Cease Fire

The terms of the cease fire in the War on Christmas are as followed:

  • Christmas shall be permitted to continue as a voluntary activity
  • All Christmas activities shall be contained within the designated temporal zone: December 24-25 (Gregorian calendar, Julian for Orthodox and related sects only)
  • Hostilities against Christmas shall be suspended within the temporal zone
  • All those who wish it shall be issued a statement of “Merry Christmas”
  • Hostilities shall remain suspended through the end of the year, after which they may resume if Christmas attempts expansion outside the designated temporal zone.

Happy Fucking Hanukkah

Here’s the thing about Hanukkah: It’s a fucking nothing holiday. It’s President’s Day or Arbor Day or some shit like that.

And here’s the other thing: for two thousand years, one of the major goals of the Christian religion has been to eliminate the Jews by some combination of killing us and turning us Christian. (I mean, one of the major goals of the Christian religion is to make sure everyone in the world is either dead or Christian, but Jews have historically been a particular obsession. Also, note I said “one of” and “Christian religion” not “the sole goal of each and every sect of Christianity and individual Christian without exception,” so kindly take your strawman and shove it up your slippery slope.)

And they’ve pretty consistently failed. I mean, they kill a few million here, convert a dozen there, but we’ve persisted through Inquisitions and pogroms, forced conversions, missionaries, kidnapping of our children, and “stealth” conversion attempts like Jews for Jesus.

By far, the most successful attempt of the 20th and 21st centuries? “Happy Hanukkah.” Because inexorably, thanks to the spirit of “inclusion” (being included by Christianity is rather a lot like being included by the Borg), American Hanukkah has morphed into Christmas with a menorah. It’s morphed from a holiday where the kids get a daily small treat for a week to a major gift-giving event. It’s become a time of “warm feelings” and “family togetherness” and fairy lights and fucking godawful novelty pop songs.

And an entire generation plus of American Jews has grown up believing that the biggest holiday of the year happens in December, and that “big holiday” is equivalent to “gift exchange.” I have met more than a few, Jews who celebrate Hanukkah and nothing else, or just Hanukkah and Passover, and don’t know that there even is anything else. Jews whose own kids will just celebrate Christmas and be Christians, and another fucking drone joins the collective.

So when you say “Happy Hanukkah” to me, or you put up a “Happy Hanukkah” sign in the middle of big gaudy display of Christmas decorations, and you have never mentioned or given any indication of having fucking heard of Pesach, Sukkot, Shavuot, or Yom Kippur, then I know what you’re really saying. “We are Christians. You will be assimilated. Your cultural and religious distinctiveness will be repurposed to service us. Happy Jewish Christmas.”

To which the only response is, “Fuck you.” And, possibly, “Mr. Worf… fire.”

The Mortification of the Flesh

In Desolation Road, which is seriously one of the most overlooked and undervalued should-be classics of science fiction, there are a few chapters late in the book dealing with this religious cult that, much like certain medieval Christian monks and mystics, pursues the mortification of the flesh–they believe the body is sinful and evil, while the spirit is pure, and so seek to punish the body as a way of expressing the purity of the spirit. For medieval mystics, this meant stuff like living in deliberate filth, whipping themselves, starvation, and so on, while in the novel, they do it by destroying their sinful flesh and replacing it with pure, holy machinery. They are, of course, a parody of a certain kind of science fiction fan, the sort who talks about “the singularity” a lot–the end-goal of the cult is the Ultimate Mortification, a human mind in a completely robotic body.

It’s gotten me thinking a bit of how I think about my own rotting sack of vomit, and in particular how I tend to view it as not a part of me, but rather as an antagonist that holds me hostage. I am occasionally insomniac, yes, but far more often the reason I don’t sleep is stubbornness: I deliberately stay up, doing things that make it hard to sleep, because I’m sick of my body demanding I waste a third of every day doing nothing. Sleeping isn’t taking care of myself, in this mindset; it’s letting my body win.

Or there’s the time in college I kept refusing to go to the doctor while I got sicker and sicker, either though campus health services was literally across the lobby from the student newspaper offices where I spent the overwhelming majority of my time. The only reason I ever made it there was because I passed out in the office and other members of the staff carried me there. …And then a few years later more or less the same thing happened, where I had an infected cut on my face, and despite it being both painful and incredibly disgusting, I walked around with it for weeks until my fever got bad enough to make me delirious, and Viga (again, literally) dragged me to the doctor.

Or these last few weeks, where my feet have been getting steadily more painful, until last night I finally broke down and bought some arch support inserts for my shoes. And I really do experience it as breaking down, as a failure of will and a defeat. Once again, my body has defeated me and gotten its way, forcing me to alter my behavior to cater to its whims.

To an extent it runs in my family–my brother and nephew are very much the same way about sleeping. (“Runs in the family” is not, of course, the same thing as genetic–it’s quite plausible that my nephew and I picked it up from my brother as small children, imitating the attitude and behavior of a familiar adult.) But I’m rather a lot more stubborn that the rest of the family–my brother will stay up until 2 a.m. on occasion, while I’ll pull all-nighters when I’m feeling stubborn enough, and they usually don’t apply it to obvious medical issues the way I do–and I think that has to do with chronic illness.

My teen years were pretty shitty. I was already severely depressed going into them thanks to a combination of parental neglect, peer abuse, and AvPD, and then my dad died when I was 13, and put on top of that the usual problems of a shy, nerdy adolescent, and my emotional state throughout high school was basically suicidal, but too depressed to be able to put together an attempt. Also I threw up a lot.

Which, you know, when you’re fat at the beginning of freshman year, and by late sophomore year you’re pathologically skinny and publically throwing up in the middle of the cafeteria almost every day, there’s kind of an assumption people make about what’s going on. Thankfully, my parents at least believed me when I told them I wasn’t making myself throw up, it was happening on its own, and took me to a doctor instead of a therapist, because it wasn’t an eating disorder at all. It was purely neuromuscular, and curable, as long as I was willing to trade it for a near-certainty of chronic acid reflux disease. Death by starvation or chronic pain; that’s not actually a hard choice once you’ve experienced true hunger. I’ve experienced a lot of pain in my life, and nothing has been worse than the combination of agony, discomfort, and mind-numbing lethargy that was two straight weeks without anything making it into my stomach.

Add onto that what I increasingly suspect to be the case, that I’m sexually anhedonic, and the net result is that my body is basically entirely worthless to me. It is a hindrance, a hateful, demanding thing that gives nothing in return. I would love to be a brain in a jar, to be able to spend all my time on intellectual pursuits and communicating with people through text. (I mean, food is nice, but basically all food-related pleasures result in pain later, whether because of the reflux or the lactose intolerance or what I suspect is stress fractures caused by being too damn fat for my feet to support in these cheapass shoes.)

So basically, for all that I mock the singularitarians, I’m sympathetic. I can understand in wanting to believe you could be liberated from the flesh, could finally defeat it once and for all. It’s just that I’m skeptical it’s possible, hyper-skeptical it’s easy enough to happen in the fairly short timespan our civilization has left to survive, and aware that most people actually like being made of meat and would strongly prefer it not occur, which is a fairly significant factor where major social changes are concerned.

A brief thought on privilege

I was hoping to have another fundamentals post today, on privilege, but it’s going to take more brainmeats than I can spare at the moment, as well as more forks/spoons/culinary-implements-as-signifiers-of-mental-health of your choice.

So instead just one brief spot, inspired by a chart I keep seeing floating around Tumblr which purports to assign numeric scores to various forms of privilege: that is not how privilege works. Privilege is not some kind of score, it is a list, of rules which don’t apply equally to everyone. Everyone has privilege in some form or another, and while it is easy to say to some privileges are pretty obviously worth more than others (the white privilege of “if someone shoots you, it is relatively hard for them to get off on a self-defense plea” as opposed to the trivial black privilege of “can get away with using the n-word in mixed company”), there are other privileges much harder to compare (say, the male privilege of “significantly less likely to be raped” as opposed to the cis privilege of “significantly less likely to be murdered”).

But it’s actually more complicated than that, because not only are privileges a list of rules that apply differently to different people, but they apply at different times and in different circumstances. There are scenarios in which being white is a disadvantage–say, the only white kid at an otherwise all-black middle school–it’s just that society’s overall racism means there are fewer of them and they are less impactful than the scenarios in which being black is a disadvantage. This is unlikely to matter on the level of individual experience, however, because of course one’s own privilege is hard to see.

Again, this is not to say that there aren’t groups which are systemically privileged over other groups. There is, generally speaking, one clearly privileged group in each demographic category, which in the U.S. sums up broadly to wealthy white English-speaking Christian heterosexual cis men. In the overwhelming majority of circumstances, members of these groups have massive privilege over others–but it’s entirely pointless to fight over whether, for example, Jews or asexual people are more privileged. (And they both are, because everyone is privileged.) That serves only to divide us, when we should all be working together to destroy the systems underlying privilege.

The point of privilege is not to rank people according to how oppressed they are. That is an impossible and self-defeating activity. The point, is instead, to note that everyone has blind spots which make them unaware of how unfair our society is to others. And again, it’s not that blacks should be sympathetic to whites because they have privileges whites don’t–blacks do have privileges that whites don’t, but they’re bullshit compared to the massive privileges whites have that blacks don’t. Instead, it’s to note that a black Christian may be blind to the injustices faced by a white pagan, or a straight woman blind to the injustices faced by a gay man, and so on. All of us are blind to our own privilege, and the only way to see it is to believe someone else when that someone else tells us they don’t have it.

Tumblr, Blogger, and the Harassment Claims of Moffat Hate

(Note for Tumblr followers: This post was originally posted to my main, Blogger-powered blog, which is what I’m referring to as “my blog” and distinguishing from Tumblr throughout.)
So, I have been following, and occasionally tangling with, the nexus of bile, illiteracy, fanaticism, and towering ignorance that is the Moffat Hate community on Tumblr–a group Phil Sandifer recently, and quite accurately in my opinion, described as a “left-wing GamerGate”–for a few weeks now. (Not because I disagree that there are serious problematic elements to many of Moffat’s works, but because they’ve been incredibly nasty to my friends without provocation, and also their arguments are terrible.) There is a LOT wrong with this community, which together with the Shakesville Kool-Aid assholes earlier this year has convinced me that organizing an online community on shared hate is a terrible idea, but I’d like to focus on one point: their complete inability to understand what Tumblr is and how it works. 
One of the claims that seems endemic throughout the community is this idea that they can ask people to stop reblogging their posts, and that if people do not do so, it constitutes harassment.  Not to put to fine a point to it, but this is utter nonsense, and it is nonsense specifically because of the way Tumblr is structured. 
Tumblr, you see, is not like other blogs. Most blogs involve the creation of writer-curated spaces: for example, this blog is a space curated by me. I write posts, and while readers are free to comment, their comments appear within my space. I can delete comments, lock comments on a post, and so on. Other blogging platforms provide additional tools; if this were a WordPress site, for instance, I would be able to edit comments as well, and turn anonymous commenting on and off on an individual post level. On livejournal, I’d be able to create whitelists of users and set posts to only be visible to them. 
What all of these have in common is that they serve to create a virtual space around my writing where I’m in control. Certainly people can interact with my writing from outside my space, for example by reading it through a feed or linking to it–but if they want to take part in the primary conversation about it, they have to enter my space. 
Of course, the trade off is that that makes it possible, in theory, for a commenter to harass me. Because my blog is my space, it is possible for commenters to act in a way that invades my space, disrupting it in ways that make it no longer safe for me. It hasn’t happened, but I’ve seen it happen to others twice, and heard about many other cases. (To be clear, I’m not saying that commenting on someone’s blog is the only way to harass a blogger; I’m saying it’s a way. There are others, and I’ll address one later in this post.)
So what about Tumblr? The biggest difference between it and other blogging platforms is that Tumblr creates reader-curated, not writer-curated, spaces. The primary form of interaction with Tumblr is the dashboard, which is effectively a feed of blogs the user has chosen to follow, a stark contrast with Blogger, where my primary interaction is a back-end tool that displays my own posts and the comments of others on them. 
The dashboard allows me to create a space in which I read the blogs I’m interested in, so it is straightforwardly a reader-curated space. However, that alone is not enough to argue that Tumblr is a reader-curated space; after all, I do have a discrete blog within Tumblr that contains only my posts and reblogs. Consider Facebook: it also defaults to a reader-curated feed, but is still ultimately a writer-curated platform (though not, strictly speaking, a blogging platform). 
The key difference here is comments. On Tumblr, there is no way to enter another writer’s space and comment on their post; you can, if they’ve enabled it, reply, but only they can see that. The only real way to comment on a post is to reblog it, which is to say rebroadcast it to your own followers–not the original writer–with your comments added. 
There’s an important word in that previous paragraph: “broadcast.” That’s key to understanding the difference between reader-moderated and writer-moderated spaces, because when you comment on this blog you are interacting with me, entering my space and saying words directly to me. That’s not what a reblog is, however; it is a response to my words, yes, but not one that is said to me–it is instead said to your followers. 
Which is not to say that it is impossible to harass someone on Tumblr. There are ways to interact with a writer–the aforementioned replies, though they have to enable those, asks and fan mail, which are effectively private messages (though asks can be published publicly at the recipient’s choice). It is fairly straightforward to harass someone using these tools, and even possible using reblogs, since you receive a notification when someone reblogs your posts. You could, for example, go into someone’s blog and methodically reblog their every post, spamming them with notifications. 
This is, presumably, why Tumblr allows you to block a user, but it’s quite telling what blocking does: the blocked user can no longer send you asks or fan mail and you no longer receive notifications regarding them reblogging you–but they can still follow and reblog you. In other words, it prevents them from interacting with you, but not from reading you and responding to their own followers about what they read. Which makes sense–you can stop someone from interacting with you maliciously in your space, which is you dashboard and activity feed, but you can’t silence them. Just as on Blogger I can erase a malicious interaction in my space through comment moderation, but I can’t (and shouldn’t be able to) stop someone from saying whatever they want in their own space. 
In other words, the Moffat Hate community isn’t being harassed; they’re being disagreed with, and trying to silence their critics. Reblogging their posts with added disagreement is not harassment any more than this post is harassment. 

When is violence an appropriate response?

I don’t know.

I honestly don’t.

I do know this. I know that when I was 17 and got stopped going 94 miles an hour, I reached for my coat in the passenger seat because my license was in it, and the cop who stopped me pulled his gun. It was frightening enough, but in hindsight I realize, if I were black he’d have shot me in the head until the gun ran out of bullets, because that is what cops do to black people.

And I know that if you are constantly subject to violence and the fear of violence, if the courts encourage violence against you by punishing it less often and less severely, if the people whose job is supposedly to protect you instead treat you as a threat, then it is not my place to tell you that you can’t use violence in response.

And I know this, too: in communities around America, the police act like an occupying army, carry the equipment of an occupying army, speak and think like an occupying army, which makes them, guess what, an occupying army.

And this as well: if you put on the uniform of an occupying army and walk out onto the battlefield, it doesn’t matter if your soul is as pure and sinless as the driven snow, you are a legitimate target.

“Some people,” says the voice of wisdom in a well-acted but otherwise terrible and reactionary film, “just want to watch the world burn.” Given what this world does to them, I can’t blame them.

It may be that violence will just give them the excuse to clamp down harder. Or it may be that violence is the only hope of tearing down a system designed to prevent any kind of meaningful change. It’s not my place to make that decision–only to lend my voice in support of the people who do have that right.

And one other thing I know: I know that when you have the power–a weapon in your hand, armor on your chest, an entire power structure designed to protect you from accountability–then violence is definitely not appropriate.

Well this should be a popular opinion…

Fuck Veterans Day.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not unreasonable at all to have a day of remembrance and mourning for the people who have sacrificed their lives and safety in order to protect their homes. It’s just that we already have a day for that, Memorial Day.

Also, the last time the U.S. military actually did any of that was World War II. Every other military conflict of the last 150 years or so, and quite a few of the ones before that, were pure imperialist assertions of power. Even World War II was mostly an assertion that the islands of the Pacific were our imperial protectorates, not Japan’s; that the alliance of empires on the other side were rather a lot more horrific than the alliance of empires on our side is mostly a happy coincidence. (Well, happy for the Allies, not so much for the people who lived in those empires. Or for Japanese-Americans. Or… well, you get the point.)

And, I mean, being a soldier is one of the few ways in which a working class or lower middle class American can get a decently paying job or an education. We should be at least as sympathetic toward them as we are toward the young people pushed into gangs by similar social pressures. Admittedly, gangs have done a lot less harm in the world than the U.S. military, but you wouldn’t know it from the media, which tend to villify the former and laud the latter. It’s really not their fault.

No, the problem is that Veterans Day isn’t about mourning sacrifices or solemnly pondering necessary evils, it’s about a jingoistic celebration of authoritarian, imperialist might. It’s about speeches where our leaders try to one-up one another in their over-the-top declarations of how utterly fantabulous it is that a significant percentage of our society and economy is dedicated to the pursuit of slaughter and destruction in foreign lands. It’s about the lie that spreading chaos and death makes us safer, that “we fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here,” as if there would be a “them” if we weren’t fighting there.

So yeah. Fuck it. Have a Peace Day instead. Or move Election Day to November 11 so we can all have that off. Better yet, make it the second Monday in November or something, because holidays that don’t create three-day weekends are stupid.

But that won’t happen any time soon, because the U.S. is a highly aggressive imperial power, and we now exist in a state of perpetual war that our leaders have no interest in ending. But that doesn’t mean we have to celebrate it.

Support for, concerns about #HeForShe

Edit: So as universalperson points out in the comments, Hugo Schwyzer is seriously awful an referring to him as a feminist ally is pretty inaccurate. On the other hand, I still stand by saying that he’s the strongest one Good Man Project had–he talked the talk while acting horribly in private, as opposed to actively attacking feminism and feminists. 

So, you may have heard about a speech Emma Watson gave at the UN recently, in which she went out of her way to emphasize the ways in which patriarchy hurts men and invite men into the feminist movement. Part of the purpose of the speech was to announce the launch of a new UN campaign, #HeForShe, encouraging men to pledge to speak out against instances of sexism and misogyny in their communities.

And this is, net, probably a good thing, which is why I have signed the pledge. Plus, you know, I was doing it already, and, as I said on Twitter, if Emma Watson and Lauren Faust are telling you to do something, it is probably worth at least checking out.

But at the same time, I’m a little cautious. I remember when the Good Man Project sounded like a great idea, a way to help repair the very real damage patriarchy and kyriarchy do to men and, in the process, help gain men as allies against the kyriarchy.

It didn’t work out that way. The year after its founding, the Good Man Project posted a series of anti-feminist articles by one of its founders, leading to the resignation of the strongest feminist ally among its regular contributors and resulting in its present state, a site where an article about the pain of being in “the friend zone” can share front page space with an article about using the pain of losing a friend to make one a better CEO, parenting and dating tips, but not a trace of politics, not a mention of, say, the behavior of men in creating #GamerGate or the moral obligation to not touch stolen nude pictures of celebrities or, I don’t know, the launch of #HeForShe? The entire site is predicated on the notion that it is possible to be a “good man” in isolation, that men’s issues can be separated from gender issues–that, in short, one can become a better man without thinking about women. And that’s when it’s not just being the watered-down diet version of the Men’s Rights movement.

Because that’s the thing: Yes, the patriarchy hurts men too. Hegemonic masculinity pressures men to avoid cultivating emotional intelligence, makes it difficult for them to form close friendships or seek help when in need. Male rape victims suffer the consequences of rape culture just as women do. Because the kyriarchy constructs masculinity as being about power, and particularly power over women, trans men are falsely seen as “starting as women” and barred from accessing that power or asserting masculinity; gay men are seen as unmasculine and threatening; men who do not particularly relish displays of power are seen as unmasculine and dispensable. Men are poisoned with false narratives and expectations about relationships, their place in the world, the source of their identity, and the nature of gender.

But all of this is collateral damage.

Supporting feminism because kyriarchy hurts men is like getting upset over a terrorist bombing because the resulting traffic jam made you late for work. Yes, that’s a negative effect, but focusing on it is self-centered and narcissistic.

Women are the targets of misogyny and sexism. They are the ones who face it day in and out, who see all of it, not just the bits that happen to men. They are the ones who can see the enemy, who know the enemy, who have no choice about being in this fight, because they are the ones being directly attacked.

We men are necessarily on the sidelines. So we can help. We can support. We can take action, discuss theory, even, if invited to do so, offer advice. But it must be women that lead, because a feminism that forefronts men’s concerns makes as much sense as a movement for racial equality that focuses on making whites feel better or a labor movement that emphasizes keeping managers happy; it’s inherently self-defeating.

If you want to see what a movement looks like that primarily focuses on the ways in which patriarchy hurts men, look no further than the Red Pill on Reddit, if you can stomach it. Men feel as if they’ve been robbed of something they’re entitled to, powerless, lost, purposeless, isolated because they’ve been taught by the patriarchy that their role is to exercise power, that certain emotions are “unmanly,” that women are their property and birthright. They feel powerless because they expect power, lost, purposeless, and isolated because they are emotionally stunted and unable to form healthy relationships, and robbed because they’ve been lied to about what they’re entitled to.

These are all problems that feminism can solve, because they’re all collateral damage of the war on women: all stem from a system of gender relations that defines “man” as “wielder of power over women.” But focusing on these problems puts the emphasis on the feelings of powerlessness and loss, pushing toward a “solution” of seeking to give men still more power over women. The result is to make the feeling being robbed worse, to stoke anger and resentment and hate. The result is MRAs and PUAs and, ultimately, rapes and mass shootings.

The focus, instead, needs to be on the underlying causes. Where feminism focuses on helping men, it needs to be about tough love–about helping men shed their entitlement, their expectations of power. Where feminism focuses on recruiting men, it should be about encouraging self-policing, about teaching men to teach men to be less entitled and to reduce unrealistic expectations of power. Then and only then can men work on healing the damage of patriarchy, after they’ve worked helping take it down.

And most importantly of all, men need to learn to help, not save. This is a theme I’ve hammered again and again in my analyses this past year, because it’s important. There’s a reason there’s a degree of controversy over whether men should even call themselves feminists, whether it might not be better to refer to themselves as feminist allies, and it’s because of the savior problem. Far too many men walk into feminist spaces because they want to Save the Women, imposing their own ideas–necessarily based on incomplete information, because no man experiences the entire reality of sexism as experienced by women–of what needs to be done, all in service of their own ego and self-image as a Good Person who will Rescue Those Poor People. It is a profoundly self-centered approach that infantilizes and dehumanizes the people one is seeking to save.

No, the proper role of men in a feminist movement is as helpers–our job is to say “What do you need?” and then either provide what’s asked for or get out of the way. Not because of any fundamental difference between men and women, but because that is the moral way and only really workable way to get involved in another person’s problems: to offer one’s resources and then allow the person in need to decide how to use them.

And helping isn’t easy. Trying to help is harder than trying to save. It means surrendering power and control, opening oneself up to rejection, and putting one’s own feelings and wants and ideas about what’s helpful second to the expressed needs of another person. Which is why, ultimately, I worry about #HeForShe in the long term. Getting involved in someone else’s equality movement to benefit oneself seems like very much the wrong reasons. A man who supports feminism to help himself, or to feel better, or to get praised, is pretty much guaranteed to be doing it wrong–and an entire international movement of people doing it wrong could do real damage.

So yes, I signed the #HeForShe pledge. And yes, I do encourage other men to do it as well. But I also encourage you to focus on the ForShe part. This isn’t HeForHe, isn’t about our egos and our needs. To return to my rather strained earlier metaphor, this isn’t about stopping traffic jams, it’s about stopping bombings. If the traffic jam is what it takes to get you involved, so be it–but the traffic jams cannot be priority one. They cannot be a priority at all; you’re just going to have to trust that the side effects will naturally fade as we tackle the core problem.

I don’t normally do this, but I feel this is an important conversation that needs to happen as part of #HeForShe, so: Please consider reblogging, sharing, and linking to this post.

A Few Thoughts on the Death of Robin Williams

Trigger Warning: Suicide, End-of-Life Decisions

By now you have probably heard that actor and comedian Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday. I have a few thoughts related to this.

Depression is not the only mental illness that can cause suicide. Williams suffered from bipolar disorder, not depressive disorder. Please, if you are going to use his death as an opportunity to spread awareness regarding mental illness, do so accurately. (I am aware of reports that he was depressed, but that is referring to depression as a symptom. It is a symptom of numerous disorders, including major depressive disorder (which is what is meant when you say someone “has depression”) and bipolar disorder.)

As an atheist, I believe that each human life is unique, infinitely valuable, brief, and irreplaceable; that once gone, a person is lost forever and utterly irretrievable. As a survivor of a suicide attempt, I am very grateful that when I reached out in fear afterwards, people were there to help me and get me into treatment. As someone who has intervened in the suicide attempt of a loved one, I am very glad I was there to do so.

That said, there is a very fine line to walk between recognizing that suicidal ideation and impulses can be a symptom of some psychological disorders, and respecting the unlimited right of individuals to make their own end-of-life decisions. If a person judges that they are in unbearable pain, it is not relevant whether that pain is psychological or physiological; they have every right to decide to end it.

That said, suicidal impulses are a symptom of multiple psychological disorders, and a treatable symptom. Consent issues become very complex where life-threatening illness is concerned; and even moreso where those diseases distort the sufferer’s thoughts and feelings. if a person’s suicidal impulse comes not from their “natural” selves but from their disease, is intervening any different than intervening to help a person having a heart attack? As always, the right thing to do depends heavily on one’s relationship with the person. A doctor or a loved one has very different rights and responsibilities than a stranger. In this case, I must assume everyone reading this was a stranger to Mr. Williams; as such, we have no right to intervene in his desire to die or to judge it after the fact.

This was not a “waste,” or any sort of violation; Mr. Williams clearly felt his pain was unbearable and chose to end it. None of us are close enough to him to be able to see whether this was an impulse sparked by his disease or a final, free choice in the face of pain no longer bearable (and indeed, this is a false dichotomy; it was almost certainly some blend of both). However, given that we cannot see from here which it was, out of respect for him, the basic respect due any person, we must assume that his choice was the best choice available from his perspective.

This is not to say that mourning is wrong. Every death is a tragedy. Even where the death itself is blessed release, the circumstances that made it such are inevitably horrific. Nor is there anything wrong with using this as an opportunity to spread awareness about and acceptance of mental illness, as that could help people seek treatment or reduce the unnecessary suffering they experience as a consequence of the stigma against mental illness. All I am saying is that I believe we should do this respectfully.

Suicide and depression support hotlines for multiple countries.

I’m tired of having this argument

Imagine a typical playground scene. Bully Mcbullyperson is picking on Meekins again, pinning them down and hocking a loogie in their face. Their eyes meet.

Scenario 1: Bully calls Meekins a loser. 
Scenario 2: Meekins calls Bully a loser. 
I think most people would readily agree that, in scenario 1, Bully is verbally bullying Meekins, which is deplorable, while scenario 2 Meekins is performing an act of defiance and should be cheered. 
This a clear case where morality is NOT symmetric: When an oppressed person mocks, belittles, or insults the oppressor, it’s awesome. When the oppressor mocks, belittles, or insults the oppressed, it’s wrong. Substituting one person for another changes the morality of the action. 
Got that? Morality is not always symmetric. It matters who you are and what your position is; right and wrong are different for different people in different scenarios. 
On to another question: WHY is it wrong for Bully to insult Meekins? It can’t be a deontological principle; “don’t insult people” would make it wrong for both of them, and a declaration that insulting someone while they’re down is a priori wrong is just dodging the question. It can’t be utilitarian, either; there is a high likelihood that Meekins comment will result in a beating, more than negating the pleasure of making it. 
No, this is a clear case where virtue ethics takes hold. We despise Bully’s insult because insulting someone while they’re down is the action of a bully and a coward, and we cheer Meekins because insulting the powerful takes courage. 
Ah, and there’s the rub: the morality of the insult has nothing to do with the prior actions of our two characters. Meekins does not “get insult privileges” as a reward for being oppressed, nor does Bully “lose” them as a punishment. Rather, it is purely a matter of relative power; Bully’s power means that insulting Meekins risks nothing, and is therefore cowardly; Meekins, on the other hand, is taking a great risk, which is courageous. 
We live in a kyriarchy, which is to say a system of intertwined hierarchies. All else being equal, the rich have more power than the poor, men have more power than women, whites have more power than people of color,* cis heterosexual people have more power than LGBT people, and so on. 
Now, this does not mean that members of underprivileged groups get to say whatever they want to members of privileged groups. Morality is complex, and multiple factors interact–generally speaking, an unprovoked verbal assault on an individual is almost always wrong. But it does mean that the bar is lower when it comes to members of underprivileged groups talking about privileged groups in the abstract, because the courage it takes to do so helps counteract the general idea that generalizing about people isn’t good. 
So, next time you feel the urge to say “people would react differently if you said that about [other group],” pause a moment, and consider this question first:
Yeah, they would. So what?
*You. Yes, you. White person about to comment about how downtrodden you are in an attempt to refute this. Consider two things first: One, are you really suffering because people of color have more power than you, or are you butthurt because privileges you take for granted are being shared with people who aren’t you? Two, are you really suffering because people of color have more power than you, or because of some other group unrelated to race (most likely, the rich) have power over you? Any comments of this type which do not answer both those questions will be deleted.