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Visiting Chelsea Manning in prison (mit.edu)
344 points by rdl on May 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 171 comments



I find it very sad that the bulk of comments on this matter are about Manning being trans rather than the injustice of jailing a kid for 30 years for blowing the whistle on war crimes.


There's a lot of virtue signalling going on here and it definitely detracts from the important topics that you point out.


> virtue signalling

?


"Saying you love or hate something to show off what a virtuous person you are, instead of actually trying to fix the problem."


Funny enough, the phrase "virtue signaling" itself acts as "virtue signaling", as at this point it is used almost exclusively by members of online communities who are opposed to political correctness and are often outwardly intolerant of transpeople. I don't mean to imply anything about the GP, just to observe a particular irony around that phrase.


The irony was not lost on me, but I think it's an interesting term to describe the way in which people communicate with each other. Some memes need to piggy-back on the traits of other memes in order to propagate, and "virtue signaling" is one of those. My usage of it is predominately to encourage more thoughtful reflection on what people actually say and not make snap judgements or stereotypes about another's positions.


You know, I've heard the same thing said of phrases like SJW, but it seems to me that both "virtue signaling" and "SJW" are useful phrases that describe real phenomena.


> Opposed to political correctness and intolerant of transpeople.

Wow, stereotype those who disagree with you much?


This.

I donated to the defence fund when she was Bradley and I'm not sorry I did it. Secret courts and whatnot have no place in America. At all. Ever.


I don't think Manning should spend 30 years in jail, but she wasn't convicted for whistleblowing.

She was acquitted for leaking the few files related to war crimes; she was convicted of leaking 750000 unrelated documents.


Uh yeah. The charge is whatever will stick. Military courts will never uphold the law as written if they feel the need to punish a soldier for being non-soldierly. (The judge, Col. Denise Lind, intentionally came to an illegal ruling to punish someone she didn't like. She's a traitor.)

The law is very clear that it's your duty to stop illegal actions, not merely report them and carry on. Chelsea tried just reporting the problems but that didn't do anything and she was given direct orders to continue the illegal activities. The guilty party (us, our government) doesn't really have a leg to stand on when complaining about the measures she was forced to take.

Imagine a convicted kiddy fiddler complaining that their legal business files got examined in court with their illegal files. Nobody would case, It's the price of crime...


She was acquitted of leaking the Collateral Murder video in 2009, but only because she plead _guilty_ to leaking it later. That was simply a matter of timing, the government got one charge wrong.

She was also acquitted of "aiding the enemy", which was an extraordinary overreaching charge from the government.


> She hopes that the world hasn’t forgotten about her.

No, we haven't. And we also haven't forgotten about the war crimes she published.


Hmm I'm not sure. I'm not from US, and while I am very familiar with Edward Snowden, I have never heard of Chelsea Manning, I had to do a wiki search to read a bit about her. I guess the international coverage just wasn't the same in her case.


She was more famous under "Bradley" before she came out as trans. Maybe that rings a bell?


Unfortunately you are pointing directly at a major reason why the world forgot about Bradley Manning the war crimes exposer: she changed her name to Chelsea Manning and the media story changed to transgenderism / trans rights.

So, basically the media story and the name changed / got more complex, and a lot of people got left behind / quit caring.


Also, it's harder to make the case that Manning was a whistleblower. Manning just dumped as much classified intel info wikileaks as she could. More of a disgruntled employee than freedom crusader IMO.


That honestly surprises me. Where are you from? In the Netherlands all major news sources reported on this the past few years.


Poland.


Thank you, that might explain it somewhat. Although you are still blessed with a free press — and your major newspapers do appear to have reported on this issue up to 2014 — mainstream media now seems dominated by other interests. The way PiS is trying to control the public discourse is worrying; at least from an outside perspective.


For those people who are curious about the act of disseminating information like Manning did, allow me to summarize.

When you get a clearance, and often even when just working with confidential documents, the DoD has you sign an SF312, which is a classified information non-disclosure.

When you join the military, one of your first acts is to be sworn in, and you swear an oath, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Now let me say this as clearly as possible:

The Constitutional oath outranks the NDA. Period. If in doubt, the oath wins, every single time.

That being said though, there is more room for nuance in the stories, primarily due to what kind of information is revealed, what it's intended purpose was, and who is was distributed to.

In my opinion Snowden was more aware of this than Manning, because he did due diligence to review the documents before sharing them, and then making sure to limit damaging information that was actually vital to actual national security, and was very specific with the organizations he shared the information with about these requirements.

Manning did a huge document dump, which I think was well intentioned and had the right reasons behind it, but he didn't think it through in detail enough or take the time to redact the information.

So even if the constitutional oath outweighs the SF312 NDA, it's still breaking the law, but we need to draw very clear distinctions between breaking an NDA and the too oft-cited charges of "treason", which by definition is aiding and abetting the enemy during times of war.

I would also like to point out the hypocrisy of the establishment when it comes to classified leaking, because people in the White House and on the Hill leak all kinds of classified material whenever it happens to be expedient to them politically. A good example of this is the Cheney leak that outed Valerie Plame. Where are the cries about treason against Cheney? (whom I personally think is demonstratively more of a traitor than any of the aforementioned names...)

To me, one of the primary problems DoD faces these days is that there is little to no punishment for being openly unconstitutional, and people have not only forgotten their oaths and their importance, but have failed to call out others who have acted against theirs. To me, an oath still means something, but I want to know... if I could prove someone broke their oath with knowledge, what is the legal punishment offered?

Whatever it is, that is what we need to be doing against those in positions of power who spend more effort undermining the constitution than defending it. (and personally, I think the true enemies of the constitution wear business suits and ties, not thwabs...looking at you wallstreet)


"if I could prove someone broke their oath with knowledge, what is the legal punishment offered?"

I think you answered your own question. It depends on who that person is and whether the people in charge like what he or she does. Manning gets 35 years while Cheney goes free. The answer, to be clear, is impossible to know. When charges and trials are dished out arbitrarily like this, the idea of the rule of law becomes completely laughable. It simply boils down to arbitrary persecution of people for arbitrary reasons, no different than a king or other authoritarian tyrant's rule.


I think it's telling that we discuss Manning's violation to oath way more than the war criminals she exposed.

But I'm sure everyone is correct in that the people living in the middle east are pouring over the wikileaks looking for data instead of just looking out their window at the smoldering ruins left behind by a bomb


I completely agree. Manning was clearly well-intentioned, but she leaked information including diplomatic cables that was not relevant to war crimes or any such malfeasance. The only effect of those leaks was to hurt the interests of the United States.

Her case is certainly much less clear-cut than Snowden's, as she was not a contractor and was more likely to be covered by whistleblower protection going through channels.

But realistically, we all know that the US government was never, ever, going to release that "Collateral Murder" video.

The great shame of all this is that whistleblower protections and mandatory escalations haven't been expanded so the next generation of do-gooders can work within the system to right these wrongs.


> I completely agree. Manning was clearly well-intentioned, but she leaked information including diplomatic cables that was not relevant to war crimes or any such malfeasance.

Documents of illegal behavior were intermingled with the rest. It's not a whistleblower's responsibility to sort through the data, nor would we want it to be. They aren't qualified to know if those other files contribute to the understanding of the situation

Imagine if someone leaked documents of child molestation but didn't leak all of them, allowing the culprits to escape justice because of a weak case.

> The only effect of those leaks was to hurt the interests of the United States.

That's our fault for letting our soldiers break the law, and for not having any procedures in place to stop this before it got this far. (ie, a whistleblower hotline that actually got stuff done.)

Chelsea witnessed people in the US Armed Forces faking (and cooperating with external faking of) evidence, knowingly sending innocent people to US military prisons where we now know (and she and they knew at the time) they being were tortured and murdered. Any delay in whistleblowing to sort through thousands of files would simply get more people killed.

Delaying for even a minute would have been the morally irresponsible answer.


I disagree. Delaying would have been much smarter.

Snowden did it right, working with journalists to release his information in a way that did not hurt US and allied interests without benefit.


Yes, you, sitting coddled in comfort, think we should have given your paid killers more time to hide the evidence.

The "benefit" as you phrase it is not murdering innocent people, and for them, not being murdered. That's pretty huge!

You're condoning allowing ongoing murder because you don't like the reputation damage that comes from being proven to be a murderer.

Can't take the time, don't do the crime.


Your username seems appropriate. You deliberately misconstrued my post.

I'm all for blowing the whistle on warcrimes. Manning released information that was not criminal by any definition, like diplomatic cables.

Snowden's responsible disclosure method was more effective, too. Spread out over a year, every news cycle contained a new headline from him. He had far greater impact.


> Manning released information that was not criminal by any definition, like diplomatic cables.

Which was intermixed with all the evidence of warcrimes. It's not the whistleblower's job to clean up the criminal's papers before reporting them.

And who's to say (are you a judge?) what's relevant to the crimes? You'd have to read every document, in the context of all the others, to begin to know. It'd be wrong to try to pare the archive down, even if it was remotely possible.

Also, we learned a lot of other things that didn't rise to the level of warcrimes themselves but are a lot better exposed.

> I'm all for blowing the whistle on warcrimes.

Obviously not all for it. More like, mostly, or kinda, for it. Well, like, not totally against. Like, you're for it, but only if it's done in ways you approve of. Otherwise, fuck the victims...

> Snowden's responsible disclosure method was more effective, too.

Oh I see, you are totally for whistleblowers, you're even offering advice to Manning on how to make a bigger splash. Well why didn't you say so?

> in a way that did not hurt US and allied interests without benefit.

Yeah, you're clearly just upset that Manning leaked our shit but you've got to realize that nobody cares what the criminals want. We lost the right to complain when we let our soldiers murder people and covered it up.

> Your username seems appropriate. You deliberately misconstrued my post.

No Ad Hominem needed. (Do you even know what that is?) Your point was stupid on it own.


I agree with the distinctions you draw between what Snowden and Manning did and the fact that most politicians get away with leaking confidential information that benefits them. However, it wasn't Cheney who leaked Plame's employer and your attribution of intent to the people involved in those events says more about your political leanings than anything else.


"However, it wasn't Cheney who leaked Plame's employer "

Most context clues indicate it was indeed a leak from Cheney himself or Cheney's office (or some other WH source). Of course there hasn't been any concrete evidence, as the sources for the original publication story from Robert Novak have still been kept secret, even though he claimed the leak wasn't from the WH. Not to mention Scooter Libby, Cheney's cheif of freaking staff, was convicted of four of the five charges against him in the suit!

So while yes, you are right we can't definitively say it was Cheney himself, we can at least say it was Cheney's office, or people under his control, and I think it's very plausible with Cheney's history that at the very least he spoke to Libby about something he shouldn't have.

So I in no way accept your casual dismissal of my claim about Cheney or your attempt to claim it indicates my political leanings, of which you know very little.

Please keep in mind that this was a key component in the Iraq war saga, in that Plames husband was saying the yellowcake claims were fabricated. That's at least some of the motive Cheney or the WH in general could have had.


David House here. Still parsing the past. If people can keep the wolves off my back for a second maybe I can update you guys on some truth.

Edit: While we fight, people are dying.


> I will be Chelsea’s first visitor since her sister in November.

> I bring up her recent appeal to reduce her sentence from 35 years to 10 years, and she seems worried that it didn’t receive enough coverage in the press. She hopes that the world hasn’t forgotten about her.

I am afraid world has already forgotten.

Google search for "site:news.ycombinator.com Chelsea Manning" for past month gives three results including this one. "Manning" gives more results, but only in reference to Snowden and Panama Papers, no prison.

And transgender rights activists are more busy with right gender pronouns then with him/her.


The correct pronoun is 'her', not 'him/her', and a lot of trans activists and allies do spend an inordinate amount (which wouldn't be so necessary if people made even a small effort to get them correct) of time correcting people on pronouns, but there is a lot of work that transgender rights activists are doing for people in prison in general, and I do know that they've been involved with some of the work to help ensure that she is able to access appropriate treatment while she's in prison.

It seems like it would be very difficult for any civil rights advocacy groups to be able to do much for her though, since she's not a civilian or in a civilian prison.


> The correct pronoun is 'her', not 'him/her'

No, the correct pronoun is 'him.' Chelsea Manning, despite his self-perception and despite his name change, is and always will be a man. Gender is an objective, physical, biological fact, not a subjective experience.

There are people who believe that they are disfigured even though they are perfectly normal looking; they are not disfigured, even though they believe so. There are people who believe that their limbs are not their own; those limbs are theirs, whatever their perception. There are people who believe that they are the Messiah; they are not.

When talking to someone, it may be therapeutic (or simply kind) to use the words he prefers even if they are incorrect, but when talking about someone, there is no need to humour his error.


wtbob: I vouched for your comment to un-kill it so I can post this response here where it should be rather than in a descendent comment. First and foremost, I vehemently disagree with you. But I think you made your point in a civil manner and supported it with an argument, and for that reason alone you deserve to be heard and responded to with civil arguments rather than by censorship. I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the end of my karma your right to say it, even here, as long as you're civil and advance an actual argument.

So:

> Gender is an objective, physical, biological fact, not a subjective experience.

You are wrong about this. It is both a biological circumstance (though not nearly as crisp a dichotomy as most people think) and a subjective experience, and some people have a mismatch between their biology and their subjective experience. It is simple human decency to defer to how someone chooses to self-identify even if it does not conform to your prejudices about how the world ought to be.


> You are wrong about this. It is both a biological circumstance (though not nearly as crisp a dichotomy as most people think) and a subjective experience, and some people have a mismatch between their biology and their subjective experience. It is simple human decency to defer to how someone chooses to self-identify even if it does not conform to your prejudices about how the world ought to be.

You are dogmatic about this. You are stating things without supporting them with proper arguments, and this is what everyone who defends that position does, while claiming that everyone else is wrong. (Or, at least, I have yet to see the opposite.)

Wtbob has not denied that people have subjective experience of their gender, but has instead claimed that this experience does not match biological reality, which is a fact everyone agrees with. Whether it is "simple human decency" to designate someone in a way that does not match reality because of their subjective experience is, I think, very doubtful. This is not prejudices about how the world ought to be, it is facts about how the world is. However, if we were talking about the name change from Bradley to Chelsea, I would agree because name is not tied to a biological fact but is only what is used to refer to someone. As long as everyone can understand who Bradley and Chelsea refers to, there is no problem with using the one preferred by Chelsea.


No, I'm not being dogmatic. Like it or not, subjective experience is part of reality. By dismissing someone's subjective experience as a consideration you are ignoring part of reality for no good reason.

Yes, Chelsea Manning has a Y chromosome. Yes, most (but not all) people with Y chromosomes self-identify as male. So what? Why should the fact that Chelsea has a Y chromosome prevent you from referring to her as "her" if that's how she self-identifies?


That subjective experience is merely an identity based on cultural stereotypes of "man-ness" and "woman-ness".

> It is simple human decency to defer to how someone chooses to self-identify

If I decide to wear a fancy hat and call myself King of the World, should I expect everyone to call me that? No, because I'm not the King of the World.

It turns out people can be wrong about themselves, and we shouldn't pretend they are not. The idea that subjective experience is somehow sacred and immune from criticism is absurd and harmful.


> The subjective experience is merely an identity based on cultural stereotypes of "man-ness" and "woman-ness".

No, it runs much deeper than that. Gender roles are cross-cultural, and fundamentally rooted in the fact that females can get pregnant and males can't. That's why the stereotypes exist, because they are rooted in biological facts. But those facts aren't absolute. Most people who have male genitalia also have certain behavioral predispositions which we associate with "being a man." But not all people with male genitalia have those behavioral predispositions, and for those who don't there is no reason not to treat them according to how they feel rather than what happens to be between their legs. (For starters, if you want to cast your lot with "biological facts" and treat people according to what happens to be between their legs, then you have to deal with the fact that there are natural hermaphrodites.)

> If I decide to wear a fancy hat and call myself King of the World, should I expect everyone to call me that?

Sure, why not?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Norton

> people can be wrong about themselves

They can't be wrong about their own subjective experiences. An individual is the ultimate authority on that by definition.


People absolutely can be wrong about their own subjective experiences: that's a big component to why religion exists. It's also why we have the concept of mental health.

When people say they have spoken to god, reasonable people think they might be deluded or have some sort of mental health problem.

I understand the desire to not hurt people feelings, but we do people a disservice by agreeing with their self-deception.


> When people say they have spoken to god, reasonable people think they might be deluded or have some sort of mental health problem.

Self righteous people who think they know it all might assume that. Reasonable people will think "that person experienced something I don't understand".

> we do people a disservice by agreeing with their self-deception

We do people a disservice by assuming we know more about them than they know about themselves.


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If such evidence cannot be provided, I see no reason to just accept someone's claim at face-value.

I don't claim or believe I know it all, but I try to support any claims of knowledge with evidence.

> We do people a disservice by assuming we know more about them than they know about themselves.

Someone who knows more about human biology or human psychology than me may, in fact, know something more about myself than I do.


> Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If such evidence cannot be provided, I see no reason to just accept someone's claim at face-value.

I didn't say you should accept their claim at face value. I said you should not assume that the cause the the experience is mental illness, but rather accept that they had an experience that you don't understand. Was it god? Was it some sort of neuralogical event? Was it the onset of paranoid delusions? You don't know and assuming you do is arrogant.

> Someone who knows more about human biology or human psychology than me may, in fact, know something more about myself than I do.

Just because someone is an expert, or has more knowledge, doesn't mean they can't be wrong. When you dismiss someone's subjective experience because you think you know better (rather than just taking it with a grain of salt) you do them and yourself a disservice.


> People absolutely can be wrong about their own subjective experiences: that's a big component to why religion exists.

No, they can be wrong in their explanations of the cause of their subjective experiences, but they cannot be wrong about the experience. People who feel the presence of the Holy Spirit really do feel something. It's just that what they feel is most likely not caused by the Holy Spirit.

> we do people a disservice by agreeing with their self-deception.

And we do ourselves a disservice by dismissing spiritual experiences as mere delusion. See:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/n9y/is_spirituality_irrational/

particularly the resulting discussion.


>The subjective experience is merely an identity based on cultural stereotypes of "man-ness" and "woman-ness".

Why do you assume this to be the case? Why would you conclude that it is impossibility that someone's biological sex may not be the same as biological gender? It would be really surprising if this didn't happen given what we know about genetics and how sex is determined.

Subjective != not real:

Pain is a subjective experience, does this mean that anesthetic should not be given during surgery. What if only some percentage of the population could experience pain? Would that make their suffering less real?


> Why would you conclude that it is impossibility that someone's biological sex may not be the same as biological gender?

Because I have no reason to believe biological gender exists separate from biological sex. No one can point to it nor create a test for it.


So a non-insignificant number of people claiming it to be the case isn't a good enough reason to believe that it's a possibility? What is the threshold for you to consider this possibility? Do you not believe anything subjective then, because by definition "no one can point to it nor create a test for it"?

edit: It seems to me that it costs a person almost nothing to believe somebody about their subjective belief of their gender, yet it seems that a lot of people resist so strongly. Why is this?


I believe subjectivity exists, but not in its supremacy over objectivity.

My objections on the topic are fairly simple:

* We shouldn't create laws around activities or identities that cannot be objectively measured.

* Peoples personally held identities shouldn't be foisted up such that everyone must accept them unquestionably.

People should be free to love, fuck, marry whomever they want and express themselves in whatever degree of masculinity or femininity they are comfortable with. If we had widely known gender-neutral pronouns, I would use them.


Ah. Well it seems we agree almost entirely, to be clear, before I was not really talking within the context of forming laws, but more on individual interaction. I generally agree on the foisting of beliefs onto people, but have found that it is typically not much trouble (word choice mostly) to accommodate the beliefs that we were arguing over. I think your last sentence is very enlightening to your point of view and probably wouldn't have tried to pick an argument if I had interpreted that belief sooner.


> I think your last sentence is very enlightening to your point of view and probably wouldn't have tried to pick an argument if I had interpreted that belief sooner.

This is a big problem with the growing predominance of "virtue signaling" in such discussions. Few people actually want to read/listen and understand someone's point of view before jumping on them for having the "wrong opinion."


But don't we have to create those laws, sometimes? I'm thinking about the difference between homicide degrees, which include a subjective perspective: the intent of the accused.

We do develop standards for manslaughter versus murder 1, but my understanding is that the accused killer's mindset (their "intent") is an important distinction.


>Because I have no reason to believe biological gender exists separate for biological sex.

Most traits associated with sex are not universally determined by sex. One example in humans is males that have XX chromosomes[0]. For another example see AIS[1].

We observe more than two genders expressed in non-human animals:

>Side-blotched lizards are notable for having the highest number of distinct male and female morphs or "genders" within a species: three male and two female. [2]

It is extremely unlikely that given the diversity of phenotype expression we see in life there would be no cases in which sex does not match gender. A claim that sex and gender match perfectly in all cases requires enormous evidentary support as it contradicts much of current science and biology.

>No one can point to it nor create a test for it.

You can ask someone, that is generally how we determine how much pain someone is in.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XX_male_syndrome

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androgen_insensitivity_syndrom...

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side-blotched_lizard#Genders


I don't think you've demonstrated the existence of biological gender as much as the well-known category of biological intersexuality.

I have no objection to the degree that someone wants to express themselves with stereotypical masculine or feminine traits. Elevating cultural stereotypes to the level of phenotype is not supported by anything you've linked to, though.

>> No one can point to it nor create a test for it.

> You can ask someone, that is generally how we determine how much pain someone is in.

This is true, but we don't create laws around someone's reported degree of pain. Doctors are also given then discretion to deny someone pain medication if they believe the patient is lying in order to get high (though I disagree with this on grounds of drug decriminalization).


I understand what you are saying--your comment will be out of sight soon, by the way--but, does it hurts to "humour" someone? What do you lose or win? Why not just be nice to others?


I'm putting this here because wtbob's original comment was flagged to death and can no longer be replied to directly. Although I vehemently disagree with wtbob's comment, I think it was a mistake to flag it. It was a cogent and even a defensible claim. It was simply wrong, and flagging comments to death simply for being wrong is very, very dangerous. For one thing, it deprives people of the opportunity to explain to someone why they are wrong, instead saying, in effect, "You are so wrong that you are not even entitled to an explanation of what you are wrong about." That is not constructive. It instills a sense of martyrdom that causes these wrong views to fester and thrive, the exact opposite of what we should be striving for here.

So, for the record, wtbob:

> Gender is an objective, physical, biological fact, not a subjective experience.

You are wrong about this. It is both a biological circumstance (though not nearly as crisp a dichotomy as most people think) and a subjective experience, and some people have a mismatch between their biology and their subjective experience. It is simple human decency to defer to how someone chooses to self-identify even if it does not conform to your prejudices about how the world ought to be.


> Although I vehemently disagree with wtbob's comment, I think it was a mistake to flag it.

For what it's worth: I didn't see the comment in question, but based on context, I assume that reading it would have made me want to cry.

Maybe that's an unpopular emotion to express on HN, but that's what happens when a place you think of as a home suddenly makes you feel unwelcome and conditionally accepted.

So thank you, community, for saying that if someone wants to make any more "cogent claims" about the validity of my existence, they're welcome to do so, elsewhere.


You can see the original comment by going to your settings page (click on your user name in the upper right hand corner of the screen) and set "Showdead" to "Yes". You really ought to read it. If you're going to support the suppression of a point of view you really should know what it is you are trying to suppress. Supporting censorship of things you haven't read based on "context" generally does not lead to good outcomes in the long run. Widespread frustration with that sort of attitude is one of the reasons that Donald Trump is getting so much mileage out of criticizing rampant political correctness.


You're being very dramatic. As you point out, the comment hasn't even been deleted. I simply choose not to read it, and the community nicely made that choice very easy for me.

Perhaps you believe I shouldn't have that choice, or it should come at a higher price. That's fine, you're entitled to your opinion. Just realize that what seems to you like a novel and reasoned argument could be, to someone closer, just one more voice in a screaming mob of rejection. And remember that when you shout back at a mob, you join it.

So I'm not going to tell you you have to be on my side here. But you could at least believe what I've already told you about my experience: it may be useful for you to read more about folks' opinions on my life, but not for me. Communities that respect that are going to see more of my participation, and those that don't will wonder why they have such a diversity problem.


> You're being very dramatic

Sorry about that. I'm trying very hard to be sober about this.

> the comment hasn't even been deleted

It was. I undeleted it.

> Perhaps you believe I shouldn't have that choice

Of course you should have that choice. But you wrote:

"So thank you, community, for saying that if someone wants to make any more "cogent claims" about the validity of my existence, they're welcome to do so, elsewhere."

That sounded to me like an oblique endorsement of censorship, and that's what I was objecting to.

> So I'm not going to tell you you have to be on my side here

Not knowing anything about you besides what you've written in this thread it's hard for me to know what your side actually is. (One of the things I've learned after years on the Internet is to never try to extrapolate someone's beliefs beyond what they actually say.) But I'm pretty sure I'm more on your side than you think. Please note that the reason I undeleted wtbob's comment was so that I could rebut it. I'm sorry if that caused you personal pain. But I really believe that the best way to fight bad ideas is to expose them to the light of reason.


> It was. I undeleted it.

Flagged is not deleted, as you have demonstrated. I didn't realize it's been vouched. In any case I still haven't read it, and still have no interest to, so don't worry about it.

> Please note that the reason I undeleted wtbob's comment was so that I could rebut it.

In the nicest possible way: I don't care. I appreciate that you're trying to be helpful, truly. But I think I've been clear on my perspective, and I hope you'll continue to think about it.


To play Devil's advocate, how about because "humoring" is usually a way to hold off extreme self-righteousness, shaming, and so on from the humor'd party.

Moral discussions like these are not like most discussions on HN. People's opinions and comments come loaded with assertions of moral absolutism, and as above, are usually an attempt to shame the parent commenter.

If Chelsea Manning prefers to be called "her," that's fine with me. But I appreciate being brow-beaten by people who have placed themselves on a morally superior plane as much as I like being told I'm going to hell by any number of religious leaders who also like to place themselves on high, asserting that their beliefs make them inherently better than others.

I'm of the belief that what people do in a consenting, non-harmful fashion with, to, and about themselves and willing participants is not only fine, but none of my business. But the squeaky wheels are always those who believe that they have somehow been harmed by your discord with their moral self-righteousness - no matter which side of a position they find themselves.

Devil's advocate, though.


There's always a balance to strive for, but we live in such an imbalanced culture (homogeneous, unrepresentative).. sometimes we don't realize some issues until we have kids and see what they go through [1]. It's easy to dismiss people as cry-babies, and there are always crazy exceptions, but if people say they are harmed, it doesn't hurt to listen and find out why :)

[1] like those republican politicians who are suddenly OK with homosexuality because they find out that one of their kids is homosexual, or many friends who are suddenly the biggest feminists on the Internet because they have daughters. I don't mind, but I do wish they had not been such dicks before having their epiphany.


Specifically about that type of person you mentioned that is against something vehemently until they are personally related to the side of the issue they opposed, I can't help myself but feel more disdain for these individuals than if they had continued holding their prejudiced/bigoted views because their transformation seems incredibly intellectually dishonest. I liken it to the type of person that apologizes profusely after they have been caught red-handed with some wrongdoing, but they never once apologized or confessed during the time they were doing it. In other words, they aren't sorry they did it, they're sorry they got caught doing it.

Maybe my views on the issue are too harsh, but those are my own prejudices. I do think that people can have genuine transformations of views, but it doesn't sit well with me when it only came about because they were cornered into it.


I think asking someone to refrain from speaking (what they believe to be) the truth is one thing, especially if they are doing it simply to cause controversy, draw attention to themselves, or signal some sort of tribal loyalty. If that is what the flagged comment was doing, then perhaps flagging them was the appropriate response.

However, asking someone to actively say something (that they believe to be) false is not within the scope of what I would call "politeness".

For instance, I have friends and acquaintances who have religious beliefs that I do not, and those religious beliefs are essential to their identity. I don't constantly tell them that they are deluded idol worshipers (that's rude). However, I don't participate in their observances and I don't hide my disagreement when the subject comes up.


Agreed. The world is not this black and white place we might sometimes try to make it. Rather than writing diatribes about how people are "objectively" wrong about matters of no consequence, why not save the effort and call people what they want to be called?


What's the point of titles, adjectives, pronouns if they can be manipulated by the subject?

Statement:

"Dr. Smith ran across the street. She was terrified of what would happen next"

What actually happened:

"A burly transgender man who believes he is a doctor ran across the street."


This isn't a police report. In matters of consequence, I'd expect you would call things by whatever is most conducive to the target audience understanding what you're talking about.


Because it supports the delusion they have put themselves into.


What is a delusion in this context? Is being gay a delusion because penises are meant to go in vaginas and people putting them in anuses are delusional and just need to wake up?


It seems the point they are trying to make is that for (wrong, according to them) reasons, a person's internal gender perception is privileged over other types of internal identity, such as the false belief that one is the messiah or Napoleon, or one has missing limbs. It's an interesting enough point, which deserves careful thought, although perhaps this is not exactly the right forum for it.

Also, note that they did say in their comment that the correct pronoun to use when talking to Manning was 'her', which seems like being nice to others, and respecting their choices. I'm guessing it's probably considered unhelpful to reinforce delusions such as believing oneself to be Jesus, but would be interested to know where psychiatrists draw the line in such things.


Thank goodness you're here to police other people's identities.


> The correct pronoun is 'her', not 'him/her'

The correct pronoun is whatever people deem the correct pronoun is. Personally, I don't see a lot of value in referring to people as their preferred gender. I see more value in referring to them based on their biological sex.


Biological sex isn't binary, even if socially ascribed gender is, and is often based on one aspect of biological sex (external genitalia.) If you think what's between someone's legs is more important than the person themself, that's your preference, but don't be surprised if outwardly subjecting people to that kind of objectification produces negative responses.


> Biological sex isn't binary

For the vast, vast majority of people, it is. Which is what makes it a useful metric.


Most people may seem to fall tolerably close to one of two stereotypes, but that doesn't make biological sex binary, not does it make it sensible to ignore the fact that it is not in the case of those people who do not, and, surreptitiously enough, there's a significant overlay between people whose experienced gender doesn't match their socially ascribed gender and people whose biological sex-related traits other than external genitalia don't line up with external genitalia in the most common way.


Male and female are not "stereotypes". Biological sex is the most binary thing since zero and one.


> Biological sex is the most binary thing since zero and one.

It is really not, though for most of human history a reasonably informed person could justifiably believe that; but even that hasn't been true for decades, at least.


At that point the female/male distinction loses its meaning altogether. If anyone can pick their gender, what makes someone masculine and what feminine? Nothing. There's no difference between genders, so lose gender-specific words.

I'm not against transgender, I'm just arguing on technical grounds. I don't see value in using gender-specific words if people can pick their gender, but I do see value in using them purely to distinguish between people by what is between their legs.


> If anyone can pick their gender, what makes someone masculine and what feminine?

I don't think this really follows. There are still traditionally masculine and feminine traits, this is unchanged by people self-identifying as a gender other than the one they were born with.


Species isn't a fixed concept. If you think what's expressed as someone's phenotype is more important that the person themselves, don't be surprised if refusing to refer to someone as a dragon, and subjecting them to objectification as a human being, produces negative responses.


What's between our legs matters most.

If I am biologically male but identify as female, then guess what? I'm never going to become pregnant and give birth, no matter what mutilation of the English language I use to refer to myself.


Wait, are you arguing external genitalia matter most, or are arguing that having (or not having) fully functional female internal reproductive organs matters most? Because you first sentence seems to say the former and your other paragraph the latter. While there is obviously a correlation between those things, it's not an absolute one.


>Biological sex isn't binary

It most certainly is. XY and XX are two things, therefore binary. Anything else is a defect in the individual's chromosomes.


XX and XY have a strong correlation with sex traits, but not a 1:1 correspondence. (And neither those chromosome configurations nor other biological sex traits map 1:1 to external genitalia, which is Italy the basis of socially ascribed gender.)

So the fact that XX and XY configurations exist and other configurations are considered "defects" doesn't make biological sex a binary trait that correspondence to the manner in which gender is usually digitally ascribed and for which people are labeled "transgender" when their gender identity differs from that social judgement.


"civil rights" are, despite the common etymology, not "civilian rights".


"Correct" is silly to even discuss relative to this topic.

What you're saying is people's genders are now up for debate but the pronouns are not?

Completely illogical.

And somehow people still believe the "slippery slope" is a fallacy.


> "Correct" is silly to even discuss relative to this topic.

How about "polite"?

It's exactly as rude to use the wrong pronoun about a person, as it is to use the wrong name. It's common decency to call people what they want to be called, and it's not exactly hard to do either.


Politeness is culturally contingent. For example, I have lived in places where making a special effort to hold open doors for women is a social obligation, as well as places where it is deeply offensive.

Is it appropriate sometimes to violate those norms? Certainly, when those norms involve a violation of higher moral principles. Principles such as not saying things you believe to be false.

> How about "polite"?

So, you're saying that people should not openly disagree merely because it is impolite?


- Hello, my name is Henrik.

- I disagree, I'm going to call you Steve.

- ???


I agree that your interlocutor is being ridiculous.

But the analogy doesn't hold because your interlocutor doesn't have any reason to disagree with your statement; they're just being a troll.

In any case, someone might rationally object to any such analogies because they disagree that there is an equivalence between names and pronouns.


Ok, that makes sense.

However, hypothetically speaking if someone wanted to be called a name that I considered to be vulgar or offensive, I would not call them that.


Yes, but we're not talking about a vulgar name, we're talking about a person that presents as female, has a female name, looks female, but was born a male, who simply wishes people would adress her as a "she".

This is not burdensome. This is not onerous. This does no harm. Just honour her wish. Why wouldn't you?


CHELSEA E. MANNING 89289

1300 NORTH WAREHOUSE ROAD

FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS 66027-2304

---

Found that by following a link. https://www.chelseamanning.org/learn-more/write-to-chelsea-m... Make sure to follow the on-page instructions or your correspondence will be rejected/returned. The conditions are quite strict. They check for obscenities which is hilarious -- assuming movies like Full Metal Jacket are an accurate depiction of Army life. Append USA from overseas obviously.

Perhaps if we wrote it would hope alive as the cliché goes.


FWIW, Chelsea reads every single letter she receives unless it's illegible. Mail is much appreciated.

-yan (author of blog post)


Thanks -yan


I know "Thank you for your service" is gauche, but she's probably someone who needs to hear that---along with a heartfelt apology from the citizenry who failed her.


I have never written such a letter before. I have never written a letter that I knew would be opened en route by someone other than the recipient. Though I am not a fellow citizen, and as schmaltzy as it sounds, I think I should thank her as a citizen of the world.


> And transgender rights activists are more busy with right gender pronouns then with him/her.

I can understand not putting Chelsea on the front lines of the transgender rights battle. You need "clean" media stories to make a point. Chelsea's transgender story is easily sidetracked by the whistle blowing story.


So, like not wanting a gay black rights activist among black activism ranks in the fifties?

I'd say the combined whistle blowing story make for an even better cause.

Except if they only want to project domesticity (we're tame, accept us), not change.


   > So, like not wanting a gay black rights
   > activist among black activism ranks in the fifties?
This would be more like making a point of making black felons the poster children for black rights in the fifties. It's a pointless distraction to advancing the cause.

    > I'd say the combined whistle blowing story
    > make for an even better cause.
What makes you think people who agree with the transgender cause all agree that Chelsea Manning doesn't deserve to rot in prison?

There's plenty of socially progressive people who think someone who's active military leaking the sort of thing Manning leaked should be in prison at best.


>What makes you think people who agree with the transgender cause all agree that Chelsea Manning doesn't deserve to rot in prison?

No, what I think something else:

(1) That what he/she did was right.

(2) That being for what's right should not be compartmentalized: I wouldn't like black activists don't promoting gay causes, or gays not promoting black rights either.

(3) And that the people who I'd like to be on my side, should agree to both.

>There's plenty of socially progressive people who think someone who's active military leaking the sort of thing Manning leaked should be in prison at best.

If they think that I don't see how they are "socially progressive" at the same time. They sound like "the law is the law" and "my country, right or wrong" types...


I think it's more complicated than that. I think her sentence, like most in the US, is overly punitive and unlikely to do anything other than ruin her life without any greater benefit to society, but I also hesitate to say what she did was clearly right or that she shouldn't face any consequences for it.

I haven't read any of the documents that she leaked, but there is a certain danger in ignoring vigilantism even in cases where it is the right thing to do, because certainly we don't have the context to know whether that information could have been dangerous to be released, and perhaps she didn't either. It's one thing for journalists to report on leaked information, but another to give a free pass to someone who violates the terms of their access to classified information.


> I haven't read any of the documents that she leaked, but there is a certain danger in ignoring vigilantism even in cases where it is the right thing to do

But surely there is a pattern here that carries an even greater danger?

Pattern: an institution (in this case the US military, but it can be any government department, corporation, basically anything that is much more powerful than an individual) does something wrong and keeps it a secret. Whistleblower divulges the secret. Institution calls this treachery, tries to destroy whistleblower's life, and being much more powerful, will probably succeed unless society defends whistleblower.

Who gets to decide whether the information really needed to be kept secret? If we say the divulging thereof was dangerous vigilantism for which there should be consequences, regardless of its content, then we grant the institution a licence to make that decision unilaterally. This amounts to a free pass for institutional corruption – which, let us remember, is something that can ruin the world.

Mind you, I'm not saying whistleblower should get to make that decision unilaterally either. I'm saying I can think of no better option than deciding the case on its merits: look at the content of the divulged information and decide whether it was legitimately divulged (e.g. evidence of the institution committing a crime) or illegitimately (e.g. selling secrets to the enemy).


Or how about not making a stand for civil rights on a young black woman who refused to move on a bus because she was a single mother?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudette_Colvin

Optics matter, these things are political and need to be as close to bulletproof as possible to make an impact.


If anything your example reinforces my point.

People SHOULD have made an stand on civil rights on Claudette too -- not just Rosa.


Actually - the need for 'clean' stories is just a further reproduction of the oppression, packaged for the consumption of people who think they are mainstream.

What we need is many more messy stories.


Using the word clean was wrong but I can't edit the comment. What I mean is there need to be stories that show how trans people fit into society like everyone else. They could be our brothers, sisters, parents, friends, coworkers. Just like anyone else. However, someone with a story like Chelsea can easily derail the conversation into a story that doesn't promote trans equality.


Haven't forgotten. After reading this I'd like to write Chelsea. I'm also inspired to do more anti-prison and anti-solitary activism. This looks like a very touching book on solitary confinement - (Hell is a Very Small Place) http://www.amazon.com/Hell-Very-Small-Place-Confinement/dp/1...


Just a quick note that the solitary can also be a way to prevent a certain prisoner (like Manning) from being torn to pieces by the general prison population. Considering that Manning is in a military prison and is very unpopular amongst the military folks, and transgender to boot, it wouldn't surprise me if solitary is in Manning's best interests.


I take issue with this, but I don't have a better solution. Being at risk of attack from other inmates is better/worse than the terrifying reality of years of solitary confinement? Solitary confinement is probably up there among my worst nightmares. Evolutionarily, people are simply not meant to be alone with their thoughts for years - especially while simultaneously being kept in a confined space. I have no doubt I would personally go - rather literally - crazy. The idea of unending solitary confinement would, again, I assume, literally drive me to suicide.

So, no, I don't want her to sit at constant risk of physical/sexual assault or worse... but I know years of solitary confinement would permanently fuck with me in an extreme way, so I can't condone it in any fashion.

What to do?!?

Edit: in her own words, the torture of prolonged solitary confinement: http://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2016/may/02/s...

Edit 2: "Shortly after arriving at a makeshift military jail, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in May 2010, I was placed into the black hole of solitary confinement for the first time. Within two weeks, I was contemplating suicide." <- So, I'm guessing maybe I'm not that far off in assuming I'd end up the same way.


Regarding the last point, it's important to remember that this is a person who has struggled with mental health issues for a very long time, so it's not just solitary confinement that caused suicidal tendencies, although it probably contributed to that.


We don't actually know everything that's been done to Manning. The same people who decided how suspected terrorists were to be interrogated, decided how she would be interrogated. So, various mental conditions might be results of more than just solitary confinement, even if they weren't in any sense preexisting.


You are looking at a false dichotomy. Solitary and general population are not the only two options.

Solitary confinement is almost certainly being used by prison administrators for purposes far less appropriate than to protect the prisoner from harm, whenever that is the primary justification for using it.


Having visited her (I wrote the original post), I can say this is absolutely untrue. She is much, much better off in the prison among other inmates than in solitary. IIRC, solitary was one of the worst experiences she went through.


> I am afraid world has already forgotten.

Forgotten what?

I think I'd like Chelsea personally, and I'm sorry for all that she has had to go through. But what is it, exactly, that we are supposed to be remembering and talking about here?


She systematically exfiltrated a lot of information which exposed several lies that the U.S. government was telling its citizens and the rest of the world. This information can be divided into four groups: Cablegate, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq War, and the Afghan War.

The US government was telling U.S. citizens that the people who were stuck in Guantanamo Bay were very dangerous terrorists who would likely be responsible for the deaths of civilians if they were released, but could not be processed via normal US law for unknown reasons either. In fact they were largely being held not because of the danger they posed to society, but the intelligence that they could provide the US. Collateral damage included two British nationals and a journalist. It also made it clear that this intelligence was largely extracted via torture.

The US government had downplayed civilian deaths in Iraq, arguing that it wasn't a huge issue and that most of our killing was very reliable and well-targeted. The current estimates of civilian deaths are closer to 2:1, that's 2 civilians killed for each insurgent killed. I am not misspeaking when I say that: the current estimate is that the majority of deaths were civilian casualties. (One particular hot-button video showed two front-line reporters with cameras gunned down from a helicopter even after they'd apparently shown themselves to be not a threat; the video however lacks two pieces of context which somewhat ameliorate one's outrage: that one of the people they were with did have a rocket-propelled grenade, and that there was a lot of fighting in that region anyways: it was a preventable overstep rather than the murder that was claimed in the video description.)

The US government in Iraq indicated that they take reasonable precautions to prevent things like torture, prisoner degradation, and other abuse of force; these documents revealed that this was not quite correct: while the US government was certainly making efforts to keep its own nose clean in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, it often turned its back on similar awful practices happening at the behest of both the Iraqi police and the US mercenary corporations that it contracted, allowing them to go on with little objection and little indication to the rest of the world that these things were happening. In fact it was not just tacitly accepted, in many cases it was encouraged: US forces turned over thousands of prisoners to the Iraqi police, even though they knew that this was likely to cause them to be tortured and abused. It was damning that US forces ousted Saddam Hussein nominally for being awful to his own people (after we got into the war because he was nominally pursuing nuclear and biological weapons, which it turned out he wasn't), but then bolstered a follow-up regime which was just as awful to its own people.

A related disclosure of Afghan war documents revealed as I recall both the brutality of the Taliban and also surprised us by telling us that there was a good chance our nominal ally in rooting them out (Pakistan), was colluding with the Taliban behind the scenes. It was also a scandal for Canadians, who told their people that certain Canadian soldiers had died in a firefight with the Taliban when those documents appeared to document their dying because the US had accidentally dropped a bomb on them. For the US it was mostly scandalous because we'd understood that we were winning the war in Afghanistan; the results of these documents were much more bleak.

Finally Cablegate shocked the world because it revealed what US diplomatic informants were really saying. For example, US informants revealed a close connection between Putin and Berlusconi, and that Al Qaeda was getting its funding from Saudi Arabia, and that Qatar was a virtual safe haven for terrorists, and that Bashar al-Assad was systematically telling the US with his right hand that he wasn't arming Hezbollah while arming them with his left, and that the Yemeni government was systematically claiming responsibility for US counterterrorist operations in Yemen so that we wouldn't know that that was a front in the War on Terror. Other things emerged, e.g. the US was trading visits by President Obama for other people taking Guantanamo Bay prisoners off our hands; and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was embarrassed because he had privately called the then-heads of Iraq and Pakistan awful people; there were some other embarrassments in Cablegate too.

For her disclosure of these things, Chelsea (who at the time was nominally cisgendered and named Bradley) was detained and treated indecently to widespread criticism, and was finally convicted of every charge but the most severe, being sentenced for the remaining 21 crimes to 35 years in jail. This is despite the fact that her disclosure (in combination with WikiLeaks) was carefully redacted to protect vulnerable people, she won several awards around the globe for revealing the information that she did, and her disclosure ultimately caused the Arab Spring which was generally seen as a good thing for the US and democracy. It is hoped that Obama might commute her sentence at the end of his presidency, but that's a pretty slim hope; he has not publicly expressed any sympathy for her.


Presumably the highly unfair treatment of a whistleblower. Snowden gets a lot more publicity, but Manning's case wasn't well handled either.


I really wish we could elevate quality of our discourse about government whistle-blowers. It is very far from clear that Manning (or Snowden, for that matter) was treated "highly unfairly." This could make for an interesting conclusion to a well-thought-our argument, but it makes a pretty dubious premise.

Yes, Manning et al. attempted to do a public service and got punished for it. That seems messed up. And it may be that the information they released is important enough that we all have a right to know it. (I think this is more plausible with Snowden than Manning, but both may have a claim here.) But there really are also serious questions about whether it is OK for an individual person to make the decision for all of us about what needs to be released and what does not, even if we like the outcome in a particular case.

What is the answer here? Should we really just decide not to prosecute government and military personnel who reveal sensitive government information (which is indisputably a crime) just because we think the release was valuable? Who makes this decision? What if DOJ or the president like that the leak happened, but the people do not? Are the people well enough informed to make this decision? What about the issue of deterrence? Even if everyone agrees that a leak was worthwhile, is it really a good idea to empower others, whose judgment may not be so good, to do the same thing?


In a democracy, the voters, via their representatives, decide what's legal for the government to do. So if the government does things that are illegal and hidden, then I'd say anyone has the authority to reveal it. That authority was granted by the voters who made the activity illegal.

If the government's activity is legal, on the other hand, then it's harder to make a case. A whistleblower may still decide to reveal it as a matter of civil disobedience, but at that point he's trying to change the minds of the voters, rather than enforce their expressed wishes. He should expect more legal jeopardy, though if he succeeds in changing people's minds, then a pardon would be appropriate.

If our legal system doesn't make a distinction between revealing legal and illegal secrets, then I'd say our system is inconsistent.


This is a pretty good answer, but I think there are at least two problems with it:

* It is often (though not always) quite hard to tell whether something the government is doing is or is not illegal even for well trained lawyers. Manning, Snowden, et al. are not lawyers.

* The information released by Manning, Snowden, et al. was dramatically broader in scope that what would have been required merely to reveal illegal activity. Most of it, especially in Manning's case, does not reveal any illegal activity at all.


Sure, it's a judgement call and whistleblowers have to do the best they can. If they make the wrong decision they're in the second category, so they have to decide if it's worth the risk. If they reveal the secrets to lawyers they're still breaking the law.

I agree that from what I've seen, Manning is on the civil disobedience side. I wish he had changed voters minds more than he apparently did.

Snowden had evidence of clearly illegal activity. There was a lot more mixed in, but it wasn't practical to separate it. Secret abuse of power is dangerous enough that I think that should be acceptable.

If we don't have practical protection for whistleblowers, we might as well not bother putting limits on government power at all. Based on what's happened to whistleblowers who went through official channels, it's clear that that approach doesn't work at all, and I don't know why anyone should expect it to work.


If you want to open these sorts of questions you'll quickly run into the fact that there are a bunch of different judicial opinions out there. I recommend the following link:

http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/csepref.htm

It is the preface and introduction to Peter Suber's book The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions; as the introduction discusses, the original Case, posted online here:

http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/lawspelunk.html#fuller

...was published by Lon Fuller in 1949 and contains a statement of facts in a (fictional!) case where a bunch of explorers get trapped for many days, ultimately eat one among their number, and are tried for murder and found guilty, sentenced to be hanged: this case is the final appeal of their sentence to the Supreme Court. In general people are sympathetic to the explorers, who faced death had they not acted.

This statement-of-facts is followed by the opinions of 5 court judges, who come to very different conclusions with very different reasonings. For example the chief justice says "Well, it's my job to apply the law as correctly as I can -- not to evaluate whether hanging these people for doing what they needed to do to survive is important. They broke the law, the law says that the punishment in this case is hanging, therefore I must rule that they should be hanged. Whose job is it to make sure that these laws are good to these people? Well, that's what we have lawmakers and an executive branch for. I'm going to sentence these people to death and hope that the President commutes their sentence." In response the second opinion says, "Seriously? That's a cop-out. Obviously if our hearts are saying that these people shouldn't be hanged, then that's not justice and they shouldn't be hanged, and in this case it's because there's a deeper Law from Nature which takes priority over our lawbooks." And so forth.

Then Pete Suber's book offers 9 more opinions, and there are even a few more in some other law reviews. Gives you a large question of how we should be balancing all of these different interests.


Literally anyone leaking classified information would be regarded as a hero whistleblower. At what point are you betraying your country and leaking secrets to enemies?

"I feel morally obligated to blow the whistle on this new secret superweapon the US is developing. So many lives could be at risk in the future. Here are all of the plans on how to create it, my work is done."


> And transgender rights activists are more busy with right gender pronouns then with him/her [sic].

Speak for yourself.


[sic] indicates a spelling error in context, not a political correctness "error" that is still being debated


"Sic" stands for "sic erat scriptum" ("thus was it written"). It says nothing about spelling, only that the quote has been transcribed exactly as written.


A lack of headlines doesn't mean people have forgotten. This story proves that not everyone has forgotten.


Is Chelsea Manning in jail for being transgender?


HN is not representative of the world.


> And transgender rights activists are more busy with right gender pronouns then with him/her.

I like how you felt the need to take an anti-trans dig at the woman you're claiming to care about. That was classy.


I am not taking dig on Manning, but activists. Gender is irrelevant, what matters is 10 versus 35 years.

And you proved my point.


Gender's not quite irrelevant - I'm reasonably certain Chelsea is happy that she gets the medication she needs (as she has written), and that in general, people accept her transition at this point. Humane treatment is a thing that's important, and for trans people, humane treatment partially involves treating them as the gender they are.

Personally, I have no skin in this game, but I have a suspicion that the people who fought Wikipedia, newspapers, TV stations and blogs to identify her correctly have absolutely no experience getting someone out of military prison.


Her medication doesn't change her biological makeup, science isn't that good yet. I'm happy to call anyone what they want, but surgery and drugs do not recreate your sex.


There's plenty of evidence over the past couple of decades that trans people are, in a specific way, intersex - specifically that trans people's brains often have characteristics closer to those of their identified gender than what they were assigned at birth.

There's certainly lots of anecdotal evidence that many people's brains just seem to "work better" once on the correct hormones, and generally speaking transition has very good outcomes - people who have transitioned are generally doing better on key indicators, though still not as well as cis people. The people behind the studies believe that this might be down to how prejudice and discrimination affects trans people even after transition, though there's no further studies in that direction yet. (For a comparison, I believe gay people were doing worse than the general population on the same key indicators before general acceptance, and it's been gradually getting better.)

Here's a question, though: if we're not who we are in our own minds, who are we? Are you and I really only what others can see?


Yes, you are what you see physically, are you actually going to tell me that you don't think you're made of thousands upon thousands of atoms. Am I denying that it's possible for technology to change us at a cellular level? No, of course not, I'm only saying that we havn't gotten to that point, yet. Trans people are still by their DNA male or female, unless there's been some breakthrough I'm unaware of, but I don't think it's happened.


I'd like to see a source for this evidence please.


I haven't gone over these properly, so I can't actually argue for their validity, but Wikipedia claims that there are numerous studies which seem to argue the same things - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism#Brain...


The first study they cite[0] has a sample size of 6, that is not nearly enough to account for the claims they are making. The same with the 2000 study[1]. The 2009 study[2] has 24 subjects so it's slightly more authoritative but points to an entirely different part of the brain as a marker for transgenderism, it's results have yet to be replicated. I'm failing to find 'plenty of evidence' here. What sources made you come to that conclusion yourself?

[0] A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality http://faculty.bennington.edu/~sherman/sex/TRANSGENDER.pdf

[1] Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/jcem.85.5.6564

[2] Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19341803


There is enough evidence for it to not be obviously false that, at the least, there's a significant structural difference between cis people's brains and transsexual people's brains, and some of those differences may fall along sexual differentiation lines. More research must be done!

In any case, it's actually more-or-less irrelevant in arguing whether a trans person is actually the gender they identify as, and is mostly a curiosity until it leads to more focused treatment. The bit that does matter is the last question - am I who I am in my head, or am I who you think I am?


I'm sorry, your point is that you think, so therefore reality is so? You can't think yourself into a different sex, I understand that they do see themselves as male or female despite their physical characteristics, but that has no bearing on much whether we like it or not. And to answer your question, you are your configuration of you, whether anyone perceives it or not, including yourself. I guess it's turning a bit philosophical cause I'm sure you're going to come back and say the world is only what is perceived of it, but that's not what I believe.


> You can't think yourself into a different sex

No. You can think yourself into a different gender. Gender isn't sex - this has been written about since 1963, and is generally agreed on at this point - gender is a combination of personal and cultural mental attributes, while sex is generally "what your body physically is". This messes up slightly when you get to certain sex-driven gender attributes, but, in general, it's a reasonably clear line.

Sex is mostly irrelevant unless you're intending to sleep with someone or you're a doctor, and even then what you're asking about is generally a certain set of characteristics where a number of people fall between the lines. If you're a trans woman who's undergone GRS and you say "my sex is male", that's going to confuse an awful lot of people.

Edit: My specific point, in this response, is that identifying as a gender which does not match your sex is not "playing pretend" or less important somehow, as you insinuated in your original post.


Externally genitalia aren't the only physical characteristic, and if you judge by other physical characteristics that are testable now, though less obvious to a casual observer, transgender individuals are in many ways similar to their experiences gender more than their socially assigned gender. The biological differences between make and female aren't binary, treating them as if they are is an extreme simplification and treating external genitalia as the bright-line divider is increasingly evidently nonsensical given out knowledge of human biology and it's relation to psychology and behavior.


>There is enough evidence for it to not be obviously false that, at the least, there's a significant structural difference between cis people's brains and transsexual people's brains, and some of those differences may fall along sexual differentiation lines

Source?



Nice article. Unfortunately articles are not data. It mentions a 2013 study but yet again with a peer group of 32 that is much too small to tell you anything, and gives no further information. That 2013 I can't seem to find, but the p value if the article is correct on sample size would also be quite low, though slightly higher than the previously mentioned studies.

If the difference is so clear in an MRI why not run a simple blinded study where researchers look at brain scans and tell you who is transgender and who is not? Such a study would not only prove this theory outright, but would likely make a researcher's career.


Being a man or a woman is more than just your biological makeup. It makes a very significant difference in what behavior people expect from you and how they interpret what you do. In other words, there's very much a sense in which men are those who get seen and treated as men.

And personally, I see no reason why having male genitals is necessary for getting seen and treated as a man. If you behave like you want to get seen and treated as a man, I'll see and treat you like a man. The only people who have a remote interest in the actual biological makeup underlying that behavior are people who are romantically involved or interested. Oh, and medical personnel.


You're right, it's not your genitals, you could lop mine off, and I would still relate to you as a man. It is something much deeper within us, something we don't yet know how to change. Being gay or trans doesn't change that fundamental thing, it's a different approach, but it's still not different. You can put a trans-woman in front of me, and I promise you, I would relate to her as a man, on that intrinsic level which is so hard to define. (This is kind of a dumb point in a text based conversation, as I really have no proof, but I do think you (as are others) are ignoring my point. How we think is very much related to how we are made).


I seriously doubt that's true. Chances are high that you've already interacted with a trans person and not even known about it. The point people are making is that that fundamental thing that you can't change is actually biologically based, but it's a brain thing, not dependent on genitalia or chromosomes.


Sex no, gender yes.

That's the long and the short of it.


[flagged]


It's funny you bring up "mental illness" in this context.

Gender dysphoria definitely qualifies, but what I think you're failing to appreciate is that the best treatment for that illness, according to the current scientific consensus, is gender reassignment.

Your shaming of Manning for undergoing treatment for their medical condition makes just as much sense as shaming someone who undergoes any other medical procedure to correct something wrong with them.


She asked to be called female. This isn't about anonymous activists, it's about the specific human being you're pretending to care about.

But I was mostly referring to the way you implied that it's somehow the sole responsibility of a tiny and already-beleaguered minority to remember Manning. She's been largely forgotten by the tech press, by the liberal/progressive press, by America in general, and whose fault is that? Right, it's those nasty trans people! They're the ones who should be keeping the memory alive, not us!


Why criticize people for caring about something if you didn't also care about the same thing?


Whatever sympathies you want to arouse for Pvt Manning for political purposes, however wordily and clumsily expressed, try to keep in mind that throughout all of history, in all contexts, regardless of rank, Manning would have been summarily hanged as a spy and/or traitor rather than merely imprisoned. Manning got off nice and easy.

That said, it was a total failure of the system to allow someone so mentally unstable to have any kind of clearance. Manning's AFQT score was probably 99 at a time when the army had trouble getting anyone literate to join. And so there wasn't a discharge. Here's an interesting interview about Manning's (near) discharge:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/may/28/bradley-manning...


Most of history is completely irrelevant to how people should be treated today. Through most of history all of us would be illiterate and internetless and not be having this conversation.


The one thing that remains consistent in the world, throughout history and today, is power.

We may have gotten more subtle about it, but there are clearly individuals who have more power than others. Toss in massive income inequality globally and you have the system we have today. It is an unjust system rotten to its core, and it needs to be dismantled, but the way forward is unclear. I'm not sure if a thousand people like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, or Aaron Swartz can make a difference at this point.

Viewed through the lens of power, it makes perfect sense that those who try to oppose the current prevailing status quo are silenced, either through intimidation or outright violence.


Most of history there were slaves too.

Following a similar reasoning, blacks being beaten up by the police "got off easy" too. It would have been a lynching in the past.


> ...at a time when the army had trouble getting anyone literate...

In 2007? Where are you getting that? For the USMC 01-09 were glory years when it came to enlistment quality, so much so that they tightened requirements - and practically banned recruits and reenlistees with visible tattoos... while doubling in size. I'd be surprised to learn that the Army didn't enjoy the same trend.


I enlisted in the USMC in 2007, there were a lot of recruits but the quality was low and they had trouble getting the higher AFQTs joining them as opposed to the Navy or Air Force.


Hmm, that is when I got out - two boot drops, both seemed fine. The infantry is much less likely to draw underachievers though, so we'd be less likely to see the low quality recruits.


The guys going infantry were the best of the platoon by far. With the exception of one or two nobody seemed bad or outright undesirable, just slightly below what I had expected.


It's in the article he linked, sourced from military people quoted.


The guy who was also in the discharge unit, getting kicked out... we'll I guess that is as credible as an internet stranger's personal experience.


I'm guessing with the amount of money that the U.S. invests in each soldier, there's a pretty overriding impetus to not disqualify people from positions that need people to fill them.


The lack of a first name or a single pronoun in your comment has more meaning than anything you actually wrote.


Why?


I guess the point developer2 tried to make is that the parent poster's language is very non-personal.

This is a common thing -- by not seeing the victim as a person/human it's way easier to rationalize whatever ideology etc. you might have.

Sorry, not a native speaker -- can't put it better :p


I disagree. I think when you're talking about someone you don't personally know that's in the public eye, you should use their surname if you're trying to make a clear point. I noticed it when I saw my own nation's male politicians always mentioned in the media by their surname, and the female politicians referred to by first name if the media outlet didn't like them. It was a way of robbing them of respect.

As a tech parallel, Gates and Jobs aren't generally referred to in articles by their first name, even when their identity has been established.

Just refer to everyone in the same way and you level the playing field, I find. If you have a personal connection, sure, bend the rule. But using a first name without having a personal connection usually robs the public figure of a bit of power.


Interestingly, when talking about SpaceX, the CEO is almost always 'Elon' rather than 'Musk', and I'm sure there's some sort of point that could be made about that...


That is rather to the point when we talk about a military person who's acting in his military role: the style of communication tends to be very impersonal.

I learned to know a friend in the army (went through NCO and officer schools with him and was always in the same accommodation rooms because our last names began the same) and later have seen him with family (our kids are grown up by now). It took me a good while to feel natural about referring to him by his first name, because the army way was to use the last name.


Or it could be a way to make sure responses wouldn't derail towards the correct pronoun to use.

I read developer2's response as being very presumptuous and prepossessed, and was wondering why.




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