everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
*originally posted:* aug 2022
nina paley always seemed like a nice, intelligent person. her views on copyright were useful, in a fight for free culture that never seems to have gotten as far as it should.
then she started drawing penises with wigs. this is her attempt to explain that transwomen can be reduced to genitals and a hairstyle, not unlike the way that black people can be reduced to a solid colour caricature with big eyes and red clown lips.
i mean, at least shes not being covert about her stance. until later, when she completely is.
she describes her own views as "hateful"-- with the scare quotes. its not hateful, insists paley, to treat trans women as bathroom invaders who just dress up to attack women.
maybe shes vying for the rights to remix harry potter films next.
heres how she puts it:
"Because I’m blacklisted in my town, this Jew can’t show my Jewish movie on the Jewish holiday of Passover."
thats a direct quote, and it practically debunks itself. shes implying that its so ironic to oppress a jewish person this way.
okay, are you accusing YOUR OWN TOWN of anti-semitism?
"well, uh, i, um..."
she wasnt blacklisted because shes jewish, but because she routinely campaigns AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS in her work. though not, as she correctly points out, as part of the film in question.
but by phrasing it the way she does, shes doing a splendid (and somewhat narcissistic) job of darvoing the whole thing.
ive seen it, by the way. her "jewish movie" closes (well, nearly enough) with people in the middle east nuking each other while the grim reaper sings "this land is mine, god gave this land to me".
i mean, i can imagine people blacklisting paley on grounds of anti-semitism alone, so the idea that its so ironic that THEYRE CANCELLING A JEW! can maybe get her airtime with ben shapiro, but her rhetoric against transgenders isnt really more nuanced or informed than his.
im not saying paley is herself anti-semitic. her criticisms of middle eastern policy are more "liberal" on the american spectrum of whatever (i wouldnt even be surprised if they offended ben shapiro) and the alt-right probably wouldnt agree with them. her film based on the ramayana, "sita sings the blues", offended traditionalists (its pretty hard not to) but the only hindus ive recommended it to adored it.
i would assume she simply loves controversy, but in reality "sita" is a very personal, i believe thoughtful, take on a religious saga and how it dovetails with the loss of her own marriage. her "jewish movie" (by a jew!) explores her feelings and thoughts about the religion she was raised with. its probably going to piss off more people than sita did, but shes playing on her home field.
paleys politics regarding transgender rights (and transgender humanity itself) on the other hand, centre on every cisgender-exclusive "feminist" trope there is. all men are potential rapists, and putting on a dress (which reasonably sums up what it means to be transgender in paleys world, and isnt a fallacy designed to deny people rights) doesnt change either their being men, or potential rapists. in other words, all trans women are potential rapists.
its an interesting view, which seems to spring from the idea that only men can make women unsafe. its a known fact for example, that whenever a bathroom becomes unisex, the rape statistics spike to historic levels. (no, thats a fiction-- the whole bathroom "debate" is as ridiculous as the smears of political opponents under stalinism).
most of society figured out a long time ago that conflating homosexuality with pedophilia wasnt a reasonable concern, but terfs dust that one off and "remix" it with horrible predatory transwomen just being a front in a conspiracy to rape good, old-fashioned cis women! and its not "hateful", this time.
anyway, years ago paley decided that you could teach the world how to be more thoughtful about copyright with a song called "copying is not theft".
today i thought, what if the same method works on terfs?
so i rewrote the words to her song, like so:
transgenders are not freaks
transphobia is pretty weak
gender essentialism bores
constructivisms worth more
even if born intersex,
you still must check a box
make sure that you get it right,
or theyll complain on fox!
make room for everyone
thats what constructivisms done
paley can draw her wigs on dicks
as a fitting self
explaining that "transgenders are not freaks" (theyre simply human beings until you try to take away their humanity) to a transphobe of course, almost feels like handing them a loaded weapon and saying "dont use this".
but this is not just any transphobe. this is a liberal, JEWISH transphobe who nonetheless UNDERSTANDS that holding on (or pandering...) too aggressively, too UNQUESTIONINGLY, too fundamentally to traditional views can stand in the way of bettering humanity-- and in the way of basic human rights.
as i write this, mike godwin is tied up in my basement, and paley is de-humanising people and rhetorically treating them like invaders and oppressors for only trying to have the same rights and be treated with the same humanity as everyone else, so im just going to say it:
nina, youre being like hitler, stop it.
speaking of hitler, just because he doesnt accept that jews are people doesnt mean your art gallery should blacklist his collection of paintings-- which have nothing at all to do with his stance on jews.
look-- we are too fast to cancel people for petty reasons. for every example of someone being blacklisted for being a truly horrible person, there are five angry mobs out to bully and silence someone for a snippet of something out of context, facts and logic be damned. this article isnt a defence of cancel culture, but i can certainly understand how someone would see it that way. cancel culture IS a slippery slope, and it isnt "just consequences", cancel culture is (much too often for comfort) disproportionate mob tactics. when thats the reality, calling it "just consequences" is dishonest.
nina paley isnt the victim of mob tactics, distortions, hypocrisy and double standards, or most of the hallmarks of cancel culture run amok.
shes an outspoken artist who has unapologetically, actively and deliberately joined a group of bigots to campaign directly against human rights-- both in personal and professional contexts.
i dont deny that the court of public opinion is in dire need of reform, but that doesnt mean every (single) verdict it turns out is wrong or unjust.
some people at least, yes, would prefer to make it impossible to even discuss this. there are some situations where discussion isnt entirely appropriate-- where for them to be entirely reasonable, the circumstances would need to change slightly at least.
ive done a lot of anti-war protests. ive worn shirts that have this or that message, and ive still been able to go into a shop and order coffee. does that mean we should all hold our signs up and pack into the coffee shop with them? that would be unreasonably disruptive in most circumstances. assuming that trans people have an obligation to stop and explain politics to 100 people a day, if prompted, would be similarly bizarre. many people do so, some with perfectly good (or at least neutral) intentions, which may lead to them feeling frustrated or confused until someone (eventually) explains this.
but it isnt actually impossible to discuss these things.
on the surface, it really does seem like paley wants to deny people their humanity and rights. but if you simply hear her out, all shes really asking is to secure the existence of women, and a future for cisgender children. whats so hateful about that?