privilege speech

I have several problems with the concept of privilege. I actually surprised some audiences when I say that I don’t actually accept the discourse of white privilege. I actually offer a different discourse, and let me explain why.

Firstly, look at the things that are called privileges. The things that are called privileges are actually rights to things such as healthcare, being treated fairly if you’re pulled over by a police officer, being treated fairly in a criminal justice system, to have access to employment, housing. As you go down the list, you begin to realize, it’s something weird about calling privileges something that every human being would like to have on the planet. Neoliberalism wants to call them privileges exactly because neoliberalism wants to take them away from everybody, Black and white. And so if you can get enough people feeling guilty for what they should actually have, then it’s easier to take things away from everybody and give more to those who are wealthy.

The second reason I have a problem with the privilege discourse, it’s a distortion of the concept of privilege. We’ve often heard the expression, for instance, “it’s an honor and a privilege to work with you.” When you hear something like that, the thing about privileges that people often don’t understand, is that privileges are good. It’s a privilege, for instance, to serve if you’re patriotic. It’s privilege to be in the company of people you respect. Privileges are actually good things, so the idea of telling you that you’re supposed to feel bad about good things is, as Fanon would argue, sick.

The third problem with the white privilege discourse is exactly what we’ve seen play out historically. Then it just gave an opportunity for whites to simply talk about their privilege and still not do a damn thing about the system of injustices that are around them and the rest of us. So it bleeds into a form of narcissism, and of course the thing about narcissism is that it puts whites  back into control because they can control their cathartic emotional life in terms of how they respond to to the charge of privilege. But they go home to a system that remains intact.

What I actually argue is a more constructive way to deal with this issue is the concept of license. Now people may say what do you mean? If you think about the basic thing of what a license is, when you get a license, it means whatever you’re doing is protected by law. So what happens is in mundane examples for instance if you have a license to drive a car, and you’re pulled over, it is established that you have the license to drive a car. Whether you’ve done other things while driving the car is another matter. The thing about license is that a license is legitimate right to use a certain power.

So if we think of the most extreme example of how a license works, try to imagine a license to kill. If a person has a license to kill, and in many contexts, many people when they’re designated soldiers or mercenaries have a license to kill within that context. Now let’s just say that you’re born with a license to kill say, all except other people who have a license to kill. If you’re in a framework like that, so long as you’re killing anybody outside of that category, then you don’t have to give a reason for the killing you’ve done, you just have to show a license. If you think about it historically, and I’m using that because it’s the most extreme example, if you look at the history of white supremacy, it’s a history of large communities of white people who can pack a picnic basket, get together, drag predominantly Black men and women, there are other contexts in which large groups of Native populations were wiped out, but the main thing was that they could drag these people, they could eviscerate them, lynch them, and throughout the entire process pose for pictures that are put in newspapers with them committing those acts. So when you think of that example, it means that the legal authorities will not act upon that precisely because the perpetrators, and the license here becomes the designation white.

Now I give you one more example that’s really crucial because of contemporary debates. One of the ways that there has been a form of fascist attack, particularly on Black people and on women, is this phony defense of free speech in a war against political correctness. But they’re not defending free speech and what they call political correctness. Political correctness is a term developed by the American right. It’s a right wing concept just like white privilege was developed by whites. This was a way in which the right wanted to undermine the efficacy of political institutions. But if you look carefully at what they call political correctness, it’s not actually political, it’s moral. In other words, the examples they would use is if people are going to judge certain people as immoral for the things they say. That is very different than politics.

What’s striking if you look for what they’re fighting for, it’s for an assertion of legal apparatuses and structures that will give them not free speech, but licensed speech. In other words, licensed speech is to be able to hurl your words in an action of harm. The way I usually formulate it, free speech doesn’t mean the right to be a schmuck, it’s an adult responsibility in a world that actually expands the capacity of other people in terms of human flourishing. However, the childlike adolescent licensed speech comes down to a thesis: I just wanna do or say what I want. It’s defended to the point where saying or doing what you want can lead in very real ways not just to harm but to the death of others. As we know in the case of Emmett Till for instance, the words of the woman who gave the testimony were used for the lynching of this 14 year old boy. And there are many other examples. If you look at Trump, Trump is not about free speech, he is the manifestation of the adolescent fantasy of many whites to return to a world in which they had the license for liberty without responsibility.

And this comes back to Fanon, because he understood the distinction between liberty and and freedom. As a therapist, a patient would come to him precisely because although the patient may have liberty, if the patient has insufficient control or understanding and her or his own life, and the relationship that person has with the social world, that person’s freedom will be impaired, although there are no formal shackles over her or his hands and feet. This is the crucial thing that is missing from Anglophone discourses around issues of freedom and around the excursion of racism. There is in freedom always a responsibility and a demand for one to take on the task of bearing the burdens but they’re not burdens in the negative sense. they’re burdens in the elective sense, in the good sense or what’s called election in the Bible. There are certain burdens that are a function of responsibility that make us into better human beings.

Dr. Lewis Gordon (x)

Re Danny Rand in The Defenders

Right, I’ve got nothing to do at work and this has been eating at me for some time, so imma drop some thoughts on you.

It’s both hilarious and silly that the same people who were aggressively campaigning for an Asian-American Iron Fist for his own series, are the same people praising the hell out of Luke’s white privilege speech to Danny in The Defenders episode 3, using typical stan terminology like “he ended him”. Now I’ll tell you why: because this speech never would’ve happened if we had an Asian Iron Fist. It would’ve made zero sense, and not had the impact on Danny that it did as is.

The whole point of Iron Fist’s character is that he’s an outsider to modern worldviews and notions of class, since those things don’t exist in K'un-Lun, where anybody could end up, and his wealth couldn’t have exercised any sort of influence because he didn’t have it. In coming back to America, Danny is learning how the modern world and his position in it works; and that includes race relations and how privilege affects people in a country as diversely divided as the USA.

This is also exhibited in his response to Luke’s speech. Any other white kid who had lived in America for a considerable amount of time would’ve probably dismissed Luke outright because he’s preaching concepts to him he’s heard a million times before, it’s gotten old. But to Danny, this is a new idea and a slice of humble pie. He realises he’s the outsider and that Luke probably knows what he’s talking about. So he doesn’t whine about it or call him an idiot; he thinks over it, takes it to heart, and finds a different route to get to the Hand. Because he’s still learning. He may be white, but he’s still the outsider, and he recognises that.

And you can draw your own real-world parallels to this, if you’re willing to open your mind enough, since there’s enough of this going around. But my point is, sticking to Defenders territory, this is what the whole Heroes for Hire dynamic is built on. Luke helps Danny adapt back to the real world, through all the shit that Luke has inevitably seen; and Danny helps Luke grow less cynical, that with their abilities they will inevitably see a lot of weird shit and one needs a broader worldview and heightened childlike curiosity to understand it better.

TL;DR you should probably stop shitting on Danny for just his skin colour (he’s got plenty other faults that get in the way). There’s a very good reason he is who he is. Luke himself knows it.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a radical anything, but I’m sick of milquetoast liberals/moderates acting like n*zis should be a regular and accepted part of a free society so here goes

did u know

you don’t have to choose between defending free speech vs opposing n*zis?

it doesn’t have to conflict!

you can do both!

firstly, freedom of speech defends your & everyone else’s right to disagree with the n*zis. opposing them is not the same as “silencing” them

but secondly, and this is the part I haven’t seen talked about yet,

there’s this thing in liberalism (which is where this neutrality mentality arises, and it does have its perks, but anyway) there’s this thing called the “harm principle” where if you cause or incite violence, you’ve abused your free speech privileges so the government, or whoever else, has the right (even the responsibility!) to intervene

so free speech and protection can occur simultaneously. this isn’t some new lefty hate speech stuff; it goes all the way back to the origins of liberalism as a political and philosophical theory.

(and if causing or inciting violence is inherent to n*zism, well whose fault is that?)

Ramblings of a Right-Winged Monster

- I believe that my views should not be silenced just because they hurt your feelings. Alternatively, I also believe that your views shouldn’t be silenced just because they piss me off.

- I think that abortion is murder, and people should take responsibility for their actions. If you do not want a child, give it up for adoption, or don’t have unprotected sex.

- I think that the majority of millennials are ungrateful scumbags who don’t realize how privileged America is as a whole — not just “white people”. 

- I think that professors who try to indoctrinate students are unfit to instruct at any universities, regardless of what their political views are.

- I think that Fat Acceptance is extremely harmful and unbelievably ridiculous, and people who take part in it are rejecting facts that science and medicine have proven. This is coming from someone who is also overweight.

- I don’t believe that America needs feminism. I believe that third-world countries who kill, abuse, and rape their women and make them cover their hair and bodies need feminism. 

- I believe that if you work for something, you are entitled to keep what you earn. I do not believe in redistribution of wealth or, as my social problems professor calls it, “leveling out the playing field”. If you did not work for it, it is not yours.

Just venting here. If you don’t agree with what I wrote, you can feel free to unfollow. I am not a hateful person by any means, but I do have opinions that will not be silenced, and I will not silence yours.

Oppressed Minorities: (ask people not to use hate speech, call people bigots if they use hate speech, refuse to hang out with people who use hate speech, create safe spaces away from people who use hate speech)

Privileged Assholes: “That violates my free speech, even though no one’s actually stopping me from saying it.”

Oppressed Minorities: (kneel during the National Anthem)

Privileged Assholes: “Well, the government’s not actually stopping them, so their free speech is not being violated.

Adult privilege is using the “You’re just young” argument whenever a young person brings up their personal views or identity. Honestly, being young isn’t like being drunk. You don’t wake up on your 18th birthday and say “Dude, I really regret the last 18 years.” Your views on spirituality, politics, gender, sexuality, etc. deserve to be taken seriously regardless of age.

I have several points to make here so I’ll try to keep this short:

  1. If your child learns about ageism/adultism and knows how to recognize it, they are not being bratty and their minds are not poisoned, if you believe you have something to worry about because your child knows what ageism is, you probably need to research it too and re-evaluate your behavior.
  2. Yes, I’m a teenage female, yes I have hormones, no I will not have sex with the nearest guy I see. Do I get sexually attracted to men? Yes. Am I riddled with hormones? No. I can control, and so can most teenagers.
  3. If you tell a teenage girl to cover up because you’re a 30+ male and it makes you uncomfortable, you are creepy as all hell and you need to stay away from teenage girls. Or any teenager for that fact.
  4. I’m not a silly teenage girl trying to be a social activist because I support gay rights, gender equality and youth rights. I don’t care if you think I’m annoying, but I do care when you try to discourage me and call me a stupid teenager and tell my opinions will have no impact and that I should stop trying. I don’t care how much you hate teenagers, you have no reason to do that other than being toxic.
  5. And last but never least since society can’t seem to grasp onto this; Teenagers do not require parenting books or articles that start with “Inside the Teen Mind” because if you understood your child and at least tried to have a good relationship with them, you wouldn’t need parenting books or articles. Teenagers are not aliens, they are not a species you need to observe and analyze, they are human beings who want to be understood.
Thoughts on Emma Watson

Like, good for you for speaking up about feminism and gender roles and sexism. Glad you are using your privilege as a celebrity to discuss these issues (albeit in a pretty basic ass speech).

But all I kept thinking when I saw all these silly articles claiming that Emma Watson gave a “game-changing” speech at the UN is that the only reason she has this opportunity and is receiving all this praise as a pioneering “game changer” is because she is a (wealthy, straight, young, Eurocentrically/stereotypically pretty, able bodied, cis) white woman. And she hasn’t even said anything really revolutionary that other feminists have not said before.

Notice how, unlike Beyonce and Nicki Minaj and other PoC celebs who have claimed and defended their feminist identity, Emma Watson’s feminist self- identification/speech has not been immediately contested or rejected because of her work or profession.

Notice how she spouts ideas about “gender as a spectrum” that queer scholars, activists, and theorists, many of color as well, have been saying for decades.

Notice how she pulls out the trope of rural African girls not receiving an education as a marker of gender progress- as if Africa is a monolith, as if other European and non-European nations don’t also have problems with disparities in women’s education, as if that statement doesn’t revive troubling, racist stereotypes about Black nations.

Notice how she places the impetus on men to spread gender equality- as if masculine identified people have not already been part of feminist movements, as if the only way to make feminism acceptable and effective is to invite men for the sake of their “sisters, daughters, and mothers” and not because people of all genders are human beings who deserve rights/respect, whose freedom is inherently interconnected.

Notice how her discussion of feminism does not include the intersectional weights of racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism.

I appreciated some aspects of the speech- tying up men’s liberation from the limits of gender roles alongside other genders within feminism, for instance. And I understand that she is promoting some kind of UN program for men & gender equality, that perhaps she saw her speech as an introduction to feminism, that she is probably not being intentional in her mistakes.

But I can’t see past the flaws of her words and her undeniable privileges that have made her the spokesperson for feminism in the UN’s eyes, therefore lending her limited vision of feminism more international/mainstream weight. And how the contributions of so many women of color, queer peoples and other marginalized groups who ACTUALLY have shaped and led feminist movements are being erased in one fell swoop by the kind of widespread media attention she is receiving.


Emma Watson Gets Bullied for Promoting Gender Equality: Writer Says She Should “Stick to Telling the Rules of Quidditch”

Emma Watson, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, made a call for gender equality in a recent speech for the HeForShe campaign in New York, and while her efforts are beyond respectable, one writer used it as an opportunity to bully the star.

Her captivating speech challenged universities to provide “equal respect, leadership and pay” in order to “tell women that their brain power is valued.” She also encouraged universities to “make it clear” that the safety of women (as well as minorities and anyone who may be vulnerable) is “a right and not a privilege.”

While the speech was yet another applause-worthy move by the actress to promote gender equality and women’s rights, The Sun used it as a means to make fun of her.

Offered without comment - The Sun’s response to Emma Watson addressing the UN about gender equality and sexual assault.

In a clip from the publication (which was captured by Louise Ridley and posted on Twitter), the writer, Rod Liddle, condemns Watson for her boring “whining, leftie, PC crap,” which he says “all actresses do if we are stupid enough to give them the chance.”

Liddle, instead, suggests “Hermione Granger” should “stick to telling [people] the rules of quidditch or how to turn someone into a frog.”

Though he says he doesn’t object to “them” (them, meaning actresses) having views, he doesn’t understand “why we take them seriously.”

It seems as though Mr. Liddle didn’t do his research on Watson before publishing the article, so we figured we’d give him some insight:

Not only did she graduate from Brown University, but she’s also been an ambassador for the UN for two years, working on initiatives for the HeForShe campaign to raise awareness and promote gender equality and women’s rights. She’s given educational and respectable speeches on the subject time and time again and has become a major face in Hollywood to battle against its lack of gender equality and sexism.

Amid maintaining her career and her work with the UN, she also started a feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf and has fully participated in it, using the opportunity to further her own feminist education.

So, if Liddle or anyone else is questioning “Hermione’s” involvement in these matters, we remind you of the questions she once presented herself: 

“If not me, who? If not now, when?”

Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating, we need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity for the indigenous people of the world. For the billions & billions of under privileged people who will be most affected by this. For our children’s children and for those people out there who’s voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight, let us not take this planet for granted I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much.
—  Leonardo Dicaprio, Oscar Win Speech (Words on Climate Change)

For all its imperfections (sometimes its circus-like sessions, the drama, the anger), the Philippine Senate, the upper chamber of the Congress of the Philippines, has always been an institution that safeguarded freedom. I know it is hard to look at it that way, but if one views it from the impartial lens of history, one sees a trend.

Every time the Senate is padlocked, or abolished, the Legislature of the country would be ridden with corruption (easily pressured by the Executive branch), oligarchy, herd mentality, and would be resistant to reform. That’s not to say that the current congress doesn’t have these problems, or that unicameralism (a one chamber legislature, as opposed to bicameralism of two chambers) is bad. For a type of Legislature may work best on a certain country or nation which has its own cultural and historical context, but another type may not.

The Philippines has tried a unicameral legislature (that is, without a senate) several times: under the un-amended 1935 Constitution (from 1935 – 1941), under the 1943 Constitution of a Philippines under Japanese Occupation (from 1943-1945), and under the 1973 Constitution of the Marcos regime (from 1973 to 1986), and in those three instances, the two latter set ups had the people’s voice repressed and/or silenced.

So what gives? The Senate, as compared to the House, is elected nationally, unlike in the House wherein representatives are elected by the regions they represent (thru legislative districts). As such, the Senate has a national view of things. Seeing however its shortcomings by missing the forest for the trees, the House of Representatives balances it. The Senate’s edge is its national outlook, hence, it is the testing ground for those who aspire for the highest government office in the land–the Presidency. The Senate is best seen in the spectrum of the past. Let’s look at it from the very colorful political life we had after World War II. 

The post-war Senate was legendary, in that, as intended by the framers of the 1935 constitution, it became the foremost venue for debate on national policy. In fact, the Senate would attract a large following (media and political analysts) in its sessions. And the senators then were very good with the arguments. These senators were not totally incorruptible, but reading the news articles of that time would give one the sense that these senators had the experience, the bravado, and the training to engage an impressive intelligent public discourse. The debates in the Senate and the exposé made by senators on the senate floor created waves in the media. And the people reacted and interacted.

The Senate has therefore been naturally on the forefront of opposition when the Chief Executive committed excesses. Take for example the bombing of Plaza Miranda on August 21, 1971, where in the Liberal Party’s miting de avance, several people were injured, including some senators. President Marcos immediately suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus nationwide. The Senate opposed the move saying it was uncalled for since the bombing was not national in scope. Public opinion at the time said it was President Marcos who planned the bombing. It was Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw who urged the public to wait a little longer for the next presidential election lest the violent demonstrations that resulted be used as an excuse for martial law. In the 1971 midterm elections, the opposition won the majority seats in the Senate, a fitting reflection of public opinion that had swung against Marcos.

Seeing that the only recourse for extension of presidential term was for the Senate (a thorn in Marcos’ side) to be derailed or abolished, President Marcos planned to declare martial law, in the guise of preserving peace and order, on September 21, 1972, the date of the supposed adjournment of both Senate and House of Representatives. It was Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in his famous privilege speech on the Senate Floor days before the 21st that revealed a secret plan of the administration, called “Oplan Sagittarius,” to use the military to take control of the country and impose martial rule. Marcos denied the allegations, not even telling his close associates the plan.

On the last minute, Congress scheduled a special session on September 21, moving the adjournment to September 23, 1972. And thus it was only on the midnight of September 23 that martial law was implemented, beginning with the arrests of key senators: Senators Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Jose “Pepe” Diokno, Ramon Mitra, and Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo. Senator Salvador “Doy” Laurel was one of those on the list of arrest but was out of the country when it happened.

As the imprisoned senators, with approximately 8,000 individuals (composed of journalists and opposition leaders) clamored for the unconstitutionality of Marcos’ martial law declaration, initially Marcos promised never to supersede the 1935 constitution. But this was only lip service. Before the opening of congress on January 22, 1973 as set by the 1935 constitution, Marcos engineered the process of the creation of a new constitution, the 1973 constitution, which was quickly (minadali) ratified before the said date. The new constitution gave him almost absolute dictatorial powers, and it abolished Congress. Thus, when the legislators arrived on January 22, at the Legislative Building, the Senate and House Session Halls were found padlocked.

Martial law ended that era of that verve of political life for the country. Perhaps there is truth in the thought that the Senate today is but a specter or a shadow of the Pre-Martial Law Senate. But the institution, no matter how imperfect, is still a reflection of public opinion, and of our aspiration as an independent people of democracy.

Thus, on its 99th year since it was established via Jones Law in 1916, let us give a virtual/digital toast to our Senate, wishing that they would live up to the trust we have given them.

Photos above:

(1) Senators Doy Laurel, Eva Estrada Kalaw, Ramon Mitra, Gerry Roxas, and Jovito Salonga in 1973, outside the padlocked Senate Session Hall. (Photo from the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, PCDSPO)

(2) The pre-war interior of the Senate Session Hall in the Legislative Building (now the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines). The room was not used during the Martial Law Period. In 1987 the reestablished Senate opened again its session here. The Senate eventually moved to the GSIS Building in Pasay in 1997. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the Philippines)