Matt Walsh is wrong about: Baltimore’s riots

While he was in Utah for a “Stand For Marriage Rally”, Matt hastily wrote his views on the riots in Baltimore. Just like he did in another article five months ago, Matt accuses the black community of holding up violent criminals as heroes, lacking ambition to work, turning to crime, and not being involved in their own community.

What Matt got right

He knows there’s a problem, and it makes him angry.

What Matt got wrong

Matt’s patronizing message, scarcely hidden beneath all his anger and vitriol, is that everyone in the Black community needs to quit being thugs, get a job, and care about their community.

Almost twenty years ago I moved to Baltimore for work. At the time Matt, also a Baltimore resident, was ten-years-old. Like many other suburban white kids, Matt was probably attending a well-funded grade school. He probably sat in class daydreaming about things grade-schoolers daydream about, like being a fireman, astronaut, or superhero. Freddie Gray was just a few years younger, but like many other poor black kids, he was probably attending a poorly-funded inner-city school. Like Matt, Freddie most likely also sat in class daydreaming about being a fireman, astronaut, or superhero. But unlike Matt, Freddie faced a variety of extra challenges in ever reaching those goals. The 2015 Baltimore Riots were already brewing as Freddie’s neighborhood sank deeper into poverty, a trend which began more than thirty years earlier as blue collar middle class shipping and manufacturing jobs disappeared from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Ten years ago, when I left Baltimore to return to the rural Maryland Eastern Shore where I grew up, Matt was attending broadcasting school in Baltimore. His career choice would lead him to his first job, in my hometown a hundred miles east of Baltimore, a year or so later. At the time Freddie Gray was finishing high school, and just a year away from his first arrest. The tragic march toward the 2015 Baltimore Riots continued.

The parallels between Matt’s experiences and Freddie’s reveal an important question, one which Matt was seemingly too busy complaining about black people to answer in his article: What happened in that ten-year span between 1996 and 2006 that led two grade-schoolers, Matt and Freddie, on such different paths — one had a productive (sort of) career path in broadcasting, and the other went from problem to problem until his tragic death at the hands of police? Pointing fingers and telling black people to quit being thugs and to get a job certainly doesn’t come close to answering the question.

Matt does, though, bring up an example that can help illuminate a possible answer. On St. Patrick’s Day, 2012, about 500 black teens and young adults organized on social media to spend the evening at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor — the same place thousands of White people also chose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Now, three years after the fact, Matt claims to be uneasy about taking his family to the Inner Harbor because of “roving gangs of black teens”.

So, what happened on that St. Patrick’s Day? A lot of white people got scared. As one taxi driver said: “[Baltimore and Light Street] was blocked and 35 to 40 people, young kids, were walking across. They’re looking at you, staring at you. … You’re not going to get out and chase them.” Oooh, black kids staring at you. Scary.

Since Matt is a white person still so scared by all those black people staring at white people in the Inner Harbor three years ago that he won’t take his family there, it comes as no surprise that Matt labeled Freddie Gray a “thug” and a “violent criminal” because of his criminal charges (fifteen for narcotics possession, two for intent to sell, and one for burglary). Freddie’s arrest and prosecution record is, in itself, indicative of the problems black residents of Baltimore faced that white residents, like Matt, never had to consider. Of the chargies against Freddie, the burglary resulted in a verdict of not-guilty, one of the intent to sell charges was dropped, five of the possession charges were dropped, and another of the possession charges also resulted in a verdict of not-guilty. Just short of half of the charges against Freddie over the years were dropped or resulted in verdicts of not-guilty, which helps explain the ACLU’s lawsuit against Baltimore Police Department’s arrest tactics.

Sadly, police aren’t the only problem making life difficult for kids like Freddie. For example, black neighborhoods became ghost towns after Wells Fargo and other banks deceptively offered subprime “ghetto loans” to the “mud people” and then foreclosed on tens of thousands of them when the housing bubble burst in 2008. Boarded up houses spread through the Black communities like a malignant cancer with over 33,000 foreclosures by Wells Fargo, alone.

Several decades of poor policies have left the city segregated. black neighborhoods are surrounded by white neighborhoods, and the whole city is surrounded by white suburbs. Economic booms largely pass the black neighborhoods by: Black people in Baltimore average 42% less annual income than others, and in Freddie Gray’s neighborhood unemployment is above 50%. When Freddie Gray probably sensed the cards were stacked against him by the time he reached high school.

Parting thoughts

Some time ago I read an newspaper opinion piece written by a young black man. He described how difficult it is for people like him to succeed in the modern service and information economy. This article was written thirty or thirty-five years ago, so I have no link to share, but one sentence he wrote all that time ago still stands out in my mind today. As I remember it, he wrote something along the lines of this: “A young white man holding his head high and taking charge in his job is seen as a leader and will go far with the company. A young black man holding his head high and taking charge in his job is seen as a threat. If the young black man takes a more subdued approach to appear more amiable to his coworkers, he’s seen as weak with no future as a leader. Either way, he’s not going far with the company.”

Now think about all the white people who felt threatened by the “stares” of all the young black people celebrating St Patrick’s Day in 2012. Their presence in the upscale tourist part of town prompted a state legislator to call for state troopers to protect the “crown jewel of Baltimore” from the “menacing” teens. Not much has changed in the decades since I read that young black man’s opinion piece.

Like Matt, I’m a white man and have never lived in a poor black neighborhood. I’m sure I will always fall short of fully answering the question of why Baltimore boiled over. I can google, and read, and tie a lot of loose ends together. I can empathize and attempt to understand. But, I’m unlikely to completely succeed. John Blake, though, has first hand experience to draw on, and he did a good job of explaining it:

The older black men were gone.

I asked 28-year-old Zachary Lewis about the absence of older men. He stood by a makeshift memorial placed at the spot where Freddie Gray, the man whose death ignited the riots, was arrested.

“This is old here,” he said, pointing to himself. “There ain’t no more ‘Old Heads’ anymore, where you been? They got big numbers or they in pine boxes.” In street syntax, that meant long prison sentences or death.

We hear about the absence of black men from families, but what happens when they disappear from an entire community? West Baltimore delivered the answer to that question this week.

Perhaps, on topics like this, Matt Walsh should do more reading and empathizing, and spend less time trying to hammer yet another nail in a struggling community’s coffin.

Matt Walsh is wrong (and also sort-of right) about: The origins of homosexuality

Full disclosure: I studied gender and sexuality in history for a living, and was paid money – some of it likely taxpayer money, no less – to do so. This probably means that Matt Walsh and his fellow travelers would sooner take advice on marriage from Donald Trump than accept my opinion on sexuality and gender. Yet, I do admit that I love responding to pontifications on the subject I’ve spent way too much of my life on from people who aren’t exactly interested in even trying to be impartial. As the wise Jimbo Jones once put it, “It makes me feel like a big man.”

Here Walsh responds to Ben Carson’s comments about homosexuality being a choice. I do want to give Matt Walsh some credit. One, he actually disagrees with Carson’s use of same-sex acts in prison as proof for homosexuality not being inborn while at the same time showing an understanding that sex, especially sexual assault, can be about power not desire. That’s a surprisingly feminist response from the guy who described feminism as “moral and intellectual poison”. Second, when he talks about the debate over homosexuality being messy and not at all definite about homosexuality being inborn, he’s not wrong, challenging the very premise of this blog.

So, is that it? Well …

Born that way? It’s … complicated, one way or the other

While I’m complimenting Matt, I think this article shows Matt is evolving as a pundit, since he pulls the neat trick of the trade in somewhat acknowledging that an issue is clearly complex and ambiguous but still offering up his own clearcut, absolute answer. Matt points out there is far from any conclusive answer to the question of whether or not homosexuality is inborn, or is instilled by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Also he gives a nod to the fact that some specialists believe that the idea of homosexuality as an identity is just a product of developments in the nineteenth century, and before that homosexuality was just thought of as something you do. However, even there he, and the clearly biased Daily Caller article he cites, make it sound like the verdict had already been reached. At least the thought of Matt Walsh agreeing with diehard followers of Michel Foucault of all people entertains me terribly.

Here’s a good spot to admit my own bias and blind spot: Sexuality may be fluid to a degree (something Matt also, to my amazement, seems to admit), but I do believe that homosexuality is at least partially inborn. Further, I am absolutely convinced from my own research that there are people throughout history and human cultures who, even if they did not describe themselves or were described with terms exactly equivalent to today’s “gay”, understood themselves as having an exclusive desire for the same sex and did have words and phrases to present themselves as such. I am also not nearly as well-versed in the scientific literature on homosexuality as I am with the historical and theoretical literature.

Still, I have my quibbles with how Matt presents things here. The historical consensus is not nearly as absolute as Matt thinks it is. Speaking as someone who is part of it, the field of the history of sexuality in the past decade or so has moved away from the absolute stance that identities based on sexual desire for the same sex were completely unknown in the entire world until some German and British sexologists happened to think of it. Very few today will talk about gay people existing consistently and in the same way all throughout history without at least admitting to some theoretical complications, but for the most part a solid number of historians who at least dabble in sexuality are more likely to agree with Helmut Puff, who put the matter this way: “Homosexuals … are not absent from ancient texts, nor is the notion of the sexually fallen sodomite unknown in modernity.” I think Matt’s proving the second half of that statement nicely, but we’ll get to that.

As for the scientific controversy, I know enough to know that, like the historical argument, it’s not nearly as settled as Matt says it is, nor will it be anytime soon, if ever. Part of the problem is that even his scientific citations come filtered through biased sources: The Aquilia Report, a self-described conservative Presbyterian site, and Life Site News, which anyone who loves to hate-read Matt Walsh should know all about. (As an aside, this really does bug me on a level that transcends my own politics. Regardless of his stances, how can Matt not see there’s a problem, at least on a purely rhetorical level, with just presenting information through someone else’s interpretation of it?)

Another part of the problems is that he doesn’t seem to know or care that there are multiple conflicting studies. The twin studies Matt thinks decides the debate once and for all have been very contentious, with the researchers behind a 2010 twins study in Sweden cautiously concluding in their abstract that the results are “consistent with moderate, primarily genetic, familial effects, and moderate to large effects of the non-shared environment (social and biological) on same-sex sexual behavior.” Even the case that there are suggestive physiological differences between heterosexual and homosexual people is still wide open. There have been peer-reviewed articles on homosexual men having differently formed brains and studies suggesting that finger-length ratios differ between women who identify as gay and women who identify as straight. My point is definitely not to settle the debate one way or another, but rather that Matt shouldn’t try either, for all his sneering that progressives aren’t the real “pro-science folks”.

It doesn’t help that Matt thinks the whole complex problem of understanding how human sexuality is shaped is settled by the fact that we’re not sexual creatures at the age of two (what does that prove exactly, considering the popular image of prepubescent boys running from girls with cooties?) or that people who are sexually aroused by characters like the “Biker Mice From Mars” exist (seriously, psychologists have explained and addressed why erotic kinks does not equal homosexuality or bisexuality since Freud).

Gender matters

Matt next brings up gender, and declares, “Our proclivities are fixed at the moment of conception, [progressives] say, but our gender can be adjusted anytime we like.” For starters, that’s not what trans identity is. Whatever Matt thinks of trans identities, Bruce Jenner simply isn’t saying that she can return to being male if the mood happens, but that female is and always has been her authentic self.

I actually am on the same planet … no, the same dimension as Matt in that I think some theorists and activists in their rallying cry against “essentialism” in sexuality sometimes fumble the ball in arguing that sexuality can be extremely fluid at the same time gender identity can be fixed for trans individuals. But it’s still not at all the “gotcha” against pro-LGBT activists the way Matt thinks it is, especially because Matt himself doesn’t really understand what the trans community is about. (Not to mention that there is still a small but vocal group of left-wing feminists who decry the trans community like Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer, but we already established Matt likes to think feminists and leftists are rigidly monolithic groups who can only move in lockstep.)

Sexual identity is not just about sexuality

But Matt takes a step back and decides, “These are interesting quandaries, fine for an academic conversation, but it’s not all that important.” Except the entire point of his argument is over whether or not homosexuality is inborn and what it means if it isn’t, but, hey, he’s getting paid for writing what he does and I’m not (… oh God). So let’s let him do his job.

Matt sees this as exposing the true agenda of progressivism, “that [it] insists that you are what you feel, and what you feel is entirely out of your hands; you are a slave to your emotions.” No matter how many times I’m exposed to lines like this, I’m still sick of hearing them in all its faux-benevolent glory.

Why I feel that way boils down to how oblivious it is. I shouldn’t even have to point out that choosing not to “act upon your gay feelings” is not only difficult, but painful and destructive. Just read Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. Or the writings of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the nineteenth century founder of the modern gay rights movement. Or, really, you can go all the way back to Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II.

Matt does bring up the ex-gay movement, but only in the form of the show “My Husband’s Not Gay”. He berates liberals for mocking the people living out their lives in front of the camera, but doesn’t mention that some made fun of the show for the poorly disguised sexual frustration of the men involved, on top of the dishonesty behind presenting the couples involved as normal Mormons, not the dedicated ex-gay activists they are. Besides, isn’t Matt the one always irritated at people being hyper-sensitive and trying to shut down anything that offends them? At any rate, it’s interesting that Matt doesn’t dwell on the ex-gay angle, probably because even he’s aware that the movement has been tainted by multiple apostates now denouncing the movement, publicized and lasting “lapses” by major leaders, the well-attested lack of scientific legitimacy, and little things like the fact that the United Nations Committee Against Torture has investigated conversion therapy techniques.

Yet, the real reason I find all this so offensive is that it reveals a total disinterest in even attempting to have empathy for LGBT people. Here’s something I keep having to say to people like Matt Walsh: you’re not just asking gay people to stop having sex; you’re asking them to lead lives devoid of authentic romance and intimacy. I do know of religiously devout gay people who have decided to lead lives of celibacy, yet still seek out like-minded partners with whom they can enjoy intimacy that stops short of sex. I disagree with their choice, but it’s better than resigning oneself to a total absence of romantic companionship or inflicting one’s denial of desire on a person of the opposite sex. Also, at least they comprehend something that Matt Walsh, even with his own fulfilling marriage and advocacy of the state of blissful companionship, will not or cannot: It’s not LGBT activists and allies who are fixated on sexual desire; it’s people like Matt.

If I could refrain from premarital sex and adultery, you can refrain from intimacy altogether!

Matt returns to the theme that the “sin” of gay people, seeking the same emotional fulfillment and intimacy he enjoys, is no biggie, since it’s no worse than other “sins”.

This is something else that gets brought up a lot by anti-gay rights conservatives, and it again rests on a disturbing lack of basic empathy for gay people. Premarital sex and gay sex may both be “sins” according to one’s moral and theological calculus. However, on the less lofty plane of day-to-day life, it’s a ridiculous idea. The devout woman or man who refrains from premarital sex but still has hopes of one day receiving sexual release — and, let’s never forget, the more G-rated joys of companionship — may be genuinely suffering, but no person could reasonably compare it to the suffering of a gay man or woman who has to live with despising their own sexual and romantic desires, rather than seeing them as something that will someday be blissfully answered.

I have to say, I find this disingenuous, especially coming from Matt Walsh, who takes such delight in denouncing the Left’s agenda and speaking truth to the tyranny of feminists and gay rights activists. Tell us, on the off chance you even read this, why you think gay people’s desire for romantic and sexual fulfillment is sin, and is lesser to your own and your wife’s desire? What do you really mean when you mention homosexuality in the same paragraph as pedophilia and bestiality? Honestly, Matt Walshes of the world, in the future spare me the “I’ve struggled with sin too!” claptrap. Compared to this, sci-fi novelist and far-right pundit Orson Scott Card’s opinion that homosexuality is a mental illness caused by child abuse is morbidly refreshing.

And anyway, whether or not it’s a choice shouldn’t matter in the long run. Well, admittedly, as a scholar of the history of sexuality it matters to me because I think seeing a history of homosexual identities that stretches out far and away from just the modern West is a much more accurate — and compelling — story. But as far as sexual and marital freedom, and society’s investment in supporting it, is concerned, Matt is actually sort of right again: The question of it being inborn or a choice is all academic.

Matt Walsh is wrong about: Minimum wage

Matt Walsh argues that some jobs are inherently “worth more” than other jobs, and that’s why some jobs pay more than others. Intuitively, we can all sort of agree with that notion, which is why we readily accept, as fact, that a burger flipper doesn’t have as an important job as we have. Ironically, the burger flipper thinks the same way, which is why shows like Married With Children are so successful — even the burger flippers can laugh at the shoe salesman.

Want to know who the shoe salesman laughs at? Yup. The amateur blogger who bangs out an article or two per week for a living, complete with misspellings and grammar errors, and claims to be a hard-working, self-made man. Let’s face it: The burger flipper feeds us, and the shoe salesman puts shoes on our feet. What does the amateur blogger do for us?

If one follows the logic of Matt Walsh and his concept of the inherent worth of a job, of the three career choices, who should get paid the most, and who should get paid the least?

What Matt got right

If you want to earn more money: buckle down, get training and/or education, work hard, and then you can reap the benefits ten, or twenty, or more years down the road.

What Matt got wrong

Everything else. But, for the sake of brevity, here are his most egregious errors:

  1. Matt broke down the worth of a job based on the level of education and training required to do the job. More education and training (expense incurred by a future employee) is needed to be a dental assistant, paramedic, or any of the other professions Matt mentioned, but does that additional education and training make these jobs more “valuable”? The average person needs to eat every day, but only needs a dental assistant once every six months (if he/she is conscientious of his/her teeth) and a paramedic once, maybe twice, in a lifetime. The worth of a job is, or at least should be, based in large part on how much other people need the results of the work, and not on how much time and money one has dedicated to training to do the job. That means the burger flipper is, from a certain perspective, at least as important as a dental assistant or paramedic, whose services we use much less frequently, but find very valuable when we need them. It also means that amateur bloggers, star quarterbacks, and red carpet stars are among the least important jobs around. Oddly, the least important by this measure tend to have the highest average higher payouts.
  2. Matt ignored the historical trend of the declining middle class. He quibbled over a $15 per hour minimum wage, and in the meantime he missed the fact that forty or fifty years ago the average blue collar worker was earning the equivalent of twenty dollars an hour.
  3. Matt also missed the fact that, since a large percentage of American manufacturing jobs moved overseas, we have shifted to a service and information based economy. The high paying jobs — those jobs that pay more than fifteen dollars an hour — require tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars of education. Gone are the days when one could graduate from high school and start a job with lower middle class pay, and with a few years of hard work, make his or her way to solid middle class status in a blue collar, manufacturing job. Today people entering the work force as a high school graduates start at poverty level pay, and even after a decade of work they can only expect to be paid slightly above poverty level. Even many college graduates enters the job market at a little better than poverty level, and in ten years they may be able to achieve some kind middle class status. Basically, more education isn’t necessarily a reliable pathway to higher pay.
  4. Matt ignored his own past advice about college being a waste of time and money for most professions by basing his “value” of jobs on how much education and training is needed to perform a job. The more education, the more valuable the job is, which is doubly ironic since Matt consistently dismisses the idea that college is necessary and since he never actually graduated from college himself. Indeed, as someone with little education, by Matt’s definition he should only be making the current minimum wage, not more than $15 per hour as he claims.
  5. Matt ignored the corporate welfare aspect of the minimum wage story: McDonald’s and other corporations in the fast food and retail industries can get away with paying at or near poverty level wages because our government will pick up the slack in food stamps, welfare, and WIC programs. A single person earning $11 per hour, for example, may still qualify for food stamp assistance. It is no coincidence that 20% of the available jobs are in the retail sector, and 16% of Americans are receiving food stamps. If these government programs didn’t exist, the service industries would not be able to retain a competent workforce unless they raised their starting wages to at least a living wage.
  6. Matt consistently claims that with hard work and making personal sacrifices to forgo luxury items like Internet, cable TV, and good food, they too can make $15 per hour or more after ten years. There are more workers than there are available jobs that pay at least $15 per hour. No matter how hard one works or how much training and education one receives, if the jobs aren’t there, the only choice may be flipping burgers or running a cash register at Walmart.
  7. In 1965, three-quarters of Americans earned the equivalent of $30,000 ($14.42 per hour) or more per year. Today, a little less than half make that amount. During the Great Recession, the top ten percent of wage earners saw their incomes grow, while everyone else saw their wages stagnate or decline. In 2012, the top earners took home half of the wages, a record since statistics started being collected in 1917. Had Matt done his homework, perhaps he would have been more concerned with the shrinking middle class and the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots.

Finally, it’s worth examining some potentially dubious claims that Matt made about his own work history. He claims that while working at WZBH, he made $17,000 per year or about $8 per hour. Even if his claimed wage of $17K is correct, it’s important to note that his work at WZBH consisted of a four hour morning show, five days per week, so his salary was actually about $16.34 per hour. If we assume two hours of preparation time for each show, his salary was $10.89 per hour. (And, this conflicts with his earlier statements that he made $400 per week in that era, which would be a bit over $20,000 a year.)

For comparison, the poverty level for a single person is defined as $5.40 per hour (Matt was single during his WZBH years). As a single man, Matt was wealthy compared to people who earn minimum wage and have to support a family, and that radio work doesn’t include extra income he presumably earned from the commercial voice work he did that I used to hear on the radio in that era.

Similarly dubiously, he claims that when he was working at WZBH he had to forgo Internet access. But, his Facebook and YouTube profiles from that time shows frequent posts, well versed in pop culture, at times when it’s unlikely he was in the office. These frequent posts continued even after he was fired from WZBH in 2011, so it seems unlikely, in any case, that he was reliant on his Internet access at work.

Final thoughts

Per the usual, Matt had an opportunity to tackle a complex issue in a thoughtful way, but he didn’t. Using his own experience as proof that “anyone can make it”, he fudged the numbers to garner sympathy for his “hard work”, and he chose to unfairly denigrate large groups of people as lazy loafers who want something for nothing. He illogically asserts the worthlessness of a college education by emphasizing all the college grads who end up flipping burgers because there’s no work available, but then criticizes the burger flippers for not working hard to get education and skills to earn a better living. Sorry, Matt, but not every issue can be adequately explained on a high school level of thinking. Perhaps you should leave the complex issues to those who are willing to give a thorough and thoughtful analysis.

Dear Mr. Walsh

Dear Mr. Walsh,

Your words are powerful, provocative, and courageous. You are one of the few standing up for Christians who have no voice in the political conversations of our day. As we are continuously being marginalized by our increasingly secularized country, I have outlined some of your insights that have helped sharpen my political witness.

First, in your subtly titled article, “Scott Walker Was Too Nice. Its Incredibly Obvious That Barack Obama Is Not A Christian”, you supply numerous reasons why we should reject the President’s claim of being a Christian. The most obvious being his embrace of the pagan tradition of infanticide: abortion. Non-sensationally, you demonstrate his enthusiasm for slaughtering children:

We know that Obama is either lying about his belief in Christ (my guess) or he honestly believes that Christ blesses abortion and wants to see more of His children ripped to shreds and tossed in medical waste dumpsters. Obama hasn’t just done every conceivable thing in his power to bring about that end, he has done so while invoking the name of God.

And God’s unambiguous stance against abortion is clear when you quote Jesus as saying:

“If anyone causes harm to these little ones, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

This is only one verse from the entire Bible, but Jesus is so clearly talking about abortion here that other verses would only cloud the argument; like in the Book of 1st Samuel where God commands the whole-sale slaughter of men, women, and children. I’m sure God’s idea of Pro- Life ends at birth like yours does; just as I am sure you had your reasons for misquoting the above verse in the first place, as it actually reads:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones-those who believe in me- to stumble, it would better for them if a large millstone was hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”

I never want to accuse you of twisting the words of scripture so they bend toward your presupposed politics, so I will take it on faith that you are honest in your exegesis in the same way we should take it on faith that God is unambiguously against a woman’s right to choose- something we also have no evidence for whatsoever.

The liberal agenda contains many other alarming items, but America’s base, unashamed materialism is particularly disturbing. “If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem” decries anyone who participates in shopping at stores that open on Thanksgiving Day. You valiantly attack the nasty, greedy consumerism that fuels the expansion of Black Friday:

So Black Friday, like a black hole, violently expanded… it sucked everything into its terrifying abyss, where all substance is torn to shreds and obliterated. Black Friday could not be contained to a mere 24 hours. It is Consumerism. It wants more. It always wants more.

Now, we love capitalism, but capitalism and consumerism is not the same thing; Obama’s government stimulus program is clear proof of the distinction:

The government perverted the free market and elected to hand free money to millions of people, hoping that they’d go out and buy a bunch of stuff with it. This was consumerism at the expense of capitalism, and it revealed our priorities: forget freedom, forget principle — just buy stuff.

Capitalism is a freedom unblemished by consumerism’s teeth marks. Consumerism is by no means the engine of capitalism, the thing that fuels, propagates, and sustains it. Nonsense. It’s almost as if the government had no other option but to use consumerism to stimulate an economy that is…um, well, a…capitalist… economy… At least we intelligent people can see the difference. We can be capitalists and not be greedy, family-forsaking consumerists. Like you, Mr Walsh, we should principally choose not to shop on Thanksgiving:

I’m not going to force some single mom to ring up my worthless purchases instead of enjoying Thanksgiving with her children… I think these places ought to respect their workers enough not to rip them away from their kids during one of America’s most beloved holidays.

Yes! We will refuse to shop on Thanksgiving for all the poor, single mothers out there! We will choose to shop instead on every other day of the year, continuously participating in the very system that forces those same single moms to work most days of the year and spend most time without their families! This is what it means to respect the sacred tradition of Thanksgiving.

The liberal media is not only out to convince us Obama is a Christian or that consumerism took capitalism’s virginity at church camp. Liberals are also trying to sham us into believing Islam, a world-wide religion, is another world-wide religion. “Islam is the Most Violent Religion in the World, But Let’s Keep Calling it ‘Peaceful’ Anyway”, denounces Islam as the most inherently violent religion in history. You defended Christianity well against liberal morons that might put it in the same box as Islam:

Rather, our Savior told us to turn the other cheek, and that’s what Christians have consistently done. They were pursued, captured, beaten, killed, and made into lion’s food for 300 years before they finally emerged as a dominant religion.

Indeed, Christianity has turned the other cheek consistently. Liberal idiots will bring up the Crusades to counter your point, but you accurately argue the Crusades a “war of defense, sparked, as usual, by Muslim conquest.” That sentence alone logically justifies the violent slaughter of Muslims by Christian crusaders. Islam slapped Christianity in the face and Christianity…didn’t…turn the other cheek…uhh…

Regardless, the idea that Islam is no different than other religions that twist their own scripture to further fuel their hateful and violent campaigns is pathetic:

Bull crap, you cowards. There is disagreement about the “true” nature of every religion. Put 100 Christians of different denominations in a room and they’ll argue over virtually every aspect of their faith. What they don’t do, however, is debate whether they’re supposed to be out killing cartoonists, shooting up schools, murdering soldiers at the Canadian parliament, or taking hostages at a café in Sydney.

Because, obviously, no Christian ever murdered an abortionist doctor in the name of Christianity:

Progressives are so desperate to prove that Christianity is just as violent as Islam that they frequently cite the murder of abortion doctors as an example. Only, none of those attacks were carried out in the name of Jesus.

The Pro-Life movement which inspired those radicals clearly wasn’t fueled by Christianity. Though Scott Roeder openly confessed in court that his Christian faith motivated him to shoot abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009, Roeder didn’t do it in the name of Jesus. After all, he never said the name of Jesus. Those who propose that violent Pro-Life radicals have anything to do with Christianity are on the same level as labeling someone unchristian for being pro-choice …

F***.

The point is, Mr Walsh, despite the ongoing list of absurdities and inconstancies that are so easily spotted in every blog you post, you are courageous. You call it as it is while giving those of us that have no understanding of religion or politics the ability to argue effectively, however faulty, against an evil that threatens our capitalism-loving, oppression-toting, system-justifying- bullshit theology. And for that sir, you are my hero.

Matt Walsh is wrong about: Justice

Well, the grand jury came to a verdict. Many people saw it coming, but they didn’t like it. It’s a tough time for many black Americans right now. We feel less heard, less understood, and less safe as a result of the verdict and its implications. If that wasn’t enough, Matt Walsh posted a long “I told you so” post about the verdict as if it was clear-cut and fair-and-square. I had a hard enough time sleeping as it was after the news broke, but now I have to see that there are people in this country who believe that justice was in fact served, and that black people are to blame for events like Ferguson and their implications. Matt makes both these claims and others in this post, and I can’t let that slide.

About “Justice”

Justice is a complex word. It has at least five different definitions, and only one of them has any relation to what Matt is defining it as — the judgement of a person by judicial process. That’s all any intelligent person can conclude happened with the Grand Jury because there are still questions that remain unanswered and glaring inconsistencies that remain unaddressed.

We weren’t merely seeking that Darren Wilson get his due process, though that is important. Justice also means equitableness, moral rightness, just conduct, and the administering of a deserved punishment or reward. This is what we want, Matt, not Officer Wilson’s head.

Unanswered Questions

The Grand Jury failed to satisfy the demands of justice in large part because the prosecutor seemed uninterested in actually seeking justice in this case:

  • Why did the prosecutor not mention in his long statement that Michael Brown was unarmed?
  • Why didn’t the prosecutor address the fact that Darren Wilson decide to shoot Brown after he was already fleeing, including shooting him twice in the head after it was already clear that he was unarmed?
  • Why was the cross-examination so weak? Officer Wilson’s narrative was left mostly unchallenged and unexamined.
  • Why did the prosecutor sound more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor when he explained why Wilson wasn’t indicted?
  • Why were the “conflicting accounts” not subject to trial?
  • Why weren’t the conflicting interpretations of the evidence addressed?
  • Why was there no specific charge brought against Darren Wilson at the Grand Jury?
  • Why did the deliberation take so much time?
  • And why did they wait until night time to read the verdict when they reached the decision as early as 2pm?

Don’t even get me started on the questionable happenings on the day of Mike Brown’s death and shortly after it, which weren’t addressed by the Grand Jury at all. We still don’t have all the facts and therefore, contrary to what Matt says, we don’t know the truth. It’s not plain as day just because a Grand Jury decided not to indict. And justice — equitableness, moral rightness, etc. — could not have possibly been served yet. This is why Ferguson and the black community are angry … and scared.

Expert Hypocrisy

Matt expends no small number of words railing on about looting and rioting, and how those involved should be shamed and exposed. Big talk from a man who hasn’t a single post on his blog decrying the root cause of it — institutionalized violence, murder, segregation, and poor policing against people of color. Let me make something very clear: You don’t get to complain about this comparatively uncommon and trivial problem if you’re unwilling to also discuss its causes — the things that have degraded and destroyed millions of black lives while allowing white Americans to thrive.

Also, it doesn’t really make sense for Matt to be so focused on Michael Brown’s crimes. He wasn’t shot for smoking weed, assaulting a clerk, or stealing cigarettes. After all, the officer who shot him didn’t even know he had done those things. Neither do Matt’s condemnations of the media make much sense. The media does incite anger from just about everyone, but Matt’s engaged in the exact same kind of infuriating character assassination of black victims that the media often engages in. Then, in what is perhaps one of the grossest instances of pot/kettle I’ve ever seen, Matt proceeds to rail against the media for being “morally bankrupt sociopaths”, “vultures to feed upon hysteria”, “to exacerbate tensions … to encourage chaos”. Tell me, Matt, what exactly you where doing when you twice denied the existence of white privilege, blamed Ferguson on black people, insulted Robin Williams and anyone else with mental illnesses the day after Williams’ death, said marriage equality didn’t exist, and called feminism intellectual and moral poison?

This kind of character assassination, and literal assassination of unarmed black people as well, doesn’t happen to white people with nearly as much regularity. Remember when Matt first chimed in about Ferguson a few months back? The fact is that, statistically, every 28 hours a black man is killed by police or vigilantes. Matt contends that’s because black people commit a disproportionate amount of crime, but he doesn’t acknowledge that most violent crime (60%) is committed by whites. Yet, how often does this kind of killing happen to white victims? How often white people killed by police and vigilantes? White people have pointed loaded guns at police officers, shot up movie theaters, walked around stores with semi-automatic weapons, killed police officers, and picked fights with cops in St. Louis only days after Mike Brown’s death, and were somehow apprehended with little more than some scratches. These white perpetrators’ actions were explained away because they were “exercising their rights” or mentally ill. When a black person commits a crime, however, the media and people like Matt Walsh focus on instances of past violence, or drug use, or failure at the workplace, or any other unflattering thing they can find.

Why I’m not protesting other stuff right now

It’s a common sentiment in the black community that black problems don’t get any attention from most white people unless the problem somehow affects them. Matt exemplifies this.

First, Matt suggests that instead of protesting Ferguson black should be protesting black on black crime, hip hop music, and welfare dependency. Matt’s ignorance is showing. The NAACP and other organizations like it have hosted summits and talks to address gang violence (read black-on-black crime), self-reliance (read welfare dependency), education, and even hip-hop music. Just because Matt isn’t aware of how the black community is handling its internal problems doesn’t mean that the black community is ignoring them.

Matt also suggests that black men who are out protesting are abandoning their families and creating a chaotic family structure that leads to just these types of tragedies. While there certainly is a correlation between single parent households and having a criminal record, statistical evidence and history do not support the idea that the racial disparities across America are due to broken homes. I spent nearly all of my teenage and adult life in suburbs, got a college education, and had both parents in my life, and still I’ve had more than my fair share of threatened violence and animosity from police. I’ve been followed in shops, and I’ve been called a n*gger. Most other black people have the same experience.

There is plentiful statistical evidence that supports the idea that snap judgements are made about people who look black or have a black sounding name. Consider the statistics as they relate to blacks and whites on vehicle stops, school suspensions for the same offenses, incarceration for the same offenses, hiring processes, and marijuana possession arrests (even though marijuana is used at the same rates by blacks and whites alike). Tell me what these disparities have to do with broken homes or respectability? It is statistically indisputable that people of color in this country are discriminated against based on their skin color. Matt’s arguments are either uninformed or deliberately intended to distract from real issues, and they certainly are not cogent.

Matt’s not interested in justice

I don’t know what Matt wants, but it certainly isn’t justice. I’d like to believe he’s smart enough to deduce that the lukewarm way this case was handled by the prosecution made a just outcome impossible. After his hypocritical and morally backwards diatribe against rioting, as well as his pathetically ignorant indictment of the black community for what he perceives to be its shortcomings, I can only assume that Matt will bend any fact scenario until it makes him feel right. After all, if he’s right he gets to be Captain Correct Conservative Christian Crusader (copyright pending).

Matt, you are part of the problem. And you are wrong. You were wrong from the beginning. Justice wasn’t done, and that fact that you say you’re proud of how the system in this instance indicates that you didn’t want real justice done at all.

Matt Walsh is wrong about: Feminism

In a recent post — one that starts off with the declaration, “Feminism is intellectual and moral poison” — Matt Walsh accuses feminism of being “bitter.” That alone should illustrate the flaws in this essay, but I suppose I have to provide details.

Feminism has deep roots

Matt’s biggest mistake in addressing feminism is the same problem that many other commentators have made when talking about “isms”: He doesn’t understand how broad such movements can be. (And, to be fair, this happens with about the same frequency to liberals and conservatives alike.) Feminism is a long-running movement with a convoluted history. Depending on who you ask, it may have started with Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gougas at the end of the eighteenth century. Or, some people even trace it as far back as Christine de Pizan in medieval France or François Poullain de la Barre who wrote an essay titled “On the Equality of the Sexes” in the seventeenth century.

Feminists come in a variety of flavors

Whatever the case, feminism has come to us through a lot of different political and cultural environments and social circumstances, and it is a cause that has been taken up by women and men with a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. When Matt rants, “It has no redeeming qualities. It has nothing to contribute,” he’s also bashing feminists with whom he’d probably agree:

  • Mary Wollstonecraft opposed abortion because she believed men often pressure women into it in order to have consequence-free sex.
  • Josephine Butler was a British feminist whose international campaign against prostitution helped pressure the government of Norway to shut down its state-sponsored brothels in 1895.
  • Andrea Dworkin, who I know is best known among the Matt Walshes of the world for allegedly claiming that “all sex is rape”, but who tirelessly campaigned against pornography and arguably helped kill the ’70s fad for porn chic that saw certain porn movies like The Devil in Mrs. Jones played in mainstream theaters.
  • Or even Matt’s fellow travelers in the anti-abortion feminist group Feminists For Life.

Money and rape

One can imagine that Matt might concede that at least some historical feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft and Josephine Butler have made valuable contributions, but what, he might ask, have feminists done lately?First and foremost among feminism’s crimes and failures is the “gender pay gap myth” which “has been debunked and disproven” and which relies on “lies and obfuscations”. It’s more than slightly disingenuous to dismiss the whole issue as being an obfuscation created by experts who “just weighed the salary of a commercial airline pilot against an entry level hairdresser”. Ingrained biases against women in certain fields, such as the sciences, are very well-documented, and job areas dominated by women usually earn less than jobs that are filled by a majority of men, even in blue-collar fields and even when workplace and individual circumstances are factored in. But, to be fair, these facts all come from notoriously biased liars like professional, peer-reviewed economists and the United States National Academy of Sciences.

Matt also takes issue with the percentage of rape crimes in the United States. He finds the fact that there are different statistics, ranging from 20 to 30 percent, to be damning, which I guess means that since the statistics on the number of gay and bisexual people in the United States also vary then gay and bisexual people don’t truly exist. Matt asserts that these numbers are “advanced by feminist college professors but not supported by any hard evidence at all”, and this is evident to anyone doing even a “cursory bit of research”. And, as it should be clear by now, Matt definitely knows a thing or two about doing nothing more than cursory research on a topic.

Matt’s idea of hard evidence seems to preclude surveys done by the US Department of Justice (which gives a percentage of 18 percent, so far from that hard to believe 20 percent). I found that statistic on Wikipedia, which I suppose is also excluded from Matt’s definition of a “cursory bit of research”. The reason all of this is a problem is that those evil feminists “want to paint millions of us as rapists”. I don’t know about that, but regardless of your beliefs, you kind of have to acknowledge the fact that an overwhelming majority of rapes are carried out by men and that women are overwhelmingly the victims. Regardless, leading organizations, like RAINN, are careful to include rape statistics pertaining to male victims or female aggressors as well.

Cussing kids

“Women have all of the same legal rights that men do. We are exactly equal under the law,” Matt writes. “In fact, if anything, women have a few extra legal rights in their pocket.” To drive home this extremely clueless viewpoint, which dives headlong into complicated issues of social justice, economics, politics, sociology, and religion, Matt highlights … a viral YouTube video featuring young girls declaring their feminism with swear words.

As someone who doesn’t have children and doesn’t plan to raise any, I’m not all that interested in the question of whether or not it’s appropriate to have children of a certain age cuss. (Although I am reminded of something a friend of mine pointed out once: There used to be a lot more children swearing in movies before the ’90s or so. Who can forget the little girl in Monster Squad calling her brother and his friends “chicken shits”?) For the most part I agree with Matt that it’s wrong to have children at a certain age parrot their parents’ political and ideological beliefs. If I see a child below the age of twelve or so at a protest or a march waving a sign, I get uncomfortable, even if I agree with what they’re marching for.

Of course, Matt being Matt, he holds it up as an example of children being “pimped out” and “child abuse and exploitation” deserving “a visit from social services”. (I’ll be generous and assume Matt would feel the same about having a child appear and talk extensively in a pro-life or an anti-gay marriage video, right?) Matt asks, “How many children have to be killed and abused under the feminist banner?” Which … well, are we still just talking about little girls in princess costumes saying “f**k”?

Women and men

Toward the end we get the crux of Matt’s real beef with feminism: Feminists buy into the “obvious insinuation … that men have it easier” and ignore statistics about ways in which males are worse off than women, like how boys are more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities or are statistically more likely to be murdered. Here’s the thing: I’m sure if you asked around for long enough you could find a feminist, maybe even one of those sinister “Gender Studies” professors, who would scoff at the very idea that there are social problems unique to men. Those people are jerks, as are people who categorically deem all feminists to be bitter man-haters.

If Matt took the time to visit a Gender Studies department — despite the clear risk that he might melt like Dracula exposed to sunlight — or if he bothered to talk to historians or sociologists specializing in gender issues, he would find that most thoughtful self-described feminists see institutionalized gender as something that can hurt men too. There’s a very good reason why more academic departments are being named “Gender Studies” departments instead of “Women’s Studies”. Yet, the fact remains that women have to take day-to-day precautions men never have to consider, that they’re burdened with medical expenses and concerns men aren’t, and that there are entire professions that undeniably fail to attract or accept a representational number of women, even in fields that are seen as “liberal”. (Pop quiz: Name 5 famous Hollywood female movie directors off the top of your head!) Matt’s solution is to return to some idyllic world of “separate spheres” — a world which honestly never actually existed in the way Matt imagines it — where men are men and women are women, etc, etc. Sadly, Matt seems to have no interest in the topic beyond blaming and demonizing people who take the time to be thoughtful about gender.

Matt Walsh is (still) wrong about: Marriage equality

Matt Walsh, with his clearly over-worked moral compass, has delivered unto us plebeians another diamond in the rough — a light shining in the murky ambiguity of Western philosophy. And, redefining words with already clear meanings is on his to-do list. Matt says, for instance, that the word “equality” means that two things must be exactly alike! Who knew?

What Matt said

Matt acknowledged SCOTUS’ decision to not hear appeals against the legalization of gay marriage. This effectively legitimized many lower courts’ decisions which declared that state laws restricting marriage equality are unconstitutional. Matt then attempted to argue that marriage equality cannot exist at all, and therefore cannot be equal to traditional marriage. Matt also asserted that fertile couples have a responsibility to have children while delving into the government’s role in marriage.

What Matt got right

Matt is correct that “traditional” marriage and gay marriage are different in that, “One involves people of the same sex, the other does not.” He’s also right, at least based on current technology, that, “In one there is never any possibility of procreation, whereas in the other there is.”

What Matt got wrong

Usually the trouble with describing how Matt Walsh is wrong is figuring out how to debunk his argument without simply blaming his wrongness on the parfait of logical fallacies that he seems to be so fond of. Luckily, that’s not an issue here because Matt doesn’t actually present much of a coherent argument, though, per the norm, he does engage in a number of fallacies.

Matt asserts that:

  1. Marriage equality cannot exist.
  2. The differences between homosexual and heterosexual relationships are significant enough to restrict the former.
  3. Healthy, fertile couples have a responsibility to have children.

While all three claims are clearly false, the first claim is the oddest: “Marriage equality cannot exist.” I disagree. Removing restrictions against persons who wish to enter into a marriage contract that grants them certain rights, exclusive to the institution, is marriage equality. As Christian pointed out in another post here at WIMWWAT, that’s what most people mean when they say “marriage equality”, and Matt is just playing word games when he tries to use a different definition.

Specifically, Matt argues that, “Two things cannot be equal because in order to be equal they would need to be the same. They are not the same, and so they are not equal.” This fits with Matt’s modus operandi, which seems to be rhetorically moving around the goalposts when he finds that he can’t find a way to score. To be sure, homosexual and heterosexual partnerships are different as far as the gender of the partners is concerned. But, from the law’s perspective, this should not matter.

Matt’s logic about equality has no useful application. It would deem, for example, that nobody can play music as well on a piano as they could on a Stratocaster. The instruments have different sounds, you see, so the music they produce cannot be equally well played. An iPhone and an Android can’t both use the title of “smart phone” because they run on different operating systems and have different physical forms. Distance cannot be measured as well with metric units as it can be with imperial units because they are different standards. Matt’s arguments are nonsensical.

Matt also brings up procreation. Creating and raising children is a very serious subject, but for the purposes of this article, all that really needs to be said is this: A lack of procreative ability is not a reason to restrict the liberties of a large section of the population. If it were, it would affect large segments of the population without regard to whether they are homosexual, heterosexual, or anything else.

Matt argues that if procreation is impossible for you and your partner, your marriage is invalid. He *kindly* allows an exception for persons with defective organs. This clearly silly standard doesn’t actually achieve what Matt wants to assert it does because, in addition to homosexuals, he’s also excluding postmenopausal women who aren’t infertile because their organs are defective — they’re infertile because that’s a normal consequence of age.

Regarding the choice to bear children, Matt speaks of “duties” and “obligations”. He denounces the choice to have a non-reproductive marriage as selfish. He must do so because it is a key component of his rejection of marriage equality. The existence of happy couples who have chosen not to bear offspring negates his entire point that raising children is a prerequisite for a successful marriage. A successful marriage does increase the likelihood of raising children with the best chances in life, but procreation is not a calling, nor a duty, nor an obligation. It’s a choice.

Per usual, Matt’s argument basically boils down to creating straw men while ignoring the actual arguments of people he disagrees with and then knocking those straw men down in order to convince his readers that he’s performing some magnificent feat of reason. He does this because addressing the real arguments would require him to reevaluate his philosophy, and his philosophy happens to be the source of his income. But, that wouldn’t matter to an honest person like Matt. Right?

Matt Walsh is wrong about: What the word “equality” means

Matt Walsh is on The BLAZE, folks! He and Glenn Beck are straight up blazin that fine Cali green all over your internet, baby. In his first piece for The BLAZE, Matt Walsh starts off with a startling admission:

“Some people have accused me of being against marriage equality. This is completely unfair. I’m not against it. I’m not anti-it. I don’t oppose it. I don’t think it should be prevented. I don’t think we should ban marriage equality or make it illegal.”

Yes you are, Matt. I know you are. You’re trying to trick us, aren’t you? Wait, you are talking about marriage equality the way everyone else in the universe talks about it, right? The idea that same-sex couples should have equal protection under the law, when it comes to marriage. You are talking about that right? Because if you’re not, you’re kind of wasting all of our time by pretending to be doing so.

“I have no problem with marriage equality — except that it doesn’t exist. It can’t exist. It never has existed. It never will exist. ‘Marriage equality’ — that is, the idea that the union between a man and a man can achieve equality with the union between a man and a woman — is nonsense.”

FACEPALM

whid

Matt, you giant troll. You giant waste of words. I can’t believe I spend these hours trying to understand you, when you refuse to try to reason beyond even the most superficial of semantic levels. Marriage equality clearly exists, Matt. The very nature of it as a conceptual label, chosen specifically to represent an actual policy goal, makes it impossible for it not to exist. Just because you have your own definition of words doesn’t mean you have the power to create and destroy ideas. But you know what, I’ll bite. What do you think marriage equality means, Matt?

“Before we go any further, we already know that the two things cannot be equal because in order to be equal they would need to be the same. They are not the same, and so they are not equal. Case closed.”

What case is closed, Matt? The case you keep your dictionary in? Because maybe you should open that case up and consider for a second what the word equal might mean. Think about math. When your teacher wrote 6 x 6 = 36 on the board, did you call bullshit on that? “But the sides aren’t the same! One has two sixes in it, and the other only has one. They are not the same, so they can’t be equal! Case closed.”

The two sides of an equation aren’t identical, Matt. They aren’t even equal in every context. They aren’t equal in terms of the amount of ink needed to write each side or the type of characters involved, but for the purposes of calculation, they are considered equal in value. Same-sex marriages are obviously not identical to mixed gender marriages, just like how my mixed gender marriage is (I would hope) very different from yours. The difference is that under the law my marriage is considered equal to yours, while many same-gender marriages are not.

That’s the context of equality we’re talking about here. Most of us don’t care that much that gay marriages be considered equal in terms of the moral perspectives of specific individuals, churches, or groups. If you want to say that your marriage is better than a gay marriage, by all means go ahead. What advocates of gay marriage are seeking is equal protection under the law for same-sex couples. That’s what we call marriage equality, and I think you ignore that because it hurts your argument.

You have all kinds of moral and religious justifications for your point of view. You claim to have some anthropological and cultural justifications as well. What is seriously lacking is any kind of legal justification, which if we’re talking about legal equality (which we, at least, are), is the only kind of justification that matters. If you don’t want to call it marriage equality, don’t. We don’t care what you call it. Call it “gay stuff I hate” if you want. Just please reckon with the reality of the demand for equal protection under law for same-sex couples.

So, Matt, what you need to do is come correct, bro, or don’t come at all. Come to us with legal justification for restricting marriage by sexual orientation. I think you’ll find, as judge after judge has found, that there isn’t any. Then, once you realize that, feel free to keep shouting “My marriage is better!” or “God likes me more!” Hell, buy a megaphone. See if you can register www.yourmarriagesucks.com. That’s your right. We’ll keep calling you a jerk for doing it. That’s our right. And loving gay couples will keep getting hitched. That’s their right. And our courts and government will keep providing gay couples with equal protection.

That’s the law.

And for crying out loud, quit locking your dictionary up in that dictionary case. That’s weird.

Matt Walsh is wrong about: Micro-aggressions

Matt’s right about a couple things. The title, for example, I feel is spot on: If you’re offended all the time, it’s definitely your fault. That said, Matt clearly doesn’t understand what constitutes a micro-aggression or why it justifies offense. Contrary to what Matt believes, micro-aggressions aren’t micro-aggressions simply because “some member of an approved victim group declared [them] so”. Any statement that reveals derogatory, hostile, or otherwise negative attitudes without explicitly expressing said attitudes is a micro-aggression.

Let’s take a moment to address Matt’s examples of micro-aggressions

For those of you legitimately wondering why, for example, approaching a person of Asian decent and asking them where they’re from, what language they speak in their country of origin, or even expressing interest in their culture is a micro-aggression, let’s take a moment to think this through.

First, in this country, if you ask an Asian person where they’re from or what they speak in their country of origin, that’s a problem, especially if you have no reason other than their race to believe that they’re not American. Imposing an otherness on somebody just because they don’t look like you is not right.

Second, the other potentially harmful thing that could take place in an exchange like this is the mindset that if you want to know about Asian things, just ask any Asian person. This isn’t cool either. Asian people, or any people you may meet, should not be treated like encyclopedias for the demographic they represent. They are not here to serve you with answers to your burning questions. Are you curious about Asian culture? There are books about it, and people paid to teach and talk about it. You are responsible for your own education.

Say no to this “absolute truth”

Matt ends this post with a list of absolute truths intended to help fix easily offended culture. Some he got right, but not this one:

If it wasn’t intended to offend you, then you shouldn’t be offended.

I understand what Matt’s trying to say, but logically, it’s flawed. Let me explain: I was playing a rousing game of toilet paper dodgeball some time ago, and I had a paraplegic on my team. While back peddling to catch an airborne roll, I collided with this dude, knocking him over and out of his wheelchair. Did I mean to do it? No. Did I apologize? Absolutely. Why? Because I still hurt him. I don’t get the right to tell him to not be hurt just because I didn’t mean to do it. That’s something a kid would do to their younger sibling. It’s immature.

Inferiority

A few years ago a video of a young man testing students at my school on their knowledge of black history month went viral. Among other questions, he asked a white woman to describe a white guy who acted black and she responded “tool”. He then asked her to describe a black guy who acted white and she said “classy”. My blood boiled.

Do you know why the n-word and other racial slurs hurt? The words are typically used to mark the ignorant, the ugly, the alien, and otherwise inferior. The words are hurtful because it’s ascribing all those traits to a particular group of people thereby “reminding” the victims of their place. That place made the lives of Native Americans, blacks, Jews, and many others throughout history expendable. That place is why women still make 2/3 what men make for the same job.

Why was I hurt by what the woman from the YouTube video said? Because she said that black people act inferior to white people: white guy that acts black is a tool because black = tool and black guy that acts white is classy because white = classy. Last I checked, tool behavior is far inferior to classy behavior. She didn’t say that directly, she likely didn’t know she was saying that, and she likely didn’t even mean to say that, but that’s why it had such a profound effect on me. She is so conditioned to believe in the inferiority of blacks to whites that she didn’t so much as bat an eyelid when she uttered that thought. This is what makes micro-aggressions what they are. This is also what makes them dangerous.

When things like this happen, is my responsibility to let it roll off my back? Absolutely not. My responsibility is to do what humanity has done in the past when an entire group was classified as inferior — what Clair Huxtable did went Alvin questioned her “service” to Cliff, what the entire twitterverse did when People magazine ruined Shondaland or when Ken Jennings committed this horrible faux pas, what MLK did when 80% of white people declared that blacks were treated fairly and were asking too much too soon. What is my responsibility? If someone says or does something hurtful and they don’t know it, my responsibility is to take control of the situation and make the injustices known. Why? Because the only thing necessary for the triumph of injustice is that just men do nothing. No one should concede their dignity and humanity to someone else’s ignorance or ego.

“But I didn’t know…”

If you’re not aware that you said or did something harmful it doesn’t necessarily make the hurt go away, but it can certainly make forgiveness easier as long as you acknowledge the harm you’ve caused, apologize, and make efforts to correct the mistake. I think that people who make honest mistakes deserve forgiveness for taking these steps. But, you can only not know once. You then have the burden to educate yourself and make sure you cause no more harm our of ignorance, just as I learned to be more mindful of my surroundings while playing toilet paper dodgeball.

Don’t fight back

In my story with the guy in the wheelchair, things would’ve ended differently if I told the guy I knocked over that he was fine, that he shouldn’t have been behind me, or did anything else to dismiss his pain, place focus on me, or blame him. A good person wouldn’t dare to do such things after hurting someone.

When you’re caught saying something offensive and you genuinely didn’t mean to cause offense, DO NOT respond with the following:

  • “That’s not offensive!”
  • “How is that offensive?”
  • “Whatever…”

Don’t use any variants of the above, because what you’re really saying is:

  • “You don’t know your feelings.” (Insulting intelligence)
  • “You owe me an explanation for your feelings.” (False sense of entitlement)
  • “I actually don’t care about your feelings.” (Dismissive)

In case it isn’t clear, all of the above imply an inferiority of the person you just offended. You don’t do any of this if you’re genuinely sorry.

One last parallel

In Chinese water torture, a person is restrained and subjected to drops of water slowly dripping on their forehead. One drop does nothing on its own. A few drops don’t do much either. But as the process continues, drop after drop, the victim slowly loses her cool until each drop has the capacity to make the her scream.

Imagine being subjected to some seemingly small form of prejudice or micro-aggression every day of your life. Imagine not being able to escape it. Imagine being told that when you experience these things that you “need to get a thicker skin”, “stop being so sensitive”, or “learn to take a joke”, which are all things Matt says. Some, if not most, of the people Matt is passing judgement on have been tortured with these micro-aggressions for a long time, and some are at the point where each one sets something off. Doubtless, there are people in this country who are too sensitive or get offended too often, but for the rest of us, micro-aggressions are a very real thing, and not the product of desiring pity or being bored.

In Matt’s recent posts, he has blamed Ferguson on black community, denied the existence of white privilege, and called women physically and emotionally weak. He does not get to tell others what they should and shouldn’t be offended by. Yes, those of us who have been tortured by the constant ignorance of others can and should work on healing ourselves and developing temperance, but if Matt wants to help, he’s going about it in a tragically wrong way.