Kick ’em all out

Imagine if you owned a building. Let’s say it’s the largest and best building and everyone wanted to gather there to meet with friends and organize groups. Let’s say it’s such a fantastic building that no other buildings can rival it.

Now imagine that in one of the rooms of the building a group regularly got together to exchange the most hateful ideas. Then one day you turn on the news. That same group is on the television attacking the legislative branch of the United States. It is destroying government property and committing acts of terror. The group chanted to execute the Vice President of the United States.

Five people died. It could have been worse. Greater crimes had been planned but fortunately were averted.

You make the decision to ban that group from ever meeting in your building again. You’re horrified that it was in this building the planning unfolded to unleash pure chaos and even murder. Your building was a central location to nurture the ideas that then became actualized.

Because your building is the biggest and it’s used by so many should you be disallowed from banning said group? Of course not.

Let’s imagine a media outlet spent days criticizing you for not allowing the group to meet at your building. That this decision somehow violated their right to meet. Let’s say this media outlet focused not on the murder and criminality resulting from the meetings but the “wrongness” of kicking out the group to discuss their vitriol and plan further violence.

The buildings are, you guessed it, Facebook and Twitter. The media outlet is Fox.

The events that unfolded at the capital were long in the making. They were based on ideas shared and expressed on the platforms Facebook and Twitter. They have every right to no longer offer their virtual space as a meeting ground.

As for Fox “news,” it is disgusting that their focus is on the power of these platforms as opposed to the violence and loss of life and attack on the very foundation of democracy. They refuse to examine the causal factors of January 6th (for example, Trump’s idiotic rhetoric of fighting to get your country back). It’s perhaps because they’d be guilty of being part of that causal factor, of openly spreading disinformation about the election, and allowing their audience to believe the election was stolen. Or, of allowing their audience to believe that a Biden/Harris administration is the death of freedom and the gateway to socialism.

I’m so completely sickened by the images of January 6th. I’m scared that I share a country with people who invest in white supremacy and have found a hobby in terror. The education in this country is meant to imbibe us with good citizens, not foster horrific notions that ultimately manifest in violence. Media literacy is desperately needed. Basic logic skills are desperately needed. Then let’s move on to literature and culture and open up the avenue of empathy and appreciation for the different viewpoints of Americans.

But first, we cannot forget that “free speech” is not absolute by a government and it is not bestowed by a company. A business cannot take away free speech.

Be mindful of the ideas you see exchanged and interrupt racism and misinformation when you can. That, I believe, is the justice one can offer in the aftermath of January 6th.


The Film I Couldn’t Stop Thinking About

Have you ever watched a film and then begged others around you to watch it just because you couldn’t wait to talk about it?

That’s exactly how I felt about Ex Machina, the 2014 sci-fi psychological thriller, directed by Alex Garland.  A wealth of ideas bloomed in this movie, and I found myself thinking about its implications for quite some time.

Quite fortuitously I came across a podcast called Two Philosophers Drink Beer & Discuss Film.  The hosts, Dr. Gregory Jackson and Dr. Daniel Murphy, do an amazing job employing philosophical ideas to dissect themes in movies.  I invited them to be on Good Is In The Details to lend their expertise for an episode on Ex Machina.  We went over notions of beauty, consciousness, and the ethical questions relating to AI.  For anyone who enjoys philosophy and film this’ll be a treat.  I also highly recommend this for anyone teaching philosophy.  This episode highlights how working out the ideas of a film can bring greater understanding of key philosophical theories.

Click here for iTunes.  Click here for Spotify.

Feel free to leave comments here or get in touch on IG: @GoodIsInTheDetailsPod

 


Challenge Accepted

In my Instagram DM I received an invitation to post a Black and White photo with the caption “Challenge Accepted.”  The point of the invitation was for women to reach out to other women as a way of saying “I respect you.  I see you.”  In addition to posting the photo one is then to pass this on to other women.

So, yes, I was delighted and flattered to have received the message.  And then I read a NY Times article that rained on my delighted parade by calling the challenge vague and not really with purpose.  It was a mindless means for women to post their most flattering selfie, the article claimed.  Hmmm….

I think that’s a rush to judgement.  We are often so busy and in the throes of our life that to take a moment to acknowledge someone else, their work, positive impact on community, their presence, or valuable friendship seems like something worth pausing for and passing on.  I was genuinely happy to extend the invitation I had received to other women I know, some of whom I have admired but haven’t necessarily said as much during conversation.

Is it really so vague to DM a person and let them know you appreciate them?  Is it wrong to respond by posting a photo?  Are we so tied to sexist ideas about women that it’s automatically met with suspicion for them to highlight a nice photo of themselves?  Or, that to say it’s about women supporting women is somehow unclear?  Support comes in many forms.  It can be a hug, financial, a referral, a podcast review (wink wink nudge)…

or a message to participate in “Challenge Accepted.”

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What We Can Learn From Batman

I’ve often invited students in my Philosophy classes to use our course material to analyze something from film and/or pop culture.  This has yielded thoughtful term papers and course discussions.

It was a delight to have Professor Mark D. White on the podcast to talk about his book The Ethics of Batman.  In his work he explores the moral dilemmas Batman faces such as, can Batman be happy?, should he kill the Joker?, and does his extraordinary wealth hinder his moral position?

This episode was a lot of fun and brought about a nice intellectual inquiry into the complications of this superhero.  Feel free to leave feedback here or get in touch GoodIsInTheDetailsPod@gmail.com

 


Literature as Reflection

The latest podcast episode was something quite special.  It was a conversation with a lawyer, an activist, a philosopher, and an English teacher.  The topic flowed from the role of race and culture in the classroom, to the dynamics of Los Angeles, to the way in which literature ushers in discussions about society.

Do you have a favorite dystopian novel?  We take a look at how that genre in particular allows for reflection.  We then reviewed part 1 of The Raffle, by Randy Smith.  I highly recommend this read, and after listening to the show you’ll want a copy.  Feel free to leave your thoughts here in the comment section or email GoodIsInTheDetailsPod@gmail.com

It was a joy to be part of this, to produce it, and to now have the opportunity to share it.  For my fellow educators and bookworms, I think you’ll find a lot here.

 


On Being Explicit

Can a discussion about biological functions be deemed explicit? If I were to explain the workings of your lungs, for instance, would I need to be on guard and warn you that this  may not be appropriate?  How about circulation?  How about telling you the intricacies of an eardrum?

For the past two years I’ve been teaching a course called Philosophy of Sex and Love (you can click on my course readings tab for more information).  In researching for the class and preparing sub-topics one area has stood out to me as being a central issue worth pursuing underscoring assumptions: sex education.

Unlike the aforementioned functions of the body, the reproductive system is either not discussed or partially mentioned or fraught with misinformation.  It is tied to moral presuppositions and caution laced with notions of shame.  Proper names like vagina, vulva, and clitoris (gasp!) are treated like Lord Voldemort.

Silence around these terms are rooted in a failure to see the woman’s body (or people with vaginas) as important.  She is demoted due to her biological reality (thought to be merely a vessel) and that demotion is apparent when a deficit of basic language exists in education.  A lack of knowledge here has concrete consequences for both boys and girls.  It hinders honest conversations about intimacy, health, and most significantly, exposes one to harm if one cannot even understand this part of the body.

This weighed on me as I uploaded my latest podcast episode dedicated to a discussion about reproductive health, and because we use terms like “vagina” I found myself marking the episode “Explicit.”  That in and of itself is problematic.  There is nothing derogatory or pornographic in the conversation.  Yet, providing a platform to learn about how the reproductive system functions needed to be presented with a warning.

The vagina, vulva, and clitoris should not be a mystery.  Employing proper education reduces abuse, unsatisfying or painful sexual experience, and a tool for recognizing if a health problem exists.  This is not an immoral dialogue and I am pained to treat it as such by adding “E” next to the conversation.

Historically the woman’s body is simply meant for carrying a child.  Indeed that essentially described her worth.  How this functions or how her body responds to sex and pleasure (or desires for pleasure) is not part of the conversation.  By not considering this she becomes object.

I know what you’re thinking…you want to hear the episode, right?  I won’t keep you in suspense. Click below for the show on iTunes.

Good Is In The Details episode 35: “Naming Parts, Reproductive Health, and Sex Positive”

 


Private Conversations on Race

In the late 90s I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Maya Angelou.  I remember the packed room and the hush befalling the audience the moment she stepped to the microphone.  No one dared utter a sound or disturb the experience.  Her brilliance filled the very air we breathed.  It was undeniable.  We were in the presence of history.

“I will not stay in a room where there is a racist joke or word,” she said at one point.  That stuck with me.  Silence is agreement.  Silence is participation.  She closed her lecture with reciting Phenomenal Woman and I felt complete.

In the last few days I’ve had conversations with two of my friends (all of us are white) about painful confrontations with someone close to us regarding racism.  We shared nearly identical stories with the following theme: explaining to the person close to us that they held a racist position/opinion only to be met with denial, anger, defensiveness, and a terrible misunderstanding of the essence of racism.

All of us were emotionally drained and wished desperately that the outcome had been different.

No minds were changed.  No one will know of the exchanges.  Was it important?

I think the answer is yes.  At the heart of the misunderstanding was the assumption that racism consisted only of outward violence or use of derogatory language.  But that is far too narrow a definition.  Racism can be embedded far deeper.

I heard a clip from Tucker Carlson’s show where he described Black Lives Matter in the following terms: mob, riots, thugs, looters.  He then claimed that saying “all lives matter” is Christian and can even be found in the Constitution (“All men are created equal”).  It was an outrageous misreading of what “all men” meant when the document was written.   A simple glance and knowledge of history can illuminate that the “white” is presupposed here, and that women were not included and a slave was 3/5 a person.  Carlson’s attempt to justify his resistance to Black Lives Matter actually pointed us to the reason the movement exists, namely, because not all lives have mattered.

But back to my thoughts that the private conversations are worth the painful confrontation…

Yes.  It is important to interrupt racism wherever we find it, even when it is close. It clarifies one’s mind and there is always the hope that the words will sink in once the defensive attitude has time to dissipate from the interlocutor.  It is important, as Maya Angelou noted, to let others see you will not be present for racism.

It is also an act of love.  Holding a belief that all people are the same, and in a negative sense in particular, disempowers one’s ability to flourish in an authentic way as though the color of their skin were a virtue and the color of others is a vice.

Private conversations are another way to be an ally even if the end result doesn’t yield what you’d hoped.  It doesn’t come with a hashtag or a sign but it is valuable.

 

 


Podcast in the time of Coronavirus

I’m of two minds with respect to the social distancing:

  1. It’s a joy to see the budding creativity in times of boredom.
  2. A sense of anger over the delayed and general mismanaged response to the pandemic.  Perhaps the most upsetting for me is learning that because of the contagiousness of the virus people admitted to hospital with it cannot have visitors. Ultimately people are dying alone.

How is it possible to hold both 1 & 2 in my mind and heart?  Maybe it’s the unfolding of tragedy and comedy?  We are all feeling terribly human at the moment, aren’t we? Stay safe, wash your hands, and check in on your friends and family.


Suggestions for your Quarantine

Introverts are pros at the quarantine and social distancing.  It’s our thing.  Here’s a bit of advice to help you through:

  1. The “Do not panic” approach seems rather unhelpful.  Instead, try taking stock of what you can control and work from there.  Make a list.  For instance, you can control how much media you are consuming.
  2. That junk drawer (or closet) you’ve half-heartedly been meaning to clear out can finally get a nice dose of attention.
  3. Call your friends and family.
  4. Social Distancing doesn’t necessarily mean being cooped up inside.  Go for a walk or try a new area to explore on foot.
  5. Delve into that one book you’ve been meaning to read.   IMG_2486
  6. Try out a new recipe.
  7. Journal.
  8. Netflix binge guilt free.
  9. Remember that economic downturns do eventually slow down and reverse.
  10. Enjoy a podcast.


An FBI agent, a Lawyer, and a Philosopher Walk into a Podcast

What does a former FBI agent turned law enforcement analyst have to say about Justice, Confirmation bias, and Conspiracy Theories? Check out this 2 part interview with Jeff Cortese and my guest co-host, Rudy Salo.

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