Violating Taboos

The Washington Post discusses a study in which teenage boys who play games that include killing women become less sympathetic towards women who are portrayed to them as real-life victims of violence.
In the "Grand Theft Auto" series, one of the world’s top-selling video game franchises, players can have sex with women and then kill them....

[A] team of social scientists asked a group of Italian high school students to play one of three kinds of games: one that rewarded violence against women ("Grand Theft Auto"), one that promoted violence without degrading women (a portion of the "Half Life" series) or one that featured good, clean fun (a pinball or puzzle sequence).

After participants played their game for about 25 minutes, they answered questions about how they felt about on-screen characters. Did they identify with the mobster in "Grand Theft Auto?" Did they connect with the alien-battling scientist in "Half Life?"

The researchers then showed each student a photo of a bruised girl who, they said, had been beaten by a boy. They asked: On a scale of one to seven, how much sympathy do you have for her?

The male students who had just played "Grand Theft Auto" — and also related to the protagonist — felt least bad for her, the study found, with an empathy mean score of 3. Those who had played the other games, however, exhibited more compassion. And female students who played the same rounds of Grand Theft Auto had a mean empathy score of 5.3.
What researchers seem to be ignoring in this study is that there is a very strong Western taboo against violence targeting women. We have special laws to protect women against violence even though almost all violent crime is against men. We treat the relatively rare instances in which women are victims as especially bad, from a moral and legal perspective.

Ask the question another way: how much violence in video games do you suppose is targeted against men? My guess is that the answer is "far and away most of it," which the #2 position being held not by women but by monsters -- aliens and zombies and whatnot.

If you work against that taboo by encouraging young men to think of women as legitimate targets for violence, you can expect that some of the protection that women enjoy from violence is going to wane. Presumably these social scientists want you to know that video games like GTA are very bad because they allow young men to treat objects represented as women as legitimate targets for violence.

The dark irony is that these same people are, of course, the ones pushing for women in the infantry.

They're the ones who want co-ed boot camp, where young Marines and Soldiers will train in conducting physical violence not against virtual images of women but actual young women.

They're the ones who want to break sex down into "gender," and then tell you it's not real but just some sort of social construct. We should treat men and women exactly the same, unless it's a man who wants to be treated like a woman, in which case we should make special efforts to make sure he feels we receive him as feminine.

But yeah, tell me again how horrible the video games are. Tell me how sexist it is that they expose virtual women to violence, just like they do virtual men.

I'd be only too happy to endorse a taboo that protects virtual women from being depicted as objects for violence. I'd just like to see the same courtesy extended to actual women.

"Some Observers Have Not Ruled Out"

Interesting phrasing.
Insurers say they are losing money on their ObamaCare plans at a rapid rate, and some have begun to talk about dropping out of the marketplaces altogether....

While analysts expect the market to stabilize once premiums rise and more young, healthy people sign up, some observers have not ruled out the possibility of a collapse of the market, known in insurance parlance as a “death spiral.”
"Some observers" apparently means almost all of us, and "have not ruled out the possibility of" means "completely expect."

Pinky & the Brain read Pulp Fiction

Tar-And-Feathers Day

If you're inclined to view April 15th as a fit occasion to reconsider the Sons of Liberty's approach to excise men, Gadsden & Culpepper have your shirt on sale.

Would You Pay Extra For American-Made?

In addition to Allahpundit's points, I wonder how the poll would have looked if it had been framed toward the majority of people in this country for whom even $50 is an outlandish price for a pair of pants. It's hard for me to imagine much of America outside of the coastal cities ever drops that kind of cash on jeans. Would I pay $85 for a pair of pants made in America? No. Would I pay $50 for a pair of pants made in America? No. I typically buy my jeans at the thrift store, where I pay ten bucks or less for them. I'm planning to wear them out quick with hard work and play, so I don't think of them as an investment into which I'm prepared to sink much money.

Apparently 30% of respondents to the poll said they'd pay the eighty-five bucks to wear American-made jeans, though.

Take Care of the Roots of Liberty

An extended argument about the roots of our Constitutional law that is just the kind I appreciate: one that attempts a deep understanding of the pre-American British history out of which the Constitution grew.

Solidarity, Baby.

Workers of the world, unite!
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders paid an impromptu visit to a Verizon workers’ picket line in Brooklyn on Wednesday after being endorsed by New York City transit workers as he tried to wrest a bit of union support from rival Hillary Clinton.

The Brooklyn-born Sanders addressed an enthusiastic crowd of striking workers from Verizon Communications Inc as “brothers and sisters” and thanked them for their courage in standing up to what he characterized as corporate greed.

It was a scene tailor-made for the U.S. senator from Vermont, who has focused on income inequality in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders is trying to catch up with Clinton, the front-runner, in Tuesday’s primary in New York, a state both candidates have called home.

Workers cheered as Sanders criticized the mammoth communications company for wanting to take away health benefits, outsource jobs and avoid federal income taxes, calling it “just another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans.”

"Sexual Racism"

So, as you may know from being exposed to left-leaning American culture, your sexuality is the single most important way in which you express your life and identity. Nothing is more important about you than the way in which you choose to love -- they mean physically love -- others. In no way can you be criticized for choosing to love many people ("No slut-shaming!") or few people ("Respect asexuals!"), members of the same sex or of the opposite sex or both (though you may be criticized for still speaking as if there were "two" sexes).

However, an important distinction has been discovered: you can be criticized for being racist in your sexuality.
Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid, looked at data on online dating — who people messaged, who they matched with, who they responded to, and so on — and found a few patterns. "There is kind of a systemic racial bias pretty much in every dating site I've ever looked at," he said. "We found that 82 percent of non-black men have some bias against black women. … And Asian men get the fewest messages and the worst ratings of any group of guys."
So now if you want to be virtuous, you really need to be sexually active with people of various different "races." Tell your spouse it's in the service of morality.

If this follows the pattern of other innovations in civil rights, we will next hear that we are to be criticized for being selective based on our preference for same- or opposite-sexed partners. To be a really moral person, you need to sleep with everyone equally.

What could possibly go wrong in such an enlightened system?

Lois Lerner, Call Your Office

What could go wrong with this brilliant plan?

Clinton & the Kremlin

The "Panama Papers" reveal a possible Russian intelligence connection to some of Clinton's top bundlers. It's smoke rather than fire, of course: the bank only sometimes handles funding for Russian intelligence operations, and even if they have bribed or suborned Clinton's bundlers that doesn't mean she herself is suborned.

Nevertheless, it raises important questions given Clinton's handling of things like foreign weapons sales to governments that donated heavily to the Clinton foundation, or transmission of national security secrets in the clear on an unsecured private email server. If I were an investigative journalist, I'd be very inclined to dig right here.

RIP "Dewey" Clarridge

I don't know how many of you know the name, but he was a man. I had the honor to know him, and will miss him. We were quite different in age, but he was a friend of mine.

Back on Station

I realize I've been gone for a while, with a minor break about half a week ago. I'm back now, and should be on station for a bit.

Building Your Own Echo Chamber

In which a progressive is shocked by support for the NRA, and somehow realizes why.

DB: Pentagon "Pretty Sure" It Can Ditch FM 3-24

How much of this is satire?
The Pentagon’s top spokesperson said he was “pretty sure” the military could ditch the manual used for counterinsurgency, since it plans to fight all future wars against conventional armies that wear uniforms and use known tactics.

“Listen, COIN is over,” spokesperson Col. Steve Warren said. “There’s really no possibility that terrorists will some day take over large swaths of areas of the Middle East and quickly change their tactics against a conventional foe they are fighting.”

“We need to pivot to the Pacific already,” he added...

“We don’t know where or when our next war might be, but we can be pretty sure it won’t be in Iraq or Afghanistan, because, well, despite tens of thousands of troops fighting in those countries, those don’t technically count as wars.”

A new church building

Our new church building is going to be beautiful after all--all it took was for the old architect to retire.  We lucked out in our new one.