So I did that whole riff on identity, which yeah, but I think I’m going to go somewhere else this time. Let’s try democracy, because now I’m kind of in this place that makes my little social science-y heart go pitter-pat.

(What can I say? The theory, it infects! Read a bunch and then play spot-the-philospher with the Matrix! As a drinking game!)


(I promise this will end with an upbeat video clip. Until then, bear with me.)

Police arrested a man today who allegedly strangled the life out of Annie Le.

“Police said it was a case of workplace violence, but didn’t elaborate.”

Annie Le was a smart 24-year-old woman who stood 4’11″ and weighed 90 pounds and was, by all accounts, a good person, a good friend, a graduate student with a bright future ahead of her.

Raymond Clark III is a 24-year-old lab technician with a history of controlling behavior towards women that went back as far as high school and sent emails to Le criticizing her behavior.

I’m not going to apologize for saying the following: to call this murder an incident of workplace violence is a fucking disgrace.

This is not about issues in the workplace, and calling it that masks the real problem here.

We, as a society, have not dealt with our members who cannot control their outrage that young, pretty women with bright futures ahead of them threaten their supremely screwed-up notions of masculinity.

Annie Le didn’t get killed because she didn’t take care of mice properly. She got killed because an (allegedly) emotionally-stunted man couldn’t handle working for or with a woman smarter than he was, even though she seemed to be really nice about it.

But it shouldn’t have mattered if she was a complete raving harpy. She was a smart, pretty woman with a bright future who was murdered precisely because she was a smart, pretty woman with a bright future ahead of her.

That’s really fucked up.

It’s insulting to cast this as workplace violence. Doing so obscures an issue that we, as a civil society, have chosen not to deal with.

And now, for The Kanye Incident (latest version).

Kanye acts like a jackass, frequently. Even the President knows this.

But here’s what’s really going on within all this outrage about him taking a big ‘ol dump all over Taylor Swift’s moment in the bright shiny spotlight of MTV.

We see an angry, older, bigger man (and I’m not even going to bring race into this, although one easily could) take away a young, pretty, successful woman’s chance to enjoy the results of her hard work.

Taylor Swift — who yes, is young and was scared and probably lives in a world where this sort of thing doesn’t happen, which I’m sorry to say is not the real world — should think about the following next time some asshole like Kanye tries to stomp on her:

“I have sold 10 million records. I have sold 20 million singles. I am a successful artist and a brand and a role model. And I will open my mouth and say that, out loud, right now.”

And I’m not blaming the victim here, because she’s young and scared and works in an industry that sexualizes women for their agency or for their lack of agency.

But you know what? We allow this to continue. We allow young, bright, pretty women to be stomped all over, physically and metaphorically, simply because they are young, bright, pretty women.

I’m not saying “we” as in women. I’m saying “we” as in all thinking, productive members of a civil society. Male, female and in between.

We allow a few assholes to define a debate we’re not even having. And we allow a few assholes to look at 52 fucking percent of the population as people who should be controlled. Who should not use the brains God gave them simply because He also gave them a uterus.

We talk about Mad Men like it’s some kind of social commentary on How We Know Better Now instead of Gee, Doesn’t That Look Good. We call the really screwed-up, nastily stereotypical thugs on The Sopranos masterful characters that Really Say Something About The Human Condition.

Both shows racked up awards by the handfuls. So has Kanye.

Which means we’re all guilty. Collectively. Because we can’t have a productive debate about this when we personalize it, and that’s what ends up happening.

This is not about me and who I am, what I do or do not do. This is not about you, who you are, and what you do or do not do.

This is about the basic human right of HALF THIS SOCIETY to live their lives without fear. To lead productive, successful lives as they see fit without question.

And now I will leave you with something I think is a really wicked little piece of social satire: