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#ResistTrump today by standing up for trans students and immigrants

Jeff Sessions: Kind of a dick

Just a quick #ResistTrump post today. There’s a lot going on. Here are two important developments that we need to respond to.

First: Jeff Sessions has started off his new job as Attorney General with an attempt to undermine legal protections of trans students. 

What he did is a bit complicated to explain; see here and here for details. But Sessions’ intention is clear, and the effects of his move will be felt immediately. Here’s the Human Rights Campaign statement on the issue:

Tonight, HRC responded to the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw a request to halt an order against the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. This action will effectively continue to halt the protections nationwide.

“After being on the job for less than 48 hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled his intent to undermine the equal dignity of transgender students,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Transgender students are entitled to the full protection of the United States Constitution and our federal nondiscrimination laws. It is heartbreaking and wrong that the agency tasked with enforcing civil rights laws would instead work to subvert them for political interests. President Trump must immediately reverse course and direct the DOJ to uphold guidance protecting transgender students. “

If you want to help, consider supporting HRC or The Trevor Project, which offers crisis intervention/suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth and twentysomethings.

And if you know of other good organizations to support, please email me or post them in the comments below.

Second: The Trump regime has launched a wave of deportations — and has triggered protests across the country against these deportations.

See here and here for more details and a rundown of some of the protests that have happened so far.

And here are some protests taking place tomorrow, courtesy of the RESISTABLE newsletter:

Sunday, February 12
11AM ETJewish Community Action for Refugees, Manhattan, NY
10AM PTWorker and Immigrant Solidarity March, Burlington, WA
3:30 CTChicago Moons Trump Tower, Chicago, IL
4PM MTNO WALLS PROTEST: Holding hands in unity, International Border U.S. El Paso, Tx / Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico

If you know of other protests or good groups to check out, please email me or post them in the comments below.

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Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
5 years ago

On a different thread, Scildfreja told me I could vent any time, but I dunno. I feel so broken right now. I asked my mom if maybe she could not make the bed because of a squeaky floor board. She makes it sometime between 5 and 5:30 and she may as well be jumping up and down on that board. I asked her a year ago and she said ok.

<3 eli. You're still allowed to vent whenever you want. You aren't disrupting anything. You're certainly more important than Dan's comment :p

If you'll let me make some guesses: you've been hyper-sensitized to your mother's actions. It's a fear response. Every sound, every squeak, every shadow is some sign of her disapproval or anger. Even in the dead of night, that sound is enough to wake you and make your heart rate spike.

(I am really familiar with this feeling, I get it all the time. I grew up in a squeaky house, and my mother walks on her heels, stomp stomp stomp. It’s enough to make me want to hide under the bed sometimes. Sounds like a very similar situation.)

I hope you are able to get out of there soon. Roommates can be wonderful or terrible, but as long as you’re all clear about expectations and responsibilities up front then you should be okay. But until then (and after then, too) you have a long-term project ahead of you. Anxiety reduction is tough, because you’re re-training your brains’ production of stress hormones. This process relies on specific forebrain structures that are very sensitive to sleep quality, poor nutrition, blood flow, etc. So the “good sleep”, “good food” and “exercise” advice is really important for this!

Beyond that, it’s mostly a case of recognizing when anxiety is starting to pile on and taking conscious steps to release it – not fight it. If you’re gonna have an anxiety attack, that’s okay. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up over that. If you can’t stop thinking about your anger and fear, that’s okay too. Just keep in your head the thought that, once you’re able to break out of the anxiety attack, once the wheels spinning in your head start to slow, that you’re allowed to let it all dissipate. The anxiety is a part of you, but you aren’t beholden to it.

All of this is just my personal, subjective experience with fighting deep-rooted anxiety, so may not work for you. I hope it does, though. Just keep in mind that your fight isn’t with your mother – it’s with your brain, as you retrain it towards a healthier balance of hormones. You’re gonna do just fine, eli! It will take time. Be patient with yourself. And please continue to vent here when you have to <3

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
5 years ago

Shorter @Dan: I hate 50% of humanity, but that’s okay ’cause I don’t hate some other division of humanity.

I guess my prayer of “May my enemies be stupid” was answered. Praise Asgard!

Handsome :Punkle Stan: Jack

I am a Black man. I more of a mascunist than a racist. I do not judge anyone based on their ethnicity or race.

Wow. Look at that. A possible black Black Trump supporter. That’s, like, 10% of the voting population of black men right here.

How does it feel to throw yourself under the bus just to hurt other people?

5 years ago


my mother walks on her heels, stomp stomp stomp.

The house growing up wasn’t squeaky, but there was that hardwood floor in the living room. I always described it as clomp clomp clomp.

Your intuition is correct and I think part of me knew this. When I moved in about a year and a half ago to help with dad, I thought things could be different than when I was growing up. But they’re exactly the same and I feel really bad that she is so profoundly unhappy, but it is deeply unfair to blame this on my father and on me.

And I’ve regressed. David posted on mindfulness and I’ve been exploring that and dabbling a bit, but since the first of the year I’ve been taking it more seriously. It’s difficult and trendy and I feel silly sometimes. But then there’s another breakdown and I start mulling and replaying and rehearsing in my head for the next time. That’s why I fear venting. But I have received such excellent advice and support from all of you, so I’m very grateful and I’m glad I reached out.


that is a very good point about what is legal and I need to check up on this. The local paper lists absolutely no housing shares. There are lots of listings on craigslist and it looks like a lot of the people who are shady really just put it all out there. I just need to start sending some e-mails.

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
5 years ago

David posted on mindfulness and I’ve been exploring that and dabbling a bit, but since the first of the year I’ve been taking it more seriously. It’s difficult and trendy and I feel silly sometimes.

Most of the “feeling silly” is from right-wing social trends that consider anything feminine, compassionate, or thoughtful to be “silly.” It’s not silly. Be proud of your mindfulness. You push against the current of dispassion and self-loathing when you do this.

(This said, you’re allowed to feel silly. That’s okay. That’s just the feeling of society pushing against you. To be expected. Be happy that they think you’re being silly! It means that you’re being sincere, and not hiding from your problems or your self.)

But then there’s another breakdown and I start mulling and replaying and rehearsing in my head for the next time. That’s why I fear venting. But I have received such excellent advice and support from all of you, so I’m very grateful and I’m glad I reached out.

That’s the hardest part, and that’s what I was talking about when I referred to your brain “spinning its wheels.” You have a spike in stress hormones for whatever reason (time of day, time of month, lack of sleep, hunger, etc), and this starts an acute stress response – your fight or flight reaction. Your brain starts searching for threats, which makes you start rehearsing and projecting.

You can’t stop: there’s too much adrenaline and serotonin in there, making that reaction flare up constantly, suppressing anything that isn’t threat analysis and making you perceive every interaction negatively. The only way out is to let the anxiety subside. You have to wait for those neurochemicals to be consumed, break down and dissipate.

Let the flywheels spin while they’re spinning – it’s okay. Remind yourself that your anxiety is the product of a stupid little bit of your brain squirting out too much serotonin. Eat something with some calories if you haven’t eaten in awhile. Drink some water. Remind yourself that it will pass after awhile. It’s exactly the same as a dizzy spell from standing up too quickly. It’s purely biological, and isn’t a sign of weakness or a flaw. It’s just a brain doing what it does in an environment it wasn’t really evolved for.

You can do it! Don’t get mad at your brain for being brainy, that’ll just make the anxiety go on longer. Let it do its thing and before long the reaction will subside.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

@the other EJ

Ehhhhh, technically they are different? But I am lazy when I don’t have to be strictly correct about terminology and the vernacular definitions are functionally identical. But if you are interested in the actual difference, morality is right/wrong, while an ethic is the system that tells you how to choose the moral choice. People typically use ethics to make the moral choice in marginal situations, or in situations where you are SUPER TEMPTED to do the selfish thing but WWJD tells you something different and pushes you into a different option.

In theory, a good ethical system could make a stone cold sociopath behave morally, if said sociopath followed the rules, even though sociopaths don’t really have moral compasses.

5 years ago


Most of the “feeling silly” is from right-wing social trends that consider anything feminine, compassionate, or thoughtful to be “silly.” It’s not silly.

I’ll add that ‘silly’ is often equated with ‘childish’ which as Scildfreja says is frowned on by some but noone worth mentioning. I prefer to think of it as ‘childlike’ or ‘fun’. Especially when the same people frowning on it throw toddler style hissy fits when someone else wins instead of them. Naming no Trump supporters/Trump.
Personally I really need to be silly more – I seem to be becoming a grumpy old man which is no good for anyone.

EJ (Marxist Jazz Weasel)

I’ll add that ‘silly’ is often equated with ‘childish’ which as Scildfreja says is frowned on by some but noone worth mentioning.

I think there’s also an extent to which ‘silly’ is frowned upon because it’s equated with ‘fun’; and if we look at manospherians then ‘fun’ seems like something missing from their mindset. When they play video games they take them so seriously; when they make jokes they makes them so angrily; when they play sports they either do it to win or else don’t do it and ridicule the concept of doing it; and when they interact with other humans they’re always trying to get something out of it. The concept of simply joy seems to elude them.

EJ (Marxist Jazz Weasel)

(Double posting because I forgot to add this bit.)

It might be me being stupid, but I still can’t see a distinction between the two.

Is it possible to behave in a way which is moral but not ethical, or ethical but not moral? How does it look if we apply set theory?

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ EJ

We got taught that, although they’re superficially similar, ethics is more of an external code (a societal thing) whereas morals are your personal internal sense of right and wrong.

The classic law school example is, we might find murder morally reprehensible but we’re ethically obliged to act for a murderer.

(Or a society could believe eugenics is ethical on utilitarian grounds but an individual member of that society might have a moral objection)

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

@the other EJ

Maybe an example would help. I’ll use the categorical imperative model because I already brought it up once.

Kant invented this model to try to make an ethical system that did not depend at all upon emotion. He wanted a system that is entirely logic-based. So you think to yourself, “What if everyone did this thing?” and if your answer breaks down society or is otherwise absurd, that thing is not OK to do.

Lying, for instance, is not OK. If everyone lied, nobody would believe anything anyone else said, and society would not be able to function. This is an absurd result, so we conclude that lying is wrong.

Defaulting on a loan is wrong. If everyone defaulted, the nobody would loan anything to anyone ever again, and “loan” would become a meaningless term. Absurd, so defaulting is wrong.

I don’t agree that this is crap. It’s a pretty good system. But it’s easy to break, because all ethics are easy to break. The classic example is this: You live in Nazi Germany, and you’re hiding Jews in your basement. The Nazis come by and ask if you know where any Jews are.

All of your options here are wrong according to Kant’s system. You can’t stay silent, because the Nazis will take that as yes, you do know, and search your house, and allowing harm to befall another person when you can prevent it is wrong. You can’t tell the truth for the same reason. You can’t lie, because lying is wrong. Literally every option available to you is wrong.

Obviously, the correct answer is to lie, but we use our emotions to navigate this break, not logic. Logic tells us that everything that is wrong is equally wrong. Emotion tells us that some wrongs are worse than others. Our emotions tell us what is moral, when our ethic can’t give us an answer, or gives us an answer that is immoral. Morality is what is actually right and wrong, whereas ethical systems attempt to explain how to arrive at the moral answer, and direct you as to how to do it. All ethical systems are broken. I will state that without exception. If you follow any one of them exactly, it will lead you astray, or fail to lead you, in some circumstance.

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

That thing about really knowing something when you teach it has some basis in fact, I’ve realized that another source of social tension is coming from refining many of my habits related to acting aggressively towards people. That’s a lot of tweaking of basic reactions to shitty people, and the learning how to be properly aggressive around children. Of course my expression has become more complicated in general.

@Gussie Jives

… stories are powerful things that can slowly influence culture.

That sums up so much of how I find myself acting in today’s social conflicts with the experiences that I have had. It’s fundamental shit, but criticizing how other people are using language is something I have to be careful about because of the white-male-aggressive thing (not complaining, this is strategy). I can even see places in this thread where the use of the word emotion is making me sigh, but it’s not politically helpful for me to directly jump on it.

So I get indirect with my criticism of how people use the word emotion and I often don’t do that criticism in the discussion/thead/interaction in question but in some other part of the local commenting community (and always relevantly and usefully, derails are rude when tension is high). “Poisoning the well” suggests communities can be affected by social interactions and biased in an irrational direction, there are rational directions and the underlying social behavior is a species neutral.

As far as liberals are concerned It’s challenging to police one’s in-group so I try to be instrumental in that role by role-modeling. It’s challenging and necessary and can be looked at like a skill or area of study (and has the benefit of making you work on irrational bias). It’s not easy but a nice thing about society is that we can parallel process the problem between individual interactions (I love meat-computer metaphors).

“Tolerance” was the SocJus branding against the intolerance of racists, sexists, homophobes etc. It was a handy shorthand that was broadly understood what the tolerance in question meant. What the right is very good at is branding their opponents and playing these rhetorical word games to paint themselves favourably.

The evolution of culture and language is a frustrating thing. I call this kind “symbol stealing”. You try to take someone’s language use from them so they can’t hurt you with it. So MRA’s get “financially raped”, the very word feminism is pecked at across a lot of society, I’ve even seen someone try to claim that “freeze peach” was sexist “because early to mid 1950’s word use”.

We do it too but since it’s a neutral there is no problem with taking abusive language from abusers and we also get to try to shape the evolution of culture. I try to have fun that space despite its intensity. One of my versions is refusing to acknowledge the validity of SJW as more than a non-literalism. I demand to see the irrational and illegitimate social justice related interaction for myself since I always find it to mean “social justice I don’t like”.

It’s all part of the effort to shift the Overton window further right.

I’ve heard of this overton window but don’t know much. If I get the gist correctly I would say we get to shift it too and many language difficulties involve efforts to make general behavior look bad in specific situaions without being willing or able to show why it’s bad/wrong/disgusting/offensive… (and they also are offended at people being offended, circular fights require looking at the specifics so we win in the end).

If we’re always fighting with styles the opponents have chosen for us, progress will slow to a stop.

Fortunately studying the styles of one’s opponents lets one pull out the neutral bits and drive the culture as well. They (we in my case) have the benefit of being from the dominant group, that should be a field of social psychology if it is not already*. We don’t feel social interaction the same. We don’t measure against other people the same socially. We don’t feel the world the same way. The solution to the problem of bigotry is going to require knowing how this works and making choices for people we consider friends and family.

*And it will help in other levels like the bigotry in the LBGT community, the bigotry of TERFs and other different social contexts from the one this thread is about (but similar in a broader categorical way).

EJ (Marxist Jazz Weasel)

Thank you for the examples. I’m afraid I still don’t get it. If you’re willing to educate me further, I have a few questions which I think will drill down to the points I’m unsure on.

I believe axiomatically that all rape is wrong, and that all violence is wrong. I believe these not because of chains of logic based on utilitarianism or any other formal system, but for emotional reasons.

Alan Robertshaw also believes that all rape is wrong, but he believes that violence is acceptable under some circumstances. I have no evidence as to why he holds these positions, but for the sake of argument let’s say that he also does so for emotional reasons rather than logical ones.

We’re both intelligent people who hold these positions sincerely and in good faith; and (as far as I know) don’t suffer from mental illness inasmuch as it affects these feelings.

Are these ethics, or morals?

If they’re morals, then is it possible for a system of ethics to be right for Alan and wrong for me?

If so, what does that mean for people who suffer from pathological emotional responses?

If not, how do we know which of us is wrong?

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago


I can only answer some of those questions, because they are good ones that philosophers have been wrangling with for millennia and not successfully.

In theory, morality is absolute. Some things are absolutely wrong and some things are absolutely right. An ethic is supposed to describe how you arrive at the absolutely moral answer every time. That’s the purpose of having an ethic: to know what is moral, always.

But how can we test our ethics if we don’t already know the moral answer? If we do know the moral answer, we don’t need an ethic in the first place. If morality is absolute, it should be findable by some means, and all reasonable people will agree about it. That … hasn’t happened. Why not? You might be tempted to answer that morality is culturally-dependent, but that doesn’t solve the problem because all reasonable people in any given culture still won’t agree totally on what is and is not moral. There will always be places where reasonable people disagree.

So you are asking great questions here, and I don’t have answers for you.

EJ (Marxist Jazz Weasel)

Thank you for your time, PoM. I learn something every time I talk to you.

5 years ago

Thank you PoM et al! As so often, come for the misogyny-mocking, stay for the many outstanding qualities of the btl exchanges (I have been trying to keep morals and ethics straight in my head for ages; this time round I think I might just manage to at least remember a rough rule of thumb (that morality = right/wrong; ethics = a logical system for working out (or of course rationalising!) which is which. Does that look close enough?). Alan’s ethical obligation to represent a murderer at trial is a good illustration too).

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

Alan’s example is fantastic. Lawyer ethics are internally consistent, and serve important lawyerly purposes. The ethical obligation to represent a murderer and get them acquitted advances the ethical postulate that all people are entitled to competent representation, and the postulate that people should feel safe in telling the truth to their lawyers.

The rest of us recoil, because it is immoral to act to acquit someone you know to be a murderer. We believe, on a moral level, that people should get what they deserve, and that murder should come with negative consequences for the murderer.

This is why if you ever take an exam for a professional credential, and that profession has a code of ethics, there will be questions that will pit the ethic against basic morality to see if you can tell the difference.

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