Friday, May 30, 2014

"Progressive" love of people who oppose same-sex sexual behavior continues

I'm sure anyone who reads this site will tend to be a Drudgereport reader. So the news about a restaurant that asked a same-sex couple not to return won't really be news. At the very least, you'll have seen the headline.

A few choice quotes from it:

“She told them the rules are on the door and it says ‘Welcome to Big Earl’s where men act like men, women act like ladies, no saggy pants and we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.’”
“And so I laughed and I asked what do you mean?” says Dewberry. “And that’s when she said to us… ‘to put it plainly, we don’t serve fags here.’”
The waitress happens to be Cheney’s daughter, and the owner says her choice of words were her own.
“I don’t think I should have to discipline her. I think the parents of those children — or kids or being whatever they are — should discipline them or teach ‘em how to act in public. I don’t think it’s my place to discipline her.”
Now, if you scroll down a little more, you get to the following claims:

Cheney says the reason Dewberry and his partner were asked not to return was because of their actions.
“What I saw was one of them half way under the table with his legs stretched out into the other guy’s lap. And he kind of looked really possum eyed at me as they say it in East Texas, he kind of looked at me like ‘uh-oh’.”
But Dewberry says nothing inappropriate was happening.
“We’re sitting on separate sides of the booth and really not even doing much talking. Because it was early in the morning and we were just sitting around waiting for our breakfast.” 
[...]
“Homosexuality, Blacks, Hispanics — they all come in here — everybody comes in here to eat,” said Cheney. “I’ve served my country for over 20 years; I know what my freedoms are.”
He continued, “I’m not gonna have people coming in here with their butt showing; I’m not gonna have people coming in here naked; I’m not gonna have people coming in here having sex on the tables.” 
Now, what's key here is the following: Cheney, the owner, says that everyone is welcome to that restaurant. He includes homosexuals. What's not welcome are people behaving certain ways: in this case, apparently, no gay couples showing up cuddling, putting their feet up on guy's laps, etc. The couple insists they weren't doing anything wrong and were targeted for... I don't know, lisping?

Either way, the owner did explicitly say - the problem wasn't the men's sexuality. It was their actions. Homosexuals are welcome. So what's the "progressive response"?

Naturally, targeting this place in every possible way:
Using Yelp and Google reviews, online activists are trying to make Big Earl’s Bait House and Country Store in Pittsburg seem like one of the highest rated and most recommended gay bars in Texas.
One Yelp review reads, “this place is great… you can really let your freak flag fly here.”
[...]
“Well, the food isn’t all that good, but this is still the best gay cruiser joint in Texas! I’ve picked up several dates there. All are very handsome, very gay men. I hear the owner offers discounts to men in chaps.” 
Naturally, this all comes with a heavy helping of a complete lack of self-awareness, or flat out dishonesty. One or the other:
“It’s pretty ingenious in what its doing. It’s both raising awareness and taking the message of acceptance and love and intolerance and inserting that instead of being negative against Big Earls.” says Dieviesti 
Yep. Nothing mean-spirited here. Acceptance and love and intolerance - Freudian slip, perhaps.

But, there you go. Don't approve of same-sex PDAs in your restaurant? Then you must be crushed by any means necessary. Truly the actions of a LGBT culture that is mentally healthy and absolutely, positively not at all motivated by mental problems, no sir.

Monogamy and gay couples

From liberal rag Slate:
The Gay Couples Study out of San Francisco State University—which, in following over 500 gay couples over many years is the largest on-going study of its kind—has found that about half of all couples have sex with someone other than their partner, with their partner knowing.
Oh, and is this viewed as a negative thing? Maybe yet more evidence that, whatever one may want to call same-sex sexual unions, 'marriage' probably isn't it? Well, again, let's see what Slate has to say:
In some far-off, ideal world, this kind of openness may infect the straight world, and heterosexual couples may actually start to tackle the age-old problem of boring monogamous sex. 
Alright. So, open marriages are seen as a good thing. Let's hope that this 'infects' heterosexual couples. That would be ideal!

What stands out about all this is how the most recent "progressive" defenders of gay marriage I've come into contact with have gone through pains to paint same-sex married couples as typically being idyllic, monogamous, committed relationships, and something pretty well the entirety of LGBT activist culture hopes for.

I don't write any of this thinking it will so much as give any "progressive" pause. They're far more likely to say "You know, maybe LGBT activists are on to something with this!" than consider for a moment that perhaps said culture is endorsing and committing a culture-wide wrong. Such is life.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is raising a child to be a racist harmful to the child?

A hypothetical situation: person X is raising their child. They're, by most measures, a good parent. They're protective of the child. They look after their child's education - reading, writing, history, etc. They cook them good meals, teach them good habits of cleanliness and exercise. They teach them good ethics, to treat people well, to be honest, to be fair. But in addition to all of this, they teach their child one more thing.

Namely, they teach them that latinos are what they call 'mud people' - filthy, genetically inferior, and looked down upon.

Now, here's the catch. They also teach their child that the 'mud people' may be dirty, may be inferior. But, they should still treat them with courtesy and fairness, the same way they treat everyone else. Be honest with them. Be considerate. If they want a job and said child is the employer, then hire them if they have competence. This dislike is largely personal, aesthetic. Not liking how latinos look. Not liking their language. Certainly never having one as a personal friend, etc.

With all this in mind, here is my question: did person X harm their child by instilling this belief/reaction in them?

Again, let's be clear on what this belief is. It's not 'a desire to harm latinos' either economically or physically. It is a personal distaste - they dislike them. They exclude them from personal friendship, even while treating them civilly, fairly and with respect in all interactions. Adhering to the letter of the law, even if they dislike these people. Likewise, I'm not asking for hypothetical situations where this belief/attitude could contingently lead to a poorer state of affairs for the child (say, not befriending latino Y who could have helped their business.) We can even say for the sake of argument that the child retains this belief and attitude their whole life, but lives a happy and successful life, etc.

Here's the problem with answering my question.

I think most people are going to be initially tempted to say yes, the child was harmed: imparting this desire or belief or attitude was a case of harm in and of itself. It doesn't really matter if the child never mistreats anyone professionally; racism is 'bad' and racist thoughts are 'bad' and therefore raising a child to think those thoughts, period, is bad and is harm.

Okay. Reasonable reply - I'd probably give that same reply myself! But, there's a price to pay there, intellectually.

If we're going to admit that some beliefs and attitudes are just 'harm' - that they are wrong and bad, even if they have no negative impact on a person's life, or the lives of those they deal with - then we have opened the door to a discussion about the harmfulness of having certain beliefs and desires, period, regardless of what impact these beliefs and desires otherwise have on our lives or the lives of others.

That would mean that when we're discussing whether a given belief or desire is disordered - sexual or otherwise - that it's a mistake to automatically look to effects as the deciding factor of whether such and such a belief/desire is disordered. Some things are just disordered - they are just 'harm' - period, end of story, effects be damned. Racism is wrong, even if racists can live quite fine lives and treat what they see as 'mud people' with a consistently even hand. That attitude of racial superiority and that other races are filthy inferiors is harm in and of itself. It is damage.

And so, too, can be various desires from same-sex sexual desire to otherwise.

Of course, someone can always say that no, the child was not harmed, that effects are all that matter. But the cost there is to argue that ingrained dislike of people because of their race isn't damage or harm - it's only when they act on it in the wrong ways that any problems surface.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawman Dialogues: The Evangelical Conservative Ditches Inerrancy

Liberal Christian: So! Word is you've finally come around on the subject of biblical inerrancy.
Conservative Christian: Yep. It was a big step, but it became easier once I realized it wasn't necessary for belief.
LC: Good, good. So, I can expect your vote of support for recognizing gay marriage in our church?
CC: Hahaha, what?
LC: ??? But you said you had ditched inerrancy.
CC: I did. Gay marriage is still as absurd as it ever was. It's right in the Bible.
LC: But the Bible has errors!
CC: Sure does. I told you I agreed with that.
LC: Well, how about letting women preach in church?
CC: Also absurd.
LC: What the... Where do you think the errors in the Bible are anyway?
CC: Oh, to start with, that crap about loving our enemies.
LC: WHAT?
CC: Yeah. It's pretty clear Christ intends to damn at least some people, and God was content to judge people throughout both testaments. Forgiveness is in limited supply, as is love. So in context, those bits have to go.
LC: That's absurd! Christ says to love our enemies and...
CC: Buddy, c'mon. Do even you believe that? How much love do you have for Brendan Eich? Phil Robertson? Hell, Rush effing Limbaugh?
LC: That's... different.
CC: Sure it is.
LC: There's ways to account for that! That's only an apparent contradiction!
CC: That's what I always said, but you insisted otherwise. But now that I realize the Bible has errors, what's it matter? I can just accept that the Biblical authors got something wrong.
LC: That's not the verse you're supposed to question!
CC: Why not? Errors are errors.
LC: Why would you want to worship a God who doesn't command mercy?
CC: Uh, a God who's light on mercy seems like exactly the sort one should be particularly obedient to.
LC: If that's what God allows then you're better off not believing He exists!
CC: That's insane. I think Obama's an asshole, should I doubt his existence too? Is that what this was always about?
LC: What?
CC: That you'll only believe in God if God fits your image of Him... and otherwise, you'll doubt His existence altogether.
LC: ...
CC: I may accept an errant gospel now, but that doesn't mean I get to shape God in my image. If God exists, He commands what He commands, and it makes sense that He may make commands that I don't understand or even find wholly appealing. That's our difference here. For me, accepting the Bible may have errors means finding out just what those errors are after study and investigation. Not deciding where they must be in advance because I don't like the teachings.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Irrelevance of Inerrancy

Liberal Christians often seem hellbent on ramming through the idea that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God, and it's pretty easy to come to the conclusion that they insist on this because they see an inerrant gospel as leading (for a sincere Christian) to views and stances they find distasteful. It's easy to imagine conservative Christians at least sometimes oppose the idea of an errant Bible for that very reason as well. That's a great recipe for a whole lot of back and forth fighting between liberal and conservative Christians over whether or not to regard the Bible as inerrant.

The problem is, the mere existence of error in general in the Bible doesn't get the Liberal Christian where they soften want to go. Grant, for the sake of argument, that the Bible contains errors - it is not an inerrant gospel. Okay; now, how exactly does one intend to get from that point to (say) regarding sodomy, abortion, etc, as morally good?

That part is typically skipped by the LC altogether, save for fallbacks to mere moral intuition. But the conservative Christian is (putting aside for a moment philosophical, traditional, etc arguments and evidence) just as entitled to their intuitions as well on these same questions. What's needed, and what is almost never supplied, is an argument for error *on the specific topics which the LC wishes to object to*.

A good way to think about it is like this: LCs tend to not just accept evolution, but fall over themselves praising Darwin and evolutionary biology in general. Will they say the Origin of Species is inerrant? I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say no, they would not. But does a lack of inerrancy for the Origin of Species mean that we can therefore doubt the existence or effectiveness of Natural Selection?

Note that any supporting book or document will have the same question of inerrancy applied to it. At the end you're going to reach the conclusion that, no, just because these documents are not wholly (or even partly!) divinely inspired doesn't mean you can just discard whatever doesn't appeal to you. But the same situation applies to the Bible itself.

Why laugh at a gay wedding?

Ed O'Neill has the answer.

Unlike a lot of social conservatives, I'm not particularly worked up about the judicial activist forcing of gay marriage in just about every state. While I oppose it - well, insofar as I think gay marriage isn't a reality no matter how many laws are passed - in a way the whole thing is welcome as far as I'm concerned.

See, one thing to keep in mind is that the legalization of gay marriage isn't really the end goal of most LGBT activists, or the "progressives" in general. The end goal is respect. Not the mere gesture of respect in public, or formal signs of respect, but the sincere and deeply held conviction - on behalf of just about anyone - that a gay couple is equivalent in all ways to a traditional heterosexual couple. Gay marriage is, in that way, not even an end goal of LGBT people, but the means to an end - just as civil unions were, just as every forced gesture in every bit of media has been. They don't want laws. They don't even want changes in culture. They don't want mere acceptance. They want that personal capitulation, the conversion of the mind and soul.

And it's not going to happen.

I don't mean it's not going to happen because of the dedicated conviction of social conservatives or the like. I think it's entirely possible they will altogether roll, at least for a while, in the public sphere. But that's back to the public gesturing, the 'what will they say when the cameras are on them and the public is listening' situation. But no matter how many laws are passed, no matter how dangerous it is oppose gay marriage or criticize same-sex sexual behavior, once you get past those public acts of capitulation, you still have the mind behind the mask to deal with. And I really believe that most people - even most "progressives" - will, when the lights are off and they're among friends, frankly admit that two lesbians in tuxedos walking down the church aisle is, like Ed O'Neill says, pretty funny.

"Progressives" will object, of course, since I'm including them in this silent conspiracy. Here, look at these pictures of these two clean-cut men embracing at their wedding! Their love is every bit as genuine and worthy of calling a marriage as... etc, etc. Pardon me if I say that's hard to believe, if only because of the number of people - and I'm including, by the way, gays and lesbians in this - who will insist on this "progressive" orthodoxy in public, but in private admit that, okay, yeah, this is a bit of a farce when you get right down to it. It may be a nice ceremony. There can be some real affection, of course, beyond the sex. But the relationship, such as it is, is undeniably distinct - its own thing - compared to a man and woman committing to a monogamous child-rearing lifelong relationship, end of story, and a million and one laws, gay video game characters and more won't change this.

Eventually, I suspect, this is going to sink into the public consciousness as well. It may take fifty years, it may take a hundred, but sooner or later there's going to be a moment where the world looks back at this period and goes 'What in the world were they thinking?' and the sociologists and historians will try to frame it this way or that. In the meantime, I'm a bit more optimistic about the change of laws. Legal, celebrated gay weddings give cynics something to grin at, a religious sacrament we can honestly feel comfortable blaspheming against.

Let's do it with good cheer and humor, eh?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A fast and dirty test to tell a serious thinking person from a Social Justice Warrior

I am sympathetic to desires to help out the less fortunate - I have them myself. Even if I disagree with most pleas for state channeling of wealth from the wealthiest to the least wealthy, I can understand - in principle - many of the urges and basic understandings on that front. That doesn't translate into automatic sympathy for someone's personal ideas of what the government should or shouldn't do - most people who yammer about 'helping the poor' strike me as people who haven't thought through their own suggestions, and don't really care to. They think the mere fact that they are expressing concern about the poor (or, worse, "Social Justice") automatically makes their views not just morally right, but good practical ideas on top of it all.

So how do I tell the people who are concerned about the poor and are simply looking for ways to help them, who accept that their ideas may be bad or in need of revision, from the people who are just mindlessly yammering off this or that SJW/Political Party talking point?

I've come up with a fast and dirty way to generally tell the two apart: I just ask what the duties of the poor are. If I give a starving man 200 dollars, is that 200 dollars now his to spend and if he wants to go buy 180 bucks worth of booze, cigarettes and porn and 20 dollars worth of food, well, such is life? Or does that man have a duty to spend that 200 dollars properly? Does he have a duty to work if work is available and he's capable? Does he have a duty to abstain from drugs, from risky sex with strangers who he damn well may get pregnant?

The politically thoughtless usually can't even comprehend this question - the very idea of the poor having duties, any at all (beyond, perhaps, voting for their favorite political party) is alien to them, or a terrible thing to even talk about. Duty and responsibility is supposed to belong entirely to other people - these are victims, and victims have no duties or responsibilities!

And when I hear as much, I know I can stop taking the conversation seriously and go read a book or play a game or do some work instead of treat the whole thing as a real conversation for a second longer.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Thin Skin of the New Atheist

I doubt I'm the only one who has noticed this. In fact, I'm about to point out something obvious, something that practically goes without saying - but now and then it's fun to illustrate what everyone can see for themselves.

Good Lord, do New Atheists have thin skin.

Keep in mind, it's not that I expect most people to have -thick- skin. I don't think most people can put up with a conversation where they're mocked, even modestly. Nor, really, should most people do that as far as I'm concerned. That may sound odd, since I do have a reputation for being not just rude in some discussions, but unapologetically rude. In the right situations I'll mock, I'll insult, I'll lecture. But that's me, and the people I deal with usually either offer up the same (or try to anyway). It's not an ideal situation, and I hold no ill towards the person who consistently rejects such behavior.

But the key is consistency. If a person endorses, engages in, or refuses to condemn that kind of behavior from their allies, but complains and pisses and moans when they're on the receiving end, well - that's a different story. It's hypocrisy, and more than that, it's indicative of a pretty glaring character flaw.

And the Cult of Gnu has it in spades.

Granted, they're not the only ones to have this flaw - but among the Cult, it seems almost like a requirement for membership. Remember this legendary quote from Dawkins:

I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt.

Michael Shermer, Michael Ruse, Eugenie Scott and others are probably right that contemptuous ridicule is not an expedient way to change the minds of those who are deeply religious. But I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt. 

Nasty stuff right there, on multiple levels. And it's routinely engaged in by just about every Gnu leader of note, on every petty level - from Dawkins attacking 'faith heads' to Coyne diving for the petty namecalling whenever he can (Jesus becomes Jebus, Polkinghorne becomes Polky, etc). They mock, they ridicule, they insult. They, as Dawkins said, try to make those barbs hurt.

Oh, and not only do those barbs come out, but if a person decides to cut off dialogue as a result? Well, that's just showing how they're not secure with their beliefs. They're being babies, they're so thin-skinned, they're this, they're that.

But mock them or laugh at them, or their leaders, in the course of a discussion? Make fun of their pretensions, their assumed expertise, mock them for their mistakes, for their beliefs?

Then, suddenly, that's a very grave crime indeed. Why so much vitriol? Why this hostility? This is unfair, so close-minded. Indicative that you do not desire sincere dialogue, serious discussion, or... etc, etc.

Part of the reason why this happens probably can be seen not just in the provided Dawkins' quote, but what immediately follows it - and which typically gets left out:

You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!

And that says it all.

Dawkins - and, it's reasonable to infer, most Gnus - tend to go into conversations thinking that while they can mock, attack, insult and belittle, that the entire confrontation is going to be asymmetrical. When it turns out not to be asymmetrical - when, in fact, the target(s) of their ire turn right around and lay into them, or worse, show that they're willing to display an attitude right from the start - they buckle. They whine about vitriol and insult, and they may well even flee the field altogether. Because that just isn't how it's supposed to go. Dawkins said so! It's supposed to be a one-way exchange!

But it's not. And it shouldn't be besides. See, I value calm conversational, a lack of insult and mockery, reasonable discourse. The difference is that I expect it in exchange, and I don't take on the very common Christian practice of trying to be the one Above It All, who suffers the slings and arrows with grace while assuming the onlookers will notice who the mature one is. Instead I fire back - or, if I know I'm dealing with a nasty specimen of gnu, I open up with it from the outset, and I encourage others to do the same, when it comes to people who unapologetically use or tolerate ridicule when it's coming from 'their side'.

I do not believe in using mockery and disdain to silence atheists, or jews, or liberals, or anyone else, for those reasons alone. But I am entirely onboard with the idea that people who embrace using mockery and 'hurtful barbs' and intellectual bullying in general to advance their points should themselves be bullied into silence or obedience. If enough people treat the Cult of Gnu with such disdain on pain of their no longer engaging in any of their own, I think they will eventually be forced to be civilized.

And for the sake of reason and rational discourse, isn't that a small price to pay?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Crude Conspiracy

One quasi-conspiracy I sometimes entertain is the idea that the modern obsession with LGB(T) 'rights' and 'respect' has far less to do with LGB people, and far more to do with heterosexual people.

Basically, I suspect LGB people are at least sometimes used as a proxy for justifying some heterosexual's own sexual hangups and proclivities. When a heterosexual says 'whatever happens between two consenting adults is okay!', they're not taking a stand for LGB sexual activity alone, but for pretty well everything under the consenting, adult sun. I do not think this is always accidental.

(T is edited out here because, for as often as I talk about LGBT footsoldiers, really - the T's are off in their own territory as near as I can tell. Tumblr may scream and shout, but too many people, including LGB, tell me in confidence that while they may all onboard with gay marriage or this and that, those T's are, in their opinion, pretty damn crazy more often than not.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Weak atheism vs Strong atheism

Lost among the shit-flinging over at Lothar's blog (sorry pal) was an interesting conversation about weak versus strong atheism.

One thing I encounter a lot in these online discussions is a certain kind of burden-dodging when it comes to arguments: (typically Gnu) atheists try to insist that they merely 'lack God belief' rather than 'believe God doesn't exist'. Thus, they are making no claims, and have no burden as a result.

A problem that routinely comes up with this move is that Gnu atheists I argue with typically switch back and forth between making and not making claims. Sometimes this honestly seems like ignorance - other times, it's a bad attempt at bullshitting. If you tell me you merely lack belief in God and are not claiming God does not exist, alright - I think that's often nonsense, but I actually won't press it. But they cannot claim that they lack God belief, and then a moment later start telling me how God doesn't exist or is extremely unlikely to exist. The moment they make those claims, they've given up the weak atheist position for the strong atheist position - now they've got a burden of proof. For various reasons, most atheists are positively allergic to this burden.

So, there remains weak atheism - mere lack of God belief. Putting aside problems with defining atheism in such a way, I think what goes underappreciated is the position that that leaves the atheist in. A weak atheist, pretty well by necessity, also has to 'lack belief' on the following questions:

The truth of naturalism or materialism.
The question of whether or not evolution is ultimately guided by God or gods.
The question of whether or not nature in general is ultimately guided by God or gods.

The list goes on, but those? Those are some key pieces of intellectual territory that have to be evacuated by the consistent weak atheist. Number two alone is too much for most of them to swallow, since evolution's main intellectual appeal for the gnu atheist is in its supposed demonstration that there is no design in nature - but if one is silent about God's existence, then one is likewise silent about God's activity and providence. If someone asserts that evolution proceeds without guidance or plan, by necessity the question of God's existence comes into play - and we're right back to making claims and getting burdens.

The cost of intellectually avoiding burdens is having vastly fewer arguments. You'd think this would be appealing to people, and yet...

Victory at Harvard

Rather nice to see the public actually swing against a full-blown satanist mass at Harvard. No doubt a show of bigotry and intolerance on the part of Catholics who dared express their ire at, uh, a ritual developed exclusively to mock and insult them.

Not a common result, but hey, a victory is a victory.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Who's obsessed with homosexuality?

Here's a question.

Let's say you have two populations of people: one that believes that sodomy and same-sex marriage is moral, and another that believes sodomy and same-sex marriage is immoral.

The population that believes sodomy/same-sex marriage is moral is such that they can - with little outcry from their community - spawn mass protests of companies whose owners oppose same-sex marriage, fire or attempt to fire people for having given donations in opposition to same-sex marriage even if there were no allegations of wrongdoing on their parts at their job, and generally punish anyone who ever criticizes sodomy or same-sex marriage.

The population that believes sodomy/same-sex marriage is immoral tries to pass laws outlawing same-sex marriage, supports organizations that regard sodomy/same-sex marriage as immoral, and believes it should be legal to refuse to lend one's business services to a same-sex marriage ceremony.

How can someone make the argument that the latter is 'obsessed' with sodomy/same-sex marriage, but that the former isn't?

I say it's not possible. When people say 'you're obsessed' in this case, all it can cash out to is this: 'I think this is very, VERY important. So do you, but I think I'm right and you're wrong, so you should stop talking about it.'

It's like living in a world where people fuck in public on a regular basis, but it's the people who argue that public sex is vulgar that get accused of being obsessed with sex.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Betrayal by business

I wonder how many betrayals social conservatives need on the part of the business community before they realize that they are, in fact, being betrayed.

I mean, they do realize it, right? That the push for an 'immigration overhaul' - in fact, the reluctance to enforce immigration laws in the past and present - wasn't just 'the democrats' or 'minority groups' at work, but also the 'business community' that is so idealized?

Do they realize that the so-called LGBT movement - among others - is endorsed and enshrined by businesses, in part because they're one more group that can be appealed to with marketing?

Do they realize that the socialism they despise is in part embraced by businesses that are capable of profiting from it - as many are?

These questions are partly sarcastic, but they're also serious. Really, it's clear that the 'business community' is responsible, in whole or part, for a good number of problems that plague conservatives. Why does it seem to go unmentioned? If someone has an answer, please, fill me in.

Friday, May 9, 2014

In defense of academia

So, just out of curiosity...

When a pack of atheists stage a Satanic Mass at an Ivy League school, having quite possibly come just shy of obtaining a consecrated host to perform it with - and, keeping in mind that the entire point of a Satanic Mass is to be one big send-up and mockery of the Catholic Mass - I've gotta ask... have we yet hit the point where burning academia should be a live option? Something to consider?

No, I'm sure that it remains of dire importance to maintain the system and respect it.

"Progressive" Christians, hate, and the end of an experiment

A while ago, I wrote a post about how experience had forced me to regard "progressive" Christians as would-be allies of the New Atheists, whose problem with the Cult largely stemmed from not being singled out as exceptions to their diatribes. Casting religious belief in general, religious morality in general, and Christianity in particular as savage, stupid, hateful, dangerous and more? Quite fine. They simply would like acknowledgment that this doesn't apply to the "progressive" Christians. But the Cult of Gnu hasn't really made much of an exception for them, and so the "progressives" - some of them, anyway - oppose the Cult.

As the post outlines - I came to this conclusion based on my own interactions with "progressive" Christians, including some prominent ones like James McGrath. Time and again I've noticed that if someone calls themselves "progressive", they're usually beyond mere disagreement: they actively encourage and tolerant hatred of their opponents. With McGrath, it was painting any Christian who so much as refuses to bake a cake for a gay wedding as being on par with nazis and klansmen - and later, turning a blind eye and subtly encouraging a particularly virulent "progressive" jackboot who openly threatened to fuck with who he thought was my RL employer and tried to shatter my anonymity (protip: if you try that, do try to get accurate information) in response to my criticizing McGrath. And as of late, it's shown up with the hate speech of John Shore, demanding that war be declaring on "conservative evangelicals" - because, after all, they absolutely hate gays and want to beat them to death, as anyone would if they regarded unrepentant sinners as risking damnation.

By the way, if you haven't read Shore's speech, be sure to do so. Keep in mind that Shore's a prominent "progressive" - we're not talking a backwater figure like myself, but someone really at the forefront of "progressive" Christianity.

But what was really telling for me wasn't just Shore's speech. It was, in the micro-laboratory of Lothar's blog, where I called out Shore on his hate speech, and waited to see how many "progressives" with follow. After all, he was screaming that war should be declared on them, he accused them of wanting to beat "unrepentant" homosexuals to death with their bare hands, of having supported slavery in the US, and more. Surely all that talk of mutual respect, all that "bridge building" talk, would yield a few condemnations?

Ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that, I have bad news for you: you have been suckered, just as I used to be suckered.

Oh, one guy did stand up and condemn it. A fellow by the name of JesusWithoutBaggage. I thanked him for his courage, and he deserved my thanks.

Otherwise? Silence or support for John Shore. Some attempts at topic-switching - 'No, no, let's not talk about Shore, instead let's talk about a completely sterilized re-interpretation of what he said that kinda-sorta sounds like legitimate criticism of some conservatives!' Some outright support and apologetics on his behalf.

By the way - really pause for a moment and take in Sheila's defense of the man. It's nice to know you can get away with just about any kind of demonization and hate speech so long as you chalk it all up to "metaphor". Metaphors, they sure are useful! Somehow, I suspect that the defensive use of "metaphor" talk flies out the window with the wrong people.

Now, Lothar's blog is a microcosm at best of "progressive" Christianity. A few regulars - a bigger blog than mine, but not by much. But you know... when you see these prominent "progressives" behaving this way, when you see the sheer hatred they heap on anyone who dares to oppose them, when you notice that any whiff of social conservatism now merits open and blatant firing of individuals from their jobs... well, you start to notice patterns. If there exists some sizable contingent of "progressive" Christians who oppose these actions, who oppose the hatred, they are doing an absolutely marvelous job of hiding - to the point where they are functionally inconsequential.

I write all this to urge you few people who read this blog to really understand what "progressive" Christianity in particular, and "progressivism" in general, is really all about. Know what kind of hatred they are directing at you, if you are all socially conservative. Know what they will justify. Know what lengths they will go to. Always be alert, and more than that, start to decide just how this should impact your life, your attitudes and your behavior.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pro-life? Support the Gosnell Movie Project!

Saw this on RD Miksa's blog: the Kermit Gosnell movie project.

They've got 5 days to go. Oh, and why are they on Indiegogo and not Kickstarter? Because Kickstarter was making it clear they would screw with the fundraising efforts.

Another day, another job lost for having socially conservative views

This time a reality TV show was cancelled after it was revealed the stars had opposed gay marriage.

At what point would it become reasonable for conservatives to respond to this by googling the names of every employee they have and, upon finding out non-essential employees voted for the wrong political party or gave money to the wrong political cause, firing them?

Against Academia - Education is (usually) free

Recently I got into another dust up over academia, this time at What's Wrong With the World. It didn't go terribly well - I don't get along with the crowd there, and that's putting it diplomatically. No surprise there, I have a grating personality, and Malcolm recently gave a rundown of some of the blowup.

That's not my concern with this post. Instead, I want to explain my position on academia - by that I mean, the university system as well as the social and intellectual culture both within it and surrounding it.

Put short, my view is: burn it to the ground. And by that I mean: I would like almost the entirety of the modern university system destroyed, and replaced. Yes, there is still a place for formal education, and certainly for testing and verification - but both of those things should be provided by systems other than what we have right now. Beyond that, I encourage a health skepticism of academics in general. I think the primary value of an educated person lies in their ability to provide arguments and explanations through which they can educate and possibly convince others of the superiority of their models and their claims, and beyond that their value is in putting them to work to perform a given task. The decision of whether or not to have faith in an academic or formal authority figure with regards to science, history or much anything else is a willful one. No one should not be compelled to take Stephen Hawking's word about physics as truth based solely on his his academic credentials or accomplishments.

Now I say this as someone who has dealt with academia as a student. I picked up a 4 year degree, I've taken courses and passed them - like many people here. But over the years, I've just seen far too many reasons to regard the entire edifice upon which the modern university rests as rotten to the point where the best solution is not 'try to reform it' but 'fight against it'.

I have many reasons to believe this. Right now, I'm only going to list one.

Modern technology has made the university in large part obsolete when it comes to education. Not entirely obsolete - if you'd like to learn, say... how to safely remove a spleen from a living organism, a university is your best bet for a cadaver, since those are otherwise hard to come by unless you are more resourceful than I care to contemplate. But if you're hoping to study literature, psychology, education, economics, history, or most of the other most popular degrees on offer, you've got alternatives. Namely, you can acquire the books - typically on a nice, convenient, portable tablet PC or eBook reader - and study at your leisure. You don't even need to bother a librarian anymore - you can simply get all the books you need online, often for free (legitimately even), and if not, then typically for vastly cheaper than even a single college course usually costs.

'But Crude, what about having an instructor? Some people learn better by having someone give them examples or give a lecture!' you say? Fantastic: there are alternatives available. For free or, again, far cheaper than it would be to get a degree. If you wish merely to educate yourself, there are a tremendous number of opportunities available to you now, all without having to step foot on a campus - in fact, without having to step foot outside of your home. Video lectures, books, audio books... education is more readily available now than ever before.

This example doesn't suffice to blow academia out of the water as a necessary part of modern society. But on its own, it does suffice to weaken it tremendously. For anyone who simply wishes to learn something that requires little more than reading and studying quite a lot, the appeal of the modern university versus simply acquiring the books and studying on your own is practically nil. If you wish to learn about literature, history, even computer programming, you're far better off spending $1000 dollars on books and supplies than $25000 on a degree in addition to (overpriced) books and supplies for the mere ultimate privilege of having yourself tested by a professor's TA.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sympathy for a quasi-progressive: why Crude loses his cool at progressive hate speech

I like Lothar Lorraine. Truly I do - he's a pleasant guy to talk to even if I disagree with him. He's welcome here, he's welcomed me at his blog, and until relatively recently most of my interactions with him have been civil, even when we disagree.

Except lately, if you've been following the conversations - previously linked - I've been spending most of my time yelling angrily, at least as much as you can do typing into a computer and still maintaining decent-enough grammar. I've been pissed off, not so much at Lothar as at his links of choice, and really, the "progressive" response to them.

Honest to God? I don't like yelling in Lothar's general vicinity. He's nice. I can talk with him. At the same time, all the niceness in the world isn't going to make me give an inch to dishonest hate speech directed anywhere, but particularly in my direction.

I'm talking real hate speech, by the by. Not, 'You noticed that group X is responsible for more crimes than group Y by every available measure, that's horrible of you' styled bull, but full blown 'This group of people is responsible for heinous acts and you should hate them all and fight them because this is WAR' hate speech. "Whip up an angry mob to attack some people based on next to no evidence" hate speech.

So why has it kept happening lately? I have a hunch. Little more than that right now, but it's worth airing.

I think there is a somewhat common breed of Christian who, while intellectually rather orthodox and conservative, is nevertheless on the more soft-spoken and diplomatic side. They are not fire and brimstone. They pride themselves on being open-minded, on 'agreeing to disagree', on setting themselves apart from the more fervent culture-war social conservatives who at times seem as if they are locked in a neverending battle against Islam, New Atheism, Liberals, the Gay Agenda, and more.And one way they send up the signal that they're different from THOSE Christians is by conceding the intelligence and morality of their opponents, and openly, even eagerly, admitting to flaws.

Even flaws that aren't really flaws, that are blown out of proportion, or that largely exist in the minds of people who hate them.

So if someone angrily demands that they apologize for, say... 'Christianity's legacy of anti-science and bigotry and racism and homophobia and misogyny', they're going to typically, without reflection, say "Oh, yes, some Christians - nay, many - have been guilty of that. But many nowadays have come to regret that past and..." And on and on it goes. They get to show how open-minded and humble they are, their opponents get a concession to a million and one imaginary evils at the hands of Christians, and everyone is happy.

I am not one of these Christians. I do not grant the wickedness of Christians, even Christian groups I am not a part of, purely to score humility points. If I've investigated the issue and come to the conclusion that the accusations are fundamentally wrong or warped, I will say as much. And when I see what comes across as a calculated bit of hate speech to try and demonize Christians, I'm going to start yelling, loudly, about the flaws I see, demand evidence, and point out when it either fails to be forthcoming, or is weak beyond excuse.

I suspect that may be the problem here. I can't read Lothar's mind, but I think he may have heard 'Conservative Christians HATE gays and want to kill them' so many times - and other Christians may have granted this without argument so many times - that he brings this up, and (while admitting that not every conservative Christian is like this) expresses an interest in having my agree that this sort of thing is bad, so we can continue the conversation civilly. And then I explode and I'm off yelling and challenging people to, you know, provide some goddamn evidence of these claims and pointing it out for the hate speech that it is, and he's wondering what he did wrong.

Well, HE didn't do anything wrong, most likely. He simply was played - he bought a line offered up by a nasty little culture, perpetuated by weak-willed Christians more interested in being humble than being honest, and he's run into a guy who's not going to let it slide so easily, and who actually gets pretty pissed off when the accusation comes up. I'll cop to real evils, real mistakes, and I'll point out the context and the situation those mistakes took place in. I will not cop to progressive monster-fantasies that they conjure up in large part to let themselves sleep easier at night when they hear about the latest abuses their more fascist leadership is diving into.

Perhaps that will set the record straight. Or perhaps not. But there is my attempt for the moment.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Progressive Christians and Hate Speech

Another conversation took place over at Lothar's blog, at which point I lost my temper over John Shore screaming about how conservative evangelicals all want to beat gays to death with their bare hands and it's time to declare war on them. I'd summarize Shore's rant - just read the OP and check for the italicized portion - but it's pretty vile stuff. Little different from the sort of thing you'd expect to find on a poorly xeroxed handout from a neo-nazi, with a big accent on absolutely warped caricatures of their intended target.

Honest to God, I'm sick of this kind of thing and said as much. Shore's rant is hate speech - it is an explicit attempt to gin up people to regard a certain class of individuals as a kind of sub-human, dangerous, violent monster, using utter lies in order to achieve his goal. I've talked with evangelical conservatives. I've argued with them, I've agreed with them, I've interacted with them at length. The idea that their belief that unrepentant sin (not just 'homosexual behavior' but 'unrepentant sin') has someone risking damnation does not drive them to furiously hate homosexuals, much less beat them to death with their bare hands. More often, they argue against LGBT activists, and pray for them. The claim that we must collectively 'declare war' on them and wipe them off the face of the earth is not just disturbing and vicious - it is the pathetic, monstrous rambling of a man who is about as 'Christian' as Richard Dawkins is.

More depressing - and I suppose, telling - was the fact that none of the "progressive" regulars on the site were able to condemn Shore's rants for what they really were. Instead there was a mix of complete silence, and some faint attempts at trying to salvage Shore's vendetta as somehow justified. So, let me make a few things clear.

When a person says that conservative evangelicals are motivated by a violent hatred of unrepentant homosexuals, such that they despise them and want to beat them to death with their bare hands, arguing that some evangelicals are jerks is not sufficient to salvage the point.

When the Uganda law comes up and it's suggested that conservative evangelicals don't oppose the law because they secretly support such laws, you should probably check to see whether this is actually the case.

Of course, for some people, none of this matters. What matters is doing precisely what Shore did: presenting people who disagree with him not merely as dissenting, not merely as wrong, but collectively and irrevocably motivated by irrational hate and fury. Pretty much par for the course when it comes to representations of conservatives generally, but especially 'conservative' Christians.

The worst part is, it's become clear to me that when you don't have "progressives' gleefully cheering on those kinds of representations, or letting them pass in silence... conservative Christians have been conditioned to largely endure them with little complaint, or try to calmly and rationally dispute the data while granting that everyone involved in the speech is obviously well-motivated by merely may have a 'misunderstanding' of the matter at hand. It's pathetic.

The Materialist Atheist Argument for Theism & Conversation Log

I forgot that one of the main purposes of this blog was to keep a running link-record of the more interesting arguments I get into online, and likewise forgot to include this conversation.

The gist of my view was this: the probable truth of atheism and materialism does not provide an objective moral or rational reason to reject theism and non-materialism, at least not in and of itself. On atheism and materialism, you don't have any moral duties to consider beyond personal whim and 'gee, those people over there will beat the shit out of me if I don't do as they say.' Likewise, there are no rational 'oughts' in play beyond the same considerations. So we're in the position where a person who comes to believe that atheism and materialism is likely true still is lacking a reason to sustain that belief, because sustaining a belief - or believing itself - is just one more act to which such restraints don't apply. Would they rather believe that theism and non-materialism are more likely true? Then there's no real intellectual barrier preventing them from doing exactly that.

What I found interesting in the argument was this weird attempt by the resident materialist atheists to try and find some kind, any kind, of restraint for the hypothetical theist who believes atheism and materialism are likely true, but who perseveres in their belief all the same (and, horror of horrors, urges others to do so as well.) But what's fascinating is that even granting the likely truth of atheism and materialism still doesn't give a person a reason to abandon their faith, because a world where both were true would be a world where all the intellectual rules we're used to living by (and have largely inherited from distinctly non-materialist, theistic ancestors) are only in force if we damn well want them to be. When you're left with a metaphysical view that only leaves force and whim as the real deciders of what 'oughts' there are, the metaphysical view itself is open to be sacrificed.

This isn't a novel view on my part - I've seen others mention it before, in particular a Christian quantum chemist (I think) whose name I forget. But it does seem like a view that's worth promoting more, though it has to be done with care - arguments like these are touchy, because they're easy to misinterpret. Also because, I think, a lot of Christians try to play the 'accentuate the positive' game with atheists, and have largely sacrificed the idea that metaphysical views like atheist materialism have a serious (much less negative, even from the point of view of a Christian) impact on our intellectual lives. We can't seriously suggest that thinking about things and coming to the proper conclusions may well be necessary to live morally and do the right thing, can we? How prideful.