Not All Opinions Are Tolerable

In every election year, the progressive folk start talking about tolerance. Actually, progressive folk talk about tolerance a lot. It’s kind of our thing.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which of course ALSO means that I hear a lot of talk about tolerance. One of our seven principles is that every person has inherent worth and dignity. I believe this on a theoretical level. Some days I even believe it on an actual level. In fact, I always believe it enough to be, for example, anti torture. Congratulations Al-Queda, you have enough inherent worth and dignity that you should NOT be waterboarded!

Here’s the thing, though. Tolerance is great. In all seriousness, obviously you need to treat people well. Don’t be an asshole, is what I’m saying. But I feel like tolerance often gets confused with the idea that all opinions are automatically valid, because TOLERANCE!

But…the thing is not all opinions are valid.

The opinion that women should not have agency over their own bodies and should not be able to make decisions about their own reproductive choices is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that gay folks should not have the same rights as straight folks is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that people of color are somehow less than is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that global warming is not happening is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that torture is acceptable is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that “some women rape good” or it’s the victim’s fault if she was drunk or wearing a miniskirt, is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that religion or football or Boy Scouts gives you the right to cover up the systematic sexual abuse of children  is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that religion is an excuse for subjugation of any kind is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

The opinion that  hitting children is good parenting is bullshit, and I will not waste time discussing it.

There are lots of things that reasonable people can argue about. The drinking age. Whether marijuana should be legal. How best to improve our schools. Cloth or disposable diapers. Merit pay for teachers. The most ethical way to eat. Whether to use a clicker or just treats to train your dog. How to die well.  Whether goat cheese or Parmesan is better. The best kind of chocolate. What animals can be in zoos. Etc etc. And then there are things that are not debatable. There are opinions that are just not tolerable. If you hold these beliefs, well–hold them, fine. But my rights end where yours begin, and if you want to hold them, don’t you even think about putting them on anyone else. I’m tired of hearing about how good progressives or good UUs or whatever are tolerant. We can be tolerant in the sense that we do not hurt others, but that does not mean that we have to put up with opinions that are not tolerable. There is a right and a wrong, at least some of the time. It isn’t always absolute and there are lots of grays and nobody is ever all bad–as they say, even Hitler was a vegetarian–but there are still right and wrong. And the far right? They are just wrong. So yeah, that means I’m not going to respect you if you vote for Romney/Ryan. Because it is not ethical. And I can be tolerant and still assert your inherent worth and dignity if you vote for that ticket–but that doesn’t mean you are right, or that your opinions are tolerable.


Postcards From Milford

I think this is where Bluster Bluth went to school.

I was GOING to stop in Secaucus, NJ, back when I was having some geography troubles and thought it was after the GW bridge. It is not. So I just kept driving. And, I am pleased to say, I drove QUITE CALMLY over the upper level of the bridge. (When I was a kid, I was totally scared of bridges). I did, however, role down the windows, just in case Zoe and I needed to make an escape. I also left our seatbelts on, though, on the theory that we are more likely to get into an accident than to go flying off the George Washington Bridge.

I love driving 95 North. I know! And not ALL of it, and I hate the truckers with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, but it’s kind of reassuring to hit the same landmarks every day. Zoe, I said, here’s the Bronx! Here’s the New Jersey Turnpike! Here’s the Vince Lombardi reststop!

I am a dork, is what I’m saying.

Zoe was a total trooper. For the first bit of the drive, she kept accidently shifting and putting the car in neutral. This was…unnerving at first.

But then we figured it out, and she settled down on her stretched back passenger seat, covered with a sheepskin, wearing her seatbelt. So stinkin’ cute. For realz.

So we went over the bridge and then got stuck in traffic. I had a full tank o’ gas when I left and I kept waiting to find cheap gas to refill…then, in Connecticut, I discovered that I had maybe an 8th of a tank. Do you KNOW how much gas cost? DO YOU KNOW?

Four dollars and thirty three cents a gallon, that’s how much.

I told the guy (it was full service station) that this was a bit pricey, and then we had a little bitch session. He was all, everyone LEFT THE CITY AND NOW WE ARE A SUBURB AND WE USED TO BE A NICE QUIET TOWN. hee.

(I did not fill the tank).

Then I got a little more lost but finally wound up at a hotel. I was very excited to see that it had On Demand, because I LOVE me some On Demand in hotels. But then the TV made this loud buzzing noise that would.not.stop just when I started Cedar Rapids, so I had to call the front desk and ask for a refund. Then I was FURTHER foiled by the lack of good wifi here, and also the lack of Season 1 Veronica Mars streaming on either Netflix OR the WB website, and that made me sad. So now I’m watching Parenthood.

But I had a nice dinner and Zoe is being adorable and tomorrow I will hit my cousin Sarah’s house, and I am excited to see her. And Saturday Then…Sunday I need to find a place to stay, any suggestions near New Bedford, MA? And then Nonquitt. Whoa. Lots and lots of stuff.

Freaky moment of the day: I logged onto facebook and WHO POPS UP BUT MY SHRINK. At a book reading. I happen to be FB fans of the bookstore, and I was all…wait a minute. That’s my shrink. On my facebook page. Because THAT’S not weird or anything.

Also annoying: My Stupid Ankle. Which hurts to drive, and will not let me jump off the diving board, or go for walks on the beach, or basically ANYTHING FUN EVER.

Ho hum.

Oh! Links!

The A.V. Club is reviewing The X-Files, Arrested Development, AND Veronica Mars (“Hi everyone! Say repressed homosexuality!”). This makes me very, very happy. Reasonable discussions FTW!

What Happened That Night in Abbottabad? (New Yorker)

Melissa Summers has an incredibly brave post about her suicide attempt.

“This war on information is a battle. This war on information is injustice. This war on information is a strategically arranged set of operations designed to victimize and control a specific group of people. This war on information is war.”

Obama Turns Fifty Despite Republican Opposition. (GOP Vows to Say No, No, No).

Stephen Colbert Says that Obama is…well just watch. Also watch his Summer’s Eve bit.

Minimalist Posters for Children’s Books! (WANT. ALL OF THEM).

Read Around The Web

the dangers of hotel housekeeping (in which the NYT op-ed page is actually halfway decent about sex crimes!)

let’s play Spot the Institutional Racism! (the comments on this post are mostly good…until you get to “Ashley” and “Katie” who are all, well we are colorblind and you all suck since you SEE RACISM OMG. ::headdesk::

Oh look, Daily Kos actually addresses White Privilege in a way that doesnt scream “STOP WHINING you overly sensitive people!”

OMG its an eight year old shark conservationist! I LOVE THIS KID.

The Feds Finally Borrow Hillary’s Balls to refuse defunding Planned Parenthood

Apparently there’s gonna be a Sarah Palin movie, and not the Tina Fey kind, either. Too bad, because the Tina Fey kind is the only kind worth watching.

This may be the worst thing I’ve read about the prez candidate, and in a world that includes Palin, that’s saying something.

ETA because the girl scouts are apparently abortion pushers!

OH AND LOOK A PSA I ACTUALLY LIKE and it aired during Glee which means people actually saw it, hooray!


Reading Rebecca Traister’s fantastic book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, was…hard. In the three years since the 2008 elections, in the drama of Obamacare and insane birthers and Gitmo and in Hillary Clinton’s rise to one of the most beloved women in America and perhaps our best Secretary of State, I’d more or less forgotten about the need for Shakesville‘s Hillary Clinton Sexism Watch. I’d forgotten about those on the left, the purported liberals, who let loose with such stunning misogyny that I was left speechless and raging, both at the time and in reading BGDC. (REALLY, Chris Matthews? REALLY, Keith Olbermann? Why are you still around? REALLY, tons of other people?)

Traister is very honest about her own shifting feelings throughout the contest, and the book is peppered with anecdotes about her experience covering the campaign, hearing Bill Clinton talk, sobbing at Hillary’s concession speech…she is a really gifted writer and a really gifted observer, and she was watching very closely. The book’s story about gender and class in the election is really important reading.

I remember meeting Gloria Stienem. I was sixteen and writing for Young D.C. and covering some sort of pro choice concert with Ani Difranco. Wish I could remember the exact event. At any rate, they sent me to interview Stienam. It was, obviously, a huge thrill. One of my favorite parts of reading Traister’s book were the Gloria Stienem Stories, especially her conversations with Shelby Knox, who was living with Steinem at the time. Knox reported telling Stienem that not only did she (Knox) want to see a woman president but she wanted GLORIA to get to see it.

So there were lots of gutting moments in this book, and there were lots of goosebumpy moments, lots of enraging moments and of course lots of joyful moments. But none–none–left me as gutted as this exchange:

“It was in this same interview that Stienem first told me that she voted for Clinton because she did not believe she could win her party’s nomination. Believing Stienem to have misspoken, I interrupted her. ‘Because you knew she couldn’t win?’ I prompted, waiting for the correction. ‘Right,’ she said gently. ‘I’ve always known she couldn’t win.'”

It’s not that I wish Clinton had won. I’m glad of the way things turned out, very glad. It’s just that I wish so much that she could have won.

Favorite Feminism Sundays

Do You Trust Women? (Bitch PhD, and possibly my favorite post on abortion ever).

Rape Culture 101 (Shakesville; I sometimes find Shakesville a bit…much somehow but I love this post, and in fact I tend to love everything Melissa McEwan writes about rape and rape culture).

I Know I Can Fight Rape Culture By… (Feministe: some of the comments are especially interesting, although as always some are just fuckwits).

Abortion Manual (from the now defunct blog Molly Saves the Day: I remember reading this post when it was first published in 2006, just after the South Dakota abortion ban. And yes, I think having coherent information about how to safely perform abortions is important–although I hope we never, ever have to use it).

#mooreandme roundup

I’ve been meaning to blog for days about the Twitter movement #mooreandme. But instead, I’ve been monitoring it from my computer. Suffice to say that this is one incredible story about how a bunch of feminists used Twitter to change–at least a little bit–the victim blaming, rape culture narrative around the accusations of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for rape.

So here is your roundup. These are all well, well, WELL worth a read.

Sady Doyle,  #mooreandme founder (read the whole blog, this is just the end).

Jaclyn Friedman, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

Kate Harding on why she supports the protest

Real Feminist Jaclyn Friedman debates Fake Feminist Naomi Wolfe on Democracy Now

Millicent explains how and why the protest worked

Still Waiting at the Foot of the Tower

Michael Moore on the Rachel Maddow show. And thank you, Rachel.

and of course, the Twitter feed itself. Warning: there are some really awful trolls over there.

this has been a fascinating discussion. I am appalled at Keith Olbermann, who really fucked up and failed to uphold basic journalistic standards. I am a little less appalled at Michael Moore, who at least bothered to apologize. But mostly I am appalled at a society that still allows rape to be taken so lightly–a society that still refuses to take all victims as credible victims, a society that refuses to believe that any woman can be raped. And a society that seems to find it impossible to hold 2 things at the same time: yes, we can support WikiLeaks AND RAPE VICTIMS. We can even be highly suspicious of the timing of the charges–virtually no one disagrees that they are suspicious–and we can even (gasp!) assume that Assange, as is theoretically true of everyone under American law, is innocent until proven guilty. We can do that and we can also honor rape victims and take rape seriously. Yes, we can.

My sincerest thanks to Sady Doyle, Jaclyn Friedman, Kate Harding and every other feminist who has worked tirelessly on this all week. It’s a small victory, true: but it is a victory, and there will be more to come.

Fat is a Feminist Issue

Losing weight can be a feminist act.
I know! It goes against the grain of fat acceptance, doesn’t it? And fat acceptance is linked, at least for me, so closely to the feminist movement. I suspect it is linked to the feminist movement for most FA folks.
Let me start by saying: I am a hard core feminist. And I am a hard core FA person. It makes me genuinely sad when I see perfectly healthy women—not just skinny women, but healthy women—buying books with titles that, when boiled down, are basically all the same: LOSE THAT FAT AND YOU WON’T BE SO UGLY. I hate our cultural obsession with diet coke and scales and numbers and The Biggest Loser. I really, really, really hate that so many young girls are on diets. I hate that we have just one idea, as a culture, of what constitutes a good body. I hate that anorexia is considered desirable. I hate that size larges, in many stores, look as if they are sized for very small eight year olds.
None of this is why I am trying to lose weight.
I’ve been fat for a long time. It is not, however, my body settling naturally into a weight that works for it. True, I am probably fat at least partially because I will never be willow thin, and that’s fine. But I am also fat because for years I ate and ate and ate. Ate when I wasn’t hungry. Ate because I was mad or sad or bored or anxious. That takes a toll on one’s body.
I am learning to make a deal with my body, to say that I will eat when I’m hungry. To say that I will eat sensibly. Not too much, and not too little, either. What I want to eat when I want it. Everything they (and by they I mean Kate Harding) say about this is true: sometimes I crave chocolate and sometimes I crave broccoli. And OK, I crave Indian food a lot. And mac and cheese. NOM.
I have non alcoholic fatty liver disease. One of the treatments for this is to lose weight. I know that losing weight is considered one of the classic treatments for just about everything. The thing is, belly fat can come along and deposit more fat on the liver, which can lead eventually to liver disease.
So I am taking on one of the most feminist acts that there is: I am taking care of myself. I am losing weight because I need to.
I am also losing weight because I like the way my body looks with less fat. I like the way it feels, more importantly. I like that it is easier to flip, easier to cartwheel, easier to walk long distances.
I am using the bodybugg to assist in my weight loss efforts. It’s an interesting tool, an armband that counts calories burned while I go about my daily life. I also enter what I’ve eaten in a computer program so that I can see the difference.
It helps. It’s the kind of thing that I would have ridiculed a few months ago, but right now it works, for me. It allows me to be less obsessive.
It’s good. It’s all good.