Friday, January 30, 2015

Depressing Ideas

I like Victor Reppert. I think he's intelligent, that he's made great contributions to the philosophical debate, and he's helped boost awareness of CS Lewis' philosophical side in important ways, particularly the argument from reason. Beyond that, he is the single most gracious and civil blogger I've run into in all my years. I have not seem him lose his temper, even with me, and you know I've asked for it at times.

If he has one flaw, it's this: he is too gracious to know when his time is being wasted.

Watching him argue with the two regular atheists who haunt his blog - a sad old plagiarist, and a complete science-ignorant nitwit - is actually depressing. It's like finding out that John Searle spends a good chunk of his time arguing philosophy with an angry, toothless hobo who thinks intentionality is a boardgame. I mean, spending his time arguing with that middling hack in a cowboy hat was bad enough, but those two?

C'mon. Eventually it's time to say, 'This is simply a waste of time.', ban, and move on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The art of dropping an intellectual bomb

The next time you're faced with one of the really angry Cult of Gnu sorts - the kind who rail against Christians as monsters who are mentally ill and need to be re-educated by the state, or bullied or taunted or mocked into silence and submission, ask them this simple question.

"So if your daughter told you she accepted Christ, how hard would you hit her?"

I won't lie: ask this question, and you're playing with fire. It will provoke outrage, and quite possibly a ban on most forums. You don't drop this in conversation with someone who is civil, or for whom civil conversation remains as a possibility. But you do drop it against the pathological, the people who just positively hate Christians, and religious believers in general. Because, for all the 'How DARE you, what a HORRIBLE question' shit they'll lash out with, the reason for the lashing will be simple: because it's an effective question which threatens to cripple the emotional high of the hatred they rely on. It opens too many intellectual scars, it lays down too many emotional landmines, and it generally forces them to engage in a kind of self-reflection they both sorely need, yet subconsciously avoid like crazy.

Note that this won't accomplish much with all of this sort. Really, you're dealing with fringe-cases here who, like Madelyn Murray O'Hare, may well feel quite comfortable with utterly disowning any child who became Christian, in theory. But they'll still be generally socially cognizant enough to know that saying as much would make them look like shit, and they will resent the restraint you've forced them to show in their reply.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Self-control versus self-destruction

As I've said, I think Team Charlie is (was?) a pack of jackasses. I'd rather their killers have been stopped, but I don't view them as saints, much less martyrs. There's plenty of unjust deaths in the world, even unjust deaths due to Islamic terrorism, so pardon me if Je Suis someone more worthwhile than this particular sack of corpses. If anything, Je suis that police officer who was gunned down and who had nothing to do with this shit. Je suis the people who support protecting this group of shitty people, despite believing that they are, in fact, shitty.

That said, I recognize a dilemma in all of this.

I've written before about the perpetually aggrieved people, who have weaponized their own fragility and quite literally try to find offense whenever they can to get further ahead in society. I have little problem flipping them off. At the same time, I regard pissing on the Koran to be the act of a supreme schmuck. I don't want to offend people needlessly, but I also have no intention of responding to ever-increasing levels of delicacy with retreats into ever-gentler tone.

How does one draw a line in this case?

I don't believe there is a line to draw, at least not insofar as a line is a strict set of rules to follow. Really, the moment you write rules for this sort of thing down is the moment people start looking at the rules to try and exploit them - and until there's a way to literally measure sincerity (and even then, also measure if the sincerity was *intentionally* cultivated), rules are incomplete ways of dealing with these things anyway. I'll reserve my offense for the idiots who intentionally offend others, or whose offense comes across as a would-be beachhead in a cultural assault.

But even as I try to do that, I more and more wonder if mutual respect requires a certain amount of mutual values, without which civility is an insincere farce.

Edit: Oh, by the way - while France just had their adorable 'Je Suis Charlie' marches, French courts convicted several people for #gaysdeservetodiebecause hashtags. But the LGBT groups are upset, because apparently the penalty is only up to a year in prison and 45k euros - too light a sentence!

Some shitbags are more equal than others.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thoughts on Charlie

Since I was asked to share my thoughts about Charlie Hedbo, well! Here they are.

* I think the timing makes for some dark comedy, since Merkel in Germany was just recently huffing and pouting about the Pegida marches. How dare people question or even reject the value of importing a foreign culture into their culture! They're racists - bigots, even! Of course, one group of dead journalists and cops later has made that response a bit more muted. Maybe people are right to be worried about the influences of a foreign culture and, yes, even a foreign religion. Maybe they even have a point. Of course, the cost of admitting as much is a bit too high - those terrible nationalists, those right wingers, justified even in part? I think many would prefer minarets in Berlin to that.

* Of course, the reality is that Germany - and all of Europe - needs immigration because they're all committing collective demographic suicide. Cut off the immigration from muslim lands and they'll either have to find another immigration source (and likely re-introduce the same problems in a different form) or, God forbid, structure their societies in a way that encourages people to have more children - and along with it, healthy families. That's not happening. Feminist groups would be torn between A) screeching that massive amounts of benefits state-paid day care and such would be necessary to even vaguely encourage women to have children, and B) screeching that the very idea of thinking WOMEN should have CHILDREN is utterly barbaric. LGBT groups would throw conniption fits and demand front-row consideration and react with colorful hostility to the idea that a man and woman having sex and, eventually, children is in any way "the norm" or even "ideal". They would rather die as a culture than admit certain realities, or even possibilities.

* As for France itself... really, fuck Charlie Hebdo. They should be allowed to print whatever they want, but they didn't become saints, or even martys, just because they got gunned down by radicals. The saints and martyrs are the cops who tried to protect them, and us for tolerating their antics, as we should - but just as Larry Flynt didn't become a role model just because we (rightly) tolerate him, Team Hebdo didn't become heroic during this. And, just to be particularly blunt about that - when one of their number was threatened by the gunmen, she opened the fucking door. Someone should run a comic showing all these Je Suis Charlie people at a rally in a bar before a bunch of masked gunmen with turbans and korans burst in demanding to know which one of them is Charlie, at which point they all point at each other and yell "Il est Charlie!" That's closer to the truth.

* A bit more about Charlie Hebdo.  They're the worst kind of Cult of Gnu atheists, who mock not because it's funny, but because they want to reduce their targets to reviled jokes. It's hate speech - and still I defend them, because I think the West rightly enshrines freedom of expression as a right, and hate speech of their variety is covered. Hell, I'd even be against passively censoring them and keeping them entirely out of circulation by the decisions of private businesses - I think we should bite certain bullets on that front. But they're not heroes, and I'll even say their insulting of religions, including ones other than my own, are deplorable acts. I hope some muslim papers run some good fucking strips about their deaths, and their supporters see it. Nothing is sacred, remember?

* Finally, the Pope. Ha! Figures the one time he unequivocally says something I agree with is the time he pisses everyone off. I know I'm supposed to fit the mold of the stereotypical right-winger and enthusiastically endorse pissing off muslims, but the fact is I have no interest in intentionally provoking them - to a point. I even respect them - again, to a point. Really, they do less damage than the secularists when you really sit down and start taking stock of things.