2017-08-14

Slippery Slope

The slippery-slope argument is bullshit.

Saying “If we’re okay with doxxing people at white supremacist rallies, isn’t that the same as doxxing people for any viewpoints we don’t agree with?” is bullshit.

“Why are we okay with people being fired from a job for far-right beliefs when that might lead inevitably to people being fired for any political or religious beliefs?” Bullshit.

Here’s the thing. Free speech gives you the right to say whatever you want. Then the cultural standards and legal system of the country you’re living in determines what happens as a result of you saying whatever you want.

If you go out in public and loudly threaten to kill someone, you’ll get arrested. You’ll be on the news and everyone will learn your name, see your face, and know that you went out in public and threatened to kill someone. If I’m your boss and I get word that you went out in public and threatened to kill someone, I’ll fire your ass in heartbeat. And none of these consequences would surprise anyone.

“But it’s wrong that a person could be arrested and fired from a job for going out in public and loudly threatening to kill someone, because won’t that inevitably lead to people being arrested and fired for going out in public and just talking too loudly?”

No. It won’t. Because the slippery-slope argument is bullshit.

White supremacy is a movement predicated on the threat of killing other people. The appropriate response to that shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out.

2017-07-18

Lower That Blast-Pistol

Okay, I saw the Blade Runner 2049 trailer. Here’s what I think (because I know you’re all dying to hear it):

Hampton Fancher is credited for both story and screenplay on this film. Hampton Fancher was the first screenwriter on the original Blade Runner, whose script was so freaking bad that Philip K. Dick originally disowned the project before shooting even started. Fancher’s original script is, in fact, a complete pile of shit. (You can find it online. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait.)

In the end, Dick got to read the revised version of the script that David Peoples salvaged, and he liked it. He was very positive about the direction of the film (which departed even more from Fancher’s original as it was constantly retooled during shooting). But in the final interview he ever gave (Dick died five months before Blade Runner was released), this is what he said about Fancher’s script and why he hated it:

“There were good things in Fancher’s screenplay. It’s like the story of the old lady who takes a ring into a jeweler to have the stone reset. And the jeweler scrapes all of the patina of years and years and shines it up, and she says, ‘My God, that was what I loved the ring for — the patina!’ Okay, they had cleaned my book up of all of the subtleties and of the meaning. The meaning was gone. It had become a fight between androids and a bounty hunter.

“I had this vision in my mind then that I would go up there and be introduced to Ridley Scott, and be introduced to Harrison Ford, who’s the lead character, and I’d just be so dazzled I’d be like Mr. Toad seeing the motorcar for the first time. My eyes would be wide as saucers and I’d just be standing there completely mesmerized. Then I would watch a scene being shot. And Harrison Ford would say, ‘Lower that blast-pistol or you’re a dead android!’ And I would just leap across that special effects set like a veritable gazelle and seize him by the throat and start battering him against the wall. They’d have to run in and throw a blanket over me and call the security guards to bring in the Thorazine. And I'd be screaming, ‘You've destroyed my book!’ “

In the Blade Runner 2049 trailer, I’m seeing a whole lot of “Lower that blast-pistol or you’re a dead android!” That’s all I’m saying.

2017-04-26

Don’t Be Afraid

A few people have asked what the text is that was seen peeking into the cowbell post from a few days ago. It’s a quotation that runs along three walls of my office, and which says the following. (Forgive the exclusive use of the male pronoun; the 1970s were a less enlightened time.)



“Don’t be afraid.

“That simple; don’t let them scare you.

“There’s nothing they can do to you. If they kick you out of films, do TV. If they kick you out of TV, write novels. If they won’t buy your novels, sell short stories.

“A writer always writes. That’s what he’s for.

“And if they won’t let you write one kind of thing, if they chop you off at the pockets in the market place, then go to another market place. And if they close off all the bazaars, then by God go and work with your hands till you can write, because the talent is always there.

“But the first time you say, ‘Oh, Christ, they’ll kill me!’ then you’re done.

“Because the chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage. And if he has none, he is more than a coward. He is a sellout and a fink and a heretic, because writing is a holy chore.”

— Harlan Ellison

Ten Concerts

Here are ten concerts I’ve been to, but thirteen are a lie. See if you can guess which.

The Rolling Stones

The Dave Clark Five

Queen with Freddie Mercury

Dazzler

Queen with Paul Rodgers

Bill Haley and the Comets

Queen with Adam Lambert

Glenn Miller

Vienna Chamber Orchestra

Queen with Freddie Mercury, Paul Rodgers, and Adam Lambert (Man, that was a long show)

Hannah Montana

Kevin Federline

That school dance where Marty McFly played Chuck Berry