Friday, August 18, 2017

On Naming Nazis

Yesterday, Pacific Standard published a piece of mine on Naming Nazis. Please read and share!

One general theme I'm noting a lot in the Trump era is a question of how we defend our principles. I wrote:
Over the last few days, I've been struck by the ways in which the debate over naming Nazis mirrors other arguments about the limitations of abstract principles. Should Milo Yiannopoulos be allowed to speak on college campuses if his goal is to incite harassment against transgender or undocumented students? Should the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia fight for the rights of Nazis when the Nazis' goal is to move from public speech (clearly protected) to mob violence and even murder (clearly not)? How do we respond in a moment when the norms that allow us a pretense of civil society are being so thoroughly disregarded? Trump, Richard Spencer, Yiannopoulos, and so many others have learned that they can hack our norms in order to spread their agenda, while never being held accountable to the norms themselves. It's an old play. Fascists always want to defend freedom of expression right up to the moment when they can throw you in jail for speaking against them.
When we take a principle and defend it on an abstract or absolute level, that usually means (if one is honest) accepting that other principles, and likely other people, will suffer. The men with guns outside a Synagogue demonstrate the tensions between the first and second amendments, for example. A pacifist recently talked to me about how his absolute pacifism means accepting that people might get harmed. He accepts it as a consequence of his belief.

Which is really what I want. I want people to think about the implications of absolute commitment to abstract principles in a moment when fascists are trying to hack those principles to cause harm.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ADHD: Not Related to Parenting

Just putting this link up here as I try to find out more. Apparently not only is this ableist in terms of its misconstruction of the causes of ADHD, but it was in response to a question on policing. More to come. Here's a piece on the Town Hall itself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Race in America and "Both Sides."

Historian Kevin Kruse has an important thread on the way that segregationists linked the Klan to the NAACP.  Trump is pulling an old move here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ban Laptop Bans: A Pedagogy for Tattoo Computers, Eyelid Phones, Fingernail Tablets

I've written against the ableism of laptop bans plenty. I want to add this thought today:

We are barely, barely, still in an era of tech when we can imagine separating the student from the device. That's going to fade soon. Our pedagogy should adapt now, rather than when it's too late.

Monday, August 14, 2017

GOP: In Favor of Running over Leftwing Protestors

As you know, a Nazi killed a protester named Heather Heyer and injured many others. What you may or may not know is that over the last year, many different state GOP lawmakers have been proposing decriminalizing running over protesters. Here's a thread.
In response to BLM, Standing Rock, and anti-Trump protests, the GOP has been trying to criminalize protest and decriminalize violent acts against protesters. The murder of Heather Heyer is the direct result of these actions. The GOP should renounce these efforts.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Disability and Voting Turnout in 2016

Rutgers professors Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse have a new fact sheet on turnout from people with disabilities. Their "key points:"
  • 6.0 million people with disabilities reported voting in the November 2016 elections.
  • The voter turnout rate of people with disabilities was 6 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities.
  • Employed people with disabilities, however, were just as likely as employed people without disabilities to vote, suggesting that employment helps bring people with disabilities into mainstream political life.
  • The voter registration rate of people with disabilities was 2 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities. The lower voter turnout was due both to a lower registration rate among people with disabilities, and to lower turnout among those who are registered.
  • If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities who have the same demographic characteristics, there would be about 2.2 million more voters.
Lots of barriers to voting for disabled Americans. Employment matters, though I suspect more of a correlation than causation here. Anyway, the data is useful. READ THE WHOLE THING.

I tend to want to see disability politicized, by which I do not mean made more partisan, but so that people vote based on disability related policy issues. I.e. people who voted to destroy Medicaid should be driven from office.

I previously covered some of Schur's work here.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


I am moving my family to Minnesota. You can listen to an interview and read about it from a good government perspective. I wouldn't expect much in the way of posts for the next week or so, unless I'm furious or happy.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ACCESS LIVING: Policing and Disability Forum

On August 11, Access Living is hosting a forum on police interactions with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or individuals with other disabilities. EVENT PAGE IS HERE

I'll have left town by then, but I'm so impressed with the incredible work Access Living is doing organizing around these issues, and especially the leadership of Candace Coleman. I'm thrilled to see them partnering with the ACLU.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"How Can I Help?" - Canada Ponders Mental Health and Policing

Four years ago, a police officer in Ontario shot Michael MacIsaac, who was running naked through his suburban neighborhood. He was allegedly holding a metal chair leg of some sort, and when he didn't drop it, Constable Brian Taylor shot and killed him.

An inquest into the shooting has just wrapped. One of the participants emphasized not just specialized training, but a general approach based on de-escalation.
Jennifer Chambers, one of 18 witnesses who testified at the inquest, is executive director of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health-funded Empowerment Council. The organization has long advocated for improved training for frontline officers who may encounter many different shades of mental illness on the job.

Chambers has made her case at more than 10 different police shooting inquests, including the one for 45-year-old Andrew Loku earlier this month, and says she's noticed some common themes.
"The police see somebody holding something they find threatening and they give the police challenge … When the person doesn't drop it, they just keep yelling," Chambers told CBC Toronto ahead of the release of the jury's recommendations.
Instead, she would like to see officers first ask: "What's going on? Can I help you? Is there something we can do? Let's talk."
I like this framing. It's pretty clear that a case of a naked man running through a suburb in winter might be in mental health crisis, but too many cases are less clear. Specialized training and resources are necessary, but just generally de-emphasizing reliance on instant compliance, absent other threat indicators, will save lives.