The China Miéville solution to the Milo Yiannopoulos problem

Infamous provocateur, public speaker, and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was set to deliver a speech yesterday at the University of California, Berkeley, but it was cancelled after an initial, peaceful demonstration by some 1,500 people was co-opted by a few dozen violent ‘Black bloc’ anarchists. This isn’t the first time it has happened to a Milo speech, and even other conservative authors, like Ben Shapiro (who couldn’t be considered a white supremacist by any stretch of the mind) were forced to cancel speeches due to incoming snowflake avalanche. Let’s not get into the politics of Yiannopoulos, Shapiro, and those who made them cancel their speeches, because we would be here all day; instead, let me offer a probable solution that might appease both sides of this conflict.

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Milo Yiannopoulos

China Miéville’s sublime 2009 book, ‘The City & the City’ has an extraordinarily interesting premise. Tyador Borlú, the lead of the novel, is a detective in the fictional city of Besźel, who investigates the death of a foreign student, both in Besźel, and its ‘twin city’ Ul Qoma. By some unknown phenomenon, the two cities actually occupy the same dimensional space, but they are perceived by their denizens as different ones. A citizen must continuously ‘unsee’ the other city (erase from his mind, or let it fade into the background)– ‘breaching’, or peeking into the other city, whether intentionally, or by accident, is a punishable offense, more serious than murder. For example, an Ul Qoma resident is taught from childhood to ignore the other city, distinguishing it by style of clothing, gait, vehicles, or architecture.

The cities are composed of total, alter and crosshatched areas. A ‘total’ area only exists in one of the cities, the ‘alter’ areas only exist in the other, while crosshatched ares exist in both cities. A special building, Copula Hall, is sort of a border, existing in both cities, where you can legally cross into the other one. If you try to cross illegally, or simply fail to ‘unsee’ the other city, the clandestine organization known as ‘Breach’ will punish you. ‘Breach’ is the ‘unseen’ power player that keeps the fragile balance. While you may think these are some very harsh measures, I think it’s evident that an, ahem, ‘two-state solution’ like this one would solve all of the problems our divided country faces.

city

But how could we implement this in real life?

First, we have to determine the two sides: from now on, they shall be referred to as the ‘dem’ and the ‘rep’ side (sorry, libertarians and Greens, you aren’t big enough to take into consideration). Second, every citizen would have to pick their side in a general census. Third, every hamlet, town, village, city, and metropolis would be placed into one of the categories (dem, rep, or crosshatched) based on the percentage of each side in their census. For example, if a city had more than 66.6% of ‘dems’, it would be a pure ‘dem’ city; if it had more than 66.6% of ‘reps’, it would be a ‘rep’ city. If any settlement has more than 33.3% of the minority side, it would be a crosshatched city. If a settlement has less than 33.3% of the minority side, they would all have to leave (or exchange their homes on craigslist with someone from the other side).

The pure ‘dem’ or ‘rep’ settlements would be the easiest options to establish. The ‘rep’ side would have open carry everywhere, no abortion, only two recognized genders, absolute free speech (hate speech included) etc. A ‘dem’ side city would recognize every gender, have laws to regulate the use of correct pronouns, absolutely no guns, trigger warnings on their borders etc.

There would be considerably more complication in crosshatched cities. Every crosshatched city would have to provide accommodation, basic services, health care, public transport, banks, shops etc. for the minority side there. ‘Breaches’ would be regulated by the NSA (they certainly have the means), and other agencies. For example, there must be some form of punishment for a ‘rep’ woman who wants to have an abortion, and tries to get into a city on the other side to do so. Each state would have two governments, so each settlement can be governed without interference from the other side, but only one federal government. There would be some ‘neutral’ zones, too, where you can mingle with people from the other side: nature, military (it would be extremely inconvenient to keep two separate armed forces), and Washington, DC. There are many, many, many more problems to solve while establishing the two sides, but I firmly believe they could all be ironed out in the long term, with some careful planning.

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COEXIST by Jim Goad

Citizens on each side could live their lives the way they always wanted to, by blocking out the harmful presence of the other, and not giving a damn about them. Each side would have the chance to show the other one the utopia they could have had decades ago, if not for the obstruction and pettiness of the other.

After all, if we can’t coexist peacefully, why should we coexist at all?

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What’s the statute of limitations of racism?

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were announced last Tuesday, with La La Land pulling an astounding 14 nominations, 6 for black actors (#OscarsNotSoWhite anymore?), and Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge getting another 6 noms. Cue: outrage.

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Back in July 2006, Mad Mel was arrested for DUI (whether that stands for the influence of racism, or alcohol, is unknown), and told the arresting officer the now famous lines ‘Fucking Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?’. Then in July 2010 (it seems like July is a really bad month for him), in a telephone call with Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his daughter Lucia, he said ‘you look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of niggers, it will be your fault.’ Those are some pretty clear-cut cases of racism, no doubt about it, the more interesting quandary is how to pinpoint the exact moment the public mind forgets someone for his past racist transgressions (or if such forgiveness is even possible)?

Another recent, somewhat related incident genuinely shocked me. Noted republican strategist Ana Navarro stated with a confident smile on CNN that she is ‘not sure there’s a statute of limitations of racism’ while speaking about Jeff Sessions. What she essentially said is that if you ever made the mistake of cracking an offensive joke, saying such things while drunk (that you would regret in the morning), or making a genuinely racist gesture (or getting thrust into an act of accidental racism), you are condemned for life, with zero chance of washing away that particular scarlet letter. You have to wear the mark of Cain wherever you go. One bad moment, and suddenly you are on the level of Jared Fogle, Charles Manson or Dylann Roof, and the jeering internet hate crowd will always find a reason to publicly denounce you, even if you are breastfeeding starving Ethiopian orphans 24/7.

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Mel Gibson wearing the mark of Cain

So, what method should we use to find that magical moment of forgiveness? How about the ship of Theseus thought experiment, which asks if a ship that has had all of its parts replaced stayed the same ship, or did it become a new one? There is a similar, very popular theory floating around the internet about the human body, stating that every cell in your body regenerates in seven years, so you become a new person every seven years. Of course, this has been widely questioned, and more importantly, seven years hasn’t passed since Mel’s last incident, so it’s very likely he still has about 10-20% of his racist cells left. Maybe he should have tried the ‘I’m a comedian’ defense, like Trevor Noah did for his anti-semitic tweets? It would be like a hunter saying ‘Hey, I’m a hunter, that means I can shoot whatever I want!’.

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Picture of a famous hunter

Americans love a good comeback story. Seabiscuit. The Mighty Ducks. Kim Kardashian. Winona Ryder came back from the shoplifting incident and charmed all of us at the SAG awards. Everyone knows what Robert Downey Jr. went through. What is it about Mel Gibson that makes it impossible to forgive him? His unwillingness to apologise? Winona had to go through a personal hell for her crime, too, but no one checks her every action to make sure she hasn’t stolen yet another purse. Crime is crime, and racism is racism, but maybe we should give Mel the same benefit of doubt until he commits yet another mistake?

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Did Shia LaBeouf commit a love crime?

HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US

As you have probably heard, this is the name of the 24/7 live stream launched by actor/performance artist Shia LaBeouf and co. on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, with the purpose of inviting the public to deliver the words HWNDU as a means of sending a message to the new administration. Unsurprisingly, he was arrested on Wednesday evening following an altercation with a guy who said ‘Hitler did nothing wrong’ on camera, and the incident fired up my neurons.

Should this criminal act be categorised as a love crime?

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Shia LaBeouf at the scene of the He Will Not Divide Us art project

There was a flurry of such crimes during and following the inauguration. A limousine was torched in downtown Washington, which, hilariously enough, belonged to the company of a muslim immigrant. You’ve all seen or read what happened to Richard Spencer. All of these crimes were committed as a backlash against the sometimes divisive, sometimes outright hateful rhetoric or actions of Trump or his supporters. One could argue that LaBeouf et al. committed these crimes as an act of love and solidarity towards americans of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people, or anyone who might feel threatened by the hate some Trump supporters have shown them. And the antithesis of hate is, of course, love.

Since hate is usually an aggravating factor in sentencing (whether consciously or unconsciously by the judge or the jury), why shouldn’t love factor in as well? While doing some research for this post, I’ve found Smart Ass Cripple’s excellent blog, and he tackled the subject of love crimes (admittedly, in a different approach), and there were some instances where defendants claimed the love defense. Who knows, maybe this will become the new Chewbacca defense in the age of Trump?

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South Park Season 2, Episode 14: “Chef Aid”

I’m not advocating that LaBeouf or various violent protesters should get milder punishment, and I don’t want more crimes of this type. This is merely some food for thought for hungry readers.

Bon appétit!

As always, any and all feedback is much appreciated. Don’t be gentle, I like my criticism raw and wild!