Recently, I found myself in a restaurant having breakfast, and Fox News was on the TV. It was muted, but the closed captions were on so I could follow what was being said. I didn’t give it my full attention–why bother?–but what I saw was enough to make me think about what was being done. This was in the aftermath of last week’s terrorist shooting in San Bernardino. ISIS and Islamic terrorism were the topics.
Violence in media–and video games in particular–become a topic of popular discussion every now and then, especially after a mass shooting or other highly publicized act of violence. Enough people play video games, and violent games in particular, that as a matter of statistics you’re going to have the occasional violent outburst by somebody who was also a big fan of violent video games. The question is, is there a cause and effect going on here?
Writing about writing is the sort of thing Sundays are for around here, so that’s what you’re getting. Granted, it will not be an extended set of thoughts–perhaps in the future. Most of my rhetorical development has come out of two sources: debating online and debating with friends. Both involve different approaches and dynamics, but I will try to summarize my experiences with the two. * Debating with friends requires a level of sensitivity in offering corrections or potentially volatile information.
What time is it? Link time! Social Justice * [Hire more women today](http://observer.com/2015/12/why-women-need-affirmative-action-now/) -- Freddie deBoer, who is often a major league derpotron, offers an excellent analysis of issues of sexism in the workplace, describing both the structural issues and how to address them. * [Pentagon says women can now serve in front-line ground combat positions](http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/03/458319524/pentagon-will-allow-women-in-frontline-ground-combat-positions) -- I wouldn't call myself a big military supporter, but moves toward gender equality in this space are important, too.
A live performance of The Wiz was broadcast on TV last night. If you aren’t familiar with it, The Wiz is a Broadway adaptation of The Wizard of Oz that first debuted in 1974. It has (and always had) an all-black cast. This is intentional. Some white folks, apparently, think it’s racist. It isn’t, though. It’s no more racist than the notion that black people get a free pass to use the n-word and white people don’t.
The number of Americans who consider themselves non-religious is about 7%, accounting for both atheists and agnostics. This is a not a trivial number: it amounts to about 22 million people. Most American atheists and agnostics are not politically active on the basis of their lack of religious belief. Nevertheless, there are political and social movements consisting of atheists organized against religion–most commonly, these days, against Islam. Guys like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens characterize the thought leaders of these movements, sometimes referred to as New Atheism or the Skeptics’ Movement.
It just never ends. A Planned Parenthood was shot up last friday. Today, it’s a center for developmental disabilities in California. As of this writing: 14 dead, 14 injured. Soon, we will know the victims’ names, and forget them just as quickly. The name of the shooter (or possibly multiple shooters, in this case) will remain with us longer. Those responsible may be apprehended, or may die before being taken–either killed by police, or through self-inflicted wounds.
I recently became aware of the concept of “stochastic terrorism,” described as follows: Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf. It came to light due to some reporting on the attack against a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado. In an incident of stochastic terrorism, the person who pulls the trigger gets the blame.
Note: This is another guest post by Emilia. Thanks, Emi! James is wholly responsible for the alliterative title; no blame should be placed on Emilia for such a travesty. “Funny” images like this get linked on social media all the time. You have probably seen one of these and if you have not, you have probably heard fathers talk about their “rules for dating my daughter.” It is kind of a cultural tradition and even Hollywood keeps showing us ever new variations of this old trope: The “dad talking to the daughter’s new boyfriend,” taking them aside to give them the stern talk and look, sometimes even threatening them, often including some comic relief.
Okay, so November isn’t over until Tuesday. Still, we’re almost there. It’s now a week into my reduced activity period, which feels kind of weird. I already miss writing lengthier posts. I may get back into that sooner rather than later, but with an eye toward making sure I give at least some kind of update each day. I’m still waiting on a logo and I will probably make some other small cosmetic changes around here.