Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Congratulations, GOP, on your success in Indiana and Arkansas!

I'm talking about, of course, the way you successfully capitulated to your opposition.

See, I was worried I'd have to eat some crow here. Passing a law to protect religious freedom? To make it so religious people do NOT have to service a gay wedding or other event they dislike, even if they will serve LGBT people? A bit gutsy, that. Writing it into law even in the face of opposition at the time? Bold stuff. And then another governor preparing to sign the bill into law, despite the mounting pressure on Indiana?

Why, that's the stuff of backbone. More than that - sincerity! It's showing you're willing to stand for principle even if the media is against you.

Which would make my views about the party and GOP leadership absolutely wrong, of course.

So it's to my great satisfaction to read that in Indiana, GOP members will be meeting with LGBT activists to try and rewrite the bill in a way they'll find acceptable. Because, after having supported the firing of people for past opposition to gay marriage, and fining businesses out of existence for refusing to provide service to a same-sex wedding even if they'd happily provide service to gays normally, you know that they won't just demand - and get - complete capitulation!

And of course there's the Arkansas governor going back on his commitment to sign the bill into law, sending it back for a rewrite to "find a nice balance" between "diversity" and "religious protections". Naturally we can expect the bill to be completely gutted and if anything make it so refusing to service a gay wedding will require intervention from the state to oversee if the refusal was maybe kinda offensive to LGBT activists. This is the only way fairness will be ensured!

It's really encouraging when long-held suspicions receive support: the GOP has no concern about religious freedom, social conservatives, or anything other than its business wing, complete with its "progressive" politics, and utter disgust with anything that so much as slightly smacks of non-secular religion.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Atheism's Schism

By the by, in case you missed it - Atheist+ sorts are at it again, causing a brand new schism among atheists.

The short version? Atheists had been maintaining a block bot that censors out Badthink Experiences on Twitter.

Really, the most I can say here is - I always said the 'Freethinker' label for atheists was a load of horseshit. But man, could they have possibly made it more obvious than that?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Progressives Lie

Here's one difference I've personally seen between liberals and conservatives.

For social conservatives, intentionally lying about one's social views isn't really an option. The idea of someone being ardently pro-life but feigning support for abortion in order to win power and then enact changes in their favor is, by and large, alien reasoning. The thought doesn't occur to them. They can be accused of being ignorant, of stupidly misrepresenting or misunderstanding one or another line of evidence, and certainly they play their share of rhetoric games. But no one ever looked at Mitt Romney and thought 'He's probably secretly pro-life, and was just favoring abortion for the liberal crowd!' If anything, the suspicion was that he was even worse than he let on.

For "progressives", lying about these sorts of things is second nature.

Go talk to "progressive" atheists, and most will tell you as much. Obama? He's an atheist. So's Politician X or Y or Z. He's just lying about his beliefs because he wants to get elected. Bill Maher said as much outright, and I believe PZ Myers said the same. There's no real shame in the accusation, because it's not an accusation coming from them - it's just the way it is. Want something, but being honest will deny it to you? Just lie. What are you worried about? Morality? Ends justify means. Or pick whatever other flavor of morality that says you can lie to get what you want, and there's a good number to choose from.

Now personally, I've seen this firsthand time and time again - and not just with "progressive atheists". I've seen progressive Christians tearfully advise giving up the fight on gay marriage as a lost cause, informing everyone of how we can revisit the issue later when fortune favors us and to 'pick our battles wisely', only to get cornered and admit yeah, they're in favor of gay marriage and they'd fight bitterly against anyone who refused to legalize it. I've seen progressive Christians adamantly insist that it's wrong and immoral to pass laws with religious beliefs in mind, then spin around and say it's immoral to oppose such and such a law because Christ would have wanted it that way. I've seen lie upon lie upon lie, and that's not counting the times I've seen blatantly obvious lies with just the barest shred of plausible deniability.

I know this seems like I'm Mister Conservative bashing The Enemy. But really, I'm just relating what experience has taught me, from talking to progressives personally, to watching them in the public sphere. For social conservatives, lying - not 'being wrong', but literally, willfully lying - is shameful. For progressives, it's only a bad thing if you get caught, and then only if it does damage to a given goal.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stoicism and the Pro-Life View

Stop me if you've heard this claim before.

It's not enough for pro-lifers to simply be against abortion. If they're REALLY against abortion, they have to provide financial and emotional support for women who may choose abortion.

They need to remove the stigma against out of wedlock pregnancy, because women who are stigmatized will choose abortion to keep their pregnancy a secret.

They need to provide affordable low-income or even free housing to women who have children out of wedlock.

They also need to provide them with free education, financial support as they raise their children, support for funded daycare initiatives so they can work while they have children.

Because if you fail to do any of this, you're making life harder on women who get pregnant, and that just improves the chance that they'll end up choosing abortion - and thus, you're not pro-life if you fail to adhere to this outline.

What's key here is that the above isn't some line taken by pro-abortionists. It's taken by, in my experience, numerous pro-lifers - people who are absolutely adamant that any criticism of women who get pregnant out of wedlock be absolutely verboten among pro-lifers. There's even the attitude that women who have had abortions don't need condemnation - they need love and support and respect, because abortion is a difficult thing, and if they're stigmatized because of having made one mistake they may get pregnant and choose abortion AGAIN, and now we're compounding the error.

I now reject this line of thinking. All of it.

It's not that I'm against providing support to single mothers. It's not that I think people should be hounded lifelong for a sin. But I support those things, insofar as I support them, because I think they are right - and I oppose the ones I oppose because I think they are wrong. I will not be made to support or denounce these things because pregnant women are being treated as terrorists who can, at any moment, acquire a hostage to force others to the negotiating table with.

If a woman freely decides to have an abortion because she worries about her image, if she wants the freedom to have a better job... that blood is on her hands. It's not on the world for failing to put an enticing enough offer on the table for her.

None of this denies that a woman can be in rotten circumstances, that there can be mitigating factors involved with her making the decision to kill her child. I'll accept all of that, I'll extend my sympathies and understanding when I think the case warrants it. But I no longer have an interest in getting caught up in some oversimplified, bizarre consequentialist game where the goal is to look at a balance sheet and determine how to absolutely minimize the number of abortions, such that I'm morally obligated to take every move that arguably will reduce that number.

Women and men who procure or perform abortions, are murderers. Public frowning upon out of wedlock pregnancies is often deserved. If hearing any of those leads a woman to kill her child out of fear of shame, or spite, that's unfortunate - but it's the sin of those procuring and performing the abortion. They cannot make it mine.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Vox Day on the Moderates

Pointed out to me by Malcolm. A good couple of snippets:
There is an intrinsic conflict between the moderates and the extremists of any movement or organization. The moderates are inward-focused, conservative, defensive, and believe that public relations is the ultimate determinant of victory or defeat. The extremists are outward-focused, creative, offensive, and believe that material conditions are the ultimate determinant of victory or defeat. These two rival perspectives tend to hold true regardless of whatever the issue might be, from politics and cultural war to sports and business affairs.
...
Most damning of all, I think, is the observable hypocrisy of many moderates, who flagrantly violate their own advice. They are very often more than happy to insult their nominal allies and attack their own side's extremists with the very names they refuse to call the enemy. 
The last bit is important, and harkens back to what helped me shake my own far more moderate approach to these topics: I started to notice that the people who urged forgiveness and a genteel manner (usually invoking Christ in the process) would quickly turn on heel and absolutely denigrate and tear into conservatives and Christians on the wrong side of the political aisle.

It's worth noting that Vox isn't talking about political moderates strictly, but the 'moderate in tone'. You know the type: LGBT pride parade in your city, featuring bondage-Jesus making out with transvestite Mary Magdalene? Well, you have to understand the pain and hurt they're going through, they're lashing out. All they need is love - nay, friendship. Friendship! This thing denied to them by Christians. This is an opportunity to suffer (in silence, please!) for the Lord.

But if a Christian opposes Obamacare, well! What a fucking monster, hypocrite, people like this make Christians look terrible, etc.

For my part, I'm tired of it. I'm tired of Christians who only seem capable of criticizing other Christians, particularly those dreadful conservative ones. The benefit of the doubt has been lost.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Universality of Morality

It's not 'Christians' who are supposed to give to the poor - it's 'everyone'.

It's not 'Christians' who are supposed to tell the truth - it's 'everyone'.

Lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, abortion, sodomy... take your pick. As far as Christian teaching goes, these are not moral oughts 'for Christians'. They are moral oughts for everyone. Being a non-Christian doesn't mean you operate by a different set of moral rules.

The idea that Christian morality only applies to Christians isn't a biblical teaching. That's just a case of people confusing a secular "separation of Church and State" with Christianity itself.

There's a lot to say here, but I want to zero in on one thing in particular: when I catch people, particularly other self-described Christians, insisting on harsh standards of morality for Christians - but who are absolutely, positively loathe to suggest these standards for anyone BUT Christians, much less hold others to them - I don't just see someone making a minor error. In fact, I see something much more than an 'error'.

I see abuse. Straight up psychological abuse. And I see it being used against a group of people who have been abused quite enough during this and the last century, thank you. And I'm not going to tolerate it, because I consider tolerating it to be immoral.

It doesn't matter if you're all smiles with me. It doesn't matter if you plead to high heavens that you love your Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, yadda yadda, with all your heart. When you start talking about how Christians should gleefully surrender themselves to torment and execution (and indeed, that suggesting otherwise is unChristian and sinful and you're a bad person for suggesting that people, you know, have a right or even a duty to defend themselves and others), I'm probably going to just call you a moral monster and tell you to fuck off.

Because, hot on the heels of a century where Christians were put to death en masse, in a world where the culture at large is hostile to Christianity and heaps emotional abuse on them at the earliest moments, you're going that extra mile and justifying it all. I regard you with the same emotional response as I would some decrepit old fuck of a priest telling a teenage boy to just accept his molestation or Jesus will frown at him.

And if you tell me 'Don't find malice where stupidity or ignorance may be the cause!', don't worry - I assure you, I'm considering all three of those options when I evaluate you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Accepting brute facts makes theism a live possibility...

...even if one is a naturalist.

I never see theists bringing this up, and I think it's for the usual reason: it involves talking about a God or gods that they're not really invested in, and whose existence they'd find unsettling. But it seems to me straightforwardly obvious that the acceptance of brute facts - the acceptance that some things can exist, or come into existence, utterly without cause or explanation - means that the existence of God or gods has to be considered. They're just one more thing that can exist or come to exist brutely.

In fact, insofar as theism is presented as either a view that avoids brute facts, or that is inevitable if one avoids brute facts, there's some unevenness between the theistic and naturalistic worldviews. Theism is automatically true if a theistic picture of the world is true, obviously. But theism isn't automatically false, given the intellectual chimera known as naturalism. In fact, given a naturalistic universe, there seems to be no way to be sure one also lives in a non-theistic universe.

Does that mean we should all be theists by default?