women object to exclusion from women's space, we're "being intrusive," which flashes over to explaining away of any assertiveness from a trans woman in women's spaces as being an example of male instrusion, approriativeness etc...

It's a hard thing to sound bite without playing into that.

How to discuss it?
 Ah yes. I'm in a weird space where, although I'm MtF, I'm cis-passable, have never done sex-work, am economically secure (well, secure-ish after I financed a TV show on spec), have all the surgery I want and am often masculine-of-centre, and so most of the major stressors/misogyny that trans women experience, I do not. And yet I'm an advocate. When I'm around trans women I tend to STFU, and yet I'm also part of the demographic. Weird.

I don't know what to do about that. It's really important to have open discussion that deals with all possible objections, as that allows social progress to be backed by critical thought. On the other hand, so many people who don't take a certain level of societal shit don't *have a fucking clue* as to how to have those discussions with people who do - and those who do often have their hackles up 24/7... I don't know what to do. It's not just trans. Indigenous rights, disability access, etcetera, could also benefit both in the short and long term from actually hashing through common concerns and objections, and not expecting that everyone should follow the party line as that only persuades people who are already onside. I don't know what the solution is.

And without that dialogue, communities try to convince the world using really shitty arguments and half-assed sound-bites because no one has challenged them *in dialogue*

"This war/occupation/country is illegal!" Isn't 'legal' a social construction? If this atrocity was legal (and to the people doing it, it is), would that make our bombing campaign okay? If not, then what does legal have to do with it? Isn't the problem that it's morally abhorrent and causes gross human suffering? Then go with that!


 Ooh. That's an interesting conversation. 

Looong message ahead!
Usually what you're describing is parsed as a matter of 'sex rather than gender.' As in "genitals and therefore sex have such a huge impact on our lives that we need to examine this separately from gender roles and identity."
We really do need to have a cultural dialogue around it but it's hard to get any nuance in it because of the political situation.
Trans people started in by using sex vs gender to appeal to a 1970s feminist rubric that introduced "gender" into the english language outside of grammar to mean what it does today, with an emphasis on gender being socially constructed and therefore fluid and consciously redirectable. However, terfs picked this up about three years ago and, since it sounds like something that excludes are trans women categorically without negotiation or ambiguity, used it to turn any existing women's organizing they could into AFAB-only (and de-facto cis-only by also riding on women's 'gender' organizing without examining the logic behind creating this intersection of cis + woman). And thus it became a terf dog whistle.
If they were were organizing around, say, menstruation or abortion then it might make sense - although if it were genuine it would also raise the question of whether cis women who could not menstruate or get pregnant (i.e. like trans women) should be included, and uterus-bearing trans guys would have to be included as well, one would think. It also gets used to reframe everything in terms of girlhood vs boyhood, thus making whatever trans exclusion was unacceptable last week into something that is now ideologically justifiable, even if it has nothing to do with the actual organizing. For example: the former Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - it was all about women on all of their publicity, until someone asked about trans people, and then suddenly camping, vegetarian food and folk music was reframed as all a part of healing from the trauma of girlhood... for the duration of the conversation - as soon as the conversation was over, the festival was "about women" again. And, on an ethical level, it's dodgy to shut out a highly marginalized group because a political theory says it's okay.
Without this damned culture war, we could examine this distinction and find nuance and I really wish we could because gender and privilege is really fucking complicated in ways the sound-bite (and thus, usually non-intersectional) liberal feminism can never grasp. And the inside scoop from trans women is that this form of privilege is, well, complicated. And "complicated" doesn't make for good dialogue when some very aggressive people are looking for any out-of-context quote to slam you with.
For example, when I'm dealing with particular middle-aged cis lesbians, I have to watch my tongue about playing male roles because they perceive it as using male privilege - which, admittedly, it is (although I'd rather not be in the situation where I could just audition for more female roles) - but this in their eyes undercuts my gender identity. However, for no logical reason, cissexed butch women, and cis women with masculine frames and voices, are never subject to this judgment and are even celebrated for dealing with basically the same problem (being blocked from most female roles) by doing exactly the same thing. This double standard happens in a lot of circumstances, which is one reason why I limit involvement with anything lesbian - that and the cold shoulder that my usually-bi girlfriends receive.
The actual experience of trans women in childhood and its relative measure of shittyness to what cis women experience varies from context to context much as it does with adult experiences. In adult life, I know some corporate trans women who transitioned in middle age who were like "Wow. I used to be on top and now I'm at the bottom," much as one would expect. I also know trans women who will talk how the amount of sexual harassment has gone *down* since they transitioned, since they were perceived as feminine gay men who were 24/7 fair game for masculine dudes before, but now, although they pass as cis, men don't bother them as much because there are clearer social codes around what's not acceptable. In my case, as an adult, I switched from being perceived as a somewhat gender-variant man to being perceived as a highly gender-variant woman, and I actually find that latter is a lot easier day to day. Some trans guys are very surprised to find that transitioning to passing as cis-male makes their gendered life a lot harder this could be a matter of gender expression (the opposite of my experience) or race (e.g. *some* black, indigenous and latino dudes who experience a sharp uptick in police harassment during transition).
And so, likewise for childhood. It was, counter to what I would expect from theory, kind of the opposite of my adult experience: since I was not very  feminine, my childhood was usually very easy up until puberty at least. And I keep this in mind and give space to people, cis or trans, who did run headlong into sexism. For me, there was some gender stuff in the way, but my mom was a liberal feminist and she helped *a lot* and so it wasn't awful, just the usual run of shit that a lot of people, trans and cis, put up with. So I try to be mindful of this privilege. Outside of myself though, I don't have as many anecdotes because I don't talk about it much with my friends - very much on purpose. Some flat out refuse to discuss it because of whatever happened to them. That's often when a lot of people's PTSD suicide attempts started, so something must have been bad. Some people over 40 got institutionalized. A weirdly high number of people were perceived as transgressively feminine and therefore 'defective' and fair game for intensive bullying or rape, and for them, the social permission to walk around outside meant nothing when they were subject to all the things one would fear would happen to a cis girl if she was allowed out (but none of the social repercussions for the people causing the harm), and being allowed to take shop instead of home ec doesn't really make up for that - especially because shop had more intensive bullying. So when someone uses this to exclude them from women's organizing? To hold the wrong gender over them now as it was them and use it again to leave them to fend for their selves strikes me as lacking compassion, but probably because the people doing it are acting on a shortsighted understanding.
What's the logical error in this? Consider the following: most of the powerful and wealthy people in the world are assigned male. Being assigned male is correlated with privilege. Therefore trans women share this privilege.
The flaw in this argument becomes clear when you substitute "attracted to women" for "assigned male:"
"Most of the powerful and wealthy people in the world are predominately attracted to women. Being predominantly attracted to women is correlated with privilege. Therefore lesbians share this privilege."
It's a matter of intersections and complications. If someone has no sandwich and you have a peanut butter sandwich, is that a privilege? Yes, unless you're allergic to peanuts. Likewise, assigned male? Like girls? Great, if you're a dude. Not so great if you're not - probably. But there are always variances and exceptions, from individual to individual.
Does that make anything clearer?

2015-11-30 11:31 pm

A letter about frustration that I just sent

I'm emailing you for a reason that I don't normally email people. I'm weirdly pissed-off after a few larp incidents in the last week. I emphasize *weirdly* as opposed to "really." The incidents started with the last Changeling game, continued on through trying to talk things out with Craig (nothing bad happened, it just relates to the below), and capped off with a not-very-successful conversation about Werewolf, and changes in gaming both mechanical and surrounding race, and how acknowledging these might assist in increasing the player base.
What's weird is that it's just been eating at me, and I keep think I've done the final private vent-to-myself, and I've even written a couple polemics, but I keep feeling angry. I guess I feel like I'm butting up against exactly the same problems in larp that I've seen repeatedly over the last seventeen years - at the same time as one of my favorite games (LutLL) closed down. Which was also tied into a process I started in therapy, which is creating some other weird feelings. The problems seem to run as follows.
(1) I realize that while a few multiple-game PCs I had left play voluntarily, most of the characters I've seen removed from play followed the same pattern - I tried to introduce some moral ambiguity or microcultural change into the game, and another character killed them as part of enforcing what said cahracter saw as an obvious moral system.
(2) I keep having the same unsuccessful conversation with STs about adapting improv and storygame principles. I actually started to get buy in from one recently who stated that one of J's birthday games was one of the best larp experiences he'd ever had, then spun around and got back to focusing on starting a WW troupe game.
(3) And, well, werewolf came out the year I started gaming and it hasn't changed. Even the revised 2nd ed larp book version seems to have more interest in small mechanical changes than addressing its shit.
So I applaud L's attempt to break the Cam monopoly with a game about interpersonal politics, but right now, for me, changing this hobby/medium that I love, or even creating space for alternatives feels frustratingly hard, like every out is blocked by some extra problem.
That's all I got. 
2015-08-20 12:15 pm

Opinion vs. Fact

 The more I write more opinion columns for Daily Xtra​, the more I attention to how other columnists do their job. One common method is to be needlessly inflammatory, substituting rhetoric for reason while ignoring the arguments of those who disagree with you and generally using logical fallacies to advance an agenda that your audience already agrees with. But you can also make logical arguments founded on well-cited data - and you can combine it with passion and wit. If you do it well, you should change the minds of your own readers. Or at least advance the dialogue with people who disagree with you.
So I try to make sure that every column I write is based in a combination of past study and present research. I know it works if it challenges my assumptions to the point where my conclusion is no longer the same as when I started writing it. And I like to think that this is why I hold my opinions. Because opinions can be facts, or they can at least be well-grounded in facts. But we forget this.
When we see that we can prove how transuranic elements decay, but we can't ultimately answer prove what god(s) want(s) us to do with our genitals or if ze/they exist(s), we conclude that particle physics and gay rights are totally separate realms of argument, subject to different rules. It's true that the morality of an action cannot ultimately be logically proven. However, the components of an argument that reach a moral conclusion *can.* Thus, while it is reasonable to take a pass on the issue of divine interest in our groins, we can prove whether or not gay marriage affects particular social indicators. And while we know how plutonium turns into other elements in very dangerous ways, we cannot prove the morality of eating it - we know the latter is lethal to the diner and probably everyone around them, but we can't actually prove it's wrong. 
The reason I don't agree with a lot of culturally conservative viewpoints is not one of mere bias. I grew up in a conservative area where these viewpoints were the vast majority. I know them. When I moved, I saw the arguments for and against various issues, and realized that usually, especially on cultural issues, the left simply has stronger arguments. Often this was because the left had arguments that engaged with the right while the right had arguments that engaged with little other than re-stating a baseless opinion.
That there is no quantifiable social detriment to gay marriage, and that there is no evidence to support that trans inclusion will have a detrimental impact on quality of life is part of why these causes tend to win in court, even before judges with contrasting politics - because judges are called upon to meticulously and publicly justify their opinion, and when your entire professional body of work is weighed on that basis, it's harder to go off the rails.
So I believe it is a columnists' job to construct arguments that are sound, grounded, relevant and interesting. And the more I look at other people in the field of punditry, I wish that other columnists covering issues relevant to human rights would do their damn job too.
Failing that (see, this is where the wit comes in), I would be happy to see less dutiful columnists address particle physics, or neurology, or paediatric nursing with the same reckless knee-jerk usually-conservative abandon that they treat human rights. Because I would actually enjoy reading someone's take on what Leviticus says about Bohr's model of the atom, or how they just weren't raised to believe in spindle neurons, or how we can alleviate respiratory ailments by just having a stronger work ethic. That would still be illogical, but at least it would be creative.
2015-08-11 06:57 pm


To [Commentor on a friend's feed regarding their disappointment the letter from the Vancouver Queer Film Festival on the subject of BDS, where this commentor was claiming that BDS was anti-Semitic and unethical]

I do not agree with your analysis. Here is my take on it.

Historically, embargoes, sanctions and boycotts have been not been effective at reversing abusive policies, but of stopping bad policies from getting worse thru explicit governmental acts. Hence the attempt to choke Russian international business - it wasn't to get Russia out of Crimea - that was a lost cause. The sanctions were to make sure that Russia didn't invade more turf. So far it's worked. By contrast the US boycott of Cuba to get them to... totally capitulate or whatever just made the economy worse (although how much is the USA and how much is the failure of Castro's policies is up for debate).

It's also easier to put a boycott or sanctions on someone who doesn't make all your stuff. This is part of why the South Africa boycott stuck and was ultimately effective.

Given this, the BDS is sound political strategy insofar as:
- The Israeli government is actively making Palestinians' lives worse by destroying buildings and constructing the means to separate the very infrastructure according to citizenship-class. If this merely holds in place in stasis, Palestinians will still be in a better position than if the current downward spiral continues
- Looking around my house, to participate in BDS, the range of products I would need to boycott include Sodastream, some baked goods, and the VQFF

A very solid middle ground is to only boycott goods and services that are made in in the areas that have recently been occupied. How one tells which is which, I don't know - barring voluntary labelling of products from places that aren't in the present or recent process of occupation. This was something I was behind myself until I saw the Israeli government try to get Canada to ban people from advocating even that, and then trying to classify the United Church of Canada as a hate group. This tells me (1) the Israeli government is willing to wrap itself in the flag (and more importantly and by extension to equivocate their policy with a marginalized religious/cultural/racial group, te tmost common symbol of whom they have chosen to use as the main design element on that that flag) to advance political argumetns that don't hold up without a fallacious emotional appeal and (2) that the boycott is working.

So with that, I'm now all for a comprehensive boycott - unless the product or service in question *somehow* distances itself from governmental policy. I'm not aware of any such product or service but if an Israeli film just had the line "This whole occupation is a fucked up situation, eh? Hope you watch anyways." in the credits, I'd pay money to go see it.

This said, if someone wanted to boycott (P.R.) Chinese goods to stop the range of human rights abuses, or boycott American (on top of the existing boycott on Indiana - speaking of the counter-intuitive but effective tactic of singling out one offender among many) to stop mass incarceration and global imperialism, or if someone refused to buy Canadian to get our government to put a stop to fouling the land and water of Indigenous people, I'd say "more power to them." However, for people living in Vancouver trying to stick to these boycotts would prove impractical.

Moreover, as an entrepreneur, if I was to repeatedly do something grossly morally wrong and refuse to stop, and then were people to choose to boycott my business, I hope I would have the decency not to claim that by singling me out (over say, Monsanto or Chick-fil-a, Shell or whatever) they were somehow enabling whatever form of sometimes-lethal discrimination my demographic cohort has disproportionately experienced. Those people are being smart in taking on someone small enough to feel the sting, and for me to equate that with historical injustice would be disingenuous.

Further, I'm not sure what the mutual desire for neighbourly peace between Israelis and Palestians has to do with downplaying BDS. Some of those people might be very much in favour of international support for their beliefs, even if it hurts.

Regarding the Vatican, I think I'm already *most* of the way to boycotting them, insofar as I will never give money to (non-radical) Roman Catholic churches, charities or non-profits. But I'd be interested in taking it further and should really go look up which companies funnel money into screwing with reproductive autonomy, marginalizing indiginous religion, and only hiring men for top leadership positions. While I don't know how effective this would be, but I don't think it would be anti-catholic. 
2014-12-27 11:23 pm

Re: "Sex-Based" organizing

 There's a column floating around by Miranda Yardley about why it's okay to organize women's spaces according to sex assigned at birth. I wrote the start of a rebuttal and didn't want it to go to waste.
I'd suggest reading Julia Serano's "excluded" on this matter. I have a copy I can lend you.
A quick aside before I begin. I get that she's trans, but I don't know what is up with Miranda Yardley. Imagine having one vocal gay person who believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Then imagine religious conservative groups plastering that person's name and words all over their media. 
Yardley has long been one well-off member of a minority that takes the side of a system that is making life difficult (and often shorter) for that minority, including those without her advantages in life. The champions of that system can then point to her as a token example of a minority that agrees with them. Look at a sizeable chunk of the people who cite her columns. Look at what else those people have to say about trans folk. It's not pretty.
In my experience, the use of "sex" (or rather 'sex as assigned at birth') as a rallying point for "gender-critical" feminist organizing only developed because people wanted a way to justify their exclusion of transgender women that squared with a superficial progressive rhetoric. They used to use "youth socialization" as the benchmark of authentic womanhood as they assumed that no trans women experience it. Now that trans women are coming out young and do in fact get to grow up being regarded as female, they are moving over to "sex" in the hopes that this time it will stick and people won't look at it too critically. 
It can be demonstrated that "sex-based organizing" is only a rhetorical device as it does not focus on uteruses another traditionally female anatomy in its political concerns. Further,  trans men (who should, in theory be welcome) are not admitted, while women of variant intersex/reproductive statuses are admitted (when in theory they should not be). Rather, sex-based organizing relies on politics are otherwise identical to hostile outmoded exclusive policies that preceded them. Moreover, the spaces that tout sex-based organizing are pretty much always rabidly transphobic. It's not a coincidence.
This model does not acknowledge intersectionality. It oversimplifies being assigned male at birth as a free ticket and paints all trans women as being highly privileged dudes who one day decided to shuck off one identity to go slum it in another less privileged one. It's true that some trans women had no issues prior to transition, had alpha male careers and then made the switch, yes. However (1) it has yet to be demonstrated that excluding there are tangible benefits to excluding these (previously privileged, now marginalized) people, and, more importantly, (2) *most trans women do not experience this.*
I can tell you, most trans women can tell you, and any transgender-related quality-of-life statistic you want to check can tell you that if you are presenting as a woman, it is MUCH safer in this society to be perceived as CAFAB (Coercively Assigned Female at Birth - "female sex"). I go out of my way to get people to assume that I am CAFAB because I would not have been able to get my training, travel, be able to do my job, or even be safe on the street otherwise.
But if that does not satisfy the author, I can put it another way: We know that the majority of trans women (especially those who are visibly assigned male at birth, and especially those experiencing other forms of oppression such as immigration status, race, and ability) experience incredibly high rates of unemployment, violence, incarceration and mortality. Given this, is it just to go out of one's way to build a theoretical framework to exclude them from community and rights-based organizing?
Also to keep in mind: the exclusion of trans women from feminist (and lesbian) organizing operates pretty much in tandem with the exclusion of bisexuals, femmes and sex-workers. The logic in all cases is that one's personal gender behaviour (in partners, gender expression, identity, and work) must follow the party line. That ain't good feminism in my book.
2014-10-07 02:46 am
Entry tags:

In response to claims that "Islam is the most violent, mysoginistic, etc..."

[Name redacted] how do you quantify to what extent something is anti-liberal and misogynistic and stack it up against other entities like say colonialism, evangelical Christianity, or intercontinental slavery (which, admittedly, overlap/ped) to decide it is the "most?" Also - do you consider the Hadith to be a Islamic, or merely tradition? What about Sufi? Or are we just talking the Qu'ran? (Not the Penguin translation I hope ). Or do you mean politicians who justify their actions as being Islamic? Wahabi'ism? Islamic Socialism? Over what span of time? Do you consider the rejection of the use of the "zero" by the Catholic Church (because it was too Muslim) to be anti-liberal, or would something more recent like (see my next comment) be a better example? What is especially bad about Indonesia versus another country of comparable economic, geographic and historical circumstance?

The subtext: it's hard to qualify what's the most fucked up, especially when you can't draw a clear line around what is and is not a religion, and especially when there's a lot of bad to go around.
Just now · Like


The most fucked up thing in my mind is that we're going to war with a group that has roots in the Taliban - a group that was trained and armed by Christian religious conservative governments on our side to fight the Soviets, who were an invading Atheist state (who, on top of the Giant War Machine, turned "international women's day" into a day to thank housewives for keep on given'er). There's a lot of violence and misogyny to go around.

Despite the above fracas, there are Christian, Muslim and Atheist roots for equality and peace.

I don't agree with the Qu'ran, but I also have serious bones to pick with sexism and technophobia in the Dao De Jing, rape culture in the Torah, and sexism in online Atheist communities. What's in a religion's core matters, but there's a lot to be said for what we do with it.

The way out of repeating this mess for future generations is, IMHO, not to form alliances based on being a dick to a mutual enemy, but on finding common ground for progress. And there's a lot of room for that.
2014-01-12 02:31 pm

Anti-oppression art dialogue

A few years ago, I came across a dialogue process along these lines, but I haven't been able to find it again. I'd like to credit the creators. If anyone knows who they might be, let me know.


Here is a method of creating dialogue with artists around oppression in art.

It give politically passionate audiences a place to find solutions to problematic content. It gives politically passionate artists a way to communicate with these audiences with less fear of being judged. It gives a place for art that is actually not problematic to show its strength. It gives space to teach. And it also makes it hard for bombastic ignorant jackasses to dismiss much-needed criticim of their work.

As someone wishing to engage an artist in dialogue, work through the following stages until you feel the issue has been adequately addressed, or you hit #4 and throw fruit at them. As an artist, listen and respond.

1. I noticed _______________ in your work. What led to this decision?

2. I see, are you aware of ______________ as a social issue? Do you this might relate?

3. I think this aspect of the work is problematic for the following reasons _________________. What are your thoughts?

4. Seriously dude, Fuck You. [Throw fruit of choice]

2013-09-07 12:34 am

(no subject)

 Definition of "a cultural conservative:"

Someone who is dead-set against that which their own children will come to view as common sense
2013-08-24 05:38 pm

It is the defender who actually starts the war

Often, we encounter two women's organizations. One's activism acknowledges and supports the opinions and rights of intersex people, sex workers, trans people, intersex people, and same-sex abuse survivors. The other's does not.

The inclusive organization points out the failures of the organization whose idea of "women" only includes "women who agree with us."

The latter rebuffs these criticisms. They claim that the inclusive organization is being "divisive."

After all, we are all on the same side. We both support (some) women's rights. But for you to criticize us, is to slow down women's rights.

This is like an invading army claiming that a resisting army, in fighting back, is warmongering.

After all, we are on the same side. We fight for peace. But to fight us is to create war.
2013-06-03 12:52 am

On Xtra... again



 The "washroom panic" line is a very successful, but ultimately mistaken method of derailing trans equality, and I hope that readers of Xtra will see through it. For those of us familiar with history, we may notice a similarity in it to arguments that "Queers shouldn't be around children."

That I am aware of, there are no laws in Canada at all about who can use what washroom. And this bill won't change that. But the Conservatives would like us to think otherwise. Because, under Harper, Cons have become more about panicked emotional distraction than sober judgement. First It was about legalizing spying to "protect children from online predators," now it's about preventing trans equality to "protect women from someone... peeing nearby?"
I think we're smarter than that.
Further, Nunavut, like many other jurisdictions around the world, already has protection for trans equality and that I am aware of, there has been no spike in washroom harassment of women. (I mean - seriously - who is going to try to commit a sex crime while in drag?)
This bill, and bills like it, which trans people and allies have been laboring on for years, if not decades will, however, make it possible for more trans people to find work and housing. It will make it harder to fire queers for being "too swishy" or "too butch." And it will set an example for human rights codes in Canada and around the world.
2013-05-30 01:19 am

(no subject)

(From a Facebook discussion relating to [THE ORGANIZATION IN QUESTION])

 I've seen waaaay too many "women's" (and "labour" and "gay" and "student" and "environmental" and "neighbourhood..." and for that matter "patriot") organizations derail criticism of their actions and stall out change by saying that to call for public accountability of them "is to attack the cause." (i.e. women, labour, the environment, etc...)
Many people prefer an approach of kind patience and fence-mending. But when I see the above tactic, I'm pretty much then and there willing to help take a piece out of the organization, just on  general principle - if only as a warning to others that might mimic them. So I hope that [THE ORGANIZATION IN QUESTION] is *not* problematic, and does *not* try this.
2013-05-13 09:57 am

Explaining fashionable cultural appropriation to my fellow white people

A Facebook thread copy/pasted here as I may need it later

It's important to consider message is that one is sending. Wearing (1) objects of mourning/war/childbirth/diplomacy as a fashion/fetish/newage accessory, when (2) they belong to cultures that lack accurate media representation, which causes (3) the general public to mistake the former meaning for the latter is an act of intercultural hostility. It cuts short the ability of people to publicly express their own culture publicly without creating miscommunication - and especially because that miscommunication often entrenches existing stereotypes (e.g. Rasta being depicted as synonymous with "Chronic" rather than a religion; Cheongsams as sub wear; anything Aborignal being laid back nature hippies)

Person from dominant culture:
"Dude! Looks like you're all gearing up for an awesome kink party!"

Person from marginalized culture in traditional wear:
"This is a child's festival you ignorant a**hole"

By contrast, wearing something where the meaning is clear (a European funeral veil) ironically is fine, as, in this culture, most people (or at least most people with cultural power) know it's a funeral veil.

I would also assume it's safe to wear summer leisure wear as summer leisure wear. But, since I come from the dominant cultural frame, there are nuances I may be missing.
2013-04-16 10:26 am

(no subject)

 "If you want to make change, why not run for office?"
As I have learned from running for office in the past, our democratic systems are not set up to create choice. They exist to permit a range of choices from people who can clear the barriers to entry.
And the larger the scale of election, the greater the barrier to entry. Municipally, it's a $100 deposit, 25 signatures, and your party needed to have something like 40 people in some kind of pre-existing association. Not much of a problem - if you have $100. Provincially, you need a $250 fee (refunded only if you get 15% of the vote), 75 signatures form your riding (which usually requires tabling in public as most people in large cities don't actually have 75 friends in one riding) and you need an accountant to act as your auditor. Federally, it's 100 signatures and $1000. And you still need to an accountant as an Auditor. Also, until recently, the federal party registration system was set up to effectively bar small parties from forming.
The idea that "the costs increase with scale" doesn't really make sense. Vancouver elects 26 people from a pool of 603,000 - that's 22,000 citizens per position. It's about 50,000 per position provincially and 110,000 federally.
Assuming a person can run, ze is now faced with the question: "do you have a hope in hell?"
Successful candidates spend around $50,000 and have 10 people on the ground at a time at any level.
To partially overcome this, municipally, there's a candidate's guide where everyone can pitch their platform. But provincially and federally, this does not exist. Britain has (or used to have) a system where TV would have to broadcast you.
Additionally, under our first-past-the-post system where vote-splitting is common, the most effective strategy to make change is often *not* to run under your actual positions, but to become almost indistinguishable from the candidate who you consider to be the biggest threat (cf: Jim/James Green in Vancouver, 2005)
The average high-school council election presents a more accessible platform for democracy than does anything offered by our governments.
2012-12-29 11:02 pm

In response to a comment about the Westboro Baptist Church and free speech

[from Facebook]

 I disagree with the idea that their protections are others' protections [e.g. non-censorship of popular media]. There is overlap, but the WBC's actions are not the same as a controversial novel.

I see free speech not as an end in itself but as a means to further the public discourse; to make sure that ideas are given fair weight and not ruled out through force or other social principles that ultimately default to the threat of force (if you get evicted and refuse to go, the landlord can call in the cops - exercising force).
Following from that, I think it is reasonable to restrict speech which does not serve this purpose and which, on average, creates harm greater than the cost of prohibiting and punishing it.
Thus, I am okay with hate speech laws - one cannot advocate genocide or incite people to violence directly or through dehumanizing arguments (as dehumanization curtails empathy, which is a key step in inflicting mass violence) against a demographic of people defined by race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and... a few other things I can't remember (but not gender or disability apparently, which is odd, but that's Canadian law for you). Through hate speech laws, we have removed "wholescale slaughter" from social consideration and will focus our cognitive engines elsewhere.
There are many other restrictions on free speech, ultimately backed by force,  which I usually agree with (and which are generally considered intuitive, yet are not included in most discussions of free speech): uttering threats; breaching confidentiality; impersonating a police officer or other public official; identity theft; offering to pay someone to inflict harm; spreading malware; sexual harassment; giving false professional advice; following someone and shouting at them after they've asked you to leave them alone; breaking noise control ordinance; fraud; the old "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre" example; as well many other crimes even if one defines them as "performance art." All of these are crimes of communication, of speech or expression (they are "speech-acts"), and all, on average, contribute greater harm to society than a benefit that they would stand to create by furthering the public discourse. They have been ruled out of bounds. I am generally okay with that.
I don't think what the WBC does should be legal as it is harassment and hate speech and contributes nothing to the public discourse. But I don't mind that they get away with it - it does wonders for the public perception of homophobia.