August 4, 2012
I’d like to talk about Freethough today. Specifically, what Freethought is, the legacy it has come to us through, and the philosophy related to it. And the two pictures I have here are people rooted in what Freethought is – the Infamous Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, and Ernestine Rose (who I am pretty sure my partner is turning into, which is cool).
So, let’s define Freethought.
Wikipedia - “Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason and science and not authority, tradition, or other dogmas. The cognitive application of freethought is known as “freethinking,” and practitioners of freethought are known as “freethinkers.”
This is, perhaps, my favorite definition as most of the others you can find at Dictionary.com and the like are woefully incomplete. So, let’s go with a shortened definition – Freethinking is forming thoughts and beliefs through logic, reason, and examination rather than tradition.
It is not “thinking whatever the hell one wants”. It is not “unrestrained by any form of logic or reason”. It is not “thinking about things to contradict those around one’s self”. This is apparently what a lot of people on the internet think it means, however, and this is seriously starting to piss me off. I am not a professional philosopher, nor am I a professional theologian, nor am I a professional ethicist, nor am I a professional politician or lawyer or any other kind of think-tank persona. I am a writer, I am a blogger, and I’m an opinionated person who subscribes to a rational and natural worldview. I should not be the one explaining these things to people.
Despite me not being a professional, however, there are things that are pretty easy to understand if you study them for a bit. And, in the interests of education and being rational, one must defer to the more educated members of the community to study these things. Given that, for some reason, I’m better educated despite not being a professional, I’m going to have a brief set of rules here -
If you come in here to tell me I’m wrong about what freethought is without having a counter argument or having a set of data to draw upon, fuck you. I won’t even post your comment.
If you come in here to argue with me about harassment policies or Skepchick or Rebecca Watson, fuck you. I’ll tear into because I’ve got the time for it and I seriously could use a little steam venting. These rants tend to turn into something comfy and happy by the end. I haven’t had the chance to really let loose in any appreciable fashion, positive or negative, in quite some time.
If you want to come in here and say, “Well yes, freethought” and then attack Freethought Blogs, fuck you. I am not FTB. I have no sway over their organization. I am not criticizing them, either, as they are a collection of over 30 blogs with different bloggers doing different things. I agree with some of them. I do not agree with others. They are too diverse to call anything other than a community (and even then there are times where it’s nearly in name only). This has nothing to do with what Freethought Blogs does but is rooted in Freethought Blogs adopting the word Freethought and people forgetting what Freethought means.
If you want to come in here and discuss what freethinking is and why I think that feminism is inherently tied to it, as well as why I think that most of the reactionary people posting on the internet about being “freethinkers” are just troll asshats who don’t know north from up, then yeah, we can talk about that. But you must realize that if you, at all, fall into the prior three categories then I have no reason nor will I entertain a reason to post your comments.
To explain why, a brief foray into the first amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
I can pass rules abridging your freedoms all over my blog. It’s my right as a private entity in a non-exclusive forum. Just as it’s your right to go to another forum and call me an asshat.
Freethought is a philosophical system that encourages inquiry and examination of beliefs and suppositions regardless of traditional or prior views. It’s, essentially, walking a mile in another idea’s shoes first. To butcher a metaphor. Freethought, though, is married to the ideas of critical reasoning and logical examination. Not just looking for data in the same fashion as science but also interesting and useful information. Corollaries do not provide evidence of anything scientifically, for example, but a freethinker will explore corollaries to find why two things have a high instance of association even if they are not causal. This very form of examination and rational thought is the basis of sociological sciences, in fact. Freethought does not mean entertaining any idea, therefor, only ideas that have merit. Establishing merit is pretty easy to do – if you can find a bit of information supporting the idea, then it’s got merit. Then follow the idea until it no longer has merit or requires more statistical and informative examination before continuing with the thought exercise.
In a vacuum, a freethinker (in my opinion), will eventually become a feminist due to the examination of gender roles and the examination of data about sex, gender, and the differences between members of the resultant group (hint; there aren’t many and they’re almost all physical dimorphic differences). Freethinkers seek to move away from bias and will go through several thought exercises to ensure that the results of the thought exercise is unbiased (or as unbiased as possible), as well as running it past other freethinkers to ensure that the exercise is as unbiased as possible. These exercises and systems of trading exercises frequently cause freethinkers to agree on certain things.
So freethinking does not mean disagreeing for the purposes of being disagreeable. Over time, freethinkers won’t disagree with each other on most things and definitely wouldn’t on big things. Things like skepticism, atheism, and even feminism. The earliest freethinkers (like Ingersoll) who happened to be men also frequently happened to be feminists. Though this was also the beginning of men who identify as feminists who concern-trolled radical feminist woman activists because “men are fragile creatures and cannot handle this form of protest” and the like. So when you’re accusing a group of groupthink (like Freethought Blogs) consider the possibility that they really agree on these things for their own reasons and it isn’t some kind of pod-blogger conglomeration that is seeking to rob you of critical thought.
Disagreeing with the “group think” does not make you critical. It does not make your position radically rational. It does not score you any points with any intelligent thinkers or rational people. Especially when, by doing so, you’re throwing your lot in with people who are demonstrably threatening, dangerous, fanatical, and irrational.
Further, being a freethinker is an extension of being an autodidact, a self educator. It is your responsibility, as a rational person, as a student of life, as a skeptic, as a commentor, as a political entity, as a human living on this planet to constantly educate yourself. Especially when it comes to discussions about groups that you are a part of regardless of your preferences and that you are forced to represent or distance yourself from consistently and constantly. This means you need to be aware of your privilege as well as your oppressors. You need to be aware of how much oppression you actually experience and how much you perpetuate. You need to be aware of the effects others have on you and the effect you have on others. It especially means that when you enter a discussion about these things you have no one to blame but yourself if you do not know what is going on or who is being blamed for what. If you don’t know what privilege is, look it up. Don’t ask. If you don’t know what ‘white guilt’ is or why apologetics is bad for the discussion, look it up. Don’t ask. If you don’t know what institutional misogyny is, look it up. Don’t ask. If you don’t know something, avail yourself to Wikipedia, Google, and the wide variety of blogs on the matter. Once you have some information and can be conversant in a concept, then you can ask how it’s being used and participate in the conversation.
Do not, however, assume that it is the responsibility of the conversation to educate you. That’s lazy. Don’t be lazy. Be efficient, don’t waste anyone’s time, especially your own.
So, you want to call yourself a freethinker? You want to walk in the footsteps of Ingersoll the Agnostic or Ernestine Rose the radical feminist? Do so. Educate yourself. Consider other people’s positions. Examine statements. Give those making statements the benefit of the doubt and way reasonable information.
Don’t stick with the side that seems most comfortable and gives you the most power because they might, in fact, be wrong. Always be open the idea that even you might be wrong.
June 28, 2012
This is a story written in the Cattlepunk universe I started creating yesterday, and it’s written by a good friend of mine.
Reposted with permission
“You may begin speaking now.”
“And this thing’ll save whatever I say, so’s other folks can hear our story?”
“Academics and future generations will benefit from the stories you tell today. Pretend I’m not even here, if you like. I’ll sit and listen, and ask you to pause when I need to change the cylinders. The day’s long and the drink is ready, so take your time – this is for posterity.”
“Posterity. I wish I could be so certain that someone’d be there to remember me tomorrow, if I were taken today. I could get used to a society that’ll still dream big in the face of all this. But somewhere along the way, someone decided who gets to share the meat and the water, and who don’t. You mighta noticed, doc, that there aren’t so many old folks like you around, all soft and clean and learned. You mighta noticed what folks we do got, they’re all young and strong and mean. You templers, you wheelers, you Thirteen – not you particular, doc, but your people – they’re in love with their own story, crammin’ it in everyone’s ears even as the story keeps changing. They love to tell you that they survive because every single one of them is tough, and every single one is needed, and everyone has a skill.
“But that ain’t strictly true, or, no offense, you wouldn’t be here putting my voice into a hunk of Nester’s Wax. Someone had the time to figure that out ‘cause you’ve all got civilization, and there’s room for people like you, who can go and learn and make new things because they’ve got other people worrying about where the water comes from, or when the cows come home. You might know how to swing a rifle, doc, but I can see that you never hauled buckets or butchered an animal or any kinda thing that folk around here do for themselves every day. Anything needs doing around here, you do it yourself, or you go without. Not a one of us is free of that, not even Baron Saans.
“There’s some who’ll lay food and arms at his feet, sure, but that’s respect. The man made do for himself on top of pulling towns like this together, and without his like, a lot of us’d be food for the flitters. That name, ‘Baron,’ ain’t our doing. It was the templers bestowed that honor, calling him a Robber Baron and declaring us all outa the law, declaring that folk like us ‘shall not take of their bounty, under pain of death.’ They call themselves united, but see fit to leave anyone they don’t like for the bugs. They call us ‘Tweeners, ‘cause we fall through the cracks and settle where they don’t see fit to. They’ll say that anything we got we stole from them, but that’s only because they never let us have anything in the first place. Our whole being is cobbled together from their leavings and the rather dubious kindness of folk like you.
“You keep a quiet face but I can read your eyes, doc. You’re out here bringing goodness to the little people, sure, but you carry yourself like you know you’re better. You said yourself, you come through to make study of the lot of us. We don’t have what comforts you know, but we’re not stupid. You’re here trying to learn ‘cause there’s not a one of you behind your walls that’ll both remember true and tell it straight. You know there’s no one old enough here, but if you pick up all the pieces you can find, that’ll get your picture started. I got a question outa that, though: Why go to the trouble? Can’t go on those trails of yours without worrying about a lead breakfast. What’s the point?”
“I’ll get to that, but have a drink first. We’re coming up on the end of this cylinder.”
June 14, 2012
Humanity was born out of the blood, the mud, and the beer of nature. As it were. We are creatures of the environment we find ourselves in and much of our presumptions about the world, much of nature, is formed of emergent systems. The fact that we’re social animals is an emergent system. However, we’ve risen above our natural organization, our natural programming, and we’ve moved past living purely on instinct and survival. Our primate ancestors figured out tools and society, and our ancestors laid down the foundations of our world. They did this using one very powerful technology that we, the progressive people of the world, need to take back and make our own. It’s a technology that’s been instrumental in all of us becoming part of the progressive, radical, and liberal movements that we come from.
That technology is the power of the story. That technology is narrative.
Tagged: ableism, classism, contemporary fiction, equality, ethics, fantasy, feminism, narrative, narratives, racism, science fiction, sexism, social awareness, social justice, social justice theory, social theory, speculative fiction, steampunk, storytelling, writing
June 13, 2012
I’m not like the rest of the culture around me. I’m pansexual. I’m a nerd. I’m disabled. I’m autistic. I’m polyamorous. I’m a feminist. I’m kinky. I’m a gamer of all sorts. I’m a writer. I like tea. I’m into steampunk and other retrofuturistic speculative fiction genres. I like beer.
This is about where you might expect me to say, “But I’m just like you.”
I’m not going to, though. I’m not going to because I don’t need to. What needs to happen is that you need to accept that I’m not just like you and you need to respect that. I’m not your kind of normal, but I’m still normal. I’m my normal. I’m my ethical, moral, and just. I’m my own version of a person wrapped around a core of the good social justice arguments and social justice systems that have been shown to be better for everyone.
I’m not just like you, and that’s a good thing.
Tagged: ableism, article, cis*, classism, cultural system, cultural systems, culture, equality, feminism, futurism, misogyny, normal, patriarchy, people of color, philosophy, politics, rant, sexism, social change, social philosophy, social system, social systems, society, trans*, WASP, writing
June 13, 2012
Hey, Gamers. I’m a gamer. I’ve owned every Nintendo system since the NES. I’ve owned every major console since the NES except the Saturn and the Jaguar in one fashion or another. I played Half-Life when it was new. I stood in line for the midnight release of every World of Warcraft expansion. I’m a huge fan of beta programs and I was a longtime member of the Neverwinter Vault community (a lurker, mostly). I always watch the E3 coverage. Same thing with PAX, the German games con, and the Tokyo Game Show. I still play the classic Bioware western-style RPGs on a regular basis; Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, Planescape: Torment.
I’m also a guy. I’ve been a guy my whole life, and I don’t just mean that I’m male-identified and cisgendered, cissexed. I’m part of the guy culture – nerd, geek, D&D player, boardgamer, sci-fi reader, beer drinker, anime watcher. These things aren’t necessarily endemic to guys, but it’s part of a certain kind of male-oriented culture, a certain kind of guy culture. I’m part of that. I’m a Man on the Internet. I have been nearly my entire life.
Let me tell you something. I’m fucking disappointed in the rest of you.
June 2, 2012
Today I’d like to introduce you to an idea I’m hammering out right now. It’s something I might put together a Kickstarter for if I can find an artist (and enough people are interested). It’s a roleplaying-themed game centered around a AD&D-esque raid on an ancient castle once owned by an insane and evil count.
May 4, 2012
Something rather important happened recently and I’m still recovering from it.
Here’s a hint of it, though, and it’s only one facet of a very complex emotional problem. Do not take this as my entire, or only, emotional state. Just know that it is one.
March 22, 2012
Not long ago, the delightful Aly Hughes nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. This is rather touching, since I don’t participate with a lot of blogs here on WordPress (more from time than anything) and it found me when I was feeling pretty dark about a lot of things. So, here’s to Aly! And here’s to the Liebster in general!
Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve some recognition and support to keep on blogging.
The rules are simply:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favourite bloggers and keep it going!
My Liebster Blog Award Nominees:
I only have one, unfortunately, but it’s a friend.
January 26, 2012
So today’s not a story day, but I still would like to say something. So I thought I’d write up a little something. Especially for the other authors that may be reading this because it’s mainly for you.
I first fell in love with writing and reading as a kid, and I grew up with Piers Anthony and Robert Asprin as my principle initiators. Eventually it grew to Asimov, Bova, Eddings, Tolkien, Brooks, Adams…it’s a long list. Those first two, though, brought me something I’ll never lose. Anthony gave me a grounding in both silliness and seriousness, alternating between the two to strengthen the story and the feeling of the writing. Asprin gave me a kind of hope, both for weaving interesting tales that swept people away, but also sharing. He fashioned a world with Thieve’s World, a shared universe where he and several other writers participated.
I’d like to share my worlds with everyone, I’d like to be able to include many authors in the worlds I fashion and flesh out. I can’t describe everything and it’d be nice to have a cadre of interested parties who do want to tell stories in a world I create. It’s both a compliment and a joy to read someone else playing with my toys.
So, at least three of the worlds I’m building I’m opening up to everyone and anyone to write in so long as they follow 3 rules.
1) You ask me when you’re curious about a ‘Rule’ of the world
2) You do not change those things that define the world, including important characters (IE, you can’t kill Elminster)
3) You respect the other authors, me included, when we write a story in this universe.
I’m willing to discuss the worlds as they come to fruition, getting input from other authors who’d love to help establish the ground floor. This isn’t just mine, it’s yours too. The rules are to protect everyone so they’re writing in the same space and same systems.
The three worlds I’m going to open up stories to are Royan (a high fantasy world where science is magic and the gods have been killed, where a portal to Earth has opened and brought colonialism, the Church, and ancient dogma back to roost), Jarvis Mac Callan’s Abyss (it’s a noir pulp sci-fi universe of hermetic magic, flying temples, and hard-boiled detectives), and Terra (a steampunk alternate universe where people in grey suits keep the Time, agents tune their senses to understand the weft and weave of actions, and Queen Victoria has been kept alive undying in a casket of iron and hatred).
Anyone interested in writing in these places with me?