Friday, April 18, 2014

Modern blasphemies and breaking old limits

I don't wish any ill on the newly pregnant Chelsea Clinton, much less her unborn child. Truly and sincerely - health and long life to everyone, Godwilling, especially innocent children. And when I saw the headline that Mrs Clinton was pregnant, my response was immediately one of.. well, complete apathy. I don't give much of a shit about the personal lives of celebrities, political or otherwise. What's Chelsea Clinton done anyway other than be a daughter to a pair of, at worst, disasteful semi-moderate parents? Oh sure, she says she may run for political office someday - but that's a while away, if ever the day comes.

Ignore her, be happy for her, and there's nothing more to say here. Right?

Acknowledging the shift I've felt in my sensibilities lately, I am forced to wonder if this really is the best course of action - this kind of intellectual non-aggression treaty when it comes to (in Chelsea's case, presumably - in her parent's case, definitely) pro-abortion women who are pregnant. In fact, it rather seems to me like the best time to really start acknowledging the realities of abortion.

To that end, I'd like to see, if not Chelsea, then at least Hillary Clinton pressed on the question of abortion right now. Wouldn't that be a great interview question, interrupting the stream of otherwise softball questions?

'Mrs Clinton, congratulations on your daughter's pregnancy. Just to reiterate, you do believe she should have the unequivocal right to end her child's life at any stage up until birth, for any reason whatsoever, and without so much as the input or knowledge of her husband - correct?'

'Mrs Clinton, has your daughter decided on names for her child yet? Also, you acknowledge that whatever is inside of her now shouldn't legally be considered a person, right? It's just a blob of meaningless cells that may one day have real value, but for now it's closer to a benign growth one can choose to have sliced apart and vacuumed up if so desired, yes?'

'Mrs Clinton, hypothetical situation. Your daughter is pregnant with a baby girl, but she doesn't want to have more than one child, and she'd really prefer a son. So she chooses to have her child aborted so she can get pregnant with the 'right kind' of baby. You agree this should be legal, yes?'

We'd see some fireworks if she was caught offguard.

I'm sure it would be regarded with outrage, of course - on the left and right. On the left, well... those are people who are often terrified of even saying the A-word, hence "A woman's right to choose..." being the war cry, or "reproductive rights", always with 'abortion' or 'killing her fetus' left entirely out of the picture, to be inferred rather than read. On the right, well... it would come across as one more assault on the sanctity of motherhood. Worse, an intellectual attack on a woman specifically, which - let's face it - riles a lot of women regardless of where they stand on this issue. Talk about such things later, thank you very much. Let her bask in the glow of motherhood now, and hope that the experience, without any outside assistance, nudges her in the right direction.

Yada, yada, yada.

And yet I'm sitting here thinking - in a world where the socially conservative are harassed constantly... who, once outed, are forced to be on guard against being fired, against being misrepresented among their peers and in the news, mocked in entertainment media... why pull intellectual punches? Why allow hypocrisy be shielded by what would be quickly regarded as outdated sanctity if the shoe were on the other foot? Why not take the opportunity to put the issues in stark relief, and if it happens to result in some piss getting in everyone's punch bowl, so be it?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hollywood director accused of preying on a 15 year old actor at party

How many times does this sort of thing have to happen before Hollywood finally wises up and allows directors to get married, and women to be directors?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hints of a Western Future?

Iran mulling banning vasectomies, tightening abortion laws to counter flagging demographic numbers.

Granted, it's taking place in a muslim theocracy. But for a while I've wondered if we could eventually see these sorts of measures turning up in Western countries. Would it not be downright amusing if, after years and years of justifying China's two-child policy on the grounds that 'they have too many children there', we saw secular states banning birth control, abortion and more, on the grounds that they don't have nearly enough children?

After all, in both cases it's protecting the state's interests.

It's hard to feel much debt to people who hate you

The point of the previous post may not have been communicated as clearly as I like, so hey, time for me to be blunt: it's hard to feel much concern for a group of people who regard you as a hateful savage that the world is better off without. It doesn't matter if this group exists right now, or will only exist at some point in the future. If they have or will (supposedly) certainly have that attitude towards you, well... putting God aside for a moment, it's hard not to say 'well, screw them'.

I think this very basic and natural human response to large groups of hostile individuals gets obscured because of the nature of talking about future individuals. They're 'our children and our children's children', even if we individually don't have any children. That collective 'we' thing that's so popular. But it's not people's children or their children's children who will inherit whatever world we leave them, because children don't own much of anything. Those *adults* the children will become will inherit the world. In the fever-dreams of the progressives, these are trendy, hopelessly liberal, conservative- and even Christianity-hating people who will actively revile everything that anyone even somewhat socially conservative (namely, yours truly, and quite possibly you the person who is reading this) value.

Yes, this is all meant to be an emotional weapon with which to threaten the socially conservative into changing their views - you know, adhere to the pack mentality to be. 'Gasp, you oppose gay marriage! Everyone will hate you eventually! Or they'll think of you as a primitive savage to be pitied!' But while this may work on some kind of human being, it really seems to me that another, more powerful response is in the running: visceral, intense dislike of future generations in general. Oh, my using more coal will make life tougher for *those assholes*? Well then, turn up the heat if you will. I always wanted to live in a sauna.

Now, that's putting so many things aside. Christian morality, an Aristotilean approach to the good, etc. And I suppose to a certain sort of individual, it all seems so distasteful in general to think that way. Aren't we supposed to be better than that? And according to the aforementioned objective standards, we are. But when we put them aside, there's very little ultimate reason to do that aside from, perhaps, the social and cultural handjobbery to comes with 'being a good person' even when 'good' just means 'doing whatever the whims of the louder parts of the culture happen to be at a given moment', in which case, thank you but no.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Strawman Dialogues: To Hell with the Future Edition

A: Hey there. I can't help but notice you drove into work in a nice new SUV today.
B: Yeah, it's pretty great.
A: I thought we talked about this? That gets terrible gas mileage, you're kind of robbing the future generation of limited resources.
B: You know, that's actually why I decided to get it.
A: What?
B: Well, you know I'm against same-sex marriage.
A: Wait, are we still having the same conversation?
B: Against women's ordination. Against abortion...
A: Right, all terrible beliefs on your part.
B: So you say. And you keep telling me future generations are going to look back on me with disgust.
A: They are.
B: Which is why I decided, I don't really give a shit about these arrogant future-twerps.
A: What!? But they're our children! Our children's children!
B: You see me with any kids?
A: Okay, but they're other people's children!
B: Yeah, other people's kids are pretty annoying *now*, pal. The point is, when I'm constantly reminded of the disgust and smugness a bunch of people regard me with, my desire to sacrifice to help them out fizzles out like a bug fart. Why - Christ aside, for a moment - should I sacrifice anything for people you're convinced will hate me?
A: That's a terrible attitude!
B: But eminently sensible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A quick philosophical thought experiment

Everyone knows about the brain-in-a-vat scenario, where all a person's experiences are actually courtesy of a kind of simulated universe, fed to them by a scientist. The usual questions kicked around are, how do you know you are not a brain in a vat, how do you know solipsism is not true, etc, etc.

I have another question: does the possibility of your being a brain in a vat at all increase if you live next door to a group of scientists with brains in vats? Does the technological capability to enact this situation with any given person influence the likelihood we should assign to our being brains in vats?

Conservative Failings

I'm going to take it a break with criticizing "progressives" for a little, particularly Lothar - he's been great to talk with, but I think I'm rattling him by pounding on this topic, and really I don't want to sound like a broken record anyway. So let me explain something in greater detail that I've meant to go over in the past: what I see as the principle sins of conservatives.

I want to stress here, though, that conservatives - I have in mind here low-tax, small-government conservatives in the broad sense - are subject to a different spread of failings than "progressives", practically by necessity. The conservative, in virtue of opposing an expanding government, of wanting minimal at best state intervention in people's lives and livelihoods, is generally not going to be prone to pushing their way into people's lives.

Note the 'generally' - yes, I'm well aware that some people can interpret 'regulations against killing unborn children' as intervening in people's lives. Yes, I understand conservatism-in-practice - namely self-described 'conservative' legislators - are subject to moral panics, such as "protecting" kids from violent video games and so on. Those same legislators also have a habit, shared by "progressives", of wanting to rush headlong into global adventures and wars - even if they differ on just what particular bits of entanglement they favor. Again, I'm not going to ignore the fact that I am speaking in terms of generalizations.

But at the end of the day, I think it's fair to size up conservatism as a perspective oriented towards limited government services, and leaving people - including large corporations - alone. A mass shooting won't stir the conservative to think about limiting gun ownership, the existence of people without health insurance won't have them hatching plots to get the government to foot that bill, poverty is not a problem for the government to solve... the list goes on.

And it goes on for good reason. They resist the introduction of state services that make individuals servile, sapping their spirit - a danger FDR himself mentioned, but which few people seem to be aware of. They understand that government is absolutely not immune from corruption, from favoritism, from spying on its citizens. And they also understand that historically - again, something people forget - one of the biggest threats to human life has been government. You know, that thing that's thrown its citizens into gulags, ovens, and idiotic wars? They're a little hesitant about granting it power, making it omnipresent in day to day life.

Besides - the government doesn't get its money or its manpower from the sun. It gets it from the people - it taxes, it takes. And whatever can be accomplished by taxing can be accomplished by individuals, right? They can form organizations, work in groups, found hospitals, start charities - people can take it upon themselves to voluntarily give up their money and their time, and encourage other to do the same thing. If such things really matter to them.

There's the obvious weakness - conservatives, particularly the politicians, spend practically zero time encouraging and promoting charity in any big way. When the conservative position is that government should be small, and that charity should be performed voluntarily by individuals... the absence of public promotion of charity is pretty glaring. And I want to be clear what I mean here - obviously not 'getting the government to fund these charities'. Rather defeats the purpose. I'm talking about visibly promoting charities, teaming up with organizations that really are going out there and feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping people out.

It doesn't have to be the way I'm proposing, but the fact remains - conservatives don't really pursue a public image of charitable association. At best, it is something they engage in at times, and yes I'm aware that many conservative organizations (churches, and so on) have charity arms, engage in charitable causes. But it's not front and center - it's not made into a core, visible principle of conservative philosophy. It is ultimately invisible in a lot of ways. And the result is that whenever 'health care' or 'poverty' or anything else gets brought up, conservatives come across as the party of "no", but without so much as an alternative in mind. Despite there being a clear alternative for conservatives, particularly Christians.

I can imagine all kinds of reasons for it. Not wanting to 'politicize' a charity is probably first and foremost - many charities probably don't want to be associated with one political party or another. Of course, there's flat out 'failure to give to charity'. But at the end of the day, the problem is that the generalized conservative has a certain way to approach the world, a certain kind of answer to problems... but this action, and these answers, doesn't get discussed or promoted.

Particularly for a Christian, I think the conservative approach to the world has to be paired with an increasing public advocacy of individual, voluntary action. Note that conservatism doesn't stand or fall based on the success of these actions - but the attempt really strikes me as important, and all too often, lacking.