ljlee: (muzi_shock)
Following on the discussion of the highly rapey Sky Maiden and Woodsman story, I looked through my niece's copy to see it for myself. It was just a standard telling, but there was a page at the end of the book talking about the "lessons" for children. I read it, wondering if it put the problematic elements of the story in perspective.

I don't have the book with me anymore, but here's the general gist of the note:

Rage. So much rage. )

This is just one book among thousands, of course, and it does not by itself create culture. I wouldn't even care if it weren't part of a consistent message we are bombarded with, over and over from all directions. There is no need to censor the media we consume, but there is a need to question them. The only harm is in pretending that stories told to children are apolitical, because acceptance of the status quo as "harmless" is itself political.
ljlee: (muzi_um)
Following up a post on the religious instruction of children, I'd like to address a second point about missionaries. I will reproduce the relevant paragraph I'm responding to; for the full comment, see the earlier post.

The comment I'm responding to said in part (emphasis mine):

I also don't think it is fair for missionaries to go disrupt established cultures and push their beliefs on indigenous people. It's usually done with fear-mongering and things like food, education, medicine and other badly needed aid being used to "persuade" people. The effects can be devastating. Look what missionaries did to Uganda.


The white guilt might be cute if not for the objectification of POC )

Yes, my society has been disrupted multiple times, including by religion, more often by politics and war. We change, and we go on. We are not so fragile that we're destroyed by every new thing that comes along, including Christianity. We are a society with our own history, viewpoints, and choices, not just helpless huddled victims of Western cultural imperialism.

Obviously I cannot speak for all indigenous peoples' experiences and many were probably more traumatic than ours. However, blanket statements about what missionaries do and what religion does are unhelpful and tend to flatten and objectify the diversity of our stories. One thing we are not is a cautionary tale for someone else's anti-theism.
ljlee: (muzi_pat)
Here are some remaining thoughts from the three-post saga about my arguments with atheists over on We Hunted the Mammoth. Specifically, I'd like to address points raised by commenter Lea about parents instilling the fear of hell in their children and missionaries using fear and need to proselytize. I have direct experience with the former situation and am living in a heavily Christianized non-European society, so I wanted to talk about these issues in more length than I had previously. This post will deal with the part about religious education, while the next will deal with missionaries.

My experience, plus objections to blanket characterizations )

In sum, I agree religious instruction of children can be cruel and manipulative. We as a society need to talk about the issue, prevent cruelty and manipulation, and help victims. On the other hand, calling religious instruction universally cruel and misguided takes both an overbroad view of religion--by attributing everything bad believers do to religion--and an overly narrow view, by treating fundamentalism as representative of all religion.

These blanket characterizations of religion on the one hand, and the erasure of liberal and moderate religionists on the other, not only present a distorted view of the variety that exists in religious experience; they don't even help those children who are legitimately hurt by religious education. Such help is unlikely to come from those who refuse to face the phenomena of religion, religious education, and upbringing in religious families in all their variety.
ljlee: why not? (conch)
In the past two posts I detailed how I got into a spat with an anti-theist about his seeming proposal to ban the religious education of children, with a detour into how I was a raging asshole to another commenter. I was curious whether movement atheists had discussed the issue of forbidding the religious instruction of children by their parents and guardians outside of public school. EJ, the commenter I'd had the main argument with, had presented his position as common among anti-theists and I wondered if that was the case.

Disturbing, coercive, horrifying, dangerous, appalling, noxious, totalitarian... So I take it that's a 'no?' )

When Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyer, Ed Brayton, and Nick Matzke, plus a host of intelligent and thoughtful readers think banning religious instruction in the private sphere is a terrible, awful, nasty, no-good idea even in the hypothetical, I think we can safely say it's very far from being a mainstream atheist or even anti-theist position. Those who advocate such a prohibition are in the distant fringe of anti-theist thought. I am at ease, content that most atheists--including the anti-theist variety--are in fact reasonable people who are firm in their convictions of liberty.

P.S.: Religious instruction and Obama )
ljlee: (sisko facepalm)
As previously discussed, a commenter on a site I frequented at the time, EJ, seemed to be advocating a horrific curtailment of religious liberty. Partly due to the conversation but mostly because of other real-life stuff, I made two mistakes: First, instead of staying away from the internet in my impaired state I grabbed my phone to check on new comments on the thread. Second, I had a serious case of reading comprehension fail and identity confusion.

Read on for epic fail )

EJ's seeming stance on this issue got me wondering, though, if the prohibition on religious education was in fact a mainstream anti-theist position. If that were true then there would be a large cause for concern, so I went researching this issue. What did major anti-theist voices have to say about parents' religious instruction of children?
ljlee: bam bam (headdesk)
What a week. I traveled to China on Monday for a conference, made a presentation Tuesday, got back Wednesday night, went to work on Thursday, and went to school on Friday for a seminar and another presentation. After the travel-and-academics whirlwind it'll be a relief to settle into a boring workweek, but I am resolved to slack off this weekend and just enjoy myself. Which means, among other things, blogging!

Unfortunately this particular entry isn't all squee and fun, in fact it's sort of unpleasant but I decided to jot it down to put it to rest in my mind. I figure if it's been bothering me for over a week it deserves a full treatment.

A squabble between atheists (mostly) )

At this point I was upset and confused for this and other reasons. It was late and I should have been in bed hours before. I lay down and tried to sleep, but I couldn't. I was dealing badly with unrelated real-life stuff (including the aforementioned presentations), my heart was doing a painful thump-drag, thump-drag in one of my occasional bouts of arrhythmia, and my panicked mind kept running circles around the discussion. Conditions were ripe for a bad decision and giant brain-fart, both of which would happen in due course.
ljlee: (reading)
Book cover with Klan hood photoshopped over Little Tree's FaceTo left: A more honest cover, brought to you by terrible photoshopping.

I remember leafing through a copy of The Education of Little Tree at a friend's home many years ago. The book had been published in Korea under the title 내 영혼이 따뜻했던 날들 (The Days when My Soul Was Warm), and was a bestseller here as it was in the U.S. I read through a bit where the protagonist's grandfather taught him that predators hunt the old, weak and sick leaving the strong ones to breed. So evidently natural selection was a part of Cherokees spirituality? How nice. I put the book back and didn't give it much thought.

I was reminded of this brief exposure when I read The Real Education of Little Tree, about the life and career of author Asa "Ace" Carter. Carter worked as a speechwriter for George Wallace, who would go on to become the infamous segregationist governor of Alabama. A staunch segregationist himself, Carter formed a white citizens council (these were widely seen as respectable segregationist alternatives to the Klan) and his signature appears on the articles of incorporation of the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, though he denied Klan membership. Even fellow segregationists considered him too radical and sinister in his open calls for violence, however. Wallace never hired him directly but instead paid him through intermediaries, and the white citizens council eventually drove him out. Yes, Carter was too virulently racist for George Wallace.

It only gets better from there )

Asa Carter's views are not irrelevant or incidental to Little Tree. Rather, his violent racism is central to the entire work. Carter might have been a con man and a bastard, but he was one smart con man and bastard: He knew what was required to hold up the system of white supremacy, and he knew its logic. He knew that mainstream white society would not seek out or listen to the actual Cherokees who would realize in an instant that the book was bunk.

Above all, like any successful author (or con man) Carter knew what his audience wanted to hear, and that a book that condescends to and erases American Indians to score cheap emotional points was exactly right for the public's palate. He got that right, so much so that people still defend and celebrate this book decades after the hoax was revealed. Is it any wonder, when the book reflects so much of what America is?
ljlee: (sisko facepalm)
Update: Comments are back up, having been disabled by mistake. Thanks [personal profile] lb_lee for bringing this to my attention. Everyone should feel free to tell me how wrong I am on this, as I am squicked by my own conclusion and would love it if someone changed my mind.


Remember the anti-gay-marriage crowd's dire warnings that legalizing gay marriage would lead to the legitimacy of incest and bestiality, and how the rest of us pooh-poohed them as hateful backward hicks?

Well, maybe the right-wingers had a point 

Conservatives should feel free to point and laugh )

By defining marriage as a compact between consenting adults, it seems we liberals have indeed paved the way for a world in which a father and daughter can wed, or two sisters can walk proudly down the aisle. I don't know if it'll take ten years or a hundred, but there's no logically consistent way to say these couples should not be recognized by law. Disgusted as I am at the idea, I just don't see how I can say "no" to consensual incestuous marriage.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
Friday and the weekend was taken up with a series of work and social engagements (and sleep, sweet sleep) but I did read several articles about ancient Goguryeoh and Baekje and write out some of my ideas about Book 1. The most interesting article was about the strategic use of traffic routes by the ancient Chinese to cut the ancient Korean groups from each other and to contain them. It was like watching a chess or Go game in real geographical space, the way these kingdoms used key bases to contain and counter-contain each other.

Portraying an epic Chinese-Korean chess match doesn't have to be racist )

My continuing attempts to outline the second half of Book 1 reminds me again how complicated this dynamic can be, with three kingdoms in a delicate maneuver of cross and double-cross. Sometimes I'm convinced I'll never get it right and the book will never get written, but that's a trick of time perception where it feels like the present is forever. I'll get past this eventually. I already had a couple of mini-breakthroughs today and I think I'm close to a workable story. Come on, self, hang in there!
ljlee: (kira)
One-line summary: A suspicious tailor joins Dr. Bashir for lunch. It's all downhill from there.

Synopsis )

Can I nickname this episode Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? )

That trust, a calculated, mature trust with eyes wide open to the ramifications and consequences, is both the force that makes friends for the Federation and sometimes makes it vulnerable to its enemies. It's the balance the Federation's peoples have struck in a perilous universe and it paid off in this episode, and in the form of Deep Space Nine, a place where friends and enemies from across the worlds are brought together for stories in infinite and enjoyable combinations.

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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