Monday, June 30, 2014

Victory for Hobby Lobby

Some pleasant rulings, for a change. Of course, the progressives scream bloody murder that corporations are 'telling women what to do with their bodies'. You know, by not offering them a particular employment benefit.

I notice 'keep the government out of my body!' fell by the wayside the moment government seemed attractive enough. What a surprise.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What I target when I say "progressive"

I don't like progressives. News to no one who reads this blog, I'm sure. But what I want to put across to anyone who reads these posts - what I want to make as clear as possible - is exactly what I'm talking about when I condemn progressives.

It isn't their political policies that I am reacting to. It's their mindsets, and in particular, their attitudes towards anyone who disagrees with them or isn't on their political side.

If someone comes to me saying they think communism is the answer to the problem of poverty, I'll disagree strongly. But, all else being equal? I will also want to hear what they have to say if I'm in the mood to discuss things - and if I'm not, I'll just ignore them. I will ask what arguments they have for their position, I will bring up criticisms, I will propose alternatives. They'll react to those, I'll react to their reactions and ideas, and they will react to mine. Eventually we may both decide we see things different - we put more stock in one bit of evidence than another, or we have different priorities, even if we ultimately have some overlapping goals and ideas in mind. Odds are, I'll think the policy is tremendously wrong-headed, and I'll fight the policy - but the person won't really be a problem, per se. At worst, they will be someone I disagree with, and may try to think of how to make them appreciate any mistakes I think they're making.

This recipe and result will stay in place for most progressive positions. The advocate of universal health care. The gay marriage proponent. The defender of abortion, of massive central government, of state welfare. I disagree with these things strongly, but this isn't what sets me off when it comes to the progressive. I can talk about these things, just as I can talk with an atheist at length and keep calm and polite, even friendly with the right people. The issue itself isn't the problem. I would go so far as to say as, the mere embrace of liberal positions is not enough to make a person into a progressive.

The key ingredient for the progressive - and the reason I end up having to categorize them with the Cult of Gnu - is hatred.

If you are an atheist or mere irreligious who doesn't believe in God... but who does not hate religion, despise religious figures, and wish fervently for the day when every religious believer is a pariah or chased to the absolute fringes of society - if you, in fact, think religious people may well be right, but you just don't believe them, and don't think they are on the whole stupid, wicked and dangerous - well, guess what? The Cult of Gnu has a word for you: accommodationist. You are seen as giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and will likely find yourself quickly cast out of their group. Because what makes a Gnu a Gnu isn't mere lack of God belief, or even the positive belief that God does not exist. It is the contempt towards religion and the religious. The conviction that it is, as PeteBog suggests, a sickness that is meant to be contained, controlled and eradicated - quite possibly with the aid of the state. The belief that religious people are not just wrong, but obviously wrong, and deserving of contempt is what makes an irreligious person into a New Atheist.

That's what the case is with the progressive. All that changes is the target: replace 'religious person' with 'conservative', and the same rules apply. I would go so far as to say that for some, New Atheism is just a natural extension of progressivism. If you merely disagree with conservatives but think they're largely normal, reasonable people who (God forbid) may well be right, you will find yourself shunned in progressive circles about as quickly as the 'accommodationist' atheist is shunned by the Cult of Gnu. When a progressive is expected to show their credentials, to signal whose side they are on, they do so principally by attacking or condemning conservatives - with actual support for or argumentation for 'progressive' ideals being a very distant concern. It is the glue that binds their communities together, a shared social hatred.

This is the conclusion I have been forced to come to after multiple intentional interactions with progressives, reading their articles, watching how their own view of the world manifests even in fiction. I saw it in the reaction to George Will, and sadly, I saw it even in the reaction to me that took place after that.

I will be challenged on this. Lothar in particular - who I do not think understands the extent of the progressive problem, or how far away he may really be from progressives - will hasten to argue it's 'not every progressive', and that conservatives have their faults. I won't go into it great detail this entry, but yes, I will admit straightaway that conservatives do have flaws on this front. But no, I don't think they are as pronounced as the progressives' problem by a longshot.

Lothar once challenged me to pose as a gay atheist and see how I'd be treated among conservative Christians. I may well take him up on that challenge sometime, and report my results. But I have a challenge of my own to throw back at him: pose as a polite social conservative, and see how you're treated on a progressive blog. Mark my words: you'll be treated worse than the polite gay atheist.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Helping a person is a distant second to being thought of as helping

Interactions like these always make me suspect that, for many progressives, the sole point of any offer of assistance or mercy to a group of interest is the act and perception of offering assistance itself, and more importantly, establishing that no one else is actually offering any assistance at all.

Helping rape victims isn't the concern - it's being thought of as the one who is helping rape victims, and making sure that no one else is thought of as helping rape victims.

Repeat for minorities, women, the poor and everyone else under the sun.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A practical lesson in what you, the conservative, are up against.

Are you socially conservative? Economically conservative? Hell, just conservative in general?

Then listen up. I have something to show you. Something truly educational and eye-opening, if a bit disheartening. I'm going to show you just what sort of people you're dealing with intellectually when you stand in opposition to progressive groupthink.

First, read George Will's column, posted Jun 6, about sexual assault on campus.

Take it in. Read it from top to bottom. Check his figures. Note what he's saying.

Immediately afterwards, browse the comments section. Prepare to have your eyes opened, if they weren't already.

I want to stress here: the lesson here is not that Will said something that got a whole lot of people angry. The mere presence of anger is not the point. Instead, I want you to notice how many times you notice George Will is accused of saying something ("He said that women want to get raped because it grants them high status!") that in no way reflects what he actually wrote in his column.

Also note those few times someone speaks up to correct someone's misconception, and not a single person who was attacking him is convinced.

Just... take it in. Realize what you're dealing with here. Watch as people rage incoherently against Will for things he not only didn't say, but which you actually have to work incredibly hard to delude yourself into mistakenly believing he said.

And then ask yourself... how do you deal with these people? What would change their minds?

If you have insights, please share in a comment.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

With due respect given to Elizabeth Scalia...

No deal.

Scalia's take here, as near as I can tell, is this: the democrats looooooove it when the GOP opposes amnesty! They get to paint the GOP as racists! The SMART thing to do would be to pass amnesty - then the democrats can't call the conservatives racists anymore! Silly conservatives, how long are you going to let yourselves be fooled?

You know what, Elizabeth? If the price of opposing amnesty is being called a racist, then alright - I'll pay that price. If running the risk of an election loss and being painted in a poor light by the media is enough to cow you into obedience, a bit of advice: ditch your pro-life views, any criticism of same-sex marriage or even premarital sex, and look into getting ordained while you're at it - but be sure to mention you don't actually believe in all that 'God' stuff. Because ridicule is the order of the day when it comes to most of those things, at least in sizable portions of the culture.

What's that, you say? The price is too high? You're going to stand for what you believe is right, and to hell with the people who attack you or call you names?

If that's the response, congratulations - you now understand why the demand is 'secure the border first - discuss immigration reform later'. And if the cost of that demand is that we cripple the GOP due to their refusal to ever pursue the desires of their constituents on this issue, well then - so be it. Maybe it's time for you to sacrifice your principles and say 'Okay, maybe securing the border first is the way to go after all.'

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The prissy rage of Richard Dawkins

Courtesy of Shadow to Light's latest post, we have Richard Dawkins tweeting:
How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on innocent children too young to resist? How DARE you?
Dopey unsubstantiated superstitions? According to who - some ex-scientist Cult of Gnu bishop? Who gives a shit what he thinks?

But it's that faux rage, that 'how DARE you' he has going on, that really takes the cake. Goodness gracious, how DARE anyone raise their children with beliefs or morals that the great Richard Dawkins disapproves of!

Here's a better one: how dare this nasty little man, and people like him, lecture others about their decisions to raise their children with religious beliefs. How dare he fume in public with rage that others disagree with him about what's best for their children. And if ever the Cult of Gnu truly does attempt to interfere with parents raising their children, I hope the backlash is immediate and severe.

Let me be clear: if someone with Dawkins' mindset decides to make a religious upbringing grounds for penalizing parents or even taking their children away, I hope the backlash is that the people involved are immediately thrown in jail, and their own children - if they have any - are thereafter raised in a strictly religious household. I don't even particularly care which religion. Let it be Islamic if it comes to it.

Conversations I'd like to have versus conversations I really have

The conversation I'd like to have with the typical progressive:

Progressive: I'd like to see poor people acquire food, shelter, health care and education.
Me: So would I.
Progressive: Wonderful! Here's the way I think we should do it, and which I currently think is the best way.
Me: Alright. Here are my disagreements, and here is what I think is currently the best way.
Progressive: Alright. Here are my disagreements, and here are my responses to your disagreements. Do you see any fault with these?
Me: Here are the faults that I see, if any, and my disagreements and responses to your disagreements. Do you see any fault with these?

And so on, and so on.

Here's what I tend to actually get:

Progressive: We should pass policy X to give poor people food, shelter, health care, and education.
Me: I do not think that is the best policy, we should consider alternatives, like this.
Progressive: I hate your idea and it will never work, largely because it's not my plan. Why do you oppose poor people having food, shelter, health care and education?
Me: I don't oppose that, but I do not think your policy is the best route to those goals.
Progressive: By criticizing my plan you are making it harder to enact it, which is tantamount to an attack on the poor. Why do you hate the poor, especially women and minorities?
Me: Your policies are idiotic, and also go fuck yourself.

And so on, and so on.

I'm not going to say every conversation that goes south is due entirely to the person I'm talking with. I can snap at people, and if someone snaps at me, my natural response is to escalate it. But that first line - that key difference - is something I run into again and again.

For too many people, "a plan to achieve a given goal" is identical to "desiring to reach that same goal" - such that if you disagree with the plan, you're actually disagreeing with the goal. If you oppose state-run health care, it is for some people literally impossible that you would even desire to see poor people receive health care. Impossible! And if you insist otherwise - if you discuss the ways you wish this would in fact come about - it's mentally written off as insincere. It has to be! Because the alternative - that someone can have broadly good moral goals and yet stand in opposition to the progressive plan - is an alien thought for many progressives.

I do not think this is fundamental to progressive thought - it's not as if desiring state-run health care turns you into a person like this. I think it's a function of political influence which our lives are typically inundated with. Likewise, I do not think this sort of thought is absent on the conservative side - it's very easy to find people who equate 'opposing the GOP' with 'opposing gun rights and the free market and also you're an atheist communist'. But generally - not always, but generally - a conservative will recognize me as having common ground with me, so if I disagree with them I can at least get the benefit of the doubt and the conversation will continue instead of my getting an accusation of outright betrayal.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Progressive sympathy often seems like a progressive threat

While I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan - most of the sci-fi alternate universes have just seemed boring to me - I've been watching the whirlwind of controversy generated by Vox Day, Larry Correia and John Wright with interest. All three are interesting thinkers, each in their own way.

You can read about the situation these guys have created with the Hugo rewards on various sites, but what stands out as interesting to me was some yammering by Damien Walters.

I don't know who Damien Walters is, really. He has some column in a British newspaper apparently? All I know from him is what he's written about the whole 'conservatives getting nominated at the Hugo Awards' ordeal, which has largely been a mix of tremendous bullshit and awkward writing. I have a short temper in general, but my patience goes particularly low for people who bullshit badly. It's somehow extra insulting.

Anyway, while engaging in what I believe is called concern trolling, Damien Walters had this to say:
I think Correia did two things. The first was appeal for votes on the basis of a perceived liberal bias in the genre. That was the basis of his campaign, a protest vote against liberal influence. That was divisive and did a lot to spark the backlash he's still feeling. Secondly, and this is going to be much more damaging for him longterm, he allowed himself to become very closely associated to Vox Day in the process. Ultimately people do judge others by their associations, and both Larry Correia and John C Wright have made very public declarations of support for Day, that I fear both will deeply regret in the long run. I'm quite serious about my suggestion by the way. I think if Correia wrote publicly to support the new diversity in the genre, and apologised for any perception he was campaigning against it, that might help him a lot.
To his credit, Correia responded to all this with a whole lot of words that, for my purposes, mostly translates to 'Fuck you, Walters' - which is entirely appropriate here. But at least Walters is making himself into a fantastic example of one of the more poisonous sides of the progressive mindset.

First there's the 'concern posing as threat' bit. Walters there is saying he's worried - so very, very worried - for poor Larry Correia (a man who, from what I read, has more literary success than Walters will likely achieve in his entirely life) because of what, oops, may happen to him for his daring to say the things he's said, and failing to shun the people he should shun. It's not real concern, of course; it's just a thinly veiled threat. Not a threat of what Walters himself will do, mind you, but a threat about what Walters sees the group he belongs to is capable of doing, and will in fact do to Correia. What's golden here is that the threat comes, from Walters' own words, over the mere association Correia has with Vox (in this case, 'not shunning') and the fact that he voiced his opinion on a matter in a way Walters doesn't like. Notice that Walters mentions that Correia will be hurt from that alone, but at no point does Walters himself disown such actions, or denounce them. Because, the fact is, he's all in favor of them.

Second, notice Walters' demands: write that you endorse the "new diversity" and apologize for any wrong "perceptions" people may have. The very idea that Correia may not think much of the works of the "diverse" authors doesn't seem to matter. What matters is "perception" - that Correia, sincerely or not, genuflects at the right altar. That the perceptions people - the right people, of course - have of Correia be proper. The real odd thing here is that these people will simultaneously cast themselves as kingmakers (pardon, queenmakers) in the publishing industry, capable of destroying the literary livelihoods of anyone who is perceived as not being sufficiently supportive of them... but at the same time cast themselves as victims perpetually bullied by The Enemy.

But third, and most importantly, is that both Wright and Correia have had fantastic responses to Walters - basically, 'There is a liberal bias in publishing and your actions have helped us expose it, and Vox can speak for himself - and his speaking for himself is no reason for us to shun him'. It's encouraging to see these guys standing up to what is a confused little man representing a culture petrified at the losing their ability to shun people into silence and compliance. In fact, it may make a sci-fi reader out of me yet.