Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This is What You'd Call "Salvaging Teh Narrative"

With the cat publicly out of the bag regarding just how insane the plight of Gregory Alan Elliott really is, and with the cat out of the bag regarding just how vicious and vindictive his accusers are, it's been interesting to see how the tables have turned.

Since a recent National Post article written by Christie Blatchford, it's also been remarkable to see the supporters of Steph Guthrie and Heather Reilly flock to try to salvage the narrative. I've previously examined an ethically-questionable Canadaland blogpost by Anne Theriault wherein the author essentially tried to shame Blatchford for publishing details of the case that are certainly portray Guthrie's and Reilly's conduct in a less-than-flattering light.

The general modus operandi of Guthrie's and Reilly's followers can be described quite simply: suppress the facts. They are smart enough to understand that their narrative cannot survive with those facts in the open.

But there was one supporter of Guthrie and Reilly who attempted to adopt a different tactic. National Post Full Comment blogger Alheli Picazo attempted a different tactic. She acknowledged the disturbing conduct of Guthrie and Reilly, but tried to muddy the waters by claiming the case had exposed Guthrie and Reilly to online harassment.

Then there was this:

"Should charges against Elliott be dismissed, Guthrie and Reilly, and their group of vocal public supporters, will be inundated with more misogynistic attacks from angry MRAs, including threats of rape or murder. It’s happened before. It will again."

It essentially amounted to: sure Guthrie (in particular) set out to harass people, and sure Guthrie (in particular) expressed a callous indifference to whether or not she was ruining lives, or even potentially driving someone to suicide. MRAs are bad, and that's somehow become central to this case.

Picazo's blogpost is essentially the kind of intellectual puffery you'd expect from someone attempted to look based without actually being based. While acknowledging the catastrophic damage done to teh narrative she still tries to salvage it by invoking -- often without evidence, or even being able to link the two -- MRAs and harassment.

That became all the more clear when Picazo was deemed by the toxic radfem mob to have not sufficiently dismissed Guthrie's and Reilly's ill conduct, and she rushed to write this blogpost, this time on her own blog. Wherein she twists herself into pretzels trying to still hate on Elliott.

It features gems like the following:

"To those accusing me of seeking to defend Blatchford, as intent to undermine Guthrie/Reilly, or as somehow actively championing an odious twitter persona I’m on the record as having no sympathy for..."

"I am genuinely concerned about the fallout should a verdict not favour the complainants."

"None of this diminishes the complainants’ perceived sense of fear, nor does it excuse Eliiott’s alleged behaviour."

"... Should the judge rule in Elliott’s favour, it ensures the focus remains on the Crown’s potential shortcomings rather than the validity of the complainants’ experience.

One can believe the allegations, even support the complainants, while recognizing evidentiary weaknesses."

These particular passages from Picazo's "explanatory" blogpost raise some serious questions about just how Picazo herself has judged whose side to take.

She makes herself perfectly clear here: she's on the side of Guthrie and Reilly. That's her prerogative. But having claimed to have read the available court documents, there are some clearly-glaring inconsistencies between Picazo's take and the facts of the case, as they've emerged through in-court testimony.

Most key is that Guthrie and Reilly testified to a feeling of being "creeped out," rather than fear. In my mind it's worth noting that "creeped out" is typically a term people use to attack people they don't like, rather than an actual expression of fear. In fact, at specific points in her testimony Guthrie (in particular) seemed tacitly unwilling to testify that she was genuinely afraid of Elliott.

If Bendilin Spurr put on the stand, I wonder if he could honestly say the same of Guthrie?

Picazo stipulates that she is concerned about the fallout from the case, specifically if the outcome doesn't favour Guthrie and Reilly. And of the evidence? Evidence be damned. The evidence is weak, but Picazo has still judged Elliott to be guilty. And she did that all the way back in 2012.

All this while constantly complaining about "harassment" of the complainants. She specifically refers to rape threats and death threats "from MRAs."

Not only does she not provide any evidence of any rape threats or death threats toward Guthrie or Reilly -- although I've seen plenty of common mockery -- that she attributes them to "angry MRAs" is very telling. For the toxic radfem mob there is no dog whistle to which they are more sensitive than that of MRA. Many of them seem to believe that there is an MRA hiding under every rock, behind every tree.

Here's where this takes a really ironic twist. First off, I can't think of any publicly-documented instances of feminists -- or even women, for that matter -- being besieged (literally besieged) by "angry MRAs." But it's a matter of public record that a University of Virgina fraternity spent a period of weeks last year with their home besieged (literally besieged) by angry radical feminists, all over rape allegations that turned out to be false. It's also a matter of public record that attendees of an MRA event at the University of Toronto were forced to first run a gauntlet of abusive radical feminists who berated them, cajoled them and insulted them every step of the way. There were even reports of violent threats.

Secondly, I myself have been threatened with violence by one of Picazo's followers. I'll decline to mention the individual by name, but essentially this amounted to some muscle dummy threatening to break my face because I used the phrase "self-styled," and he didn't know what it meant. (When you consider how often that phrase appears in comic books, that speaks volumes as to his reading level.)

I wasn't particularly intimidated by it, but it's very telling as to just how serious Picazo is about threats and harassment.

Picazo, erstwhile crusader against online threats and harassment, chose to say nothing that day. In fact, she chose to talk some smack about me with the guy who was literally minutes away from making a violent threat. (It also strikes me as a comment on the character of Picazo's online personae that she chose to do that after I'd agreed with her that Moncton shooter Justin Bourque is a domestic terrorist.)

So don't be taken in by Alheli Picazo's talk about harassment and threats. It's not anything that she's genuinely concerned about, it's just her last-ditch effort to salvage teh narrative. And she's utterly transparent.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Canadaland is the Worst

"Christie Blatchford is the Worst," blares the headline of a recent Canadaland blogpost about the Gregory Allan Elliot case.

It actually gets worse from there, as blogger Anne Theriault goes on to complain that Blatchford is insignificantly sympathetic to the complainants of the trial, and not hostile enough to the defendant. Theriault then goes on to spin on behalf of the complainants -- who in my own opinion, and based on the facts of the case are the ones who should really be on trial -- trying to pass off Blatchford's reporting as not sufficiently rooted in fact.

Yet, instead, it's Theriault's account that chooses to leave a vast swarth of fact out, and for reasons that strike me as fairly obvious.

For example, she makes no mention of the foul malfeasance in relation to not only Elliott himself, but towards Bendilin Spurr, a man who created an incredibly stupid online game in which those playing it could punch Anita Sarkeesian in the face until she's bruised and bloody.

For this, Guthrie targeted Spurr for harassment. In the online parlance, she doxxed him, and suggested that those participating in her harassment campaign against him should take care that he become unemployable in the Seault Ste Marie area.

When put on the stand, Guthrie expressed a stunning degree of callousness toward her target. She testified that she would feel no guilt whatsoever should Mr Spurr's life be ruined, or even if he took his own life.

Guthrie admitted that she also targeted Elliott himself, and declared that she actually thought herself entitled to attack and smear Mr Elliott without having to face a defense from him.

If that isn't demanding privilege, I don't know what is.

What's worse is that Guthrie and her supporters, via bail conditions, were actually granted such privilege. Guthrie's supporters continue to smear Elliott and can do so without without him having the opportunity to defend himself.

Theriault at least has the ethical wherewithal to identify herself as a friend of Guthrie and co-complainant Heather Reilly. However, this is where another interesting detail of the trial -- which I personally refer to as the Guthrie Trial, as that is who I personally believe should be on trial -- comes into play: that of the "August meeting" wherein Guthrie, Reilly and several other women involved in the WiToPoli community met in order to decide how they would communally attack Elliott.

Was Theriault, friend of these two women, present at the August meeting, wherein a conspiracy against Elliott was obviously hatched? If she was, this is undisclosed. I do have to admit that if Theriault were to claim she was not present at that meeting, I wouldn't be predisposed to believe her, as she has insisted on expanding the smear campaign against Gregory Alan Elliott to Christie Blatchford.

Theriault closes her blogpost by attempting to blame Blatchford's reporting for causing Guthrie and Reilly to be harassed. She offers less than a handful of cherry-picked tweets in order to serve as evidence of this.

There is some irony in this. First off, if the facts of the case, as revealed via testimony in court, are sufficient enough to provoke this scale of public disgust with these two women, perhaps Theriault has chosen the wrong horse to bet on. (Speaking strictly metaphorically, of course.) Second, if we are to be disgusted by harassment, perhaps there's a better horse for Theriault to bet on than one who herself was so proud of the harassment campaign that she instigated that she gave a TEDx talk about it, and actually bragged about the number of people she was able to get participating in that campaign.

But then we must consider one further point of irony: Theriault herself. The general line of smear against Gregory Alan Elliott by Guthrie's supporters is that he's a "creep" who doesn't respect people's boundaries.

Anne Theriault first got attention from the internet by spying on, and live-tweeting, some hapless couple's first date. Does this seem to you like someone who respects other people's boundaries?

In the final analysis, it's all incredibly ironic. Jesse Brown has managed to elevate Canadaland from some run-of-the-mill weblog into something of a destination blog because he frequently sets out to take the piss out of the mainstream media, usually on ethical grounds.

Well, this attempt on Christie Blatchord's reporting on the Guthrie Trial was an attempt that Brown should have simply declined to permit Canadaland to become involved in. Anne Theriault's ethically-dubious account of the story is ample fodder for anyone who may feel it necessary to take the piss out of Canadaland.

At least Christie Blatchford probably got a good laugh out of it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Thomas Piketty's Fun With False Equivalence

Of all the so-called "star economists" in the world, by far the most undeserving of the title is Thomas Piketty. Bar none.

In fact, in Piketty's case, one would have to use a few more quotation marks to make clear just how unfitting the title of "star economist" is to him. It would be more like "star 'economist'." As in, not only is he not really a star, but he's not much of an economist.

Nor is he much of a historian.

As this is written, Greece's future is extremely uncertain. In a referendum the Greek people have voted "no" to adopting budget cutting measures in exchange for another bailout. Greece has already defaulted on its debt payments, and it's unclear if they intend -- or will be able -- to make future payments.

Enter Thomas Piketty. Unable to accept that Greece reveals the utter paucity of the school of economic thought that he not only prefers, but fudged the numbers in order to become a standard bearer for -- Piketty has decided to try to deflect.

His answer? Germany simply should not attempt to collect the debt Greece owes.

His reason? Because billions of gold marks in post-WWI debt was forgiven.

This is what people who are familiar with logical fallacy refer to as a "false equivalent." There is an obvious difference between a debt imposed on Germany when Germany was scapegoated for a war that those imposing the debt had every bit as much to do with starting, and a debt freely and openly sought by those who incurred it.

There are few ways Piketty could even possibly be more on the wrong side of history. The Treaty of Versailles did not produce a just peace,  In fact, the Treaty of Versailles is a textbook case of an unjust peace, one not reached through agreeable negotiation, but rather imposed at the muzzles of thousands of guns.

It was literally a peace imposed by parties that were every bit the belligerent and opportunist as Germany or any other participant in the war.

In the end, as anyone whose study of history is even passing knows, the economic consequences of the Treaty of Versailles gave rise to a regime far more extreme, capable of horrors the Kaiser would have never imagined, let alone performed.

This is a very different relationship between debtor and creditor than the relationship between Greece and its creditors. Greece's debt was not imposed upon it, but rather openly sought. The Greek government borrowed billions to fund consumption, and now will find that prospective creditors will not lend them even a single euro.

Perhaps even more insipid than Piketty's historical argument is his generational argument, wherein he bizarrely suggests that because the German government of today is not held responsible for the actions of the German government of 1914 (101 years ago), that the Greek government of today cannot be held responsible for its actions in 2009. Six years ago.

Yes, Piketty is this ridiculous.

Those who, like Piketty, cannot accept that the Greek mess is their mess, are now clinging to his poor and nonsensical arguments for dear life.

It boggles the mind to try to imagine just how Piketty imagines an economy should function. Greece wanted to fund absurdly generous social benefits it. It did not have the money to pay for them. So they borrowed it.

How could Greece have funded these programs had they not borrowed?

If borrowers commonly refuse to repay, lenders will simply stop lending. For other countries that may want to borrow to fund similarly unsustainable social benefits -- or perhaps simply want to borrow to fund infrastructure -- how will they do this if lenders are no longer willing to lend?

The act of borrowing comes with the acceptance of an obligation to repay. How does Piketty imagine that borrowers can simply walk away from the obligation they've accepted?

An economy cannot function like this. It's madness to think otherwise.

Greece is hardly the first country to ever default on a debt. In fact, it's been shockingly common throughout history. Recovery from default is, under most conditions, a long and arduous process. But it is possible.

What Thomas Piketty has advocated for is the debtor's alternative to predatory lending: predatory borrowing. This is the idea that governments, because they are governments, can borrow irresponsibly and unsustainably for decades and then simply walk away from the debts they've incurred, demanding "forgiveness" as they do so.

No economist in their right mind could actually support this kind of practice.

One thing is crystal clear: whatever "star 'economist'" Thomas Piketty is actually practicing, it is not economics; perhaps the Paris School of Economics should see fit to have words.