Monday, March 31, 2014

Transgender? Why not Transrace?

"Transgender Equality" is becoming all the rage. Don't feel like the sex you were born? Declare otherwise, and get legal imprimatur.

Surely race is no less constructed than sex. Race, unlike sex, has rather little biological validity.

I've long felt African-American. Caucasian just isn't me, despite my assigned birth race.

I demand Transrace Equality. Where are my affirmative action perks! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Twenty Four Thomist Theses

No, this is not punishment for Lent. I love Thomism, and in 1914 the Catholic Church endorsed these Twenty Four Theses as the core of Thomistic philosophy and a reliable guide for genuine philosophical insight.

These Theses are seriously Thomistic-- they are profound, employ a technical vocabulary, and require quite a bit of thought and reflection and some background familiarity with the issues and concepts involved. In other words, they are excellent philosophy. They represent the core of Thomist metaphysics, and thereby the core of Western philosophy. One of the real indictments of our educational system is that most even well-educated people don't even know these exist, let alone have any familiarity with them.

I'll try to take them one by one over a series of posts. My interpretations are of a very amateur sort, but I hope they convey some of the truth expressed in each and serve to inspire deeper reading and contemplation.

Thesis 1:

Potency and Act so divide being that whatsoever exists either is a Pure Act, or is necessarily composed of Potency and Act, as to its primordial and intrinsic principles.

The distinction between potency and act is the core of Thomist metaphysics. Act means actuality-- the aspect of something that exists that is perfect, in the sense that it is what makes it what is truly is. Potency is possibility-- potency does not exist, but it potentially exists. Being-- all that exists-- is wholly described by either act alone or potency mixed with act. 

An example of a combination of potency and act in a substance is an acorn. The act of an acorn is what it actually is: a little hard roughly round seed made of organic matter, with a shell, of a brownish-greenish color, etc. The potency of an acorn is an oak tree and all of the intermediate stages of growth of the acorn. The acorn itself is not an oak tree, but it has the potency (the potential) to become one. Potency is, in this sense, in between existence (act) and non-existence (non-being). 

Aristotle's brilliant doctrine of potency and act-- adopted by St. Thomas-- solves the ancient riddle of change in nature-- the debate as to whether change exists (Heraclitus) or is an illusion (Parmenides). Aristotle's answer is that there are three ways of delimiting existence-- actuality, potency, and non-existence. Change is the elevation of potency to act. 

In an acorn, the acorn per se is act. The oak tree is potency. And a Corvette is non-existence. An acorn is an acorn, it can be an oak tree, and it can't be a Corvette. 

Everything that exists-- God, angels, man, animals, inanimate things-- must be either Pure Act-- actual perfection without admixture of potency (possibility), or a mixture of potency and act, which is something capable of perfection, but actually in admixture of imperfection (potency) and perfection (act). The term "perfection" in Thomist metaphysics does not mean quite what the modern term perfect means. It means (in Thomism) that a substance has all of the attributes it can have, with no possibilities left unrealized. 

Only God is perfect Act. All created substances are admixtures of act and potency. 

It is a mistake to see the Thomist delineation of potency and act as metaphysical speculation unconnected to reality. Werner Heisenberg, who unlike most modern scientists actually knew something about metaphysics, famously observed that the quantum mechanical collapse of the waveform is an obvious example of reduction of potency to act. 

Centuries before modern physics, metaphysicians like Aristotle and St. Thomas laid the groundwork for an understanding of nature at its foundation. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Schools reject "abstinence-only" approach to school shootings

"Teaching shooting abstinence doesn't work".
Planned Fratricide map showing the failure of an "abstinence only" approach to school shootings

(Dissociated Press) In a nationwide trend, schools are rejecting the "abstinence-only" approach to preventing school shootings. Many schools across the country are instituting Safe School Shooting programs to educate teens on safer school shooting practices.

"The evidence clearly shows that the 'abstinence-only" approach to school shootings, like the "abstinence-only" approach to sex education, has failed" said Sam Columbine, public relations director of Planned Fratricide, the organization devoted to promoting the safe shooting lifestyle. "We must recognize that our kids are going to shoot each other, whether we want them to or not. Adolescents are driven by hormones, and there's not much we can do to stop them. We need to be realistic, and not tied to outdated religious dogma."

Columbine raised an eyebrow. "Religious instruction is a violation of the Establishment Clause. You can't enforce chastity-- The Seventh Commandment-- in our schools. You can't enforce the The Sixth Commandment-- thou shalt not kill-- in our schools, either."

Planned Fratricide has introduced several instructional modules in school districts across the country, including a short text titled "Shoot for the Legs" that provides safety tips for safer mass shootings, and a video titled "Why Reload?", which educators have praised for advocating moderation and responsible shooting practices. In Planned Fratricide classes, students practice putting ten-round magazines on AR15's, instead of the lethal thirty-round assault weapon magazines.

"Shooting classmates is a natural expression of adolescent non-conformity" said Columbine, showing a glint of exasperation. "You can't stop kids from doing what comes naturally. The best we can do is to train them to shoot each other more safely."

"Abstinence-only" programs always fail, Columbine noted. "Human beings are animals, really, and the best we can do is herd them into safer behaviors. We can't expect true shooting chastity. Safe school shooting, not abstinence, should be our goal."

Planned Fratricide has distributed posters promoting Safe School Shooting for display in schools, including "Do You Really Need Hollow Points?" and "You Shot Them Once. Why Shoot Them Again?"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Imagine... a world without organized atheism

I love Vox Day:


What the godless fans of John Lennon always seem to forget is that there is a well-known place where there are no countries, no religion, and nothing to kill or die for. It is a very peaceful place, at least when seen from this perspective. It is called "the grave". And it is no accident that so many people end up there every time a utopian - who is often an atheist, but doesn't have to be - puts himself in a position of power where he can attempt to build a New Man, a New Society, or a New World Order.
It's not atheism that causes this lethal utopianism. But the observable fact of the matter is that atheists are particularly susceptible to it.
That correlation is one reason I take no prisoners in discourse with atheists. I don't care what they tell me they are. I can see what they've done.

Why is atheism so murderous? Vox' assertion that "it's not atheism that causes this lethal utopianism" is very important, and this observation, rather than letting atheism off the hook, is the philosopher's stone in explaining atheism's invariable lethality.

Why is atheism so murderous? The same reason AIDS is more deadly than typhus.

Atheism weakens that ability of a culture to protect itself from evil, like a virus that destroys the immune system, and it lets all kinds of evil flourish.

Atheism is a disease that kills your civilization by leaving it defenseless against all manner of evil. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Barry Goldwater and the Brown decision

Kevin Williamson at National Review has a fine essay on the important role that Barry Goldwater played in desegregation in Arizona and in the United States.

First, Williamson reminds us of the Brown decision in 1954:

The Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education is one of the great landmarks of American history. It is also a good example of the fact that the law is not about the law. Maybe one in 500 college students ever has read the decision, and probably very few Americans could tell you much about the legal questions involved in Brown, but the moral question at the heart of the case — whether an apartheid regime of “separate but [formally] equal” would be allowed to stand in these United States — is well understood. It was well understood by the Court at the time, too: Remarkably, that contentious issue was settled in a unanimous decision. Even Hugo Black, a member of the Ku Klux Klan named to the Supreme Court by Franklin Roosevelt, was on board — but, in all fairness, Justice Black had not joined the Klan because he hated blacks: He had joined the Klan because he hated Catholics.

Black of course was the father of modern "separation of church and state" jurisprudence,  in which he employed the phrase he used in the KKK initiation oath when he was Kladd of the Klavern-- the initiator of new Klansman-- in Alabama.

"Separation of church and state" was the dog-whistle for anti-Catholic bigots. Still is.

Williamson recounts Goldwater's pioneering efforts in Phoenix to help blacks and advance integration.

He concludes:

Barry Goldwater was not the most important opponent of racial segregation in Arizona, nor was he the most important champion of desegregating the public schools. What he was was on the right side: He put his money, his political clout, his business connections, and his reputation at the service of a cause that was right and just. While he was doing all that, his eventual nemesis, Lyndon Baines Johnson, a low-rent practitioner of the most crass sort of racist politics, was gutting anti-lynching laws and assuring Democrats that he would offer those “uppity Negroes” “just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” 
For more than a century, the Republican party had been the party of civil rights, of abolition, of emancipation, the party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Barry Goldwater of Arizona and the NAACP did not represent a break from that tradition, but a continuation of it. 
It was a masterpiece of politics that allowed the Democrats to convince the electorate that they were the party of civil rights, that they had not until the day before yesterday been the party of lynching — even as that very same cabal of segregationist Democrats that had tried to block or gut every single significant piece of civil-rights legislation for decades, still led by a member of the Ku Klux Klan, remained comfortably entrenched in the Senate. To hear the story told today, you would almost think that it was the Republican Barry Goldwater, not the Democrat George Wallace, who stood in the schoolhouse door shouting “Segregation forever!” Goldwater believed that Title II and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were unconstitutional. How many Americans even know what is in those sections? About as many as understand the legal arguments surrounding Brown. 
The problem for Republicans is that reclaiming their reputation as the party of civil rights requires a party leadership that wants to do so, because it cherishes that tradition and the values that it represents. It is not obvious that the Republican party has such leaders at the moment. The Party of Lincoln seems perfectly happy to be little more than the Party of the Chamber of Commerce. We should not turn our noses up at commerce — though Napoleon meant it as an insult, it was Britain’s glory to be “a nation of shopkeepers” — but it was not commerce alone that freed the slaves or built the nation.

Please read the whole thing.

Republicans need to remind Americans that they, not the Democrats, are the party of racial equality and colorblind law. Democrats have a two hundred year history of race-baiting-- of using race to advance their politics.

We need policies that help minorities and all Americans-- policies that strengthen the family, make the streets safe, revive the economy-- and these policies need to be colorblind. There is much that needs doing, and we need to reject race-baiting and the policies of the Democrat party that destroy minority families, make minority streets into combat zones, and kill tens of millions of minority children in abortion clinics. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mary's "Yes"

    The Feast of the Annunciation.

Gabriel to Mary:
When Eve, in love with her own will
denied the will of Love and fell
she turned the flesh Love knew so well
to knowledge of her love until
both love and knowledge were of sin:
What her negation wounded, may
Your affirmation heal today;
Love's will requires your own, that in
the flesh whose love you do not know
Loves knowledge into flesh may grow.
                                         W.H. Auden

Monday, March 24, 2014

Barry Lynn: investigate those churches-- I mean the right-wing ones.

Anti-Christian censor Barry Lynn thinks the IRS was too easy on Franklin Graham's "Pulpit Freedom Sunday":

The problem isn’t that the IRS is being too aggressive in this area. It’s that its enforcement efforts have been sporadic, unfocused and tepid. Instead of putting applications from Tea Party groups under a microscope, the IRS would do better to crack down on Graham and the religious leaders like him who openly flout federal tax law. 
Every year, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Religious Right legal group founded by radio and TV preachers, hosts “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” During this euphemistically named and highly choreographed event, a handful of misguided pastors openly break the law by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. Some send their sermons to the IRS and occasionally even send me a copy so I can forward them to the IRS. These churches didn’t just go up to the line, they leaped right over it. 
What has the IRS done about this flagrant law-breaking? Precious little. The agency has even refused to alter a simple regulation that would smooth the process for audits of churches, which is a necessary first step in these investigations. 
The IRS can’t claim it doesn’t know this is happening. Americans United sent the agency numerous examples of religious organizations getting partisan.

Of course, there is massive political organizing out of left-wing churches. Here's Obama's spiritual father Jeremiah Wright, preaching about Barack and Hillary (anti-white racism starts it off-- although Obama slept through all of that racist stuff for 20 years. Explicit politics starts at 9:15):

Good for Wright. He's an odious fraud and bigot, but he has every right to speak his demented mind-- from the pulpit. Free speech means free speech.

Lynn's organization of leftist anti-Christian bigots never mentions Wright, or the thousands of leftie preachers who brazenly organize Democrat Party politics from their churches. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A fine documentary on Communism and its intimate relationship to Nazism

At The People's Cube.

You're not likely to see the video in the new Common Core curriculum, but it should be required viewing for all high school students.

Che Guevara t-shirt sales would drop off considerably. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dear Prudence...

From Dear Prudence, on Slate:
Dear Prudence, 
I am 40 years old and until recently a single father. A little over a year and a half ago, I met a woman who totally changed my perspective on life. I’d never believed in soul mates, but she made me a believer. We could complete each other’s sentences and had the kind of love that I’d never felt for anyone. After six months we bought a house together, merged families, and I proposed. Three months ago my fiancée had a major stroke, lost all function on one side of her body, lost her speech, and is disabled. She will likely never return to work or the life she had. She can now walk some and has regained some speech, but it is limited. Her arm still has no function. This has created a future that I had not envisioned nor signed up for. Every day is a reminder of what once was, and so is a constant source of hurt and pain. I am committed for at least a year, which is how long I knew her before her stroke, to assist her in regaining as normal a life as possible. But I cannot envision going through the rest of my life like this. I know she will be devastated if I leave, but I will be devastated if I stay. Additionally, I do not think it fair to my own child, who has a limited number of years remaining at home. This is a tragedy no matter what choice is made. I welcome your thoughts.

—Life Changes in a Minute

Prudence was easy on the guy, taking the "who's to judge" perspective. 


What can I say. Every once in a while, you hear something that so clearly confirms Original Sin-- something that so clearly shows a deep evil in the human soul-- that it takes your breath away.

May God help the poor woman, and may He forgive (and change the heart of) the guy who wants to dump her. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Possible 'Cure' for Down Syndrome Seems So Wrong"

There have been reports of a treatment for Down's syndrome in mice that seems to reverse some of the cognitive disabilities.

Mary Fischer comments:

In what is no doubt very interesting news, a new scientific breakthrough has found a molecule to "reverse" the effects of Down syndrome in mice
The mice involved in the research were genetically altered to mimic the characteristics of Down syndrome, and when they were born, they were given injections of the molecule, called sonic hedgehog pathway agonist. It urges on a gene that generates a protein shown to normalize the growth of the cerebellum -- a part of the brain that is typically 60 percent of its normal size in people who have Down syndrome. 
The injections were also shown to improve memory and learning, which are controlled by thehippocampus. 
And while there are no plans to attempt this sort of treatment on human newborns -- it does raise the question of whether or not parents would want the injections for their babies if it ever did become an option. 
After thinking long and hard about what I would do if I had a baby with Down syndrome and there was the option of trying to reverse it -- the decision suddenly became crystal clear. I'm just not sure I could bring myself to do it -- unless I knew 100 percent that there were absolutely no risks involved -- and that I wasn't necessarily "changing" who my baby was by allowing the treatment. 
Here's the thing -- I'm an "everything happens for a reason and things are meant to be" type of person. And when it comes to babies, I firmly believe that you get the child you are supposed to have -- and you love that baby unconditionally no matter what.

She raises very real ethical questions: what are the ethical limits to human "improvement"? Should we give short people growth hormone? Should we cure disorders like Down syndrome that impair intellectual function? Is Down's syndrome really a disorder, and not merely a difference?

It's a valid and important question, and shouldn't be passed off as ridiculous.

But I would answer that we should cure a baby with Down's syndrome, as long as the treatment was reasonably safe and the likelihood of effectiveness substantial. Cognitive impairment is a real disability, and does cause people with Down's syndrome real problems in life. There are also physical disabilities associated with Down's (heart problems, propensity to certain kinds of cancer) that could be prevented.

From a Christian perspective, it's worth noting that the Lord seemed to have no fondness for disease or disability-- He healed continuously, with mercy and with passion. With each healing, He seemed to say: "I will not let evil do this to My children".

If Down's syndrome can be healed, it should be. What is never ethical is to kill the person with the disease, and equate it with healing. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A prayer covered with a tarp is a statement of atheist belief

A New York Times editorial, with my commentary:
A Brave Stand in Rhode Island
Published: January 31, 2012
Jessica Ahlquist, an 11th grader at Cranston High School West in Rhode Island, has endured verbal abuse because, as an atheist, she objected to the “School Prayer” that has been on the school’s auditorium wall since 1963.
Her friends, classmates, and neighbors endured legal abuse and have been denied their Constitutional right to free exercise of religion. A flawed and irrational federal court order based on transparent bigotry is also a denial of due process of law.

"Verbal abuse"-- free speech on the part of the justifiably angry citizens of Cranston-- is actually a legal right.
It is now covered with a tarp after Judge Ronald Lagueux of Federal District Court in Providence properlyruled last month that displaying it violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against “establishment of religion.”
A tarp covering a prayer is, in this Orwellian farce, the result of "enforcement" of the First Amendment, which is our charter of freedom.
The anger and hatred directed at Ms. Ahlquist — she was called “an evil little thing” on talk radio by a Cranston state representative — helps explain why the judge, responding to her brave lawsuit, did his duty under the Constitution and ordered immediate removal of the prayer, which begins “Our Heavenly Father” and concludes “Amen” and was visible throughout the auditorium.
The Times dissembles. "Our Heavenly Father" and "Amen" were virtually the only religious words on the mural (it also said "a prayer"). The other eighty or so words were exhortations to good citizenship. That fact alone complied with the second prong of the Lemon Test, which requires that an government act (which the mural is, marginally) not have an advancement of religion as its primary purpose.

The primary purpose of the mural was to encourage good citizenship, and the banal few religious words of the "prayer" obviously didn't advance religion in any meaningful way.

The judge's bigoted ruling obviously advances mandatory civic atheism, in a way only a federal court order can.
Dozens of speakers at school committee meetings agreed it is a Christian prayer. As Judge Lagueux wrote, “The guiding principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence has been government neutrality,”
Bullshit. The Establishment clause nowhere states that "neutrality" is required, and no sane interpretation of the clause concludes that. Religious expression of a very un-neutral sort has characterized our civic discourse for two centuries. Our civic arena-- public buildings, national monuments, national cemeteries, military missions, and civic documents-- are saturated with religious expression that is not the least bit neutral.

No where does the Constitution require that American civic life be a Unitarian Church soiree.
and the prayer fails all tests of neutrality set by the Supreme Court.
The prayer is utterly banal. It is as neutral as it could be and still be a prayer.
It was “clearly religious in nature” when installed.
There is no Constitutional prohibition on installing a religious statement in a government building. If there were, no building on the National Mall would be open.

The prayer mural is much less "religious in nature" than Lincoln's Second Inaugural, which is etched in huge letters across the north wall of the Lincoln Memorial.
While the school committee’s 4-to-3 vote last March to keep it was based partly on its importance to the school’s “history and tradition,” “no amount” of either “can cure a constitutional infraction,” the judge wrote. 
It's not a Constitutional infraction. The judge's ruling-- a piece of raw anti-Christian bigotry that is a government act that has the primary purpose of inhibiting religion--  is a Constitutional infraction.

The judge's ruling should be covered with a tarp.
Recent meetings in Cranston about the prayer involved the kind of “excessive entanglement with religion” the court has warned against, with prayer backers reading from the Bible.
We have a right to do that. Basing a judicial ruling on our public expression of our religious belief is raw bigotry.
The meetings showed why what believers consider a harmless request to respect a prayer can feel like coercion to nonbelievers.
No one asked Jessica to "respect" the prayer mural. She was asked to ignore it, if she didn't like it.

There was no compulsion of any sort involved, until Jessica called the police.
As Ms. Ahlquist explained to The Times about her response to the prayer: “It seemed like it was saying, every time I saw it, ‘You don’t belong here.’ ”
Now the prayer mural is talking to Jessica.
The kindness, friendship and other values the prayer champions are universal, but a statement of religious belief has no place in a public high school auditorium.
"You don't belong here"-- a precis of the judge's opinion-- is a finger in the chest of Christians in the school and in the community. The ruling is mere bigotry, guised as a court ruling. It is a bald assertion of mandatory civic atheism, enforced by government power, a plainly unconstitutional violation of the rights of the people of Cranston, Rhode Island.

A tarp over a prayer, or a fresh empty spot on a wall, is a government-enforced "statement of religious belief". 

Censorship is atheism's immune system

The irony of intolerant atheists is remarkable. They proudly declare their open-mindedness, and in the same breath they work feverishly to extinguish by force every mention of God from civic life.

When we lack recourse to a Creator, rights become mere assertions of power. Those who have power do what they want to do-- and call it a "right". Without transcendence there are no rights, because without transcendence there can be no objective moral truths-- no rights-- at all.

Atheism cannot withstand reasoned examination. The assertion that everything came from nothing, without reason and without moral law, isn't defensible in rational discourse, so forced silent assent is necessary for atheism to hold sway over culture. Censorship is in the marrow of the godless. There are to be no questions that might lead to a Source for existence or to objective moral truth.

Atheists can't really use reason, in any coherent way. Reasoning itself depends on objective truth, a concept denied by atheist dogma. Reasoned discourse is anathema to atheists, because a world without purpose is a world without reason.

Censorship is the core manifestation of atheism-- all of atheism's power depends on making atheism immune to questions. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The not-so-hidden racism of Progressives

Interesting essay about the occult racist motives for Progressive political positions:
Progressive Racism: The Hidden Motive Driving Modern Politics
Quite plausible. I've noted that a common tactic of Progressives-- actually the core tactic of Progressives-- is to accuse their opponents of doing exactly what they're doing. Projection is what Freud called it. It's an effective tactic, because it puts conservatives on the defensive and it seems the best conservatives can do is say "it's really you who do/think that, not us".

Perhaps the clearest evidence for Progressive racism is:

1) Progressivism has always been racist-- Jim Crow and segregation were archetypal Progressive social programs. The second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had extensive links to Progressivism, and the first Democrat Progressive President (Woodrow Wilson) was a seething racist who re-segregated the federal government after Republicans had desegregated it for generations.

2) Progressives show an astonishing lack of concern about the real world harm their policies do to black people. Note the lack of concern about the catastrophic effect Progressive government has on crime-and-corruption-infested cities like Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, etc. has on actual (not just theoretical) black people. Progressives whine about "racist dog-whistles" yet they impose corrupt incompetent government on blacks and cause more misery among black Americans in any city block in Detroit than "racist" Republicans have "caused" black misery in the entire country.

Who hurt black people more: the corrupt mayors of Chicago and Detroit and Washington D.C., or Ronald Reagan?

There is a curious lack of interest among Progressives about improving the lives of black people who live under their governance. The Trayvon Martin circus was a fine example. The people who govern Democrat-Progressive municipal war zones in which young black men are slaughtered on a daily basis got the vapors about a self-defense shooting of a black man by a hispanic guy in Florida, blaming it on "white racism".

Why isn't the half-century black murder epidemic in Democrat-Progressive cities "white racism"?

A logical place to start in protecting and improving the lives of black people would be in the violent slums owned and governed by Progressive Democrats. Don't hold your breath. When you remember the history of Democrats/Progressives-- slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, the KKK-- it's not surprising that black folks still suffer under their policies. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The free press ain't free

From Michael Hanby:
The totalitarian myth of the free press
The best insight I've ever read on the sins of the press. From a Thomist perspective, no less.

The myth of the free press is... trivially true and seriously false. Our press enjoys unrestricted freedom of movement, but this is really only a superficial semblance of freedom. Journalism is essentially un-free because it is unintelligent, because it systematically precludes thought about the kind of truth which ultimately makes truly human freedom possible. The myth that a free press is the indispensable guardian of a free society is therefore equally false. It is false because a blind, or stupid, or uncomprehending press cannot finally be a free press. It is false because a press with the absolute, unaccountable power to mediate reality cannot but induce blindness and stupefaction and incomprehension in the rest of us. It is false because a society that is deprived of its ability to see and to think is also finally robbed of its ability to act with any consequence in the face of apparent fate. And it is false because a society that is unable to act upon what is true and good is no longer free and, conversely, because a society that is robbed of its sight and the freedom to think will eventually be unable to recognize what is true and good.
Please read it.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pat Condell on Israel and the Palestinians

Pat Condell is a highly opinionated fellow (after my own heart) who pulls no punches on the violence and duplicity of Islam. He has a video in which he provides a succinct and I think quite accurate discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Condell is just as vocal about his dumb-as-a-post atheism as he is about mideast politics. So he's not right about everything, but he nails Palestinian motives and lies.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Can butterflies be intellectual snobs?

Jerry Coyne asks an amusing question:

Are atheists intellectual snobs?

Coyne asks the rhetorical question while commenting on a review of Peter Watson's book The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God. I'm reading Watson's book now, and I recommend it highly. Watson, an atheist, is a fine writer with impressive historical and cultural knowledge. He recounts the cultural and intellectual rise of atheism, focusing on the late 19th and 20th centuries. He discusses Nietzsche, pragmatism, phenomenology (which is as far as I've gotten). Watson is metaphysically clueless-- he seems to have no grasp nor interest in the actual truth of the atheistic claim-- but he is fascinated by the social and cultural working-out of the "death" of God. Watson repeatedly discusses in fascinating detail the odious unfolding of various atheist lunacies (the back-to-nature movement and its relation to Nazism in Germany is one of many examples), but in each chapter he concludes with the blithe inference that atheism does wonderful things for man and culture, despite a few little detours.

A great read, if you keep in mind that Watson has nasty inferential and metaphysical lacunae.

Anyway, Coyne asks "are atheists intellectual snobs". He answers, of course, no, because atheists have the better argument, and if you have a better argument you just can't be a snob.

I would agree with Coyne's conclusion: atheists aren't snobs, about intellectual matters anyway, and they can't be snobs about intellectual matters. But my reasons for this conclusion differ from Coyne's. Snobbery depends critically on actual excellence-- a rich person can be a snob about wealth, but a poor person can't. An art connoisseur can be a snob about his collection of paintings, but a blind man who knows nothing of painting can't. A good writer can be a snob about good writing, but an illiterate man can't.

In intellectual matters, atheists (of the New Atheist sort at least) are the poor blind illiterates of intellectuality. How can third-rate "intellectuals" like Coyne and Dawkins and Krause and Atkins and Myers and Moran be intellectual snobs? Can they lord their deep knowledge of metaphysics or theology or the philosophy of free will over the rest of us?

The question answers itself.

Mary Midgley, a superb philosopher quite capable (but innocent I think) of snobbery, quipped about why she was reluctant to criticize Richard Dawkins' forays into philosophy: she had "not attended to Dawkins, thinking it unnecessary to 'break a butterfly upon a wheel'.

Butterflies cannot be snobs. New Atheists are any number of things, but intellectual snobbery is, as a matter of definition, denied to them.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

In response to rising gun violence, U.S. declares Afghanistan a Gun-Free Zone

[Dissociated Press] In response to an epidemic of gun violence, the United States has declared the violent Asian nation of Afghanistan a Gun-Free Zone.

At the State Department, Thom Davies, Assistant Undersecretary for Policy Futility, explained the new public safety program to reporters.

"We realized that since we were imposing gun-free zones in the United States to protect our schoolchildren against mass shooters, why not use the same policy to protect our sons and daughters in the military from such wanton gun violence."

Davies pointed out that every month several American soldiers are killed by mass shooters toting semi-automatic and automatic weapons.

"It's the easy availability of these assault weapons that makes gun violence in Afghanistan possible. By reducing the number of these weapons on the streets, and requiring background checks for jihadis attempting to purchase assault weapons at tribal gun shows, we can stop gun violence in Afghanistan. It's worked in Chicago and Newark, and it's kept our children safe in schools, so why can't it work overseas?"

General Mark Warren, commander of military security for American forces in Afghanistan, held an impromptu press conference for reporters.

"We received this... this... policy memorandum two days ago", said the general, who looked as if he hadn't slept in a couple of days. "We have ordered our troops to... to... surrender their firearms by noon today."

The general had to steady himself at the podium.

"For each weapon surrendered, the soldier will receive a... a... stuffed teddy bear and a citation for working in solidarity for gun safety." The general appeared to be ill, and his hands were trembling.

In response to a reporter's question about the response of the Afghani insurgents to the new policy, General Warren grew even more pale. "The insurgents have turned in quite a few weapons." The general pointed to a box of water pistols and nerf-guns on the stage. "We are a bit concerned, as you might imagine, about the disproportionate response between the defenders and the aggressors to gun regulation."

"We are hoping, of course, that people who are intent on mass murder will pause to obey these new statutory restrictions. I'm sorry to say that our stricter enforcement of parking regulations hasn't prevented car bombs, so I'm not hopeful about the gun regulations" the general said, his voice barely audible.

In the United States, gun control advocates were enthusiastically supportive of the new firearms regulation. Nestor Moron, president of the gun control advocacy group Defenseless Schools are Safe Schools, hailed the laws as a huge step forward for gun safety. "We have been lobbying for years for the Pentagon to require safety locks on all soldiers' weapons. It is imperative that we stem the tide of violence in combat zones."

Moron, who for decades has been instrumental in school gun safety programs in Littleton Colorado and Newtown Connecticut, and who was a gun-control safety advisor to Century Movie Theater in Aurora Colorado (the only theatre in Aurora that was a gun-free zone), touted the Afghanistan gun-free zone as a major step forward in the prevention of mass shootings. "It's a matter of the heart. How could Americans be so callous as to allow our sons and daughters in the military to be the victims of gun violence? We must take action."

Afghani insurgents seem to be broadly supportive of the new gun control laws. Mulla Adan Lanzaa commented on the new gun safety regulations at his arsenal in Kandahar. "We very happy American decision" Mulla Lanzaa proclaimed, smiling while his men gleefully fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades into the air. "Yankee assault rifle very danger to us. So sad. Now much safe!"

Meanwhile, officials conducted a candle-light vigil at the American Marine Base at Kandahar, where yesterday 26 American soldiers who had just surrendered their weapons to gun control authorities were gunned down by a mass shooter. Mourners had placed teddy bears with peace symbols and solidarity candles at a hastily prepared memorial.

"These tragedies shouldn't happen", one young woman with a "Imagine No Guns" button on her shirt. She sighed. "If only we had been more defenseless..."

This is vile even for Jerry Coyne

Coyne is upset that Britain has state-supported faith schools-- he believes that atheism should be the official religion of the state, and he hates competitors. But he adds this:
Given that parents can (unfortunately) legally proselytize their children at home, there is no justification for publicly supporting religious education outside the home.
Does Coyne actually believe that parents should not be allowed by law to raise their own children in their own faith? Presumably the religion police in Coyne's utopia would monitor discussions in private homes between parents and children, in order to catch and prosecute any illegal "proselytizing" within  families.

This is not a theoretical scenario. Such suppression of private religious exercise within families was a hallmark of communist totalitarianism from Soviet Russia to Mao's China to Pol Pot's Cambodia, and remains in force in North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba and China.

Coyne apparently intends to prove that he has earned his "Censor of the Year" award. Sometimes the totalitarianism inherent to atheism doesn't even run deep: it sits right on the surface. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Left is no friend of minorities

Thomas Sowell:
The Left Versus Minorities
Nothing has done more damage to blacks in America than the Democrat Party, which is the home of the Progressive Left. Democrat segregationists-- the original Progressives-- dreamed of destroying black life and family and culture. Later 20th century Democrat Liberals achieved it, and now they use the people they have destroyed for votes. It's just a different kind of plantation now, much harder to escape, and much more profitable. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Clueless in Toronto

Larry Moran has a typically nasty blog post demanding censorship of public prayer at city council meetings in Canada.

Of course, the obvious remedy to public prayer (if you're an atheist) is to not participate.

Don't like prayer? Don't pray.

But atheists are totalitarians at heart-- censorship is part of who they are. The really funny thing is that Moran has had a few self-pitying posts about the reductions in public funding for science (particularly bullshit science like AGW "research").

The moron doesn't see that the two issues are related. If you tell the public to shove their religious beliefs up their butts, and that they're idiots, and you link your atheist anti-religious hate to science, why would you be surprised that after a while the public tells scientists to "go get your paycheck from someone else".

Science is a radically over-rated endeavor. Obviously there have been substantial advances, but most of them have been in applied sciences like medical research and engineering that are not entangled in atheist and greenie-infested "disciplines" like climate science and evolutionary biology. Ninety-five percent of the scientific literature is garbage, most of it is irreproducible, and most of the rest is irrelevant except to tenure. A lot of published science is so dodgy with data and logic that if it were financial prospectus the authors would be prosecuted by securities authorities. And of course scientific literature is a prospectus, attracting hundreds of billions of research dollars annually.

And the incompetence and fraud seem to infest particular kinds of science.

Think about it: what exactly have climate scientists and evolutionary biologists done for you lately, except take billions and billions of your tax dollars and compare you to Holocaust deniers if you question them or call you idiots if you believe in God and drag you into court if you talk about God in public or if you don't want their atheist religion taught to your kids in your schools?

People are starting to catch on. There's a simple solution to this atheist/scientistic canker on our culture. Defund the bastards. They hide behind their fake worthless "science". These f*ckers have no marketable skills-- most of them would require remedial training to work at the drive-through window at McDonald's ("Larry, we know you're new to the restaurant, but you really have to be nice to the customers and stop telling them they're IDiots-- they pay your salary").

So aim at the  scientific disciplines they infest and take their money away. We don't need just-so stories about evolution, idiotic crap about surviving survivors and randomness generating all of life, and transparent frauds like the crowd in Climategate.

Strip their funding. Time to pull away the teat. Atheists can find something else to suck on. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Christie arrests filmmaker, blames him for traffic jam

[Dissociated Press] New Jersey governor Chris Christie today announced the arrest of Mohammed Al-Fatwi, a Fort Lee filmaker who posted a You Tube video days before the massive traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge last September. New Jersey officials say that the jam was caused by thousands of drivers who were watching Fatwi's video, which mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. Christie made the announcement of the arrest after comforting families who were trapped in the traffic and the governor promised:
We will make sure the person who made the video that was responsible for the traffic jam is arrested and prosecuted.
At the press conference announcing the arrest, the New Jersey governor was exasperated by reporters' incessant questioning about the incident at the bridge:
With all due respect, the fact is we had a traffic jam. Was it because of a video or was it because of guys out for a drive one day who decided that they’d they go cause a traffic jam? What difference at this point-- what difference does it make?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It seems that boys, unlike girls, should be sent on camping trips with adults who are sexually attracted to them

From Hot Air:
Walt Disney World tells Boy Scouts to allow openly gay leaders or lose funding
A good question:
[T]his leads to a question: Will Disney also take money from Girl Scouts USA, which does not allow male scout leaders? Discrimination is discrimination, after all, and those men who want to lead girls on scouting trips should be given the same opportunity as women.
Never forget that the father of the gay rights movement was a homosexual pedophile. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Watching a movie about Democrat Party history...

I'm spending a Sunday afternoon watching Twelve Years a Slave with my family. Wow. Powerful movie, excellent acting. Well-deserving of an Academy Award (I saw Gravity last night-- good movie, but not as good as Twelve Years.)

Something I was thinking while watching it: Christianity was depicted as hypocritical vile doctrine used to justify any kind of horror perpetrated against the slaves. Of course, many horrors have been perpetrated in its name, but obviously ownership and abuse of human beings is not Christian in any actual sense. Early Christianity tolerated slavery (not chattel slavery, but the slavery that was extant in Roman civilization at the time) as the real long-standing state of affairs, and worked hard to endow it with as much humanity and charity as the social system would allow (c.f. Philemon). Over the next few centuries, Christianity wiped slavery off the map in lands in which it held sway. By the early Middle Ages, it was gone from Christendom, but remained everywhere else. Chattel slavery in the New World was a decisively un-Christian reversion to brutality and sin. Slavery in the New World was condemned by the Catholic Church repeatedly and decisively: in 1537 by Sublimis Deus, which was accompanied by Pastorale Officium which imposed a latae sententiae excommunication on slave owners and traders. Slavery was condemned by the Congregation of the Holy Office (otherwise known as The Inquisition, for you Catholic-haters) on March 20, 1686, and repeatedly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example in Pipe Gregory XVI's 1839 Papal Bull In Supremo, which reiterated the Church's consistent centuries-old condemnation of slavery. In 1888 and 1890, Pope Leo XIII again condemned slavery and demanded that it be eliminated throughout the world as it had been eliminated in Christendom.

So watching the movie, I was perplexed by the insinuation that Christianity was a rationalization for slavery. While many slave-owners invoked Scripture to defend slavery, there was massive, consistent, and ancient opposition to slavery from the Catholic Church and from many courageous Protestant denominations. In fact, Christians formed the core of the anti-slavery movement-- William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, John Newton, William Lloyd Garrison and countless other Christians as well as entire congregations of Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists-- are exemplars of the devout Christians who worked passionately to free slaves. And Christianity played a central role in the spiritual lives of slaves themselves-- they understood that Christ was on their side and that they were all God's children.

So why was Christianity portrayed so dishonestly in the movie? The reason, of course, is that lying about Christianity is de rigueur in Hollywood. The screenwriters just went with the flow.

But here's what was missing: slavery was the core public policy of the Democrat Party during the ante-bellum era. Democrats were the slave-owners party. The Democrats were only cured of their slave lust by Union armies in the bloodiest war in American history (caused entirely by Democrats fighting for slavery). After the Civil War, Democrats created the Ku Klux Klan, enacted Jim Crow and created the largest Progressive government program in American history-- segregation.

Leading Democrat politicians like Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace and a host of lesser Dems (countless senators, governors, congressmen and the like) either overtly supported and enacted segregation or worked in collaboration with fellow segregationist Democrats to beat, lynch, and otherwise degrade and abuse black Americans for a century. Today, the worst fate a young black man can suffer in America is to be raised in a Democrat-controlled city like Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, and scores of other crime-infested Democrat municipalities. The violent mortality of young black men growing up on the streets of Detroit is almost certainly higher than the violent mortality of young black men growing up in the antebellum South.

Only 21st century Democrats can kill more black people than 19th century Democrats.

Here's the rub: you never-- never-- see slave-owners in superb movies like Twelve Years a Slave talking about their beloved slave-holding Democrat Party, or how they live by Democrat Party pro-slavery principles, or how they have to take time out from flogging slaves to go to their Democrat Party meetings.

Odd how the intimate correlation between slavery and the Democrat Party is never mentioned by the entertainment cognescenti, but there's always a slave-raping Christian pastor lying about Christian teaching on slavery. Yet all slave owners were Democrats, passionate Democrats nearly always, and hardly Christians in any meaningful sense.

Why is Christianity's tangential (and contradictory) relation to slavery, but not the Democrat Party's essential bond with slavery, invariably the only ideological connection to slavery offered in movies and popular culture?

No slave owner was a Christian, in any honest spiritual sense. Every slave owner was in a state of mortal sin. The abolitionist movement was run from Christian churches, as was the Civil Rights Movement. Yet every slave owner-- and nearly all KKKers and segregationists-- were Democrats in good standing.

The reason is that Hollywood elites-- Progressive Democrats to their cocaine-marinated bones-- are the moral and political descendants of the slave-owners, and the central frantic endeavor (largely successful) of Progressive Democrat elites since the mid 20th century has been shoving their direct responsibility for slavery and segregation down the memory hole.

Movies about slavery that don't mention Democrats are like movies about the Holocaust that don't mention Nazis.

Think about that while you watch Twelve Years a Slave

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Feser on Nagel and formal and final causes in nature

Ed Feser provides some deep insights into the inadequacy of materialist reductionist approaches to biology:

Continuing our look at the critics of Thomas Nagel’s recent book Mind and Cosmos, we turn to philosopher Alva Noë’s very interesting remarks over at NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture blog. Noë’s initial comments might seem broadly sympathetic to Nagel’s position. He writes:
Science has produced no standard account of the origins of life.
We have a superb understanding of how we get biological variety from simple, living starting points. We can thank Darwin for that. And we know that life in its simplest forms is built up out of inorganic stuff. But we don't have any account of how life springs forth from the supposed primordial soup. This is an explanatory gap we have no idea how to bridge.
Science also lacks even a back-of-the-envelop [sic] concept explaining the emergence of consciousness from the behavior of mere matter. We have an elaborate understanding of the ways in which experience depends on neurobiology. But how consciousness arises out of the action of neurons, or how low-level chemical or atomic processes might explain why we are conscious — we haven't a clue.
We aren't even really sure what questions we should be asking.
These two explanatory gaps are strikingly similar… In both cases we have large-scale phenomena in view (life, consciousness) and an exquisitely detailed understanding of the low-level processes that sustain these phenomena (biochemistry, neuroscience, etc). But we lack any way of making sense of the idea that the higher-level phenomena just come down to, or consist of, what is going on at the lower level.
End quote. Now an Aristotelian would say that this is precisely what we should expect. What modern biologists and neuroscientists have uncovered in exquisite detail are the material-cum-efficient causes of the phenomena of life and consciousness. But that is only half the story, for there are also irreducible final and formal causes -- the inherent teleological features natural objects exhibit by virtue of their substantial forms -- and you are never going to capture those features in terms of material and efficient causality. That is (one reason) why there always seems to be something left out in materialist accounts of life and consciousness.

There is a mystery here only if you suppose that “lower-level” descriptions are somehow more privileged than “higher-level” descriptions. And that, we old-fashioned Aristotelians would argue, is something there is no good reason to believe in the first place. It is merely a metaphysical dogma -- as old as Democritus and Leucippus but no more plausible now than it was in their day -- that is read intothe scientific facts rather than read out of them. In the case at hand, what Noë is describing confirms the traditional Aristotelian view that there is a difference in kind and not merely degree between the organic and the inorganic, and between sensory and vegetative forms of life (in the technical Aristotelian sense of “vegetative,” which does not correspond exactly to the colloquial use of that term).
This has nothing to do with vitalism, “Intelligent Design” theory, and other such bogeymen, and one reason Nagel’s inchoate neo-Aristotelianism may be troubling to his more ideological critics is precisely that it undermines the false dilemma that is the naturalist’s main rhetorical weapon: “Either accept some form of naturalism or you’ll be stuck with magic, obscurantism, or a god-of-the-gaps.” For though Nagel’s own version is inchoate, neo-Aristotelianism cannot be dismissed as philosophically unserious, and has been worked out in more systematic detail by a number of prominent contemporary philosophers. (I noted several examples in the first post in this series. For a recent defense of a neo-Aristotelian position in biology, specifically, see David Oderberg’s Real Essentialism. I’ve criticized biological reductionism from an Aristotelian point of view in several earlier posts, such as this one, this one, and this one; and neuroscientific reductionism in several other posts, such as this oneand this one.)

Materialist reductionism is the reduction of nature to material and efficient causes. But nature cannot be satisfactorily explained as such: formal and final causes are evident in natural processes as well, and nature cannot be understood, nor science rightly pursued, without reference to formal and final, as well as material and efficient, causation.

As I have noted many times, materialist reductionism isn't really even a philosophical position properly understood. It's just a crude mistake. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A made-up hate crime by a made-up boy

Another hate crime fraud.
Yet another hate crime hoax
This is getting predictable. "Hate crimes", particularly those purporting to be against blacks or homosexuals/whatever, should all be assumed to be frauds until proven otherwise. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Putin and the Ukraine

The Washington Times has an editorial criticizing Obama on the Ukraine crisis:

[There have been] disasters in the past when presidents [have] left the door ajar to aggressors. When Dean Acheson, President Truman’s secretary of state, suggested that America was not much interested in protecting South Korea, the result was a long and bitter war. 
Leading from behind looks to adversaries and enemies like an invitation to take chances for a big payoff, as in Ukraine this week. Disaster inevitably follows. 
Ronald Reagan believed in “peace through strength, knowing that if America was strong enough, evil and ambitious men would not be tempted to test American resolve. 
Mr. Carter learned that hard lesson when it was almost too late. But he learned it. Mr. Obama works on a much steeper learning curve, but learn he will, too. 
The American people and those who rely on us for their very existence must know that we are there for them. Dithering and weakness lead to war that could have been avoided.

I guess this is a perfect opportunity to point out my paleoconservative bona-fides. I gag at sticking up for Obama on anything, but he's doing exactly what he should do here-- nothing.

We have no dog in this fight. Ukraine and Russia have issues that are a millennium old (the 9th --13th century Kievan Rus was a confederation of slavic tribes that gave rise to Russia-- and to the Ukraine-- as ethnic and cultural entities). Russia has slavered over the Crimea and warm water Black Sea ports since at least the 18th century. The Crimean War in the 1850's was in significant part about Russian access to the Black Sea. The eastern half of the Ukraine is ethnically and linguistically Russian,  as is the Crimea, and the Ukrainians have a lot of (understandable) resentment toward Russia (the Holodomor was a genocide of horrendous proportions). The Russians on the other hand resent the Ukrainians for their (perceived) widespread support for the Nazis during Barbarossa, which itself may be understood as the result of persistent Ukrainian resentment for Stalin's famine-as-policy atrocity. Between Russians and Ukrainians, it's complicated.

This is a complex crisis with very old dynamics, and we have no business whatsoever getting involved. The Baltic states and Morovia and Poland and Hungary might appropriately be a bit nervous, but that is a European issue, and none of our damn (American) business.

The editorial's reference to Acheson's speech in 1950 that may have helped trigger the Korean War is misguided. Indeed it is important to take a strong stand to defend a national interest-- if it is really a national interest-- but to take a strong stand to defend something we have no business defending is just asking for escalation and all manner of problems. We had good reason to defend South Korea, and should have said so in the run-up to 1950. We have no compelling national interest to defend Ukraine, and we should make that clear, which is exactly what Obama is doing.

Obama is a putz, but right now "putz" is just what we need. This is no place for 'lines in the sand'. The appropriate American response is to offer to facilitate a peaceful resolution and particularly a resolution that protects innocent civilians who, as always, stand to suffer if this becomes a war.

Conservatives who demand that we be "tough" with Russia on this matter are nuts. I am a conservative, but sometimes, especially on foreign affairs, conservatives are out of their minds.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Homophilic transphobia

That would be the disease afflicting Ellen DeGeneres, who made a transsexual-transgender joke about Liza Minnelli at the Oscars, and who has now incurred the wrath of the transsexual-transgender police, who are a newly deputized contingent of the gaystapo.

She's a gay icon (and I'm a fan-- I like her show!), so she's definitely homophilic, but transphobia is another matter entirely, and I guess homophobia antibodies don't protect against the scourge of transphobia.

I'm trying to keep the whole thing 'straight' in my head.


I guess that little pun is a sign of my heterophilic homo-transgender-transsexual-phobia, but recognizing my deviation at least gives me a leg up on my studies in the re-education camp, to which I'll no doubt be consigned in the near future.

Here's the syllabus, so you too can get some advanced placement credit that will make your stay in the camp less... taxing

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy Lent!

"Happy" Lent? I guess that's the proper thing to say. I intend to pray more regularly, attend daily Mass if at all possible (my schedule is tight, but there's a noon mass at my hospital, and there are 8:00 am and 12:00 pm masses at my church), fast during the day, and participate in Operation Rice Bowl.

I'll also try to be less sinful than I usually am. I haven't been too successful in prior Lents (I find Lent very beautiful and very hard).

Blessings to all. Happy-- and Solemn-- Lent!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our fabulous solution

Ilya Shapiro at Forbes tells why he supports "marriage equality" and Arizona's Religious Liberty Bill, with my comments.

Even though I’m for marriage equality—see my Supreme Court briefs in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, and this week I’ll be filing a brief supporting the challenge to the marriage laws of Oklahoma and Utah—I had no problem with Arizona’s SB 1062 for at least nine reasons: 
1. Unlike the failed legislation in Kansas and elsewhere, which truly was anti-gay, bills like Arizona’s merely provide a (non-absolute) right to assert a religious objection to generally applicable law, with courts being the ultimate arbiters of how to reconcile competing values.
Shapiro misunderstands the objections to the Arizona law. The objections aren't based on reason or evidence or law. The objections are based on hatred of Christianity.

2. SB 1062 did nothing more than align state law with the federalReligious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA, which passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). No government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” Understandably, this right includes being able to assert a religious objection as a defense in a lawsuit that invokes state law as the basis for a claim (whether that be an antidiscrimination law or any other kind)—but again, a judge gets to decide whether that objection should be accommodated or overruled based on the standards I just described.
The actual content of the bill was never under discussion. The problem was that the bill interfered with the homosexual agenda, which is not gay marriage (people who have sex with hundreds/thousands of strangers in men's rooms don't give a shit about marriage). The homosexual agenda is the elimination of Christian praxis.

3. Such laws don’t mean that people can “do whatever they want”—laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice—but it prevents the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category), unlike the Kansas bill, which specifically referenced and defined marriage.
Shapiro insists, bizarrely, on using reason and evidence to analyze the bill and the opposition to it. That's like trying to understand Kristallnacht by applying modal logic. A mismatch.

4. Why should people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs? The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 was meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse service to gay clients, but couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. (The Supreme Court will decide later this month whether to hearthe case.) There’s also the Oregon bakery that closed rather than having to provide cakes for same-sex ceremonies. And the Washington florist who was sued by a long-time customer, and other similar examples.

People "should" be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious belief if the intent is to exterminate praxis based on their belief.

5. This isn’t the Jim Crow South. There are plenty of wedding photographers—over 100 in Albuquerque alone—and bakeries who would be willing to do business regardless of sexual orientation and no state is enforcing segregation laws (or has police officers moonlighting as Klansmen).

Jim Crow was the use of legal force to regulate private business interactions in order to exclude a disfavored segment of society from the public square. Just like what the gaystapo and their enablers are doing to Christians.

6. It may be a different case if there’s only one photographer for hundreds of miles—let alone one restaurant or hotel—but I wonder how many gay weddings happen in such isolated hamlets. And anyway, that extreme hypothetical shouldn’t be used as the basis for establishing general principle. As they say, hard cases make bad law.

But hard cases make good persecution, which is what is really going on here.

7. While governments have the duty to treat everyone equally under the law, private individuals should be able to make their own decisions on whom to do business with and how—on religious or any other grounds. Gay photographers and bakers shouldn’t be forced to work Southern Baptist celebrations, Jews shouldn’t be forced to work Nazi rallies, environmentalists shouldn’t be forced to work job fairs in logging communities, and pacifists shouldn’t be forced to work NRA conventions.
Don't worry, Ilya. Gay photographers, Jewish businessmen, environmentalists, and pacifists are in no danger whatsoever of being forced to do anything they don't believe in. This in only about Christians. It will never be applied to anyone else.

8. Laws like SB 1062 help avoid manufactured controversies and preempt the involvement of lawyers where common sense and decency fear to tread. If somebody doesn’t want to serve you—or refuses to serve others on a basis you can’t stomach—take your custom elsewhere and encourage others to do the same. I bet plenty of Arizona businesses would see more customers if they advertised that they welcomed the LGBT community.

"Common sense"? "Decency"? What's that got to do with the LGBT agenda? You're kidding, right, Mr. Shapiro?

9. While Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto may have thrown cold water on this debate, the conflict between government mandates and civil rights (whether religious liberty, freedom of association, or anything else) will not go away. The way that the media maliciously misdescribed SB 1062 and that national politicians turned tail rather than defend inconvenient concepts may have made signing the bill politically hard, but the underlying policy principles are sound.
 The conflict won't go away. It will get much worse. This is still the beginning.

Let’s hope that the cases like those I described above—people who have long served gay clients but who don’t want to work same-sex ceremonies—don’t happen in Arizona. If they do, this debate will flare up again, in Phoenix and nationally. 
In the meantime, I suggest that legislatures that want to protect liberty for all pursue these mini-RFRAs—patterned on the federal one that was designed by those right-wing zealots Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy—but only in conjunction with the extension of state marriage law to gay couples. 
Tolerance, civility, and equal rights in a pluralistic society are all two-way streets.

Indeed tolerance, civility and equal rights are two way streets. That has nothing to do with America in 2014, because we are no longer a pluralistic society. The secularists have won, and we will increasingly reap the harvest of functional atheist crony capitalist (which is the same as socialist) governance, with a homosexual flair.

Christianity in America will face its final solution, or, should we say, its fabulous solution.   

Monday, March 3, 2014

Gee, I wonder what settlement the gaystapo will impose...

Ross Douthat on the gay marriage tsunami and the gaystapo:

[T]he press coverage [of the Religious Freedom bill], which was mendacious and hysterical — evinc[ed] no familiarity with the legal issues, and endlessly parrot[ed] the line that the bill would institute “Jim Crow” for gays. (Never mind that in Arizona it’s currently legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation — and mass discrimination isn’t exactly breaking out.) Allegedly sensible centrists compared the bill’s supporters to segregationist politicians, liberals invoked the Bob Jones precedent to dismiss religious-liberty concerns, and Republican politicians behaved as though the law had been written by David Duke. 
What makes this response particularly instructive is that such bills have been seen, in the past, as a way for religious conservatives to negotiate surrender — to accept same-sex marriage’s inevitability while carving out protections for dissent. But now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don’t get to negotiate anymore
Which has a certain bracing logic. If your only goal is ensuring that support for traditional marriage diminishes as rapidly as possible, applying constant pressure to religious individuals and institutions will probably do the job. Already, my fellow Christians are divided over these issues, and we’ll be more divided the more pressure we face. The conjugal, male-female view of marriage is too theologically rooted to disappear, but its remaining adherents can be marginalized, set against one other, and encouraged to conform. 
I am being descriptive here, rather than self-pitying. Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.) So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution. 
But it’s still important for the winning side to recognize its power. We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.
Douthat is much more complacent about the "settlement the victors will impose" than I am. I am a more defiant sort, and I sure as hell won't collaborate with the gaystapo. This is a very serious matter-- the rise of gay fascism is the most serious cultural and legal challenge our nation has faced since we defeated segregation, and this is no time to collaborate with manifest evil. Douthat already does-- you don't work at the New York Times without bending over. Douthat has to insert gaystapo-approved tropes to get published in the New York Times. Again:
"Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.)"  So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution. 
Bullshit. Obviously there have been situations in which Christians (and everyone else) have been cruel to gays. Everyone has been cruel to everyone, at one time or another. Nothing Christians have done comes anywhere near the cruelty Muslims still show to gays, yet the Gaystapo and its public relations firm is silent as a Charlie Chaplin film about Muslim executions of gays. It's being without cake, rather than without a head, that seems to matter most to professional gay victims. Christians are subjected to gross persecution by gays for not baking a wedding cake. Muslims who execute gays are-- well we have to respect their faith, now, don't we?

Christianity demands that we treat all sinners (that is, each of us) with love and respect, and treating sinners with love and respect of course precludes enabling their sin. To love and respect an alcoholic or a drug addict is to discourage, not abet, his addiction. To love and respect a homosexual is to discourage, not abet, his sin.  

If we Christians had been more emphatic about the sinful nature of male homosexual behavior over the past half-century, instead of abetting it as "sexual freedom", perhaps we could have spared more of our gay brothers and sisters the horror of AIDS and the squalor and sadness of lives spent in promiscuity and gross sin. And we would have helped save souls.  

And, speaking of persecutions, gays have of course persecuted others as well, on a massive scale that dwarfs anything ever done to them. Don't forget that the SA-- the Nazi Brownshirts/Storm Troopers-- was a homosexual organization, led by a bevy of dominant homosexuals like Ernst Rohm

Fascism has long had a particularly strong appeal to homosexuals, as Johann Hari points out in the Huffington Post. 

We Americans are going to get a much more clear understanding-- a more first-hand understanding-- of homosexual fascism in the next few years. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The prostitutes and the thieves...

Chris Arnade in the Guardian:
The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes 
I've been reminded that life is not as rational as Richard Dawkins sees it. Perhaps atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy
... I did escape my town, eventually receiving a PhD in physics, and then working on Wall Street for 20 years. A life devoted to rational thought, a life devoted to numbers and clever arguments. 
During that time I counted myself an atheist and nodded in agreement as a wave of atheistic fervor swept out of the scientific community and into the media, led by Richard Dawkins
I saw some of myself in him: quick with arguments, uneasy with emotions, comfortable with logic, able to look at any ideology or any thought process and expose the inconsistencies. We all picked on the Bible, a tome cobbled together over hundreds of years that provides so many inconsistencies. It is the skinny 85lb (35.6kg) weakling for anyone looking to flex their scientific muscles. 
I eventually left my Wall Street job and started working with andphotographing homeless addicts in the South Bronx. When I first walked into the Bronx I assumed I would find the same cynicism I had towards faith. If anyone seemed the perfect candidate for atheism it was the addicts who see daily how unfair, unjust, and evil the world can be.
None of them are. Rather they are some of the strongest believers I have met, steeped in a combination of Bible, superstition, and folklore. 
The first addict I met was Takeesha. She was standing near the high wall of the Corpus Christi Monastery. We talked for close to an hour before I took her picture. When we finished, I asked her how she wanted to be described. She said without any pause, "As who I am. A prostitute, a mother of six, and a child of God." 
Takeesha was raped by a relative when she was 11. Her mother, herself a prostitute, put Takeesha out on the streets at 13, where she has been for the last 30 years,

It's sad when it's your mother, who you trust, and she was out there with me, but you know what kept me through all that? God. Whenever I got into the car, God got into the car with me.
Sonya and Eric, heroin addicts who are homeless, have a picture of the Last Supper that moves with them. It has hung in an abandoned building, it has hung in a sewage-filled basement, and now it leans against the pole in the small space under the interstate where they live.

Sarah, 15 years on the streets, wears a cross around her neck. Always. Michael, 30 years on the streets, carries a rosary in his pocket. Always. In any crack house, in the darkest buildings empty of all other furnishings, a worn Bible can be found laying flat amongst needles, caps, lighters, and crack pipes... 
We are all sinners. On the streets the addicts, with their daily battles and proximity to death, have come to understand this viscerally. Many successful people don't. Their sense of entitlement and emotional distance has numbed their understanding of our fallibility.

Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well...

I also see Richard Dawkins differently. I see him as a grown up version of that 16-year-old kid, proud of being smart, unable to understand why anyone would believe or think differently from himself. I see a person so removed from humanity and so removed from the ambiguity of life that he finds himself judging those who think differently.

I love this passage from Matthew 21 (it's my older daughter's favorite as well):

In reply to criticism by the chief priests and elders, Jesus told them the parable of the two sons:
There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 
‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 
 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” 
“The first,” they answered. 
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." 
It is often our baser sins, much more than our imagined virtues, that through our misery ultimately bring us closer to God. This is why that, among the seven deadly sins, pride is the deadliest, deadlier than lust and gluttony and sloth.

Atheism is a breath-taking arrogance, a prideful narcissism that is more destructive to the soul than a plethora of sins of the flesh.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Now you can see more clearly why they want to trash the Second Amendment

It's funny how you can understand motives of a political movement if you realize that the policies it champions are connected. They shed light on the purposes of the movement.

Can there be any more clear demonstration of the intentions of the Left than Georgetown Law professor Louis Seidman's jaw-dropping op-ed in the New York Times advocating throwing out the Constitution, and the moronic Leftie frenzy over gun control.

They are connected. The latter is what would make the former achievable.

Gun control has nothing to do with school shootings or reducing violence. Where Leftists govern (Chicago, Washington DC, etc), gun violence is everywhere. Leftist-governed municipalities are the most violent enclaves in America. In Leftist governed enclaves, the government and the criminals have all the guns. Only law-abiding citizens are disarmed.

Gun control and Constitution-trashing are part of a fabric: Leftist hegemony and the radical transformation of our nation.