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Screen refugees for age? In your dreams


My bleeding heart liberal friends and I had great fun ripping the piss out of a Daily Mail article today. It was terribly concerned about immigrants sneaking their way into Britain masquerading as kids, and set about analysing the age of these interlopers.

Unfortunately for them, they used the publicly accessible software How Old .net, which turned out to be quite shit, as you can see above. Just as with other age guessing programs (usually used for idle entertainment on social media),  it turns out that turning your head slightly can age you by 38 years.

We’ll have to make sure the immigrants are exactly the right distance away and facing straight into the camera, with the right lighting. Perhaps a police mug shot would do? Take off your glasses and shave off your facial hair, say the immigrants to one another, in the long and public-money-wasting queue; they each add ten to twenty years. Face painting, on the other hand, can take off a whopping 19 years.

You’ll be happy to know that, given the right approach, a nine-year-old boy looks like a 23-year-old woman, so even if the immigrants do have that minor technicality of actually being school age in their favour, we’ll still ‘ave them out of Our Schools in no time.

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Ironic characters are always real people


We are who we pretend to be,

so we must be careful who we pretend to be.”

Mother Night,

by Kurt Vonnegut

I would be lying if I said I first came across this quote by reading the book. I have read the book, but only after reading a blog by Mara Wilson, who used this quote to explain her misgivings about people who use characters to get away with harsh criticism.

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A World Without Downs Syndrome: If if makes you feel guilty, it’s doing its job


Throughout this entire documentary, Sally Phillips tactfully didn’t use the major buzz word associated with the subject. I’m not tactful, so I will: eugenics. 

Eugenics is the practice of breeding out people with certain “flaws”.

It is controversial and has been popular among unpopular figures throughout history. Deleting that word from our description of the act of screening out Downs syndrome is just a way of disguising the uncomfortable truth of it.

Simple terms create negative controversy and backlash; people who don’t like the comparison build a brick wall of denial around themselves. They do so usually for personal reasons, which should be put aside by impartial observers.

Unlike typical eugenics ideology, which suggests selective breeding (or in more modern interpretations, genetic modification), screening for Downs allows the fetuses to be aborted – and they can be aborted at any time up until birth. This is probably too grim for your average eugenicist.

The usual rules of “viability” in UK termination law do not apply to Downs babies, because the condition is counted as serious. When talking about a being that is obviously sensate, I feel like abortion is not an accurate term. It’s actually euthanasia, which is illegal in the UK.

Worse, it is involuntary euthanasia on a group of people who, if allowed to be born, would most likely assert their wish to live. Downs people want their lives more than people with depression, which Sally Phillips used as an example of another condition that could be screened and aborted.

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Is “lesbian” a word we should still be using?

noun describers

Before I realised that I was trans, I identified as gay. A gay woman, technically, but of course I always avoided phrasing it in those terms.

Others would have referred to me as a lesbian, the very thought of which I absolutely despised.

I was once asked by a male acquaintance which term I preferred. When I gave him my preference, he proceeded to tell me that if he were a lesbian, he would prefer to be called such.

My immediate reaction was a stab of annoyance. Yes, I thought, the point is that you’re not. If you were, you may well think differently. Leave it to the heterosexual, cisgendered man to assume he knows how it feels to be a gay woman!

It never helped that every time I heard a straight man say “lesbian” is sounded like a fetish. Straight women were not much better; they would say “lesbian” with ecstatic curiosity, the type one might associate with some kind of ultra-rare gross condition, ripe for gossiping about.

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Gingers have souls!

i want you


Following last week’s post on reverse racism, I want to talk about gingers.


We heard a few years back, to our utter astonishment, that gingers have souls. All through high school we were led to believe that this was incorrect.

I hear a lot that prejudice against red-haired people is not real prejudice. Ostensibly, this notion feeds off the old anti-reverse racism line that only “oppressed minorities” who face “systemic discrimination” can possibly be subject to any form of prejudiced derision.

Actually, I think this is an excuse. People in certain institutions, like high school or particular pub friendship groups, like having people to insult, and refuse to think of themselves badly for having done so.

Who didn’t occasionally look down on or make fun of someone for who / what they were in high school? It was epidemic. People used it as a defence mechanism to deflect attention away from themselves, since a bit of digging would have almost certainly have exposed an “abnormal” attribute ripe for mocking.

The justification for insulting fat people has always been victim-blaming. It’s their fault they’re fat, so what do they expect? Inconveniently, anything anyone doesn’t choose isn’t subject to that rule, so we hastily have to concoct some reason why it’s OK to make fun of them. At a stretch, you could say that the ginger minger should have died her hair, just like the hairy bitch should have shaved her legs.

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“Reverse racism” does exist. It’s racism.

racist eggs

The picture on the left is a mash-up of two results you get when you Google “racist eggs”. The bottom one was what I was looking for – the one above is new to me, but something I was hoping to find.

I was expecting someone to have reversed the racist eggs to put the white egg in the minority. The fact that someone arranged the eggs in this fashion, and the fact that the image appears at the top of the Google page, shows us that there are those who perceive that in a racist egg situation, the white egg can be the victim.

This perception matters. The perception frames the direction of race discussions all across multicultural countries, causing arguments about who can legitimately be considered victims of racism. “Reverse racism”, a term pitched as being somehow the opposite of racism, is the idea that dominant racial groups can and do face racism in society.

The trouble with opposites is that the person who invents the concept opens the door to an infinite chain of opposites. If you can have reverse racism, you can have reverse reverse racism. Then, you can have reverse reverse reverse racism, and so on and so forth. This chain exists because of the need to assign blame.

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The slavery taboo kneecaps fair animal rights debate

pulling trolleys

I have to tell you,” said the judge, “I keep having a difficult time with your using slavery as an analogy to this situation.”

“My suggestion is that you move in a different direction for the next two minutes.”

This quote is from the Storyville documentary Unlocking the Cage, which documented the Nonhuman Rights Project’s attempts to have individual chimpanzees recognised as legal persons in order to liberate them from unethical captivity.

Justice Karen Peters’ “suggestion” struck me more as a nebulous threat. The message was: “Continue to make that comparison, and we’re going to have a problem.”

Being in a position of great power, her pointed remarks had a profound effect on the lawyer she was speaking to, who visibly squirmed and hastily retracted a point that was logically strong. It was a worrying example of someone using authority to silence opposition.

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