How to Abuse a Democracy, Plebiscite Edition

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Image from chadstjames.

A plebiscite means nothing.

It is not legally binding. It has the same importance as the opinion polls on your nominal breakfast news, for that is what it amounts to: a government-sponsored opinion poll.

The result of a plebiscite, no matter how decisive, will not change the law.

What it does accomplish is starting debates around issues that no longer require debate.

By pitching a yes-or-no scenario on a topic – any topic – it artificially legitimizes both sides of the argument.

Here is an example:

Plebiscite question: The Earth is Flat, yay or nay?

Rationally, in the year 2k17, this question should not even be posed. It is not a matter of argument or debate whether the earth is flat; overwhelming evidence exist that it is. Though there is always reason for doubt, we as human beings accept small margins or error as a matter of course – otherwise we’d never go outside, since going outside meant accepting the small chance that a car might run us over.

By affording this question a forum of discussion, we are artificially amplifying the validity of the ‘earth is flat’ argument. That miniscule chance of the earth actually being flat has been elevated to a fifty-fifty – a yes or no, which is not the odds our cumulative scientific evidence would suggest.

This forced balancing of the odds doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but we humans, as do all living creatures, make choices based on the highest chance of success. By forcefully subjecting us to this equal-importance of the two arguments, the very act of posing the question injects uncertainty and confusion into our rational consciousness.

I.e., we start believing that there is a considerable chance that the earth might be flat, despite there is no good reason for thinking so.

Effectively, posing this sort of question to the public is the equivalent of forcibly injecting irrationality into our consciousness, making us believe that somehow both sides are equally valid when it is not so.

Let’s apply this to another question:

Marriage Equality, yay or nay?

As of now, the Australian Constitution definition of “Marriage” includes marriage between persons of the same sex, while the Marriage Act 1961 does not provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples.

A plebiscite will change neither of these. It is not a referendum; it cannot change the Constitution. It is an expression of public opinion, which supposedly holds considerable weight in changing the law, but now, with the artificial equivalence of the two sides of the argument – instigated by the very asking of this question – will forcibly change opinions.

It is not a question that needs to be asked.

The ruling of the High Court on the definition of “marriage” means that the debate has already moved past the ‘Is this acceptable’ stage. Right now we should be on the ‘How to change the law to fit the Constitution’ debate, not another ‘Is this acceptable’ opinion poll, artificially posed onto the public in order to re-argue an established result. The earth is already round. No amount of debate will make it flat again.

Unless, due to this very plebiscite, public opinion changes.

Remember, debating a yes-or-no question makes both sides appear equally valid. People who don’t care one way or the other will be presented with what appears to be a mired debate, with good reasons to lean either way, when the debate itself should no longer exist.

So really, the very act of asking for a plebiscite on Marriage Equality – when plebiscites have no legal import, when the public opinion firmly established, when the High Court decision has already moved us past the whole argument – is effectively an attempt to change the established opinion.

So we all need to be careful.

Plebiscites are not the open forums they pretend to be. Frank expressions of our opinions will not be enough – answering the question is not at all the point of this exercise.

So don’t sit back after sending in your vote. Don’t be content with just expressing your own opinion, when those who still think the earth is flat are pushing as hard as they could to change peoples’ minds.

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Writing A Love Letter

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What an archaic concept.

Nowadays we don’t need words. Just eggplant and giggle-face and you are good to fuck.

That’s about two step baser than a peacock fanning its tail and twerking.

If our grandparents had access to this level of instantaneous no-reading-required hookup, there’d be a lot more entitled middle-aged men around about now – contraception what’s that? – So we must be thankful.

Be thankful and grateful for the hedonistic freedom we have in the 21st century.

No longer are we required to make connections with one another, not when the ultimate expression of intimacy is the willingness to take things up the butt.

No longer are we expected to express our emotions in coherent sentences, not when sending a GIF of two pandas fucking in a forest of bamboo conveys the same horniness…more or less.

And with our sexual needs so thoroughly satisfied, there is no more reason to talk about how the other person’s life is going, how their weekend was, why do they seem upset etc., since the purpose of these menial conversations is to lead to more fucking, and we’ve already had enough.

Confronted by this truth – the truth that there are very, very few people out there who genuinely give a shit about anything we do or feel – our first reaction is to reach for our phones with the goal of hitting the next post-coital glow. It drives all that we do.

Because no one feels lonely in the middle of an orgasm.

Thus, we keep fucking.

It is what we are born to do, after all. And the more steps we can skip to get there, the better.

Then, we complain.

Complain that no one gives a shit when we are upset and need to whine about the world treating us unfairly, about the people we sleep with not being attractive enough to make up for their bitchery. Words, blocks and block of text, hours and hours of chatting and phone calls – we send to each and every person we sort of know in the hope that someone, anyone, cares enough to care about you.

But remember, these are words. Coherent sentences. Expressions of genuine emotion.

Archaic concepts.

But it’ll be OK. Don’t worry about it.

Just keep chasing the next fuck.

It’ll make everything better.

Explaining Western Society with Prequel Memes

 

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1 – “From my point of view the Jedis are evil!!”

Oh Anakin.

Killing younglings is evil. There is no circumstance in which the slaughtering of innocent children would be anything but, baby Hitler included.

Everyone was so shocked. Obi-Wan was all like “WHAAAT” and Padme was all like “Nah no way” and C3PO was all like “Oh dear!”

Why were they all so obliviously surprised?

Around Anakin was a cage of expectations and obfuscate rules that society had imposed upon him: You got to save the world! You can’t fall in love! Go exactly where we tell you and do exactly what the Jedi Council want you to do! Your talent will never be rewarded because you are just an upstart brat with an attitude! Doesn’t matter how good you are at Jedi work – you need a mindset to be a master. What mindset? Our mindset.

Having rules and expectations are important – they give people purpose and direction. Of course, one cannot pick and choose which rules they want to follow – since being guided along certain paths is the whole point of having rules – but these rules should not be set by the people who have found success in following them.

That is the definition of a rigged system, designed so that people who most closely resemble the successful are more likely to find success.

Instead, a society’s rules and expectations should be set at the beginning of its conception, and provide only the basics. Kind of like sports.

The rules of football are basic – kick ball through posts, score points – basic enough for everyone to understand and start playing. Any additions and amendments to the rules – “You can’t tackle like that!” – should only be made when actions exist that do not have the goal of “kick ball, score points”. For example, “drag him down so he can’t score” is not about the game, but the player, and therefore it cannot be a part of the game that we all play.

Yet, in this enlightened age of the 21st century, it is never about the game. It is always about the player.

So really, no one should’ve been surprised when Anakin became so perverted in thinking, that he thought killing younglings was OK: A lifetime of being told what to do, of knowing his own talent yet never receiving acknowledgement from his mentors and peers, and the very rules he was told to follow made him miserable by making his affection taboo.

How miserable he must’ve been, playing the Jedi’s game.

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2 –  “It’s Over! I Have the High Ground!!”

Ever argued with a [insert individual with distinct religious/feminist/racial equality/gay rights ideology here] and found them condescending? As if no matter what you say, you are automatically wrong the moment you opened your mouth?

That is because they have the high ground.

Not an actual high ground, of course. Not even a symbolic one (which was what Obi-Wan meant, hopefully). But a sense of being on the high ground that is widely accepted by society as the real thing – for the time being.

The weapon of choice for those on the high ground are facts – figures, stats, polls, words from famous persons – which is all well and good, but these facts come with a caveat – that you are a dumb piece of shit for not knowing them.

Why do students hate some teachers and adore others, even when they are conveying the same information at the same pace? It is all about the way facts are presented.

By the very act of arguing with truths, people think that they cannot be argued against. The perfect example: “99% of all scientists believe global warming is real.” A truthful statement – an insurmountable fact.

But the way to argue with a climate change denialist is not shoving facts down their throats – if you hate the teacher, no matter how good they are at teaching, you are still not going to their class.

People are sick and tired of having facts shoved down their throats by whom they perceive as condescending assholes. Why? Because from their perspective, those on the high ground have rigged the game. A game that those not on the side of Obi-Wan will always lose.

It is the equivalent of repeatedly aiming for the fat kid in dodgeball. Sure, it is easy to win that way, but is it really about winning? That is the fundamental mistake we all made, thinking that the point of arguing about issues like climate change is winning, beating the other side with your impeccable skill at presenting facts and posturing on the high ground.

No. Presenting facts doesn’t make you smart or superior.

Saving the planet is not about winning, just like healthcare can’t be “won”.

It is about the game.

This “winning” mentality sows resentment, the kind that will turn people against you no matter how reasonable or knowledgeable you are.

Poor Anakin, prodded on by his resentment, arguing with Obi-Wan in an unwinnable argument, trying to win an unwinnable duel. He got burned like Korean barbeque because he played on Obi-Wan’s high ground. If his goal was to create a galaxy of peace, then he should’ve just turned around and left.

(It never was about saving Padme; forbidden love was only a small part of his suffering – a lovable excuse, if you like).

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3 – “Oh Anakin, what are we going to do?”

In times of crises, even the people who have all their shit together – like Padme – will become desperate. They perceive the flawed nature of the game in which t

hey are trapped, and see no way out.

In desperation, they lose their better judgement, and turn to their unstable but outspoken friends in the hope that their vicious attitudes can bring about a change.

That’s how Trump I mean Anakin became Darth Vader.

Any reasonable person observing that scene would think to themselves: “Padme what the fuck, you are literally the only one who’s got their shit together in this whole galaxy. You’ve got goals, you’ve got aspiration, and as a senator with powerful alliances you are positioned to change the way things work. Then suddenly, one unplanned pregnancy later, you become a helpless damsel, seeking advice from the unstable and impulsive yet lovably talented boyfriend who would kill younglings if that could help you out. Padme what the fuck.”

But is that so unreasonable?

People are easily upset by things happening outside their control. Sleeping with a Jedi without contraception in a galaxy with near-instant space travel and death-sticks aside, Padme had everything under control.

Why was she so upset about having Anakin’s kid as to lose her ability for rational thinking? It was a matter of life and death, but so was the coliseum with all the bug-people and stuff, and she was bad-ass then.

It’s treason I mean personal, then. Weird to say, but maybe she perceives this as a personal threat…even though those assassination attempts barely phased her.

Honestly, it is just irrational.

Why do perfectly reasonable people buy into hysteria about certain issues, but not others? Imagine if we as a society were as hysterical about climate changing as keeping out the brown people.

Wouldn’t that be something.

How to Stop Being Homophobic

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But….where is turquoise?

The modern trifecta of discrimination – Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia – will never go away. As long as people remain unique from each other, their differences will engender these behaviours regardless of logic or understanding.

Ask someone why they think women should get paid less, and they’ll give a non-reason: most likely, an anecdote about lack of strength or high emotion, based on in most cases singular experiences with women that have somehow been engraved into their consciousness as universal truths.

Ask someone why they dislike Asians, and they’ll again give non-reasons: something about stealing jobs, communist spies, or being sexually inept, again based on singular experiences or just simple stereotypes passed on through a culture of ignorance.

However, ask someone why they hate gays, nine out of ten times they’ll give a distinctly different reason – that they read it in a book, that this particular book says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

Unless they are hardcore fans of Mein Kampf or 50 Shades of Grey, people do not usually quote books when justifying their hatred toward Jews or women. Homophobia is therefore unique in that its core proponent is an integral part of western society.

But what is really going on when someone says, “I hate gays?”

Time for a thought experiment. For our purposes, the name of the homophobic person shall be Sam:

Imagine yourself asking Sam, “So, why do you hate gays?” With full confidence, he shall make a quote from a book he has or pretends to have read. Either that or he will give a non-reason. The non-reason will be easy to sort out – as long as Sam is willing to listen – but the quote will be an irrefutable bastion, for it wears the guise of truth.

Now, rephrase the question.

Imagine yourself asking Sam, “Can you tell me in your own words why you hate gays?” Now, there are several ways to answer this question. In order to get at the root of this problem, let us ignore the “real” response – that Sam will be offended that his belief is being questioned and ends the conversation. That aside, there is really only one way that Sam can offer a response without again resorting to non-reasons and anecdotes: “Well, I hate gays because God said [paraphrasing a quote] and I believe in God.”

Now, imagine yourself asking Sam: “But what do you believe?” Confused, Sam will say: “I just told you, I believe in God, and the book contains the words of God.”

The implication of this statement is, of course, that whatever God had decreed gays to be, Sam believes in it – God decreed gays to be abominations, therefore Sam hates them.

There is an important distinction to be made here. By definition, an abomination is a thing that causes disgust or loathing. Typically, a thing causes disgust and loathing by being repulsive on an instinctual level, whether through physical appearance (such as a deformity), mental implication (such as a psychopath) or conceptual wrongness (such as incest).

But consider this: a visually impaired person will not find a deformed person repulsive, a mental health professional will not find a psychopath repulsive, and people who do not understand the implications of incest will not find it repulsive. These respective parties will not find their respective cases to be abominations, even though they are widely accepted as such. (These are, of course, generalizations)

It is all a matter of perception.

There is no such thing that can cause universal disgust and loathing, for each of us perceives things differently, with different perspectives. Perspectives, by definition, can change in a million ways – through gaining experience, for example, or aging, or simply making a decision to change.

In other words, nothing is inherently an abomination; the beholder chooses whether something is an abomination or not.

For someone who has always had the same perspective – such as Sam – it would be difficult to convince them that homosexuality is anything but an abomination. His mind cannot be changed until his perspective is changed – through engagement with the gay community, through the everyday information he receives on the topic of homosexuality, through all the subtle encounters he make when navigating through life.

And especially through the decisions he would make after these experiences.

This is what those TV buzzwords like “changing social stigma” really mean – changing the perspective of the beholder so that what were once abominations cease to engender disgust and loathing.

This process will be difficult, sometimes impossible. It’ll be like trying to convince you that the guy with severe body odour isn’t all that bad, or that the guy who voted for Trump isn’t really a raging rampaging discrimination machine…or that the guy named Sam who is shouting slogans in the anti-gay rallies could actually change his mind.

These are the abominations on the opposite side of homophobia, and they are just as difficult to overcome.

When Sam says “I believe in God”, what he really means is “I believe in my belief of God.” Deities are eternal, and those lines will never be removed from those books…but people are not forever.

People can change.