Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 17:37 on 14-09-2011, Wardog
Really? That's where we're taking this?

No, we're not "taking this anywhere". I, as a moderator, told you to drop this. You didn't.

Your comments show very little understanding of trans issues, and it is not our job to explain them to you. Everything you have said here simply re-iterates arguments we have heard before and are tired of hearing. You are not presenting another side to the discussion, you are derailing the discussion with irrelevance. You might as well have come in here and told us we'd all forgotten to consider what it says in The Bible.

It is not the fact that you disagree with us that is a problem, it's the nature of the disagreement. There is a world of difference between disagreeing on the appropriate way to integrate trans-children into a school community within the restrictions of the law and glibly describing young trans-men as "girls who want to be boys."

To repeat myself: this is not a discussion. It is a statement, as moderator, that this conversation is over. If can't respect that, I will ban you.
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at 16:54 on 14-09-2011, Arthur B
@Gamer: I suppose I am glad that you are in fact being honest with us about what your stance is. I'm just sad that you were serious about some of the stuff you're saying. There's nothing wrong with having multiple points of view on a subject, but you've been putting forward these points of view in a way which I considered likely to offend people, and has in fact offended people. Backing away and cooling off is what's called for here.
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at 16:30 on 14-09-2011, Ash
@Gamer_2k4

Do you mind dropping this conversation? I'm feeling pretty offended by the asssumptions you make.
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at 15:50 on 14-09-2011, Gamer_2k4
The point is that both of the times you've done this you seem to have been tackling transgender issues. Maybe I'm just being a dick and drawing a faulty conclusion from that particular correlation, in which case I apologise.

Well, that's really been the only controversial issue that's been brought up that I've cared about in my most recent trips to the playpen. I'm sure I disagree with you guys on tons of stuff, but I also probably agree with you on even more. It's just been coincidence that my last two comments here have been on such issues; that's why my first one was WAY on the tail end of the discussion while this past one started things off. It's just a matter of (bad) timing. For comparison, my other comments here were benign enough, I think.

If I'm reading your comment right and you don't actually believe the argument you're putting forward, it might be an idea to leave off so that people don't mistake you for someone who actually holds bigoted opinions.

Well, no, that's not really it. I do believe what I said, and I do believe that the principal has the obligation to promote equality among kids who aren't going to understand if it's missing. Maybe the "children go through phases" line was bad wording on my part, but I really do think the rest is a fair point of view.

But of course I can't say more than that on pain of banning.

If you actually do believe the stuff you've been posting, then playing the "I'm just playing devil's advocate" card is kind of a weasel move

Again, possibly poor wording on my part. I was trying to get across the idea of "don't hate this response just because it's not the same as yours." I DO think it's important that multiple points of views are presented, even if this isn't, strictly speaking, a forum for debate. "Devil's advocate" just happened to be the way I summarized that.

The Internet is full of trans-phobic counter-arguments; we certainly don't need to be "illuminated" about them, by you.

Really? That's where we're taking this?
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at 13:58 on 14-09-2011, Arthur B
The big difference in the cases seems to be that in the UK one the girl in question had been attending school as a boy in previous years, so the other kids would have realised that one of their classmates was now dressing differently and answering to a different name; in that light telling the whole school was probably necessary because the subject was going to come up, and if the kids were left to work out how to respond to it themselves the results would be all too predictable.

Whereas in the US case my understanding (based on more detailed news stories about it) was that the boy in question has been home-schooled until now, so it's not a matter of the kids saying "hey, she was a girl last term". There would have been no earthly need or reason why the other children should ever know about his trans status unless he decided to tell them himself. That, in fact, was the point about asking to let the kid use the boy's bathroom or staff bathroom - the parents didn't think it would be safe for the boy's transgender status to be a matter of common knowledge amongst the students.
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at 12:45 on 14-09-2011, Andy G
In a similar case in the UK, the headteacher (principal) did rather better; the real problem seems to be the parents of other children rather than the other children themselves.
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at 09:38 on 14-09-2011, Wardog
Oh for God's sake.

I'm doing this because a debate between like-minded people is no debate at all. Call it devil's advocate, call it whatever you want, but if you're going to discuss something controversial, it's important to have both sides of the argument.


*Editor Hat*

This is your final warning on this one.

And, believe me, it's not because we can't bear the idea of disagreement, it's because it's profoundly tedious to engage with somebody who gets their rocks off by self-consciously playing devil's advocate. The Internet is full of trans-phobic counter-arguments; we certainly don't need to be "illuminated" about them, by you. By all means engage in discussion, but save abstract pontification for your blog.
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at 08:56 on 14-09-2011, Arthur B
@valse: I'm playing through SPESS MARIEN right now and enjoying every second of it, and that tumblr post is more or less accurate in its writeup of Lt. Mira; she's very obviously the major player in keeping the Imperial Guard on the planet a halfway viable fighting force, and the game does a good job of establishing the point that this is an enormous achievement which goes way beyond what anyone would have expected of some random officer towards the "here, take this squad and do something useful with them" end of the chain of command. I kind of hope she gets her own spin-off.

I think she's the only female character who gets any screen time at all, mind, though there are a few others (like an assembly line worker and a hard-nosed medic) who make appearances on audio logs.
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at 05:52 on 14-09-2011, valse de la lune
Hey Arthur, what do you think of this?

Gamer_2k4: I'm doing this because a debate between like-minded people is no debate at all. Call it devil's advocate, call it whatever you want, but if you're going to discuss something controversial, it's important to have both sides of the argument.

Well, well, aren't we a pretentious little troll?
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at 04:29 on 14-09-2011, Melissa G.
Coincidentally, I came home to come across this. Transgender woman attacked coming out of the girls' bathroom because some teens complained that a "man went into the ladies room". The "man" in question looks like a woman to me so I can't help but assume that they were calling her a "man" strictly based on knowing her transgender status.
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at 03:16 on 14-09-2011, Sister Magpie
Can you blame the principal? If you don't have things like hair length or clothing to go by, pre-pubescent children of both genders look very similar. Of course the kid looks like a boy!


Keeping in mind that I'm only reading something written by the mother of the boy in question, yes, I would definitely blame the principal there. It's not like there's anything about him trying to come up with a solution the mother and son don't like or him being outvoted by other parents, even. He's refusing to let the boy use any bathroom but the girl's room. If his feeling is that it's because it's "just a phase" I don't see how he isn't just saying that he's a girl and "belongs" in the girl's room. Even though using that bathroom would cause far more of a reaction than the boy using the stall in the boy's room.
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at 01:43 on 14-09-2011, Melissa G.
I have written and deleted about five different attempts at responding to this issue, and I just can't find the right words. One of my very close friends (who I went to junior high and high school with) is trans. So this kind of bigoted, ignorant attitude towards transpeople and a complete misunderstanding of what makes them who they are really, really grates on my nerves (understatement). So if this was just an attempt to "play devil's advocate", it was done in poor fucking taste.
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at 22:59 on 13-09-2011, Arthur B
@Gamer: The point is that both of the times you've done this you seem to have been tackling transgender issues. Maybe I'm just being a dick and drawing a faulty conclusion from that particular correlation, in which case I apologise.

If I'm reading your comment right and you don't actually believe the argument you're putting forward, it might be an idea to leave off so that people don't mistake you for someone who actually holds bigoted opinions. I'm sure the editor will correct me on this if I'm wrong, but I don't remember Ferretbrain ever being promoted as a formal debating venue. If one side of a particular argument isn't represented here, it honestly doesn't matter; it's not as though that side of the argument isn't expressed to the point of exhaustion in other venues.

If you actually do believe the stuff you've been posting, then playing the "I'm just playing devil's advocate" card is kind of a weasel move, especially considering that there's absolutely nothing about your earlier post which suggests that this is in fact what you are doing. In fact, it expressed the views it expressed in a sufficiently forthright tone that I think anyone can be forgiven for thinking that you genuinely believe that stuff.
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at 22:00 on 13-09-2011, Furare
Posting bigoted shit because you think people round here don't argue enough makes you kind of a dick, though, y'know?
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at 21:13 on 13-09-2011, Gamer_2k4
I'm doing this because a debate between like-minded people is no debate at all. Call it devil's advocate, call it whatever you want, but if you're going to discuss something controversial, it's important to have both sides of the argument.

(Also, FWIW, my last "inflammatory" post said little more than that fictional characters in fantasy paintings don't have transgender issues. It had nothing to do with "putting transpeople in their place.")
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at 20:56 on 13-09-2011, Arthur B
Gamer, this is the second time in a row you've used a Playpen post to sally forth and put transpeople in their place. Your "jumping into hot water again" comment suggests to me that you know you're going to offend people with what you post, but you just went ahead and posted it anyway. So, uh, why'd you do that when you knew all it would accomplish would be to hurt people's feelings and make everyone mad at you?

I was going to engage with your argument (I had a real good link which demolished the whole "just a phase" thing which I discovered with exactly 5 seconds of Googling) but I honestly didn't know where to begin, not least because there's big holes in your basic fact-checking going on here. So I'm just going to ask you to please, just... don't do this. OK?
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at 20:21 on 13-09-2011, Gamer_2k4
Re: Finbarr Ryan's post

Sorry all, but I'm going to be jumping into hot water again.

Can you blame the principal? If you don't have things like hair length or clothing to go by, pre-pubescent children of both genders look very similar. Of course the kid looks like a boy!

The fact of the matter is that the principal has a responsibility to keep children of different biological genders separate when it comes to things like using the bathroom. It's a crude example, but if a boy showed up wearing a dress and claiming he identified as a girl, should he get to use the girl's bathroom? Of course not.

Furthermore, while it might be considered a fair compromise, I don't believe the principal is obligated to let the child use the staff bathroom. I could be wrong, but I'm assuming these are all grade school kids (6-10 or so); otherwise the issue would have come up before. Kids that age don't understand transgender issues. They'd think, "That girl gets to use the staff bathroom just because she dresses like a boy. Is that all it takes to get special treatment around here?"

And that's the heart of the matter here. The principal wants things to be fair and equal for everyone involved. You know what we called girls who wanted to be boys back in grade school? Tomboys. But you know what else? They were still girls. They didn't get special treatment just because they identified with males more, and they shouldn't get special treatment, either.

Children go through phases. If this kid still wants to be a boy once she becomes a teenager, okay, fine, deal with it then. But for now, for the sake of fairness, just accept that the child is biologically female.
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at 23:10 on 12-09-2011, Fin
Petition to allow transgender boy safe access to appropriate bathroom in school.

@Arthur: That really makes me nostalgic for my nightmarish youth. :D

@Alasdair: I actually thought of Safety Dance right before I clicked the link. Weird. And if it makes you feel better, I'm jealous that you know the lyrics. :P
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at 23:08 on 12-09-2011, Wardog
There is never any shame in the safety dance, Alasdair!

And that's awesome. I particularly love the "cover dance" bit. Haha.
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at 20:25 on 12-09-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
And now, some levity.

Why do I love this video so much? And why do I feel no shame for knowing all the words to that song?
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at 20:23 on 12-09-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Harris essentially did this in Fatherland as well; his alternate history of the Third Reich was clearly based on the post-war USSR and even had the Khrushchev-like "thaw" going on with Kennedy's visit to Germany. I don't think Harris really engaged with Nazi ideology in his novel on anything more than a superficial level, which is another reason it's so damn infuriating: Could society really "normalize" under Nazi control? Or would it (I think the more likely scenario) implode after a period of excess?

In grudging defense of Harris, he was just going with flow of his age. Fatherland came out in 1992, back when Western Europe and America were congratulating themselves for defeating communism, and there was a general in those days that the contemporary model of liberal democratic capitalism really was the best system, and that all other possible socioeconomic systems were doomed to decline, dissolution, and absorption into the Western system, a la the Soviet Union. Of course, there was plenty of unacknowledged myopia on the part of everyone involved, and I daresay it still hasn't gone away yet. (Even today I find the assertions that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc were "peaceful" just baffling.)

Your reading of the Third Reich does chime with mine. Even before 1939, they were essentially converting Germany into an engine that could only be fueled by wars of conquest, though apparently the leadership were initially planning for a series of small wars to attain hegemony in Europe rather than the battle royale they got. You can't even really imagine the remnants of the old order (Weimar or Wilhelmite) providing a check on Nazi ambitions, since on the local level the party was in the habit of excavating old social organizations of their content/funding and leaving little pro-Nazi replicas in their place, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style. I have no idea how long a victorious Third Reich would've lasted, but I suspect Harris's world would be the optimistic outcome.
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at 11:56 on 12-09-2011, Arthur B
A delightful little kids' TV skit about creativity which certainly doesn't take any sort of strange or unusual turn at around 2:20.
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at 00:35 on 12-09-2011, Arthur B
Men's Rights Activist Marmoset has some mansplainin' to do.
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at 02:41 on 10-09-2011, Michal
do have issues with Harris' later book, Archangel, because it gets into the whole Third Reich/USSR equivalency argument that I loathe intensely

Harris essentially did this in Fatherland as well; his alternate history of the Third Reich was clearly based on the post-war USSR and even had the Khrushchev-like "thaw" going on with Kennedy's visit to Germany. I don't think Harris really engaged with Nazi ideology in his novel on anything more than a superficial level, which is another reason it's so damn infuriating: Could society really "normalize" under Nazi control? Or would it (I think the more likely scenario) implode after a period of excess? Because assuming the continued success of the Third Reich also assumes that the Nazis were right about how important they were as an ideology, "the end of history" and all that, that Naziism was flexible and coherent in some fashion, and not, ultimately, self-destructive. The war of extermination on the Eastern front, which actually involved destroying the infrastructure and people over wide swaths of land, already strikes me as an untenable "slash and burn" approach only sustainable by endless expansion--and once the world stabilized (it would have to), the drive would have been exhausted, and the administration would be unable to rebuild what they destroyed.

In other words: Boo, Robert Harris! *Throws a potato*

Anyhow, has anyone ever wondered, if China Mieville could beat up Cthulhu?
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