Scapegoating: take responsibility for my sins, please.

It is well understood that the concept of scapegoat started as a way to channel everyone’s sins into a goat and releasing it into the wild, and the sins with it. In general, people widely accept the validity of scapegoating through their unthinking acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice, that one man’s sacrifice (all man all god, whatever the hell that means) can somehow transfer responsibility for everyone’s sins, as long as you believe in his sacrifice.

From a purely logical standpoint, this doctrine is an intellectual mess. There can be no such thing as delegation of responsibility for one’s “sins.” There is no reason why such delegation would only work if the person whose sins are delegated also believes in the validity of the delegation. It’s a ridiculous belief, and Christianity is an extremely bad framework to understand scapegoating.

I think scapegoating can be understood much better from the perspective of the manichean worldview. One of its basic premises is that the in-group is always right, good and noble; this entails a huge paradox because it fails to account for evil behavior and purposes within the in-group.

The most direct response is, as always, to ignore it, but this is only possible up to a certain point. There is only so much that one can ignore before the cognitive dissonance becomes just too great. Cults and governments get around this problem with information control, but unless you have absolute dictatorial control there’s only so much you can hide. And obviously you can’t attack the in-group, because the in-group is always right.

So the way out of this conundrum is to vilify, objectify and marginalize the individuals we believe are responsible. You have to set them apart from the in-group in order to preserve its moral purity. And you need to use labels and social roles within the in-group to differentiate between the “bad people” and the “good people.” So you’ve got “criminals,” unbelievers, “terrorists,” traitors and subversives, “suppressive people,” socialists and communists, and so on.

The scapegoat absorbs the sins of the population and, by doing so, becomes a subversive element (you can’t be subversive unless you’ve been marginalized first). Because of this, the scapegoat becomes the target of all the pent-up cruelty that would be reserved for the opposing out-groups. No amount of cruelty is too much to inflict on a scapegoat.

So you’ve got this attitude of “no cruelty is bad enough” against “criminals,” unbelievers, “terrorists” and all the other undesirables. People will always be in favor of more restrictions against “criminals” and their rights, no matter how cruel, because they “don’t have rights” or have “surrendered their rights” by standing against the in-group’s rules. This can only possibly make sense if rights are granted by some moral authority, but I’ve already debunked that notion.

Other examples of scapegoats in popular political discourse are abused women (who are called whores, attention-seekers), POC (such as the black men getting shot by police, who are painted as thugs and gang members and are portrayed worse than white serial killers), “immigrants,” welfare recipients (who are portrayed as exploiters of the system, and whose basic needs are portrayed as entitlement, because right-wingers confuse rights and entitlement).

Another excuse for scapegoating is the “it was consensual” defense. It seems that consent is another black check for any amount of abuse, such as rape and BDSM, workplace abuse, religious indoctrination and cults, and so on. Of course the vast majority of this supposed consent is actually imaginary: dressing “slutty,” being drunk, “consensual non-consent,” having a job at a certain workplace, belonging to a religion or a cult, are not acceptable forms of consent. But either way, people believe that there is actual consent there and that it excuses any amount of abuse.

Of course this abuse is often reframed in more positive ways. One way we justify abuse, especially against children, is under the strange contradictory concept of “tough love.” We also call it “teaching them a lesson” (because they need to be reminded of how evil they are) or that they “deserved it” (for being evil).

From all this we get powerful defensive responses when someone tries to debunk any instance of scapegoating: “how dare you defend them?” This is a powerful response because we’ve been conditioned to associate scapegoats with opposition against our in-group, and any support of a scapegoat is equated with attacking our in-group. It doesn’t feel good to attack our in-group and it’s easy to say things like “well, I don’t support what they do, but…” That sort of reasoning, though, fails to do justice to those labeled scapegoats, who are usually the victims in that situation.

Some cartoons from Chaos Life.

From Chaos Life (1, 2, 3, 4)

Religion makes children more gullible.

A study finds that being religiously indoctrinated makes children more likely to accept made-up elements in stories as real. This factor no doubt contributes to the myth of children’s gullibility.

“The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories,” the study concluded.

Gender McCarthyism, or Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been…

To deny the people of an exploited group the right to discuss ways in which they are exploited, and the means to redress it, is a criminal act.

Women are an exploited group. As such, they have the right to discuss ways in which they are exploited, and the means to redress it. And yet they are being gaslighted and silenced with rising intensity by a group of fanatics.

This group of fanatics has declared all radical feminism to be persona non grata and maintains lists of radical feminists so they can be silenced and made into pariahs, not because of their ideas, but because they are radical feminists.

This is Gender McCarthyism. Are you now, or have you ever been, a radical feminist?

This group of fanatics is mostly composed of men. This is not surprising, as the people who have silenced women throughout the centuries were, for the most part, men. The violent erasure of women’s writings, women’s knowledge, and women’s lives and livelihood, has been led by men.

But these fanatics have taken the erasure of women to new heights reminiscent of 1984. Now it is the identity of women themselves that is under fire. They use bigoted rhetoric to make people believe that historical women were actually men in disguise. They use bigoted rhetoric to make parents believe that their daughters are male and that their sons are female.

They threaten anyone who dares to speak about women’s issues, including biological ones. They accuse these women of being their biggest threat, even though those who actually want to kill them are other men.

And most importantly, they attack women’s spaces, refusing to acknowledge the right of an exploited group to assemble peacefully and be able to live free from those who exploit them. If there’s one thing that feminist history proves, it’s that women’s spaces are essential for the liberation of women, and that destroying women’s spaces means nothing less than the end of feminism and the end of any hope for a just society. That is precisely what they want.

Even though they pretend to be modern thinkers, their objective is the same as all other genderists throughout history: to stomp down on women, to keep them from being subjects, to keep them from speaking up.

To paraphrase a famous quote, whether it is a right boot or a left boot at women’s throat is of no significance. What matters is that a murder is being committed.

These fanatics believe that any woman who is not feminine enough was, or is, not a “real woman.” Women cannot be strong. Women cannot speak up. Women cannot love other women. Women cannot want to be free.

Women who remain silent, women who follow along with the program, are not targeted. It is those women who stood up for themselves, and those women who stand up for themselves now, those are the targets to be silenced and erased.

These fanatics are also science deniers, because they deny the biological reality that males and females operate under. They deny the existence of sex and believe that gender is an innate property of individuals. This is a form of quackery and has nothing to do with actual biology.

The goal of erasing sex as a biological fact is to eradicate feminism as a movement dedicated to women’s liberation. A group cannot have boundaries against their oppressors if they are not allowed to define the basis of their oppression. If anyone can be a feminist and anyone’s interests are feminist interests, then feminism means absolutely nothing.

The current ideological battle is a framing and political battle for the survival of half the human race. If the fanatics win, and women-only spaces are abolished, then any possibility of furthering women’s rights will be legally eradicated.

What I want to say to these men is the following:

Your bizarre misogynistic and science-denying ideology is leading us to disaster. What you’re preaching is wrong and hurts everyone, men, women and children, every single day. If you care at all about the truth and helping other people, reconsider what you’re doing.

Take responsibility for the bigoted things you do and say. Stop targeting women who speak up and stand up for themselves. That just makes you a sniveling coward. Speak your truth and let others speak their truth. Don’t let gender demagogues dictate you what the truth is.

An Exclusive Interview With Cathy Brennan trt 82 1 32 46

Is natalism a religion?

Is natalism a religion? This question may seem cheeky, but there is something to be said for the connection.

First, let me set aside the traditional definition of religion, which is connected to the existence and worship of a god. Although natalism is strongly associated with religious fundamentalism, one does not have to be a religious fundamentalist to be a natalist.

This definition is usually seen as overly narrow. A more interesting distinction is that between the sacred and the profane, accompanied by a moral code, feelings of awe, rituals, and a social group bound together by belief in the sacred.

But natalists have nothing sacred, you might say. Of course they do! They say it themselves: childbirth is a miracle, childbirth is sacred, childbirth is the greatest thing that can happen in your life. If that doesn’t qualify, then what does?

Procreation comes with its own rituals (marriage, baby showers, “gender reveals,” hospital-run hypermedicated births, family rituals), its own sense of awe (towards the child), and social groups based around parenthood.

There is not one single moral code revolving around parenting, although many have been proposed and continue to be proposed: they’re called pedagogy (and, as Alice Miller would say, all pedagogy is poisonous). If we look at Christianity, we can observe many different moral codes ostensibly derived from the Bible; why should natalism be any different? Whether we’re talking about Dr. Spock’s “leave babies to cry” nonsense, helicopter parenting, or quiverfull doctrines, they are all ultimately taken on faith (for the sake of the discussion, I will simply define “faith” as passive or unthinking acceptance).

But beyond faith in pedagogy, natalists share one major faith: their faith in the benevolence of life. They believe without question that nothing wrong with happen to their child, and that nothing wrong will happen to them (obviously anything that incapacitates or kills one of the two parents would be greatly harmful to the child’s well-being as well).

And this is not an assessment of risk. Have you ever heard a prospective parent rationally assess the risk of their child being born with a birth defect, of contracting leukemia or whopping cough (with all the fucking anti-vaxxers around), of dying in a car accident, of bring raped, and so on and so forth? I would be genuinely curious to hear if this sort of thing has ever happened. My guess is, it’s extremely rare.

I have already discussed the conflict between the “benevolent universe” premise and the “malevolent universe premise,” pitting Objectivists to antinatalists. While I don’t think all natalists must adhere to this sort of fanatical optimism like Objectivists do, and may be pessimists about all sorts of things, I don’t see how they can be anything but fanatical optimists about their future children. Who would reproduce if they really confronted the risks to those they are supposed to protect?

This is one difference between natalists and the religious: while natalists believe in the benevolence of life, religious people believe in the benevolence of the afterlife. I’ve already pointed out that anyone who believes in Hell and decides to have children must logically either have faith that their children will not go to Hell (by losing their faith at some point in their lives) or be depraved beyond reckoning.

But that difference aside, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to call natalism a religious movement, or at least religious-like.

But now consider a specific kind of natalism, secular natalism which justifies itself through the theory of evolution. According to this view, evolution entails that we have a moral duty to procreate, and by doing so we inscribe ourselves within an endless (or at least, four billion years old) lineage of “successful” lifeforms. We are so “lucky,” they say, to be alive, one chance out of a billion.

At this point I would say we have a full-blown religion. Granted, this sort of belief has not yet been codified and organized, but if it was, such an organization would definitely be called a religion. It tells people their place in the universe, it has a singular moral code, it has an originator of the moral code (the theory of evolution, as they mangle it).

I’m sure some smartass will reply that ho hum, antinatalism is a religion too! Why, you all have faith that life is terrible and you all worship death (or something).

But this is a misunderstanding of the comparison. Natalism is the default, like religion was (and in most places in the world, still is). It takes a lot of mental effort to get out of the religion trap and the natalist trap. This effort is an effort to deconstruct dogma and confront how badly it measures up to reality. The end product in both cases is the freedom to think, and if some people become antinatalists because of it, how is that religious in nature?

Certainly some antinatalists may operate on faith, like some atheists also operate on faith, but that’s not the defining characteristic of the position. In both cases, the defining characteristic is the exact opposite: the desire to confront reality (such as confronting life’s pleasures and pains, unlike natalists, who only think about the pleasures). And the reasoning proposed by natalists, I think, is ample demonstration that they, like the religious, are guided by one principle: the refusal to confront reality.

If Black People Said The Stuff White People Say

Fuck the expectation of forgiveness.

Red Flag Archives comments on how much victims are pushed to forgive, and how damaging that can be.

Our culture often tells survivors/victims to “forgive and forget” while at the same time victim blaming them for staying with an abuser. They can’t win. Personally, every time I gave an abuser a second chance, I just got abused more. Whether it was abusive exes, abusive friends, or abusive family members. That is not to say that anyone who chooses (or is forced) to stay or go back to a situation in which their abuser is back in their life that it is their fault if they experience abuse. Again, it is ALWAYS the abuser’s responsibility not to abuse, not the survivor/victim’s responsibility to not get abused.

I think our culture more commonly expects us to forgive abusive family members (or people in a specific community), like, for the sake of the rest of the family (or community). They tell you you’re “breaking the family apart”, when really the abuser, and everyone who supports the abuser rather than the abused, is who is responsible for breaking the family apart. Survivors/victims are being blamed for both being abused, and the after effects of the abuse, and then told how to feel and react while the abuser’s behavior is ignored.

And I think we can connect this to the larger socio-political context as well.

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