No white terrorism, again

You can murder nine people at a black church and still not be called a white terrorist:

This is the privilege of whiteness: While a terrorist may be white, his violence is never based in his whiteness. A white terrorist has unique, complicated motives that we will never comprehend. He can be a disturbed loner or a monster. He is either mentally ill or pure evil. The white terrorist exists solely as a dyad of extremes: Either he is humanized to the point of sympathy or he is so monstrous that he almost becomes mythological. Either way, he is never indicative of anything larger about whiteness, nor is he ever a garden-variety racist. He represents nothing but himself. A white terrorist is anything that frames him as an anomaly and separates him from the long, storied history of white terrorism.

Trust Kansas to find a new way to screw the poor

Is Kansas screwing over the poor this way just a measure of lawmakers’ distrust and hatred of poor people, or yet another handout to banks:

For these reasons, cash is one of the most valuable resources a poor person in the United States can possess. Yet legislators in Kansas, not trusting the poor to use their money wisely, have voted to limit how much cash that welfare beneficiaries can receive, effectively reducing their overall benefits, as well.

The legislature placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits.

Since there’s a fee for every withdrawal, the limit means that some families will get substantially less money.

Could be both. One of the dirty little secrets of late capitalism is how much it depends on an endless supply of poor people nickled and dimed out of their money through tricks like this. Being poor is so often so much more expensive than being middle class and the reason is there’s good money to be made off off keeping people in poverty.

Being gay is not rated R

The New Yorker talks to the (gay) developer who made it possible to have LGB romances in The Sims. They also talk about a competing Nintendo product where it was explicitly disallowed and the attitude revealed is very American:

While Barrett opposes Nintendo’s decision—a form of wounding social commentary regardless of whether the company perceives it as such or not—he understands how the situation arose. “On one hand, Nintendo is a family-friendly company with a wholesome image that they have maintained for decades,” he told me. “On the other, their products are popular with gay people.

It’s the attitude that hetero kisses are okay, but gay or lesbian ones are always unsuitable for children to see or hear about. It’s a deeply reactionary, homophobic attitude but one that’s still widespread in the States, grudgingly shuffling to at least full legal equality between straight and gay people but still rather uncomfortable with the idea of two men kissing, regardless of context. True equality can’t be reached until this idea is gone.

Identity politics

I’m a straight cis white male but it’s only relatively recently that I’ve begun to think about myself using these labels. One of the surest signs of privilege is not having to think about your identity, to be sure you’re an individual and judged like that by those around you, not having to have to construct labels to explain yourself to others.

Which is why something like “cis”, a seemingly innocent counterpart to “trans” in the context of gender identities, similar to how it’s used in frex biological chemistry or when talking about cisalpine and transalpine Gaul, has been greeted with so much venom and outrage even in supposedly liberal environments. It rubs the noses of everybody who thinks of themselves as normal and trans people as the outliers in the fact that their gender identity is just one possibily, not as matter of fact as they’d want to.

In leftwing circles there’s long been a tendency to bewail this sort of identity politics, the endless parsing of possible gender or sexual identities, the splintering of groups into finer and finer subgroups, but I more and more think this is as much a good thing as a bad. First of course, for any oppressed or invisible group getting that identity established is a way to become visible, but second, it also shows up the unnaturalness of the default assumptions about people’s identities. The more we all realise you can be homosexual, bisexual, asexual, etc, the less “normal” being heterosexual becomes.