About the author

Matt is the author, co-author, secondary-author, ghost-author, and non-author of articles, speeches, book chapters, and even entire books! Next will be the bestseller "Losing My Religions." Currently, he is President of One Step for Animals; previously, he was shitcanned from more nonprofits than there is room to list here. Before Matt’s unfortunate encounter with activism, he was an aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA to impress Carl Sagan. His hobbies include photography, almost dying, and {REDACTED} He lives in Tucson with Anne and no dogs, no cats, and no African tortoises (although he cares for all of these).

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Raped ten-year-old denied abortion

The idea of animal rights is really pretty simple:

If you see a chicken, walking along, living her life, you are either kind to the chicken, or you leave the chicken alone. 

You don’t grab the chicken, wring her neck, and then pluck, cook, and eat her body. 

Simple. Not even a little bit controversial.

And yet, head to your local grocery store and you will probably be waiting a long time before you come across someone who is respecting this easy-to-understand idea.

Honestly, the people who actively want to exploit animals don’t have to do anything to keep the system going. But when they do, they don’t try to defend factory farming. They effectively play on emotions by arguing from edge cases. “Do you care more about this goldfish than your daughter (mother)? My research on this goldfish will save your daughter’s (mother’s) life!” 

For all intents and purposes, everyone chooses their relative’s life. And with that, the idea of animal rights is broken just enough for the system to continue unquestioned.

This is why informed animal advocates don’t promote the simple but fragile intellectual position of animal rights. 

Instead, we present specific examples. We tell the story of a particular chicken. We show videos of a particular factory farm and slaughterhouse. We leave aside words like “speciesism” or “carnism.” We don’t engage in hypotheticals of “your goldfish or your daughter.” It is simply: “See this chicken? She has a life. She has a personality. Please don’t make her suffer like these others. Please don’t support this brutal treatment. We’re not asking anything else. Just don’t support this cruelty to chickens.”

The necessity of avoiding abstractions and instead using concrete examples is also true for politics. 

While many on the Left insist on making the perfect the enemy of the not-fucking-horrible, informed advocates know we have to persuade enough people in the squishy middle – people not on Twitter, people who don’t pay attention to politics or the news – to vote for the not-fucking-horrible.

Of course, the idea of bodily autonomy is very simple. In polls, it is supported by large majorities of the population. But just like the idea of banning the AR-15s that regularly slaughter school children, the idea of bodily autonomy will not win at the polls in the way we need to win in our fucked-up system. 

This is why we need our own examples. Our version of “this goldfish or your daughter” – a concrete example of “this blastocyst or your daughter.”

This is why we need to hold up examples like the ten-year-old six-week-pregnant abuse victim who had to travel to a different state for an abortion

Don’t get me wrong. I am 100% in favor of absolute bodily autonomy. I will vote that issue as purely as the anti-choicers have voted on abortion for the last 50 years.

I also don’t think abortion is “icky” or something that should be “rare.” It isn’t a “necessary evil.” It isn’t “I personally oppose abortion, but….” It isn’t something non-politicians should shy away from.

Anything that can help women have more control over their reproduction is good. Anything that can help make every baby a wanted baby is good.

So I’m not arguing for a carve-out for ten-year-old girls who have been raped. I want nothing short of absolute bodily autonomy. 

But like “animal rights,” “abortion on demand” and “bodily autonomy” are not a winning issues in our world. They simply don’t move the median voter to ignore gas prices.

On the other hand, a raped ten-year-old girl will move people. She makes the issue real. Her example cuts through gas prices and drag shows. Her case shows just how fucking horrible the world really is and just how extreme the Republican position really is. That’s why we must hold up her clarifying case. Her example must be repeated, over and over and over.

  • Republicans will force raped ten-year-old girls to give birth.
  • Democrats don’t want the state to interfere with anyone’s medical decisions. 

The Christian Taliban have played the game ruthlessly for half a century. They even voted for the least Christian / most loathsome person ever in order to get their judges. 

Meanwhile, the Green Party and the Bernie or Busters and the give me free money crowd focused only on their own feelings, refusing to vote for the candidates who would have protected their fellow citizens’ basic right to bodily autonomy. 

And now, millions and millions of Americans are fucked. And things will get much worse as this court further imposes their theocracy. 

This isn’t a game. This has never been a game. This has always been about life or death. If a raped ten-year-old girl can’t wake you up, can’t get you on Team Dem instead of Team Death, can’t show you who the real enemies are, well then, I don’t even want to know you.



Monday, July 4, 2022

Against Longtermism

If you want to know what longtermists think of my anti-longtermist stance, read the comments here



Sunday, July 3, 2022

Two questions

I am truly shocked to see loads of people spending their time slagging on Biden and the Dems. A sincere question: 

Just how bad do things have to get before you join the fight against the people who are actually creating this theocratic dystopia? 

@Angry_Staffer

You can say what you want — and there are valid criticisms — about Democrats, but only one party is trying to create a dystopian hellscape mashup of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, and The Handmaid’s Tale

Also, from my sister:


Also:



Saturday, July 2, 2022

Life is better than in 1980

A sincere question: How much would someone have to pay you to no longer benefit from the internet? No email, no Google docs, no automatic software updates, no searching, no smartphones, no streaming, 

Serious question. I can't come up with an answer for myself.

Post from Full Stack Economics: 24 charts that show we’re (mostly) living better than our parents

Samples:

 

Thanks, Science!


Keep this in mind: fewer than half of the population has a four-year degree. 




Friday, July 1, 2022

Erza Klein and Dahlia Lithwick on Women in America Today

Audio here, transcript here. They make it clear that by the reasoning of the current 6-3 Supreme Court, women don't have rights and can't have rights. The republicans on the court say that rights can only have been enumerated in the constitution or have been part of history at the time. Since at the time women were property, they will always be property. (Remember, just a short time ago, women couldn't have their own credit cards or bank accounts.)

Ezra: the method of interpretation the conservatives are now using and that dominates the court that takes the injustices and inequities of the founding and ensures that reproduction in the present.

Dahlia:  Right. There will only be this asymmetry because at the time of the founding and if you go back hundreds of years before to some of the legal sources that Justice Alito is citing, Matthew Hale, a person who thought witches should be burned. A person who thought a man couldn’t rape his own wife because she was his property. I mean, so many of the sources that are cited here are just of a time and place where women were possessions. They were chattel. 

I think you’re exactly right that there is a way that by lashing this to only freedoms that are deeply rooted in our history and tradition, women are never going to win. They cannot win.

And it feels as though that’s the tell that this is the game. And I think you’re quite right. That’s why this is the tell that L.G.B.T.Q. rights or marriage equality would have to come next. They were also not deeply rooted in the traditions in history.



Thursday, June 30, 2022

Not about life. Not about responsibility. It is about subjugating women.


My
 maternal grandmother was a "fire of the converted" Catholic. She went to Mass every day. Her purpose in life was to make abortion illegal. She burned for this.

So talk of abortion was always in the air.

My parents tell the story that it came up once while I was a really little kid. I said from the backseat, "How did the baby get in the woman's belly?"

After puberty, I bought into the line "the woman's choice is whether to have sex." (As someone with almost zero luck with the opposite sex, I readily repeated this.) There was a redneck joke that the best birth control pill is an aspirin held firmly between the knees. (Those people had clearly never had interesting sex.)

Alito's opinion overturning Roe shows just what a lie this "woman's choice" has always been.

In the draft opinion, Alito cited Matthew Hale to support his anti-abortion argument. Hale was a 17th century “jurist” who had at least two women executed for witchcraft

Hale had also written a treatise saying a husband could never rape his wife. This is because the woman is, for all intents and purposes, his property. She has no agency. She has no choice

All this was clearly pointed out when the draft opinion was leaked. Alito did not need to cite Hale. His argument, such as it was, didn't hinge on some obscure guy from hundreds of years ago. Hale's opinion had no bearing on “giving the decision back to the states. 

Alito chose to approvingly cite Hale, holding him up as a legal mind who should determine our laws today.

And even though Hale's witchcraft and rape assertions were clearly spelled out following the leak, Alito and his radical cohort all chose to keep Hale in the final decision.

They could have cited any of the great minds in U.S. history. They chose to site a rape apologist to whom women were wenches or witches.

They make it very clear. Women have no agency. The majority of the Supreme Court of the United States believes women cannot choose to not have sex. They cannot choose if and when to be pregnant. They cannot choose to terminate a pregnancy. 

Women exist to serve the man and bear as many of his children as he chooses to have. That is their legal argument.

They could not be clearer on this. The Handmaid's Tale is not a "hysterical overreaction." It is their playbook, their ideal.



Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Outsourced: America the Merciless


From Pamela Paul
at the New York Times; excerpts:

As the Fourth of July looms with its flags and its barbecues and its full-throated patriotism, I find myself mulling over the idea of American exceptionalism. What, if anything, makes this country different from other countries, or from the rest of the developed world, in terms of morals or ideals? In what ways do our distinct values inform how America treats its own citizens?

I land on a distinct absence of mercy.

Witness the ruthless evisceration of Roe v. Wade and the expansion of the right to carry guns in public in the wake of two horrific mass shootings. Both courtesy of a Supreme Court that is supposedly the institution vested with carrying out the highest standard of justice for its citizens and yet is wholly indifferent to the lives of America’s women, children and families. Witness the horrors of Jan. 6 or our mismanagement of the pandemic. Witness a health care system that continues to see human beings as walking P&Ls rather than as people deserving of compassion and care.

I can’t help but see a particular American bent toward cruelty. Especially when it comes to life-or-death matters, with a merciless streak that dictates not only how we live, but also the laws around who dies.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Breaking, but not surprising, news





Excerpts from the Dissent

Excerpts in this Rolling Stone article subtitled "In a blistering dissent, the Supreme Court’s liberal justices mourn the subjugation of women to the power of the state, and warn that worse is yet to come."

The court’s decision “consigns women to second-class citizenship” the dissenters write, adding that the majority has decided that “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”

The majority ruling deals a pregnant woman a “profound loss of autonomy and dignity,” the dissenters argue, because it “forces her to carry out the State’s will,” regardless if the government decides she must “bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s” and “no matter if doing so will destroy her life.”

Full dissent in Esquire.













Monday, June 27, 2022

Team Dem or Team Death

And more secure health insurance.

I re-posted the Hillary meme (below) on Facebook and got these replies:

My entire adult life we’ve watched [Dems] fold at every opportunity to make a difference. From the 2000 election, to Obama not codifying Roe and bailing on substantial healthcare changes. Now Biden starting with not even doing the $2000 checks he promised or eliminating student loans.

and

This sort of condescending, refusal to give any critical thought to legitimate issues and concerns is why people don’t trust liberals and exactly why people don’t vote.

Let me be clear: this is  like saying, "I will now force you to date someone who wants to beat you, maybe to death, because my partner didn't provide oral sex and gourmet meals on demand."

But seriously: this person is saying that since Biden didn't send him more free money and cancel his student debt, poor women in red states will be forced to give birth while school children will continue to be slaughtered by AR15s and trans kids bullied into suicide.

From Losing My Religions:

"The people who claim to care about the climate, life on Earth, etc., had the choice of Gorsuch or Garland. They chose their ego, giving us Alito and Kavanaugh and Amy Handmaid's-Tale and their witch-hunting heroes, dooming those already marginalized and oppressed." 

What sick, arrogant, self-centered fuckers.

If you are not 100% on Team Dem, you are on Team Death, and you ain't no friend to me.


PS, from Andrew Tobias:

But if you doubt whether the Democrat Party is worth supporting, take 79 seconds to watch this.

You can start at the 59-second mark . . . “It was Winston Churchill who said . . .” and quit at 2:18 “. . . in the privacy of your own bedroom.”



Sunday, June 26, 2022

EVERYONE: Fuck the Patriarchy

Chapter in my book:

Interruption: Fuck the Patriarchy


You taught me ‘bout your past 

Thinkin’ your future was me

And you were tossing me the car keys

“Fuck the patriarchy” keychain on the ground 

We were always skipping town…
So casually cruel

In the name of being honest.

–Taylor Swift, “All Too Well” (10 minute version) (Taylor’s version)


I am writing this in Germany, where yesterday, I woke up to the leaked SCOTUS opinion. Anyone paying attention knew this was coming since RBG died: the theocrats’ fifty-year plan has paid off big-time. It was what [my grandmother] Ardyth wanted more than anything. I wonder if she would have actually been happy, or just a bit less angry.

Fuck.

Also: Fuck the Green Party. 


Originally in 2000, Ralph Nader said he wouldn't run in competitive states. Then his ego got the better of him. That evil shit got way more votes in Florida than the “official” margin that allowed the Supreme Court to stop the counting and make Bush president. Bush then appointed Alito, who wrote today's "This is how The Handmaid's Tale starts” opinion. (Alito cites – again, to support a legal decision in 2022 – Matthew Hale, a 17th century “jurist” who had at least two women executed for witchcraft and wrote a treatise supporting marital rape.)

Well done, Republican women. Especially you, Susan Collins, you POS.


Again in 2016, Green Party also got more votes than Cheeto Jesus's margin over Hillary in PA, WI, and MI. And we know how that worked out: three “Roe is established law” liars in four years.


But while the well-off (like me) will rant, the end of a woman's right to bodily autonomy will literally and profoundly hurt millions of people. And this unnecessary misery and adversity will continue until we realize elections aren’t just ways for us to make a personal statement. They matter in terms of real and profound suffering. The elections of 2000 and 2016 will continue to matter even after we wise up, given that we have given the Court to the theocrats for decades.


I can't tell you how many people told me in 2000 and 2016 that they didn't "like" Gore or Hillary. (The saddest but most accurate meme today is a picture of young Handmaidens, with the caption, “Yes I know. But I just didn’t like Hillary.”) They wanted Bernie or nothing. They wanted to "send a message." And now, because of their egomania, untold poor people will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth. And countless children will be born into poverty. 


It is 2022. We should be working to secure basic human rights for transgender people, and our concern for animals should be increasing. We should be expanding the circle of our moral concern. Instead, the Supreme Court has decreed that half our population no longer has the right to self-determination.


I knew this was coming as soon as Anthony Kennedy retired. But still, when I think about it, I am so goddamn angry. 


Fuck.


And fuck you, too, Collins.


Friday, June 24, 2022

They're coming for you, too

“[I]n future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’ ... we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.” 

-Clarence Thomas, in today's ruling

That's access to contraception, the right to non-hetero "normal" sex, and equal marriage. More. More. "At least Thomas is honest."



The racist basis for today's abortion ruling

Note that the modern religious right movement started as a racist political ploy. From Dartmouth Professor Randall Balmer’s article, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right: They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation”:

[T]he abortion myth quickly collapses under historical scrutiny. In fact, it wasn’t until 1979 – a full six years after Roe – that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools. So much for the new abolitionism.



Thursday, June 23, 2022

Finishing May Travels: Flagstaff.

There is a good chapter (IMO) in my book about this concluding portion of our May travels. Here are some unedited and unenhanced pics:












Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Small excerpt and pics

I had a finished draft of Losing My Religions a few days ago. I even got up Sunday morning and didn't work on it at all. But today, at the prompting of my sister (TY!), I wrote. a new chapter that starts thusly (don't worry, "Funeral Suit" is a previous chapter):

Funeral Suit Revisited

[Funeral Suit is an earlier chapter, a reference to a wool suit I got in high school and kept to wear to funerals for the decades after that.]

Ardyth [maternal grandmother] died before I met Anne. Her husband, Robert, had suffered a stroke many years before and lived for years after. God was not kind to either of them.

But my paternal grandmother was the first to die after I got with Anne. We had briefly visited Clara and Virgil in Toledo our first summer together, 1993, and I showed my blushing bride where I picked tomatoes (and strawberries and raspberries). Shortly after that, Clara fell down the basement stairs. After the funeral was the only time Anne got to visit the Ball family graveyard in North Creek, Ohio.

(Not that I’ll be buried there. You know what I want done to my body after consciousness is no more? I don’t care! I’ll be DED!)

A few years later, when EK was little, Robert died after not being able to walk or talk for over a decade. Team Green-Ball drove across Ohio on the Turnpike under the heavy, grey, Midwestern sky. E was sick, so Anne tended to them in the vestibule of the church. After everything was over, I was driving us to Tiffin for the night when I thought, “What is that smell? What is that smell?”

You guessed it! The smell was Funeral Suit.


And pics from today: