SIO14: President Bannon

Today Thomas is taking a closer look at the other terrible hairstyle in the White House, Steve Bannon. There has been a lot circulating about how much power and influence Bannon may have, many say it’s far too much. So we decided to look into just who this guy is and exactly what kind of power he actually has. As seems to be the case with most current political news, what we found is…concerning.

Thomas also replies to some of our wonderful listener comments and voicemails. Keep them coming, we love hearing from you!

NY Times OpEd- I Was on the National Security Council. Bannon Doesn’t Belong There.

CNN- David Axelrod: I woke up this morning as an alternative fact

NPR- FACT CHECK: Spin Aside, Trump’s National Security Council Has A Very Big Change

 

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12 Replies to “SIO14: President Bannon”

  1. I see what you mean about there being an important distinction between pointing to a different language system as a functional possibility and suggesting that its existence proves our established language system is capable of taking on those features.

    That said, I don’t see any compelling evidence that such a change is impossible, or even unlikely.

    I keep thinking about terms like police officer, fire-fighter, flight-attendant, congressperson, etc. The idea that we can supplement gendered pronouns seems like such a seismic shift, but then I consider that feminist movements have made such significant progress in calling attention to gendered terms, career titles, and reflexive the use of “he”to refer to an abstract person. It’s notable when people use gendered terms now.

    I think a similar/related shift is happening with gendered pronouns, it’s just that non-binary conceptualizations of gender are still relatively new to mainstream culture.

    As for the problem of language acquisition and challenging thought-patterns, I would want to investigate slang and text-based iconography and symbolic languages. It’s not my area of expertise, but someone has to be researching the dissemination of grammatical memes, and no part of me would be surprised to learn that the adoption of such memes might require acclimation to fundamentally rule-breaking syntactical expression.

    Also, because I was reminded by your commenter’s e-mail, similar to something I noted in a previous episode’s comment section (i.e., “male” and “female” have unrelated etymological origins), it wasn’t until very recently that the terms “boy” and “girl” took on gendered connotations. I don’t have access to the OED at the moment, so I can’t be too specific about the timeline, but for most of their history (pre-1920’s), the term “boy” meant servant, and the term “girl” meant child. That’s not to say they didn’t acknowledge gender in children (pre-1920, they associated pink with males and blue with females), just that many of the signifiers that we recognize as associated with specific genders, including words, only became so “inherently” associated as a result of cultural and contextual factors.

    On a separate note, I googled “irregardless defending” and found a compelling argument that its lack of regard for the grammatical function of adding the prefix “ir” to itself makes irregardless a self-reflexive term, a sort of contentual onomatopoeia. I find something about that to be weirdly satisfying.

  2. I think the Bannon administration is reminiscent of the Chaney/Rove administration—just scarier. Trump needs Bannon to lend him shape and form. Trump by himself is an undifferentiated blob of sociopathic narcissism. Bannon serves as a nozzle to direct Trump’s high pressure vehemence in semi-coherent politically philosophical directions so that Trump doesn’t always come across as a toddler throwing a hissy fit.

    There may be some un-gendered languages, but there are many, like Spanish for instance, in which neuter words of any kind, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, names and place names are very, very rare. Virtually everything in Spanish has a gender associated with it. I didn’t even think about this when genderless pronouns were being discussed on a previous episode, but there are languages where you would have to do more than introduce gender-free pronouns. You’d have to restructure the entire language. I want to be there when you explain to however many hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers there are why they have to change their entire language to accommodate some minorities that they may not have even heard of.

    Thomas said that non-gendered languages do just fine. Yes and no. Finns and Hungarians and Estonians get along just fine as long as they are conversing with people who speak their particular language, but to get along and prosper outside of their own countries they learn English, and the overwhelmingly dominant trend—in Europe, Asia, Africa and everywhere—is toward that, not away from it.

    1. I’ve noticed you’ve made similar points before, presenting a change in language as some sort of new mandate that requires a press briefing and very clear instructions for all foreseeable instances of its use. Maybe I’m reading too much into a rhetorical device, but it doesn’t reflect reality.

      It’s as if you were arguing that there had to be a team meeting of all English speakers before anyone could be given a name (e.g., “Do we all accept ‘Wendy’ as a valid thing to call a person?”).

      English used to have gendered nouns until the 1100’s, and somehow that stopped being much of a thing without society crashing to a halt as we all struggled to communicate basic information to one another.

      And, I genuinely don’t get the “it’s only a small minority, so why should we be bothered?” argument on this. “I’ll show you basic human respect but only if you get like a couple dozen more people to verify that I’m not wasting my time and effort just to significantly improve a handful of people’s lives.”

      1. “English used to have gendered nouns until the 1100’s, . . .” So how many years was it until English lost it’s gendered nouns? A thousand? I’m not sure when English started being called English. I’m not saying any of this can’t happen; I’m just saying it will take a long time because for the 99 (and growing) percent of the world outside of the SJW bubble, there’s very little awareness and motivation to drive the change. If you said that in 150 or 200 years a cosmopolitanized Spanish would begin to loose it’s baked-in gender specificity driven by general globalization of everything, I’d say, yeah, that could happen. I’m just saying that to expect it sooner than that is unrealistic; the inertia is gigantic. And my reference to referendums on what to call who or what what is to point out their absurdity, not to suggest their implementation.

        When “Ms.” was popularized for referring to women without reference to their marital status, I’d say fully half—or more—of the English speaking public was supportive or at least accepting of that change, and it was just one new sense of one new “word.” I don’t even know where it came from, but at some point it was out there, it was defined, it was understandable and people were asking that you use it instead of Miss or Mrs. Fine, no problem, if that’s what you want.

        With genderless pronouns (and the promotion of entirely gender free languages), the desired (by a very small percentage) changes are significantly more complicated and much less well defined than “Ms.” was. I’m not saying that accommodating small minorities is undesirable, just that it’s often impractical. In a right-wing fascist political atmosphere in which the SJW bubble is shrinking rather than expanding, I don’t think the social pressure will be there to drive these changes. How many of these bozos in the Bannon administration cabinet do you think even acknowledge the right of homosexual people to exist? Forget about tran or non-traditionally-gendered people. Government supported accommodation of these folks is a good eight years away—at least. It took Germany decades to fully recover from being “made great again” by the Nazis.

  3. If it’s just Employers and Landlords how did two comics get Human Rights cases brought against them?

    From the Website, here are the list of areas that should be covered:

    The five social areas are:

    Employment
    Housing
    Goods, Services and Facilities
    Contracts
    Membership in trade and vocational associations (such as unions).

    Which area covers comics working in a nightclub?

      1. That means any speaker can be subject to this law. That would have to include on the street since the owner of the club was not the subject of the tribunal but the person speaking. The act of speaking is what is bringing offence not the person providing a service. That’s a bridge too far since this addition makes you say specific words determined by another person not by yourself.

        1. I don’t know that your conclusion necessarily stands.

          Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve listened to enough podcasts to know that legal terms have contextual, legal meanings (e.g., “right to privacy”), and that as far as the law is concerned, exchanging money alters the nature of a relationship (e.g., sex for pleasure is legal, but sex for a fistful of toonies is a criminal offense).

          I can imagine some vagary in contract work, or performance-based work, or the implied contract between an audience member and a comedian in addition to that between a patron and the bar-owner who provides space for that comedian to operate. For all I know, different rules might apply to comedians based on whether they take a cut of door sales or drink sales. Moreover, different rules might apply if the comedian’s statement was said during their act, was related to something said on-stage, or came completely out of the blue while having a drink at the bar.

          Point being, I don’t think that the fact a tribunal decided to address people making the statements and not the proprietor of the establishment in which the statements were made automatically proves that anyone who speaks in any context can be prosecuted for violating this law.

          And to your last point, I’m not sure it’s ever been established, merely asserted, that this law compels anyone to speak certain words, rather than prohibiting them from speaking certain words in a context that is considered to be harassment. It’s as if people are arguing that laws prohibiting smoking in the office are actually laws that force you to breathe non-smokey air, and as such they are unjust, because the government doesn’t have the right to compel you to breathe. There is a substantive difference between saying “you can’t stand up there and say trans-people aren’t human” and “you must begin your comedy set by reciting the trans-people are human oath.”

          1. The point is that people saying the words in a theatre context do not have power over the audience. The audience member was not denied access to the show. No one should have the right to not be offended.

            Overall, since comedians have been put through this process and lost it is not limited to what Thomas keeps saying it’s limited to. Mike Ward is appealing his case so maybe that gets overturned. As of now it’s still possible that regular people can be caught up in this change more easily than the other changes.

            Peterson is in hot water for saying he wouldn’t use the made up pronouns. Not once has he said he would call someone by the pronoun he decided they were. At least I haven’t seen it. This has been what this is all about, not mislabelling but just a refusal to use a preferred pronoun.

            So if you say you would prefer I use They/them pronouns for yourself and I say I won’t do that, under the new changes that is a violation of your rights. That’s crazy. I just call you Kyle instead but that isn’t good enough, I have youse your preferred pronouns. This is the position Peterson is taking. The words I chose to use should be dictated by me not anyone else.

            For the record I would use They/them if asked, just an illustration.

  4. Some “AntiSJW” types I would consider having a decent conversation with would be:

    Jeff Holiday, Bearing, Sargon of Akkad, TJ Kirk(The Amazing Atheist), Chris Ray Gun, Morally Gray, TL;DR, Vernaculis, Armoured Skeptic

    These are not in order of preference.

    1. I just found a discussion/debate between Sargon of Akkad and Michael Brooks about the “existence of the regressive left” the other day. Seems relevant.

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