Celtic Riverside – The Online Journal of James Keenan

A Vent Coming off Kavanaugh Confirmation Weekend

I want to express how I’m seeing issues play out in the public discourse in conversations between “Conway” (a conservative) and “Libby” (a liberal) to explain why I’m at the level of anger I’m at today, and why my anger is directed towards the conservative side rather than “on both sides”.

I’m open to debate and discussion, particularly with ideologies that are not my own because it provides perspective and insight not already available to me. But a lot of the current stuff crosses the line, and from the dialogues I’ve watched it does feel pretty clear that one side has enjoyed doing the crossing.

Patriarchy and Sexual Assault

Conway: The “patriarchy” isn’t a thing.

Libby: Did I ever tell you that when I was 10 my bus driver would wink at me and say flirty things? It made me really uncomfortable.

Conway: He was being nice and offering compliments. He didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. Why can’t you just take the compliment and move on with your day?

Libby: That’s what I did. Why should I have to be uncomfortable though? He was a grown man, I was a child in a situation that I could not escape. More to the point, why is your first thought to defend him instead of support me?

Conway: False accusations ruin lives.

Libby: Real accusations hardly seem to impact lives, so I don’t know why that would be a case. Accusers who come forward face shame, ridicule, and often threats. The accused generally move on with their lives at some point. Accusers have little to gain by coming forward and a lot to lose.

Conway: Look at Kavanaugh. His reputation is forever stained.

Libby: Putting aside that I do think he’s guilty – he’s now a Supreme Court Justice for life. Dr. Ford still cannot return home because of the threats she continues to receive. Whose life was ruined by the process?

Conway: So based on her accusation we’re supposed to believe he’s guilty and not appoint him? I guess that’s the end of due process.

Libby: I said that I believe he’s guilty. That isn’t grounds to throw someone in jail. We do need to believe a credible allegation and initiate that due process though.

Conway: Credible why? Because she said it?

Libby: ..Yes?

Conway: So someone waits 35 years and decides when it’s the most damaging to the accused to share a story about a party she doesn’t remember how she got to where he “assaulted” her, even though no one else remembers who was there or what happened?

Libby: They can get the corroborating details they can from other reported attendees, but I don’t expect many of them to remember all of these specifics. She is going to remember details acutely though – that’s how trauma works. The brain takes all of the detail surrounding that event and locks it away because there is no way to process that. Locking it away is the only way to survive after something horrific like that happens, unless something triggers it to come forward. That’s…that’s how stuff like PTSD works.

Conway: You can’t compare these supposed sexual assault victims to soldiers.

Libby: I mean, I can in that respect. The traumatic events are different, but they’re traumatic to the individual. And then after that, as a result, they develop a stress disorder. It’s not post traumatic soldier disorder. The fact that these assaults can trigger the same psychological condition as being in a war zone ought to elicit more sympathy, not be yet another reason you dismiss them.

Trans Rights

Conway: They need to stay out of my bathroom. How can we keep women safe if men are dressing up like women and going into women’s rooms? Do you want your daughter seeing that in the bathroom?

Libby: Wow – okay, first, I’ve never seen another human being’s genitals in a public restroom. Public restroom or not, it’s generally not acceptable to start waving your privates around. Second, can we back up there because I thought women didn’t have to be afraid of men. Now we’re right to be terrified of them?

Conway: Those “men”. They’re perverts.

Libby: They’re women and they want to use a women’s room.

Conway: Putting on a dress does not make a man a woman.

Libby: Being a woman makes her a woman. This isn’t a man playing dress up, it’s a woman trying to use the correct bathroom.

Conway: So they can convert your kids to their homosexual lifestyle.

Libby: You know homosexuality is a different thing, right? Plenty of trans people are not gay. Then there’s intersex…

Conway: Do definitions not mean anything to anyone anymore!?

Libby: Sure they do. You just don’t get to force definitions on people because of how you see them.

Conway: This is your stupid identity politics talking again.

Libby: I’m suggesting that she not be forced to conform to a particular definition because of how others see her and instead define herself. I may talk about people collectively and use general terms, but the goal is individuality and not having society shoehorn everyone into a box.

Conway: But this is all the fault of white men, right?

Libby: In the sense that they are the dominant group and doing too little to fix it, yeah. That doesn’t mean white men aren’t victims of patriarchy, too. They are underrepresented in certain fields. They commit suicide more than other groups. They struggle with custody and visitation. It’s all because of expectations society has of them as white men, and society has of other people as not white men. That’s kind of what we’re saying – it’s all bullshit and cases should be evaluated individually. To do that, we need to combat systemic, unconscious biases.

Conway: Then why “patriarchy” and “feminism” and all this language that makes it sound like white men are at fault if they are victims, too?

Libby: Because, while white men do have disadvantages in this system, they also have considerable advantages and do not suffer the way other groups do. Remember when the bus driver was “just being nice” to me? He got to impose sexual discomfort on me with immunity, I was expected to deal with that. What constitutes “causing harm” for white men is narrower than other groups, and when damage occurs the fallout tends to be far more contained.

Kneeling/Athlete Protests

Conway: Kaepernick is so disrespectful. It disrespects the flag, the anthem, the country, and the men and women who fought to defend it.

Libby: He’s kneeling, along with the other athletes, to protest police brutality against members of the black community. It seems a tad disrespectful that police harass and brutalise members of their community. Quietly kneeling at a moment that will draw attention with a platform like that seems a good way to draw awareness to it.

Conway: Not during the anthem, and not at work.

Libby: Where, when, and how should he protest instead?

Conway: He’s at work. They aren’t paying him to kneel.

Libby: I asked for an alternative.

Conway: Could you imagine if I did something like that at work?

Libby: I’m going to move on to “why aren’t we addressing the issue of police brutality against the black community with the same fervour of complaining about the kneeling?” If the brutality were to stop, so too would the kneeling.

Conway: You know how few black people get killed by the police each year?

Libby: Seems like more than should be.

Conway: Look at Chicago or Baltimore.

Libby: They do have severe gun violence problems. What does that have to do with police shooting or beating black people?

Conway: Police are humans, too. Their lives matter. Look how violent these black communities can be – of course the police are nervous.

Libby: Didn’t a white guy with a history of violence and aggressive statements just shoot multiple police officers and get taken in alive? Seems odd that he was taken so calmly while they’re surrounding and tasering an NBA player simply for being in a parking lot.

Confederate Flags and Monuments

Conway: It’s pride and Southern heritage.

Libby: No, it’s about slavery and it’s a slap in the face.

Conway: You always conflate it with slavery. It’s not about slavery. It’s about state’s rights.

Libby: Sure, one specific state right – the right to own other human beings. No other state’s right issue compelled multiple states to secede from the nation, form their own, and then fight a war.

Conway: I don’t agree with the slavery part of it, but it’s still about Southern pride.

Libby: I might buy that if the monuments went up in 1865 or 1866 as a memorial to the pride they felt. But the monuments went up mostly in the 1920s during the Jim Crow era and again in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. You know, the two periods when black people were attempting to assert their equality. That’s when your “pride” surged and you felt a need to erect monuments to people who fought a war to preserve their right to own black people. I’m not sure why your vague notion of “Southern pride” means we give a giant middle finger to them.

Conway: I guess we’ll just bury the parts of history we don’t like.

Libby: Or put them in a museum where it belongs. They don’t have Joseph Goebbels statues at the public parks in Berlin because they’re “proud to be German”. You commemorate the parts of your nation’s history that aren’t shit – that you have cause to be proud of. The rest goes in a museum as a reminder to be better – at least better than the darkest moment in your history.

Broader Racism/Border Security

Libby: You called the cops?

Conway: Damn right.

Libby: That’s an 8-year-old selling bottled water.

Conway: You can’t just peddle stuff on the street without a license.

Libby: So you would have called the cops if that was a little white girl? Because I’m thinking it has more to do with her being black than her lack of a mercantile license in this case. The girls up the street were selling lemonade last week and you didn’t care about that.

Conway: That was kids in front of their house. This is some parent out in the city using their kid to sell things she should be selling.

Libby: Clearly a police matter. What about that guy at the supermarket telling the woman in front of him to “go back to her country” because she was speaking Spanish?

Conway: Why was she speaking Spanish?

Libby: Because she knows Spanish – why are we speaking English? That doesn’t mean she’s here illegally.

Conway: If she can’t speak English someone probably came here illegally at some point.

Libby: We aren’t Native Americans. We all came here illegally at some point. If it’s a blonde Swede smuggling cocaine across the Canadian border, no one cares. If it’s a young El Salvadoran man trying to escape a cartel coming across the Mexican border, he’s a rapist trying to colonise American.

Conway: I’m not saying they’re all bad, but obviously some of them are bad and we need to protect Americans first.

Libby: Immigrants, even illegal ones, have a virtually unheard of crime rate and we do receive billions in tax revenue each year, even from the illegal ones.

Conway: I don’t think that’s true, and even if it were we can’t tell the good ones apart from the bad. If I gave you a bowl of M&Ms and said three were poison, would you eat one?

Libby: After the government had gone through the entire bowl looking for the poison ones?

Conway: You think the Democrat’s open borders are stopping people like MS-13 and the Mexican drug cartels from getting through?

Libby: You think a wall is going to stop people like MS-13 and Mexican drug cartels from getting through? Or the Muslim ban?

Conway: It’s not a Muslim ban, first of all. And it’s a restriction on people from places that we know are hostile towards Americans.

Libby: Right – predominantly Muslim countries. Specifically, the predominantly Muslim countries whose citizens are not responsible for most of the attacks against Americans. Those predominantly Muslim countries were not part of the ban. The 9/11 hijackers? Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon.

Conway: At least we can admit that it’s not racism.

Libby: Or we have confirmation that for profit-minded individuals their racism extends only as far as it doesn’t hurt their wallets.


Conway: Regulations are crippling the ability of companies to compete and succeed.

Libby: Environmental regulations? Because we’re literally destroying the planet.

Conway: We’re not destroying anything. Humans cannot disturb the global climate that much.

Libby: Science has a compelling reason to believe that we are, and, assuming we aren’t, the situation is dire. Why wouldn’t we want to fix that? Companies are some of the worst contributors to environmental damage and won’t regulate themselves because it’s cheaper not to have the regulations.

Conway: So the American worker has to suffer?

Libby: If we don’t fix the problem, the American everyone will suffer. Everyone. The planet will kill every single one of us and not feel a thing

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