If you go to Bob Jones’ latest article on The Herald, it might look a little different than it did this morning.
That’s because they’ve removed the section where he patted himself on the back for telling someone to commit suicide – who did.
The Herald’s response has been incredibly limp:
Editor’s note: This column has been amended following further consideration of Bob Jones’ comments. We apologise that the original column caused offence to some readers.
Further consideration, you note. So they’d already considered the column, and it took a lot of people on Twitter saying “Are you actually fucking kidding me?” for them to think that hey, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
And of course it’s the offence caused which is the problem. Not the fact that telling someone to commit suicide, and congratulating yourself when they do, is really fucking evil. We already have plenty of history to establish that the Herald’s editors don’t give a fuck about publishing Bob Jones’ thoughts on rape victims deserving it and burning women’s houses down because he doesn’t like their driving.
But here’s the thing: it’s also illegal.
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who—
(a)incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit suicide, if that person commits or attempts to commit suicide in consequence thereof; or
(b)aids or abets any person in the commission of suicide.
Bob Jones would appear to be ever so slightly in breach of the law – as well as a terrible person who will, if there is any god, spend eternity trapped in a hybrid car behind a woman driver.
For this little episode, he and the editors of the Herald are deemed Officially Scum.
You’d think that would be the headline, wouldn’t you? Instead of “Govt will pay to shift mentally ill into work“. That makes it sound far nicer. It’s just a shift! Not a private-sector jackboot up your ass if you’re evil enough to have messy brain chemistry issues.
I’ve seen a lot of people point out that this is basically what the government has tried to do in the UK, with predictable, horrific, corrupt results.
I just have a few questions.
What magical powers do these organisations have which mean for a mere $12,000 they can find suitable fulltime work for a mentally unwell/non-neurotypical person – which WINZ isn’t able to find them?
Or is it just convenient to get a private provider – who is presumably not subject to the OIA – to kick vulnerable people onto the streets so there’s no official paper trail of why and what happens to them?
Who are the companies making $12,000 for each ill person they force into work? Who owns shares in them?
What are the criteria used to determine if a job is a good, sustainable job? Or don’t we give a fuck?
Do they have to give any of the money back if a mentally ill person kills themselves? Or do they get a bonus?
[Content note: ableism, use of “crazy”]
So I saw Fatal Attraction was getting a re-run on Sky Movies this month. It’s one of those often-cited trope-forming classics I’d never seen, and I have no upper limit on how much villainous-Glenn-Close I can have in my life.
I figured, this is going to be a problematic film. The whole tension arises from the fact that Michael Douglas’ character chooses to cheat on his wife … he’s just unfortunate enough to cheat with a person who has erotomania. Shenanigans ensues. It’ll be a little uncomfortable, but it’ll be interesting.
Then comes the scene where she tries to force him to reconnect with her by saying (I suspect, falsely) that she’s pregnant. It’s got the suspense-y music, she’s already been set up as a person who will do extreme things to get his attention, so sure, she goes for a classic entrapping-woman tactic.
And then he says “it’s okay” because … he’s willing to pay for the abortion. Which she hasn’t mentioned wanting to have or anything – and he isn’t meant to know, the way we do, that they’re characters in a movie where her obsessive behaviour is doomed to escalate dramatically. He just jumps to the conclusion that she’ll have an abortion. Because despite not knowing this woman, who he’s had unprotected sex with, he’s happy to assume firstly that she should have been using contraception and secondly that she won’t want to continue the pregnancy. Coincidentally, this second assumption makes his life a hell of a lot easier.
Then she says “I don’t want an abortion” – and sure, that’s probably because this is about getting power over him, not because she’s necessarily telling the truth about wanting to have a child and raise it on her own.
But then he says “Don’t I get a say in this?”
NO MICHAEL DOUGLAS. NO YOU FUCKING WELL DO NOT.
This is where I stopped watching and deleted the film from the MySky. Because it felt very much that I, as the audience, was meant to read her refusal to consider his wishes – after he’s fucked her, multiple times, without protection, assuming that she’ll carry the burden of contraception – as another symptom of the List Of Things What Show Glenn Close Is Craaaaaaaaazy. We’re meant to see Michael Douglas as the victim because the evil craaaaaazy woman has trapped him with her evil craaaaaazy vagina.
To quote the Wikipedia summary:
She then phones his home at all hours, and then confronts him saying that she is pregnant and plans to keep the baby. Although he wants nothing to do with her, she argues that he must take responsibility.
MY GOD, SHE’S SO CRAAAAAAAAAAAZY. Only a craaaaaazy person could argue that someone needs to take responsibility for his actions.* Financial and emotional support for a child he fathered? Craaaaaaaaaaaaazy talk.
Calling him at 2am? That’s scary, warning-bell-ringing behaviour. Self-harming when he says he has to go home? That’s scary, warning-bell-ringing behaviour.
Declaring that she gets to decide what to do with her uterus? NOT ACTUALLY SCARY.
Related reading: Breastfeeding = craaaaaaaazy with Lysa Arryn.
*I must note here, for obvious reasons, that no, arguing Michael Douglas’ character has to take responsibility for the consequences of having sex is not equivalent to arguing pregnant people should be denied abortion. The biological reality of pregnancy is that the sperm donor’s ability to control the process stops at the end of their penis. Don’t want Glenn Close blackmailing you with her pregnancy? Don’t have lots of casual unprotected sex with Glenn Close.
Via Redefining Body Image:
Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed.
Go read the whole thing.
[ETA: IB has taken my comment on board and edited his post.]
Damn, IB. I was hoping you’d not join the ever-growing list of Standard writers to throw around words like “loon” and “batshit crazy” to describe someone whose actions you simultaneously want to ascribe to logical, “sane” causes.
Yes, rightwing extremism is a problem. Yes, violent hate speech should be challenged whenever possible. But either those two statements are true, and there’s a societal problem which society needs to confront, OR certain people are just obviously crazy and dangerous and therefore should be pre-emptively locked up because we can all tell they’re not stable, amirite?
It’s probably obvious I’ve got an axe to grind in this fight, but here’s the thing, it’s two axes. One about casual fucking ableism which makes the lives of people with mental illness shittier than it has to be, and one about the sheer fucking laziness of writing off violent, terrorising extremists as “nutters”. If we allow that people like Breivik or Jared Lougher are just irrational/mentally ill/crazy/insert slur here, we deny ourselves the right to call that shit out, because the extreme Glenn Beck types who egg them on will just say “Oh, but they’re craaaaaaaaazy, it has nothing to do with my continual eliminationist rhetoric”.
So I’m going to get on my soapbox and plead with y’all. You’ve got an opportunity to deny hate-speakers an excuse to ignore the consequences of their actions, and you get to make the world a better place.
Seriously, people. I know we on the blogging left like to get all high and mighty about how awesomely smart we are – what kind of idiot votes for National because they like John Key’s smile, right? Who seriously watches Fox News [unless it’s for awesomely cool hipster lulz, y/y?]?
But it seems like we lose sight of the fact that the people who do vote in a way we don’t like, who do trust news sources we scoff at … are still people. People probably getting just as, if not more, fucked on by capitalism as the rest of us. People who don’t have the privilege of time and spoons for political awareness and sarcastic bloggery.
Those people are not insane. I mean, do I even have to say that? Apparently.
Because it’s not insane to be raised in a culture with ideals and memes about journalism and the news, and believe what the news tells you.
And it’s not mentally ill to accept that politicians who get elected to office, or people who write books which become bestsellers, or people with big fancy letters after their names, are people we are meant to listen to, or people who are assumed to have integrity, or people whose status indicates knowledge and entitlement to lead.
And maybe if it’s not insane to watch the news, to trust journalists, to listen to politicians, in general terms … it’s probably not insane to end up with a general sense of unease and distrust and xenophobia. It doesn’t take mental illness to become convinced that basic democratic principles are under threat wherever one may be, and it’s not subnormal to be swayed by rhetoric and propaganda techniques developed over fucking centuries and which societies have become pretty good at using to perpetuate their own values and avoid change.
It certainly doesn’t require an assumed lack of intellect or cognitive function to gather that we are at war with [Muslim] Eurasia and have always been at war with [Muslim] Eurasia.
It’s not batshit to watch any action film produced over the last thirty years and pick up the idea that lone operatives who are the only ones who know the truth and must struggle against a conservative/ignorant/bought-and-paid-for-by-The-Man authority have to take matters into their own hands and will be proven right some day.*
It’s not a cool idea to play with, people, but we live in a world in which it is simply not illogical or utterly irrational or obviously nuts for someone to come to the belief that [insert political demon] is a threat and [insert political authority] won’t do anything about it and [insert way of life] is getting destroyed and oh, did we mention that pop and folk culture are full of awesome heroes who Made A Stand, usually with lots of guns and frequently for nationalistic purposes?
Either that, or everyone’s fucking insane and the label has no fucking meaning any more, so stop fucking using it to dehumanize people whose actions you want to pretend are inexplicable and incomprehensible (especially while also claiming that they are completely explicable because, um, you ran out of fat jokes to make about Cameron Slater).**
We might sit at our ivory fucking keyboards feeling all high-and-mighty because we never grew out of our adolescent punk/goth/anarchist/general period of saying “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” to the world, but we are in no fucking position to pass socially-twisted pseudomedical judgment on the vast majority of the human race. Judgment which has shitty fucking consequences for people who do experience mental illness or neuroatypicality, and judgment which destroys our own credibility in challenging extremism.
It’s not fucking hard.
**And since 1 in 5 people experience some mental illness in their lives, there’s going to be overlap between People Who Do [Thing I Want To Blame On Mental Illness] and People Who Have Mental Illness, but until someone works out that whole “correlation ain’t causation” thing you are welcome to blow yourself.
Maybe, since this is my fucking playhouse, a little self-indulgence is warranted.
This blog is three years old.
Starting this blog was a really big step for my mental health. It was an expression of confidence in myself, in my right to have strong opinions and speak my mind, in my ability to write things that maybe one or two people might like to read.
It still wasn’t that easy. After the first big scary step there was a regression, an attack of nerves, a clear case of Impostor Syndrome, a constant second-guessing. All those things still happen, especially when terrifying moustachioed dinosaurs launch an attack or several hundred comments on a guest post are dedicated to telling me I’m stupid and wrong and evil and ruining everyone’s good leftwing time.
This blog has been a three-year process of learning to not give a shit.
Not give a shit that the influential old men of the left don’t like my style. Not to give a shit that the kids at Newlands College think I’m a dumb cow. Not to give a shit that Ian Wishart wants to play spot-the-real-argument in my comments.
And above all, not to give a shit that I am angry, that I am foul-mouthed, that I am a woman unafraid to stand up, metaphorically speaking, and tell the world and its fucked-up gender expectations that I am not fucking modifying my soul for its fucking convenience, and I am not fucking holding people’s hands as their brains try to process basic fucking concepts like “mansplaining is bad” and “privilege is unearned” and “expecting women to “watch their language” is basically the definition of patriarchal restrictions on women’s lives”.
I don’t give a shit about those things because I simply will not waste any more of my life wondering if people aren’t going to like me because I say I’m a feminist, or aren’t going to take me seriously unless I talk a certain way* or aren’t going to pay attention to what I’m saying unless I couch it in terms they’re comfortable with.
This isn’t strength, really. It’s self-defence. It’s the only way I’ve found to protect my mental health and not go into a self-recriminating death-spiral of doubt and second-guessing inevitably ending in the conclusion that I’m wrong, wrong, wrong, and should just stop, and shut up, and quit making such a fuss because obviously I have no fucking clue what I’m talking about.
And you can fucking decide that means I can’t play well with others, I can’t work together even with other feminists, I shouldn’t talk in “safe spaces”** because I’ll just scare people, I’m everything that’s wrong with feminism, I’m the reason the movement will fail.
But I. Don’t. Give. A. Shit.
*And what’s fucking hilarious about that is that I’m a university-educated white girl who’s pedantic about grammar and often gets mistaken for an Englishwoman thanks to an upper-class Auckland education. And *I* fucking have to worry about people discounting me because I swear, because I’m loud, because I snort when I laugh?
**Spot the fucking irony.
[TW: ableism and ableist language used with vicious sarcasm]
Oh, who would’ve fucking guessed it: it’s actually complete and utter bullshit to assume that violent people are mentally ill or that people with mental illness are more likely to be violent.
Or, just in case this isn’t clear, it is simply impossible to watch someone’s YouTube channel and psychically diagnose them with paranoid schizophrenia.
I assure you, dear readers, I am wearing my shocked face right now.
Rather than looking at individual cases, or even single studies, Fazel’s team analyzed all the scientific findings they could find. As a result, they can say with confidence that psychiatric diagnoses tell us next to nothing about someone’s propensity or motive for violence.
But you know what? This is a lot like an issue which comes up in fat acceptance when people are discussing studies showing this or that.
It actually doesn’t fucking matter.
It’s not actually fucking relevant, because even if there were a clear connection (just to repeat for all the douchebags clinging to stereotypes to justify their douchebaggery, there isn’t) you would still be a gigantic asshat to make assumptions about people’s mental health based on their actions and your prejudices about how humans are meant to act.
For those who are still refusing to get it:
You do not get to make the call about someone else’s mental state unless you are that person, or their duly appointed medical practitioner.
You do not get to assume that “only a craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy person” would do xyz.
You do not get to whinge that “it’s obvious” and at the same time pretend that you’re using words like “insane”, “craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy” and “nuts” in some kind of Totally Nonjudgemental Clinical Way, especially when you are operating in a linguistic culture that frequently uses those words in entirely non-clinical ways.
Right now you may think that this is just some over-sensitive crap from someone with obvious triggers around mental illness, and you, Marty G, may somehow sincerely believe that that statement is not in of itself buying into prejudice around mental health, is not full of nasty little implications*, is not inherently gendered.
You’re fucking kidding yourself, dude.
You also, Scott, don’t get to say “maybe this guy did this thing in a vacuum because he’s insane.” Guess what, folks? People with mental illness strangely have this thing where they still live in our society, they still receive societal messages about things, and they still get influenced by “normal” stuff just like you.
You don’t get to imply that none of the prevalent language of violence and hatred and freaking gunsights over people’s homes might just all be nothing to talk about because hey, we all know that mentally ill people just randomly shoot people because they’re craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy. And somehow this isn’t you buying into demeaning stereotypes?
Could someone please explain that one to me again, and try not to just repeat “But I watched his YouTube channel and he’s clearly craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy” because I’m just not sure how that’s meant to be any kind of argument against you being a judgemental asshole with no qualifications to make that call basing your opinions on ableist stereotypes.
Less-ranting related reading: Discussion of an assassination: ableism & the failure of sociological understanding, just in case my obvious triggers and oversensitivity totally harsh my cred.
*I do just want to deal with this one directly; Marty, you see, just thinks I “have strong reactions over anything to do with mental illness and [he doesn’t] know or care what the root cause of that is“. Fuck off, Marty. If I say “Marty obviously has some issues dealing with stroppy women who won’t fellate his intellect” I’m not going to whinge that I’m totally not calling you a sexist pig, I’m just, you know, observing a pattern of behaviour and I don’t care what the reason is! Your implication is obvious. Have the fucking spine to own your assumptions when it’s someone you [vaguely, internet] know and not just the Progressive Bigotry-Scapegoat of the Week.
You know it’s a bad fucking day when I have to agree, in part, with fucking WhaleOil.
Point the Zero: I’m actually not going to rehash his situation here, because then I’d feel hypocritical for slagging off Eddie at The Standard for Point One.*
That being said, Point the First: It’s a bit fucking rich playing the “we kept quiet about this because we are Such Noble Creatures” card as a prelude to:
but seeing as the Sunday Star-Times felt differently, a few comments.
It’s a lovely tactic of some of our Parliamentarians to try a variation on this spin, the “well I might call the member a liar, if it weren’t against Standing Orders” line. It’s childish bullshit and, in Eddie’s case, serves as a handy warning that things are going to go rapidly downhill.
Protip: if it weren’t okay to comment on it before, it ain’t okay now that one of the trashiest newsrags in NZ has decided it’s a good time to rake through their Most Unflattering Photos file.