Sunday, April 27, 2014

Clive Bundy - What I Think

Well, I asked people to give their evaluations of Cliven Bundy's remarks ahead of my own thoughts. Thanks to all who replied, regardless of what your take on the issue was.

My own take? I think Bundy's remarks were clumsy and stupid. Not particularly racist.

One theme I saw in some of the responses was that Bundy was overgeneralizing. Yes, the social situation of American blacks generally is pretty shitty. A 73% out of wedlock birth rate, one hell of an abortion rate, and more. Now, someone can reasonably say 'Well, those are rates and averages. Not totalities. You shouldn't treat blacks as a monolithic group, so it's wrong to talks about 'blacks' getting abortions as opposed to 'some blacks' or 'many blacks'.' Intellectually, that's fair.

In practice, it's bullshit. And by bullshit I mean that Cliven Bundy didn't whip up a firestorm of negative reaction by his omitting the word 'some' when describing the state of American blacks, so let's not pretend that was the trigger issue. Or at least, if it IS the trigger issue, it's ridiculous. You can call his phrasing sloppy, but that's about all you can say about it. On most other topics omissions like that wouldn't cause people to so much as blink an eye.

Another topic that came up was whether blacks were better off under slavery than what they're experiencing right now. Bundy was brief here - he seemed to suggest he was talking about welfare and the effects this has on the human spirit, but he didn't say much.Still, that's a hell of a thing to say. Saying blacks may have been better off as slaves?

But Bundy was talking about situation and culture, not some kind of limitation of race or any such crap. Saying that blacks may have been collectively in a better situation then than now may be wrong, it may even be obviously wrong. But racist? It doesn't show up.

Now, I think Bundy's remarks were clumsy to say the least. Stupid as well, if his goal was to actually prompt a discussion about the federal government or race or anything else. But that's about it: clumsy, dumb remarks at worst. He didn't owe the world an apology. At worst he should have been asked some followup questions to make the necessary clarifications.

But no one asked for a clarification. People largely responded by asking if he stood by his remarks, demanding an apology, and calling him a racist.

This wasn't just left-wing regulars either. Rand Paul immediately cut and run, Glenn Beck did much the same. They made it clear that his statements were horrible and terrible and racist and in the process helped ensure that anyone who ever has anything critical to say about the federal government's impact on black communities, or problems present in any other non-protected group, had best keep their mouths shut.

Now, someone can point out that it may well be possible to talk about the subjects Cliven Bundy is talking about without triggering as much fury. It requires being articulate, careful, thoughtful and clear, avoiding offense, and being able to defend yourself with linguistic grace in the event that someone inevitably does try to read racism into what you're saying. No doubt this can be accomplished.

The problem is - and few people seem to appreciate this - if that is the standard in place in order to authorize critical discussions about race, it's as good as outright censorship. It ensures that only a very particular elite have even the possibility of discussing these subjects, and it just takes a single screwup to crucify them - so even they are going to be discouraged from talking about it all.

So we're left with the unfortunate situation where Cliven Bundy said something pretty dumb, but far worse were the reactions to him. The harm Bundy caused by saying what he did was (aside from the harm to himself) largely imaginary. The harm done by the likes of Beck, Paul and the usual "progressives" was very real.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cliven Bundy's racist remarks

I haven't commented much on the Cliven Bundy case, because really, I'm only vaguely aware of what's going on. Feds versus local ranchers and all that. But last night I hear that he made some racist remarks, and everyone is condemning him - so I figured hey, look into it.

These are the remarks, as near as I can tell:
“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy said over the weekend, according to the Times. “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Right off the bat - in terms of the guy trying to gain support for his cause, which had nothing to do with race, this was a real stupid move. I suppose you can broadly draw the line from 'he was mangling with the federal government, and he's talking about government's negative impact, so...' but really, if his goal was to keep a spotlight on the particular issue he's involved in, he should have just kept quiet.

Now, if he's more interested in using his sudden bit of public spotlight to go after the federal government? ... Still not a good move. Because now everyone isn't talking about the federal government, but his comments about race. As near as I can tell, Bundy didn't want to talk about racial issues, and well, now he is. So in terms of skillful use of the media? Yeah, this was a stupid move.

And was it racist?

Before I give my analysis, I want to ask any regular reader here - give your own analysis if you're willing. But don't just tell me 'it was racist' or 'it was not racist'. Pick through the quote. Tell me why it was or wasn't racist in specific terms.

Were the broad generalities racist? Associating blacks with abortion, government subsidized living, etc?

The slavery allusions? 'Maybe they were better off as slaves.'?

I'm hoping someone gives their input in either direction, because while I have my opinion, I'm really interested in how others process this kind of thing when they encounter it. I'll write a bit more on it after I hopefully get some results.

Edit: Additional context available here:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Newest "Progressive" move: Bar members of the Boy Scouts from being judges

Courtesy of the Daily Caller:
California is proposing to ban members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) from serving as judges because the Boy Scouts do not allow gay troop leaders, The Daily Caller has learned.
In a move with major legal implications, The California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on The Code of Judicial Ethics has proposed to classify the Boy Scouts as practicing “invidious discrimination” against gays, which would end the group’s exemption to anti-discriminatory ethics rules and would prohibit judges from being affiliated with the group.
Dissent is not allowed. Associating with dissenters is not allowed. And if you fail to praise people's sexual proclivities as great and moral and grand, you will be hounded, belittled, mocked, persecuted and - if they can get away with it - worse, until you come around.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

Will be low on responses all of Sunday. So, Happy Easter to all.

Christos Voskrese! Voistinnu Voskrese! 

China on track to become world's most Christian nation

I wish I could link you the article for this headline - from the Telegraph, I think - but they do one of those 'pay to read after X articles' things, so that's out.

I won't say I believe the headline either. But if another communist-atheist nation suddenly goes majorly Christian immediately in the aftermath of dropping its faith... man, if I'm still alive at that point, I will laugh as much as I'll celebrate.

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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Progressive stereotypes and the good cop

Well, the debacle at McGrath's blog is fast coming to a close. The end result is that I'm pretty sure Skippy finally realized that A) he had the wrong guy, and that even if he didn't, B) I wasn't following the script he had mentally written out in his head regarding his sloppy attempt at bullying. Once again, pretty amazing that it was over the pettiest of things - if you read that conversation, the trigger was that I thought it was reasonable, even if not science, to infer the existence of a creator based on looking at nature. That's some soft and mushy stuff, but lo', I made it clear I think Michael Behe is NOT, in fact, spawn of Satan (aka the Koch Brothers in modern American progressive-ese) and thus it was important that I be dealt with.

Or maybe he was trying to smear some guy I don't know by associating him with my thoughts and views. Who knows, who cares. By the end of it you can tell he was in 'Well, I fucked up' mode, trying to walk back his threats, offer apologies, and so on. By the by - I'm fine with honest mistakes, but when your apology is delivered to me only after your attempts at threatening me failed and I'm screaming to everyone who will hear what you just tried to pull off? I'm going to question the sincerity.

But, let's focus here.

Lothar - who I am going to say again, is a guy I like, a guy I find fair, a guy I can talk with despite disagreements, which means a lot - suggested I'm not being fair when it comes to progressives. He'll grant that there is some bullying that goes on, but he thinks it happens on both sides of the aisle, so to speak. He thinks "progressives" - perhaps not all of them, perhaps not most of them - don't really behave the way I say they do.

I'll put my cards on the table: my estimations of progressives really are generalizations, and generalizations are at best only true to a point. I'll grant that there are progressives who truly oppose the sort of bullying we saw with Eich, that we see with others. I do not subscribe to cartoon views of reality where everyone who disagrees with me is some kind of monster, with the only thing varying being the method. People have sincere disagreements. At times, they make mistakes. Hell, sometimes they're right and I'm wrong.

And... sometimes? Sometimes they also bullshit.

There is a phenomenon I noticed long ago with atheists. Anyone who's read my blog knows I differentiate between the Cultist of Gnu - the nasty devotee of Dawkins and Coyne with a slavish devotion to militant atheism, for whom all information about religion arrives through the filter of angry skeptical blogs and the like - and all other atheists. I am willing to concede that most of the irreligious are not only not like that, but actually find the behavior of the Gnu off-putting. They are nasty, they are hateful, and - let's be frank - they are often pretty stupid. I won't categorize the two in the same slot.

But at the same time, there is a certain kind of atheist that I call the Good Cop. The Good Cop doesn't behave like a Gnu. They try to appear friendly and approachable with Christians, with theists. But it's not that they reject the Gnu approach, the Gnu attitude, or even the Gnu hate. They just... find it tactically questionable. It's not -for them-, because -they- want to be seen as a bit more respectable than that, a bit more civil and thoughtful.

At the same time, though? They regard the Gnu as useful. After all, they're the animated maniacs who will go to Christian blogs and kick up a storm, they'll go on the attack, they'll try to convert people, they'll pressure people into silence or conformity - butts of contempt an all. And so the Good Cop decides that this Gnu has a use. The result is that the Good Cop tries to act as if the Gnu does not exist. When Richard Dawkins calls a Catholic upbringing child abuse, they don't want to talk about it - indeed, they don't even want to acknowledge Dawkins exists, in a way. He's too minor a figure, you see. Not intellectually serious. Can't we switch the topic to something else? Anything else? Why spend time on this?

What's going on is that the Good Cop approves of the Bad Cop. But they both have their roles, and even if the Good Cop snorts at the Bad Cop, his job is to tolerate the Bad Cop and enable him. To cast a blind eye towards what the Bad Cop is doing, to put up a smokescreen. Maybe the Good Cop will now and then lament the sorry state of theist-atheist dialogue, but general and broad expressions of dissatisfaction are as far as it will go... because at the end of the day the Gnu is on Their Side, doing Their Work.

Which is why we're in the curious situation where atheists will argue that many, even most atheists reject the Cult of Gnu, yet curiously it's hard to find an atheist, "secular" or naturalist organization that doesn't lavish praise on the Cult. It's as if there's an abundance of atheists out there who, for all their talk about rejecting the Gnus, don't reject them so much to actually do anything about them.

Obviously not every atheist is like this. But this is, I am convinced, a real phenomenon. And I see it with "progressives" too. If you tell me that many, even most, progressives oppose things like the firing of Eich, who oppose bullying, I'm left wondering why it's nevertheless the case that these things happen with such ferocity and ease. Will I see any "progressive" backlash against Mozilla? OKCupid? Hell, will I see it - minor as it is in comparison - over on McGrath's blog? No, I expect the McGrath pattern to show up, where after someone stupidly tries to reveal RL details about me and talk ominously about what my employer may think of my online, anonymous opinions, McGrath goes 'Threat? Threat? I saw no threat. And you said he didn't have your identity right anyway, so I figured it was no big deal.' Because if there were such things - if there was backlash against an LGBT activist targeting a Christian's business to take part in a gay wedding in a bullying attempt - there'd be more controversy about that. It wouldn't be showing up so much. I would see denunciations of the groups involved, the people backing it all.

It's not happening. Which puts me in the unfortunate position of having to reason that "progressivism" is led and driven by the lunatics, that quite a number of the quieter "progressives" are simply playing Good Cop to the lunatic Bad Cops, and the remainder are too small in number to be of much consequence in the entire ordeal.

It is an illustration of how this game, so to speak, is being played on the public, social, political stage. These are not merely fringe events rarely popping up at the extremes of society - it is day to day reality. And I am very tired of ignoring it and pretending most progressives, gosh darn it, just want to get along and agree to disagree.

How does James McGrath respond to people threatening others on his blog?

Simple: by writing a post where he questions whether anyone really has the right to comment anonymously when you get right down to it.

On the one hand we have Stuart32 - aka, Skippy - continuing to try and threaten me, talking about all the bad things that could happen if I were to keep writing comments and discussing things online. You know, talking about how my employer may frown on it all, that there may be repercussions. You'd think the fact that I've A) told him outright his information is bad, and B) have not only failed to keep quiet, but have ramped up my comments, would get it through to him that he's fucked up - but apparently Skippy is slow.

But Skippy's not the star here. It's James McGrath.

See, all of this is happening right on James' blog. He has the ability to throw down a ban - to at least so much as give a warning - for someone engaging in the antics that Stuart32 is. I've confronted him directly about this, he damn well knows what's going on.

And what's the response of the "progressive" Christian? To opine about whether or not people really have a right to be anonymous after all. Why, he thinks that the world would be far more... polite, if anonymity were denied to them in all venues.

No doubt, James. No doubt.

Perhaps the best part so far - happened while I was writing this - was James going on to say that he didn't feel the need to intervene with Stuart because... well, I alleged that Stuart had the wrong guy, so that seemed to settle the matter in his mind.

Think about that one for a moment.

James McGrath thinks that if person A threatens person B, reveals what they believe are real life details about them, repeatedly talks about how much they know about B and all the bad things that can happen if the wrong people got this information... well, that's okay if B denies that A has the right person, or the right information. A little like saying that blackmailing someone isn't morally problematic if the blackmailer fucked up and doesn't have actually damning information.

The irony in all of this is that, during my first interaction with him, James kept asking why I was writing anonymously, and I mentioned the sort of repercussions one can experience in today's modern climate for expressing views that ran contrary to what was accepted. Gosh, I wonder why....

More "Progressive" Tolerance on display

Now this is truly a first.

I somehow stumbled onto another one of James McGrath's latest blog entries, partly due to his pleading wide-eyed ignorance of what I meant by his waging a hate campaign. You know, based on my previous experience with him where he openly drew comparison between people who didn't want to bake cakes for gay weddings and flat out nazis. I showed up to remind James exactly on what grounds I accused him of waging a hate campaign... but that's not the interesting thing.

It seems one Stuart32 decided to come to James' defense. We got to talking about Intelligent Design, he got cocky, I corrected him and tweaked him... and he immediately upped the ante. This is actually a first for me - I've never had someone play the game of "I have your RL details, and maybe your employer would like to know what you get up to online" with me before. Granted, Stuart32 - aka, Skippy, my own nickname for him - is apparently a mix of moron and paranoiac, since he keeps insisting my name is "Ed" and, it seems, believing I'm employed in some kind of academic capacity. Which is pretty quaint given my on-record disdain for academia, and the fact that I'm not named 'Ed' or anything close to it.

But the point here is, it's a great and living example of what I'm talking about. Take a look at the conversation in question that I linked if you care to. Notice how very quickly this guy escalated things, when he thought he had information on me, to 'Maybe I'll just let your employers know what you get up to'. And notice how no one - as of this writing, not even James McGrath - called him out on it. In fact, he's getting upvotes for making the move.

Oh, and when I started pointing out, loudly, the threats he was making? He tried to walk it back to how he's not going to do anything against me right now, and "It's enough that you know that I know." Again, this is pretty damn funny given that his aim is mistaken here - but it's dangerously instructive.

This is the new norm for the "progressives". If you speak out of turn, they'll try to have you fired. Speak anonymously, and they'll either bluff or try to find out who you are to try and hurt you for daring to speak against them. And they can get away with it, because they have both a media machine and quite the army of sympathetic little footsoldiers behind them.

Now, with this in mind, let me ask you a serious question - you few people who read this blog.

Given what you're seeing - given the fact that it is a widespread accepted thing by "progressives" to have you fired for your views, to harass you RL, to attack you, degrade you, have you pushed to the margins of society if at all possible... is there any significant form of 'common ground' to have with them? Can you call one a real, sincere friend? Or will they be the kind of 'friend' you have to perpetually have your back to the wall with, a friend you keep your mouth shut around - a little like living in a Soviet society and being friends with a known KGB informant?

This is where we are at now. All that talk years ago - when "progressives" were in a less prominent state - about tolerance and open-mindedness and agreeing to disagree and being able to work alongside each other even while disagreeing... it was all quite the load of shit, wasn't it?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Should conservatives be fair?

I hate to keep coming at Lothar on the "progressive" topic - I repeat again, he's always been civil and fair with me - but I want to focus on something he told me, after I announced that I really see no opportunities or reason to 'find common ground' with self-described "progressive" Christians. His quote:
But I hope you will start critically analyzing the misbehaviors of Conservatives in the same way you do for liberals. 
Now, for one thing - I do analyze conservatives already. I've criticized what I regard as the abundant flaws in social conservative over at What's Wrong With the World and on this blog. I've lodged my criticisms against what I consider to be the blind spots of economically conservative, I've defended Pope Francis' new approach to social conservative issues, and more. But I'm going to interpret Lothar's question to me in the way I think he ultimately meant it: shouldn't I be fair? Shouldn't I find, highlight and talk about the flaws in conservative views and approaches and arguments, just as I highlight and talk about the flaws in "progressive" views and approaches and arguments?

But here's the trick. Why should I do that? More to the point - since when do "progressives" engage in this kind of critical (and public) self-examination? Why should I regard myself as having any onus to play critic to the conservative points of view?

Is that an appeal to fairness? Because what... this is the standard held by the "progressives" when it comes to their own? Gosh, they're just lining up to highlight Obama as the biggest monster in town, aren't they? After all, he originally ran his campaign in opposition to same-sex marriage, and as the Eich situation demonstrated, even if you purport to change your mind after the fact on that topic your past position is still enough to run you the fuck out of town. And yet that's not happening. Call me crazy, but I suspect it won't happen for any politician with a flip-flop history who happens to be a Democrat running for re-election in the US. Or for any others of the situationally important.

But I should be fair, right? With 'fairness' defined as 'at least attack the conservatives SOMEtimes'.

Funny how that works.

Ultimately, it's moot. I'm not really on the "conservative" side - I am, intellectually, on a team with exactly one member at the end of the day, two if you count the Church. I know who I have something in common with, I keep tabs on the groups and people I can discuss things with, but I have little interest in mindlessly carrying water for the GOP, or "conservatives" or just about anyone else. But when it's suggested to me that I should at the very least gun for the conservatives now and then if I'm going to gun for the "progressives", rhetorically speaking, I somehow suspect I'm being played.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A "Progressive" Problem, and an unfortunate decision

By political and intellectual temperament, I'm broadly conservative. I'm against gay marriage. I favor small government. I prefer charity over government welfare. I believe illegal immigrants should largely be sent back to their country of origin. I oppose abortion. I oppose racial preferences in work or school. The list goes on. I argue with conservatives often, and many times I come to conservative conclusions through a different intellectual route than many others do - but at the end of the day, I'm largely an economic and social conservative with some caveats.

But I also reject clannish mentalities. Just as the fact that I'm Catholic doesn't mean I can't find common ground with many protestants, jews and otherwise, the fact that I'm conservative doesn't mean I don't try to find common ground with liberals. I can't prove this to anyone - I can point at some past conversations here and there where I talked with liberals and kept cool, just as I can point at many friendly atheist conversations - but it's never going to be beyond dispute. All I can tell you is that I have - for many years now - tried to find common ground. I've tried to keep in mind that the socialist-inclined person may well be acting out of a sincere concern for the poor, and if they are Christian, this may ultimately be rooted in their faith. I've tried to keep ultimately benevolent motivations in mind for everything from the agitation for gay marriage to the demands to grant mass amnesty to illegal immigrants to otherwise. This has been a point of pride for me, I will say outright - instead of going right to the conservative or, God forbid, GOP clan behavior, I try to remain calm and cool. I do not want, especially among Christians, yet another bit of pointless fracturing.

I am fast starting to come around to the view, however, that this approach - indeed, this mentality - is flawed. No, more than just flawed. I'm beginning to think that it's counter-productive, pointlessly idyllic, and ultimately dangerous to regard any self-described "progressive" as anything but, intellectually, a hostile individual.

Pardon me if this post is more about my own experiences and psychology than the broad topics I normally deal with, even if flippantly, but I feel it must be said.