Sam Harris on Atheism’s Tolerance and Lack of Dogma

Wakefield Tolbert, one of the greast commentators here, posted up this piece on Sam Harris’ attempts to dissociate atheism from the horrors of the crimes of atheist Fascist and Communist regimes of the 20th century. It’s at https://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/homosexuals-and-atheism-an-uneasy-alliance/#comment-1293, but I reprint it here:

‘I don’t have the direct source for this — I got it from what someone named Tom Paine whose blog I dislike but nontheless he enjoys bantering with me on stuff like this. Sam Harris replies to charges of atheism’s culpability with terror and war:

Finally, there’s this notion that atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in the 20th century. … It is amazing how many people think that the crimes of Hitler and Pol Pot and Mao were the result of atheism. The truth is that this is a total misconstrual of what went on in those societies, and of the psychological and social forces that allow people to follow their dear leader over the brink. The problem with Fascism and communism was not that they were too critical of religion. The problem is they’re too much like religions; these are utterly dogmatic systems of thought. I recently had a debate with Rick Warren in the pages of Newsweek, and he suggested that North Korea was a model atheist society and that any atheist with the courage of his convictions should want to move there. The truth is North Korea is organized exactly like a faith based cult, centered on the worship of Kim Jong-il. The North Koreans apparently believe that the shipments of food aid that they receive from us, to keep them from starving to death, are actually devotional offerings to Kim Jong-il. Is too little faith really the problem with North Korea? Is too much skeptical inquiry, what is wrong here?

Now Beast for my part on this, I’ll tell you my initial impression here:

I agree with evolution buff but blaster of Dawkins nontheless for being sloppy, Allen Orr, who said that such arguments are contradictory when it comes to some of these cats saying that they get to disavow all bad things atheist regimes have done. Dinesh D’Souza says much the same thing, and I’ll be doing a book review on one of his latest books around the same time (I HOPE!) when I feel better and do the brain post also. just have too much on the plate. Long story short, Dinesh says basically that you can’t have it both ways.

You can’t say that deviations from the norm due to ANY reason–cults of personality, politics, evil revolutionary histories, allegations of literal insanity (not likely), and other socio-economic explanations for evil behavior are not proof of any thing for atheism and YET hold that all deviations in Christians who fall short (AMONG those who ARE truly Christians, as we don’t know this all to be the case for all “Christian murderers”) are evidence of the moral failings of Christianity.

Christianity proposes a way of salvation–not human perfection. The latter was not promised. The Church is the holding tank or repository of the sinners, not just the saints. Harris is saying that a religious type “cult of personality” is the reason you have North Korea’s nutcase who dresses like Bea Arthur in camo gear proclaim himself godlike, etc. Or that Stalin was literally insance, Mao was a cult of personality as well.

I don’t buy it. You CANNOT remove the dynamism from human personality anymore than dynamic acting from good car salesmen or Congress or Parliement or other areas of human contact that require status and presentation. This is impossible.

Harris is proposing that humans lose human presentation and chicanery from presentation of ideas. Those who’re dynamic are “religious” he seems to say. Based on culture, society, whatnot.

Atheism is thus non-falsifiable when it comes to being seen as a superior way of seeing moral issues. Point out a flaw, and they can disavow anything.

Would they accept a situation as falsification if a famous research scientist (say, Dawkins!) leaves his office one day and shoots thousands dead on campus?

No. That would be an abberation only! And since atheism proposes no world view or viewpoint according to its adherents, who’s to say what is right or wrong and who’s to say this guy it therefore “one of ours”?

Atheists are quick to say that atheism, per se means nothing, as it is a void, a null set, empty, and proposes no moral absolutes nor any moral code other than feel good stuff about nature and being nice to people. This can be done with a bumber sticker or fortune cookie. OK, so they claim you can’t assume the encoding of anything in athiesm. SO you might end up back where you started in morals. To Harris this is a blessing, it seems, since they can’t be held to some standards. YET he finds certain actions odious. WHY?

We don’t know. Athiests DO claim that they alone are in tune with Reason and Science and that TTHESE realms are the only true arbitars of peace and justice, however they define this while claiming there are no trancendent moral codes. Stalin defies this, but then they disavow him completely as a revolutionary train wreck no one could have guessed at outside the context of the hell of old Russia, which I’m sure he blames on Orthodox Christianity.
So it goes…..

D’Souza points out some other unfortunate things about Harris, such as his (Harris’s) refusal to see the political and social context of the Crusades and witch burnings, the latter being vastly overestimated while still horrific.’

This drew a response from Mark Williams, who defended atheism as being intrinsically more tolerant because of its allegedly non-dogmatic nature at https://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/homosexuals-and-atheism-an-uneasy-alliance/#comment-1299.

 Now I have to say that I find Harris’ assertion that atheism is intrinsically more tolerant than theism, and that the horrors of the Fascist and Communist regimes were the result of them being too much like religion unconvincing. In fact, it says to me that Harris actually knows nothing about the nature of these regimes, history or human psychology generally. Here’s why.

Rejection of Accusations of Dogmatism by Intolerant Regimes 

Firstly, generally speaking, in such debates dogma is something that the other fellow has, while those professing greater tolerance maintain that they don’t have dogmas, which are irrational constructs, but the truth. This does not, however, prevent them from being intolerant themselves. For Marxists, ideology is the creation of the ruling class to justify the economic relations that support their power and the exploitation of the working class. This is a ‘false consciousness’ that blinds the workers to the reality of their exploitation. Marxism, however, is not an ideology, so defined, but the truth. Of course, this did not stop Marxism itself from being exactly what it claimed other ideologies were: an ideology that supported a brutal, repressive and exploitative social order that created a ‘false consciousness’ in order to justify the new Marxist ruling class of the Communist party nomenklatura, party apparatchiks and civil servants.

Claims of Objective, Scientific Validation Common to Atheist Regimes and Movements

Furthermore, however, doctrinaire and dogmatic Marxism was, it nevertheless shared common assumptions about the world with the larger atheist worldview. It was materialist, embraced Darwinism, and considered itself not the product of intellectual speculation, but of established, empirical scientific fact.

Nor was Marxism the only atheist worldview to consider itself scientifically validated. The Futurists, a militantly avant garde Italian artistic and political movement of the first decades of the 20th century, bitterly rejected metaphysics, looked forward to the new machine age and loudly denounced what they saw as the superstition and bigotry of the Roman Catholic church. They also loudly denounced the Church’s attitude to sex, and issued a manifesto celebrating lust and attacking the Church’s attitude, amongst other things, to homosexuality. They also believed strongly in the Nietzschean ‘transvaluation of values’, looking forward to the time when their artistic and political successors would overthrow them. This did not prevent them from being fervently militarist – they declared war to be the sole hygiene of the world and vehemently misogynist. Marinetti, in his ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism’, published in Le Figaro, stated that the advocated ‘scorn for woman’. There was a short-lived Futurist party after the First World War, and Marinetti and the Futurists of the second generation supported Mussolini and his regime.

 Some Dictatorships Initially Apparently Undogmatic

Secondly, an apparently undogmatic character was one of the factors that made the Fascist regimes attractive to some of their country’s citizens and intellectuals. Some Italian intellectuals, for example, welcomed Mussolini’s Fascist revolution as a solution to the doctrinaire political conflicts that they felt had led merely to division and inertia in Italian politics, rather than effective social and economic change. Similarly the Fascist take-over in Bulgaria was assisted by the increasing fragmentation of the Bulgarian political scene, with parties splitting over specific points of doctrine. Democratic Bulgarian politicians had attempted to counter this through the Zveno organisation that attempted to build a links – Zveno is Bulgarian for ‘link’ – between politicians of different political parties. This was not successful, and the Fascists took power partly through the promise of creating an effective administration in contrast to democratic fragmentation and political paralysis. Similarly, Nazi rhetoric was specifically tailored to appeal to particular social groups – small businesses, industrial workers and big business – even when this led to conflicting claims and ideological contradiction.

Thus strongly ideological regimes have seen and promoted themselves as non-ideological, and the lack of a distinct ideology or party dogma has been a central tenet of Fascist ‘crisis regimes’ whose raison d’etre was to hold and maintain power and order against the threat of ideologically generated political and social fragmentation. Lack of dogma in some aspects of a regime’s ideology or political platform does not prevent that regime from being fundamentally intolerant in others.

Intolerance of Atheist and Secularist Regimes Based on Claims of Defending Intellectual Freedom

Furthermore the militantly anti-Christian regimes of the left and right justified their attacks on Christianity by claiming to defend intellectual and spiritual freedom against the intolerance of Christianity. Hitler in his Table Talk declared that he looked forward to the day when everyone could seek his own salvation, unconstrained by Christianity which he detested for its alleged intolerance, stupidity and Jewish roots. The French Revolutionaries in their murderous attacks on Christian clergy and laymen did so on the grounds that they were defending citizens’ civil, political and intellectual liberty against religious oppression. And while Marxism adopts a particular ideological stance to the world based on Hegelian dialectic, classical economics and the socialisation of property, the economic views of the French revolutionaries is closer to that of the contemporary west, based on notions of political equality and liberty for all humanity and free market economics. This did not, however, prevent revolutionaries such as Robespierre and the notorious Committee of Public Safety developing a dictatorial policy based on the central premise that the French revolutionary regime represented freedom, and so those who exercised their intellectual freedom to disagree with the regime automatically were enemies of freedom.

Roman Persecution of Christianity Based on Same Claims as Later French Revolutionary, Fascist and Marxist Claims

One can see this process in the ancient, pagan Roman persecution of Christianity. Pagan philosophers such as Celsus considered Christianity to be both barbarous – they sneered at Christians for being apparently ill educated and unscientific – and intolerant, because of monotheism’s rejection of all other gods. Indeed, Celsus praised paganism because pagans were free to seek their salvation amongst the variety of different sects and cults through the world, without constraint of particular dogma. The result of this hostility was the series of books and pamphlets by Celsus and his followers to refute and destroy Christianity. When this antichristian literature failed, philosopher magistrates like Sossianus Hierocles, who had declared that he had written his works to lead people ‘humanly’ away from Christianity, resorted to force. 

Thus, the horrific persecutions suffered by Christians in ancient Rome was perpetrated through the belief of the persecutors that they were protecting freedom of religion, lack of dogma, and reason. It’s the same motives that militant atheists, such as Sam Harris, have today, although Harris and the others are keen to distance themselves from the possibility that they might use force against their ideological opponents.

Rigid Ideology Not Needed for Persecuting Mindset

This is problematic. You don’t need to have a rigid ideology or all-encompassing set of dogmas to be viciously intolerant. All you need to do is see your opponent as a terrible other, an other who represents a threat that cannot be tolerated. And there are certainly elements of that amongst the most vociferous of the New Atheists.

 A few years ago Nicholas Humphries gave a speech at a gathering for Amnesty International demanding the British government legislate to prevent children being brought up in religion or other home that accepted the reality of the supernatural. This was, he stated, a form of mental child abuse. Now Humphries clearly doesn’t see himself as intolerant. He made his demands at a rally for an organisation that has done brilliant work promoting freedom of conscience and defending the victims of viciously oppressive and intolerant regimes. Yet one atheist commentator remarked that something has gone seriously wrong when such a vehemently intolerant policy is loudly embraced by an atheist who sees himself as defending freedom.

Claims that Atheism Non-Dogmatic Questionable

Now let’s examine the claim that atheism itself is undogmatic. This is problematic for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it has one central dogma: the non-existence of God. This is the defining feature of atheism and marks it off from agnosticism and theism. Now many atheists may well feel that they cannot know that God doesn’t exist, but nevertheless feel sure that He doesn’t. This epistemological agnosticism does not detract from atheism’s central claim, nor does it necessarily make atheism any the less intolerant. Someone who declares that he cannot know there isn’t a God may still demand the forcible abolition of religion on other grounds, such as the evidence for it is unconvincing and a threat to the values he feels atheism privileges, such as reason.

Now this contradicts another claim made by atheists – that atheism is simply a lack of belief in God, that does not have consequences for the rest of their worldview. Now there clearly is a consequence of a rejection of a belief in God, as it automatically rejects revelation as the basis for knowledge and stresses instead empiricism and rational inquiry. Now religion does not necessarily reject empirical experience and rational inquiry either. Indeed, the Gospels were written on the basis of reports of eye-witnesses to Christ’s ministry and resurrection. St. Paul in his letters provides the names of eye-witnesses, who were willing to testify to the reality what they personally saw and experienced. However, for the atheist empiricism and rationalism are the only basis of knowledge, which religion, because of its supernatural, revelatory character, may appear to threaten. Thus atheism may lead to an intolerant, even persecutory attitude towards religion because of a feeling religion threatens the primacy of empirical, rationalistic truth.

Atheism as Generic Term which Covers Individual Dogmatic Atheist Philosophies

Now let’s tackle Harris’ statement that atheism is undogmatic, and so more tolerant. This isn’t really convincing either. Now people can come to atheism for a variety of reasons, based on their scientific and philosophical perceptions of the world. These perceptions will also shape their response to the apparent absence of God, and what it means to live in a Godless universe. Now the history of philosophy shows that these can be elaborated to a considerable extent, to the point where it’s fair to say that there are a number of atheist sects or schools. There is considerable difference between the views of Arnold Schopenhauer, an Idealist pantheist who hated the idea of God so much that he objected to the ‘theism’ in the word ‘pantheism’, but who nevertheless seems to have held a number of vitalist beliefs, and scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins who strongly reject the notion that living matter is qualitatively different from non-living matter. Humanists like Paul Kurtz in his book The Humanist Alternative: Some Questions of Definition are keen to define Humanism both against theistic philosophies that may also claim a Humanist stance, like Christian Humanism, and other atheist philosophies such as Marxism and Existentialism. Atheism is thus a generic term that includes a number of individual atheist sects or schools, in the same way that theism simply describes a generic belief in God, covering a number of different and often contradictory religions. And ‘theism’, like ‘atheism’, as a generic term, can be similarly undogmatic because it describes general belief, rather than theological details. Voltaire in his approach to Deism declared that he shared the same fellowship towards God as the various believers of non-Christian religions around the world. He described his Deist philosophy as ‘theisme’, in other words, he felt it was a generic, inclusive belief in a deity while bitterly attacking Christian dogma and what he considered to be intolerant exclusivism. Harris in his comparison of undogmatic atheism with dogmatic theism is not comparing like with like. He compares a generic term, atheism, which covers a number of philosophical approaches that can be individually quite dogmatic, with individual religions, which he then describes as dogmatic, in order to show that Marxism, is not atheist, because it too was dogmatic. It’s a bad argument and tortured piece of logic. Dinesh D’Souza is quite right in calling it an ‘intellectual sleight of hand’ that allows Harris to disown the atrocities committed by Marxist and Fascist regimes. The problem is that Marxist and Fascist regimes committed their atrocities through particular atheist or, in the case of the Nazis, pantheist philosophies that saw themselves as scientific, rational responses to a Godless universe, or one in which the Christian God did not exist. Atheism itself as a generic term may be undogmatic, but humans as an attempt to make sense of their situation will develop dogmas, including savagely murderous dogmas, in a universe without God.

Cause of Intolerance in Human Psyche

And the problem here is indeed humanity. People can be argumentative, dogmatic and intolerant outside the intellectual milieu of religion. One only has to think of the bitter in-fighting that can occur within secular political parties or in rival intellectual movements that may loudly denounce their rivals and try to block their appointment to academic or governmental posts. Now it’s fair to say that there isn’t much physical violence between rival atheist schools, at least not on the grounds of atheism. If Marxists and Sartrean Existentialists have beaten each other up, for example, it’s probably been for political reasons, such as the Marxist creation of the gulags. Generally speaking, this might be because philosophy, and particularly metaphysics, has always been of little interest to the great mass of people, who are generally speaking more interested in concrete issues that immediately affect them here and now. It may also be because the atheist schools are generally speaking the product of a common Western intellectual climate and set of assumptions that can blur the differences between them, except to the very committed. Most of the atheists in Western society are probably so because of these generalities, having neither the time nor inclination to worry about particular points of contact and difference between Humanism, Existentialism, Anti-Humanism or Nietzschean Nihilism. Nevertheless, this does not mean that atheism cannot be dogmatic, and that violence cannot proceed from atheist dogma, if it considers that it has found the single, overriding metaphysical truth that has to be defended from an insidious, monstrous threat, like theism. Dogmas aren’t something unique to religion, that suddenly appear with religious revelation. They’re elaborated by humans investigating intellectual problems that they consider to be of supreme importance, and which are considered to give a true description of reality. For contemporary evolutionary biologists, Darwinism, or Natural Selection, has been described as ‘the central dogma’. Nevertheless, the evolutionary biologists who have described it as such do not consider it untrue, nor the product of religious revelation. Nevertheless, they consider it to be a statement about the world that has been refined through intellectual development until it has the status of unimpeachable truth. Thus dogma does not mean something purely religious or irrational, or that spuriously claims to be objective truth while being unscientific, at least, not to the majority of evolutionary biologists who support Darwin.

And rather than decrying religious intolerance as proceeding solely from the character of religion, it might benefit those atheists with such a simplistic view to look more closely at the origins of religious or political intolerance within human psychology and particular historical circumstances. The early Christians were staunchly against torture, which was illegal under canon law until the 12th century. Yet this was taken up and adopted by ecclesiastical and secular jurists and lawyers through the influence of Roman law, the same Roman law that laid the medieval foundations for the modern constitutional state, and as a response to a terrible threat – that of heresy and witchcraft – that for many of them gave no alternative except to use the most severe and horrific measures for its suppression. People react intolerantly through the flaws of human psychology and as a result of a sense of threat, sometimes despite centuries of tradition. Thus atheism, which is a human intellectual approach to the world, can be similarly corrupted to become intolerant and savagely persecutory, despite intellectual claims to openness and tolerance.

Conclusion:

Atheism also Potentially Intolerant and Harris Creating Double Standard in Disavowing Atheist Intolerance

Thus, Harris’ claims that the atrocities committed by the atheist regimes of the 20th century weren’t due to their atheism, but their supposedly religious character as dogmatic systems is unconvincing. Religiously intolerant, secular regimes like those of Marxist Russia and revolutionary France claimed to be defending freedom of conscience and intellectual inquiry in a way that echoed the pagan campaigns against the early Christians. Some dictatorships, like those of Mussolini in Italy and the Fascists in Bulgaria, were originally supported by some ideologically non-partisan intellectuals because they appeared to be free from the divisions of party political dogma. In this case, their non-dogmatic character was an intrinsic part of these dictatorships’ constitutional base. Harris does not compare like with like when he posits atheism as undogmatic, as atheism is a general term that can cover a multiplicity of approaches, some of which can be very dogmatic, with particular religions, rather than theism as a whole, which may be similarly undogmatic. Furthermore, Harris does not seem to recognise, or minimises, how far dogmatism and intolerance are the products of human psychology and historical circumstances that can turn even faiths and philosophies that reject the use of force to violence and coercion.

Wakefield and Dinesh D’Souza are therefore entirely right in that Harris has performed an intellectual sleight of hand in order to excuse atheism from any complicity in intolerance, while setting up a double standard with which to condemn theism and religion. No such double standards can be realistically created however, and atheism must stand condemned of intolerance and horror along with religion.

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93 Responses to “Sam Harris on Atheism’s Tolerance and Lack of Dogma”

  1. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Well, I can’t read the entire article, but I’ll give you the standard responce- atheism is a lack of belief that god exists. No one has ever been persecuted by people who used their lack of belief specifically as a reason. By contrast Christians have used their belief as a reason to persecute people.

    What intolerance? Atheism only implies all believers are wrong- not a big deal, most people get something wrong at one time or another in their life. Christianity by contrasts asserts that all nonbelievers will be tortured for eternity… it seems you are the onewith the double standard.

  2. beastrabban Says:

    No one has ever been persecuted by people who used their lack of belief specifically as a reason.

    Not true – atheist regimes have persecuted people, because their beliefs have posed a threat, or appeared to pose a threat, to their conception of an atheist society.

    What intolerance? Atheism only implies all believers are wrong- not a big deal, most people get something wrong at one time or another in their life.
    But atheists have believed that not only are believers wrong, but they needed to be educated out of their beliefs by force as I’ve shown.

    Christianity by contrasts asserts that all nonbelievers will be tortured for eternity

    Not necessarily – some theologians consider that Hell is merely exile from the presence of God, without any physical torture involved. Other theologians since Origen have stated that Hell is merely a temporary state of purgation, after which the soul enjoys the grace of the Blessed.

  3. JOR Says:

    Beast, I agree almost completely. However, I think the end is a bit ambiguous:

    “No such double standards can be realistically created however, and atheism must stand condemned of intolerance and horror along with religion.”

    Doesn’t it follow from the rest of your essay here, that [i]neither[/i] can be fairly condemned of intolerance and horror, in and of itself?

    (I’m sure if I read through it more carefully I could find more nits to pick, but that’s a project I leave to another time).

  4. JOR Says:

    Please excuse my inexplicible lapse into square bracketing my italics tags.

  5. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the reply, JOR – I’m really glad you almost completely agree with me. And yeah, I agree with you in that in and of themselves neither atheism nor theism necessarily lead to intolerance and persecution, though specific interpretations of atheism and particular religions may.

  6. beastrabban Says:

    Please excuse my inexplicible lapse into square bracketing my italics tags.

    That’s all right, JOR – the slip of the keyboard attacks us all.

  7. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Uhhh… atheism doesn’t imply that- that would be militant anti-theism. You see atheism is the lack of belief in god- antitheism is the belief that religion is harmful and must be eradicated or at least curtailed. And before you accuse me of “defining myself into a safe zone”, I am an antitheist.

    Believers weren’t a threat to the communists atheism- they were a threat to the communists communism. Do you think that Stalin executed people because they believed in God? Or would it be because they gathered together and didn’t recognize the states authority? After all, Hitler (theist) prosecuted the Jovenah’s Witnesses, not on theological grounds, but because they refused to swear allegiance. Stalin prosecuted the Orthodox Church because it was a bulwark of the old regime- but he was an opportunist, during the Great Patriotic War the churches were reopened (need to get the peasents- err comrades- willing to die for the Rodina). An ironic counter example would be China- the government is definately atheist, but has declared religion is important for “social harmony”- they have also declared that people cannot reincarnate without permission. China seems to be going for the “card carrying villian” look.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Albania which is the closest example you’ll get- the dictator took pride in the fact that Albania was the world’s first atheist state. For the record it was accomplished by nationalizing property, executing 200 people and forcing the religious leaders in “alternate vocations”: either hard labor or other jobs. However I think this was heavily related to the countries communist doctrine (and extreme paranoia and persecution of minorities)- the leaders broke with the Sov Union because the Soviets were giving the populance too much freedom (aka ending Stalinism)! This is more an example of what happens when a country is ruled by a control freak- if the leader wasn’t an atheist I have no doubt he would have force converted people to whatever his religion was- however he was an atheist. Saying he persecuted believers because he was an atheist is more wrong than saying he persecuted other ethnic groups because he was Albanian.

    Let me put it in a simpler manner. You become dictator of a small African nation. The people have diviners and believe in divination. You persecute them for being frauds, organizing tax loopholes and promoting supersticion. They accuse you of persecuting them because you are an adiviner. Do you see the similarity? (If this doesn’t work do ancestor worship and you are an evil tyrant)

    I see… so it is only intolerant if you feel it is intolerant- how convinient. It “might be” different, there are disagreements… why don’t you read the bible- it tends to be unabiguious on this.

  8. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the long post, Sam. Now to critique some of your comments.

    Firstly, you seem to define atheism and anti-theism against each other, almost as if they were two different things. But clearly, anti-theism is a form of atheism and a consequence of atheism. If anti-theists weren’t atheists, then they would not see religion as evil and something to be eradicated. Now atheism does not necessarily lead to anti-theism, but it is a necessary component of it. Your attempts to differentiate the two come across very much as a type of ‘no true Scotsman fallacy’. Atheists have never persecuted anyone for atheism, and those who have aren’t true atheists.

    Believers weren’t a threat to the communists atheism- they were a threat to the communists communism. Yes, believers were a threat to the Communists’ Communism, which they saw as the logical product of the correct, atheist materialist view of the world. For many the distinction between private atheist belief and public politics didn’t exist. Now this may also have run with a cynically utilitarian attitude towards belief. I’m well aware of how Stalin had the churches, mosques and synagogues re-opened in order to encourage morale against ‘Nazi-Fascism’ during the Great Patriotic War. However, Communist persecution of religion began well before Stalin, and anti-religious education and immense pressure on believers still remained part of the Soviet system until Gorbachev’s thaw.

    As for China, again, religion there is very strictly controlled despite their statement that it’s important for ‘social harmony’. I’ve heard reports that you will be still be prosecuted if you bring your child up as a Christian, and it wasn’t that long ago that they were murdering Christians, Buddhists, Taoists and whoever else they could get their hands on.

    Regarding Hitler, yeah, he persecuted the Jehovah’s Witnesses because they would not recognise his authority as they rejected all secular messiahs. But Hitler in his Table Talk makes it very clear that he viewed Nazism and Christianity as having nothing in common and looked forward to exterminating it. I’ve blogged on this already in the post ‘Hitler and Christianity’.

    Now for your comment about African dictators and divination.
    Let me put it in a simpler manner. You become dictator of a small African nation. The people have diviners and believe in divination. You persecute them for being frauds, organizing tax loopholes and promoting supersticion.
    Really, this isn’t a good analogy. Regardless of my own views about divination and African religions, if you believe in freedom of religion then you have to tolerate them. And from the verbiage used to describe such diviners it’s clear that you view Christianity and other religions in such a way. So for you, legislation against religion is simply clearing away superstition, but not an attack on freedom of conscience. And as an anti-theist, you can deny that atheism has anything to do with it, but is merely the product of individual dictatorial egos?

    Really, there’s no getting round it – this is intolerance whoever does it.

  9. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Antitheism and atheism are two different things- atheism is a lack of belief in god- simply a statement about a person’s mind. Antitheism is an ideology- a series of beliefs and ideas avout what is right, wrong and what should be done to fix it.

    Atheism is a necesary component of antitheism, but not a logical result except under specific circumstances. For example I believe astrology is bunk, but I don’t spend my time trying to eradicate it. The reason people become antitheists is because of the actions of believers. It is also worth noting that although only atheists can be antitheists, only atheists can “believe in belief”- the idea that religion is good, atleast for other people.

    I’ll be extremely clear her. Stalin was a true atheist. Thomas Paine was a true atheist. I am a true atheist. Dawkins is a true atheist. All that is required is a lack of belief in good- having a “true” atheist label doesn’t really differentiate anything (except maybe the people who claim to be atheists, but pray, etc). To belabor the point, yes Stalin was an atheist. Atheism had nothing to do with his atrocities. Antitheism may have had something to do with his atrocities (it is hard to tell). Communism and his personal paranoia had everything to do with his atrocities.

    Yep- persecution of religion did occur in the Soviet Union. Here is the thing- it occurs in all totalitarian states, without exception. The differance between the Nazis and the Communists were how broad their net was, not their intolerance. For example the Nazi’s recruited Muslims (to kill Serbs) and were open to most froms of Christianity. The only forms thy weren’t good with were those that refused to give obedience to the state and had their pastors and members end up in the camps. The reason the Communists targeted all religions is because of the revolutionary goals (completely changing society) traditional power centers would oppose them and had to go.

    The Chinese persecute “cults”. Aka religions that don’t conform and give obedience to the government. They probably persecute Christians on that ground.

    Hitler is a fun example. His religious beliefs were almost certainly somewhat Christain, but.. different. He repeatedly stated that he thought Christianity was a tool of the Jews, that Paul was Jewish, etc. Interestingy he insisted Jesus wasn’t a Jew. I’d put him down as following in Luther’s footsteps- heretical Christian. However he is ambiguous. A better example would be all the other facist dictators, all of whom were Christians and all of whom were brutal despots (except Portugal).

    It is intolerance to oppose supersticions? let me put this in a way you can understand because you obviously are looking at this in an abstract way. In Nigeria witch hunts occur. If you oppose them you can only do so on the grounds that their beliefs are false. You simply aren’t tolerating their religious beliefs. Religious tolerance is a nice fiction, but it comes crashing down whenever people do something immoral in the name of faith, wheter it is setting your neighbors on fire (Nigeria), burning heretics, genetial mutilation and the like. The simple truth is that if you aren’t intolerant of people who commit evil you are condoning it.

    Yes, I’m treating Christianity like every other religion- I am an atheist. Religion isn’t freedom of conscience- it is freedom of belief and people are NOT free to believe whatever they want. If you believe you hear voices telling you to kill, you will be institutionalized.

    Here I’ll put it in a nice quotable and easy to misinterpret line for you- Intolerance is both good and necesary as there are simply somethings we shouldn’t tolerate.

    And just in case you are confused, I believe what Sam Harris is refering to is tolerance of people (which is unrelated to atheism- it is part of being a good person) and lack of dogma (one line that is it).

  10. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the reply, Sam. Now I actually agree with you that atheism isn’t necessarily intolerant, but I don’t think you can clearly differentiate between atheism and anti-theism. Anti-theism is based on atheism, and justifies itself using the same arguments and approaches. It is a form of atheism, not something completely different and separate from it. Harris’ statement that atheism is simply a lack of belief is incoherent, as it means, if taken literally, that every work that attempts to present an argument for atheism, and which therefore necessarily make positive statements about the world and religion, are therefore not atheist, which is clearly incoherent.

    Now for some specific points. Hitler is a fun example. His religious beliefs were almost certainly somewhat Christain, but.. different. He repeatedly stated that he thought Christianity was a tool of the Jews, that Paul was Jewish, etc. Interestingy he insisted Jesus wasn’t a Jew.

    No, Hitler wasn’t ‘somewhat’ Christian. Read his Table Talk Yes, he considers Christ to have been an Aryan, but he hated Christianity and stated that God was only the operation of the laws of nature. See page 7 of the OUP edition.

    Regarding the Communists, no, they did not persecute Christians because of a general hatred of cults. Marx was strongly influenced by the Humanism of Ludwig Feuerbach, long before he adopted socialism. He saw socialism as the means by which the self-alienation of humanity, represented by God and religion, could be overcome.

    Now let’s deal with you comments about superstition. Do I agree that the Nigerian witch hunts should be tolerated? No. I don’t deny that there should be limits on acceptable beliefs. However, this does not mean that everyone who has a mystical experience is pathological and should be subjected to medical incarceration, as you seem to believe. Now people should be allowed to believe whatever they like within reason. You may not like religion, but that does not give you the right to demand that it be banned.

  11. Samuel Skinner Says:

    Yes you can. Antitheism is an ideology and atheism is a simple statement about your mind. For a good example of a place where you have few antitheists, but a large number of atheists see Europe. Yah… they need more antitheists badly.

    It isn’t a form of atheism, it is based on atheism. You can’t say all religions are bad if you are a member of a religion.

    No, what Harris is saying is that atheism, as a lack of belief isn’t an actual belief. It is like not believing that the Soviet Union is still around- it is implicit in your thoughts. Even though you don’t belive it you can argue about why your lack of belief is justified. The same applies to atheism- theism has been around so long people assume it is the default.

    He stated “God was the operation of the laws of nature”? That is sort of… odd- he consistantly said divine providence was backing him. He wasn’t exactly noted for his logical consistancy… I personally have no clue. I do know that Hitler was heavily influenced by Luther, but can’t give a definate answer on his religious convictions. I’m pretty sure he say himself as following the “true faith” though, whatever that might be.

    Okay, Marx was implying that religion was a tool used by the upper class to control the lower class and was an expression of their oppression. And he was entirely right (Why do you think we have seperation of church and state? Why do you think the poor are the most faithful?). He didn’t view religion as self-alienation; the majority of his book was about workers being exploited by capitalists. Seriously, religion wasn’t a major deal for Marx- he was your Ivory Tower intellectual, a wee bit disconnected from the real world.

    Limits on acceptable belief? And who sets these limits? You> Or should all beliefs be treated to the same scrutiny? And no I don’t want religious beliefs to be banned- I simply want religion to get to the point where it is no longer a threat. You know the level that Islam and US Christianity are at. Maybe even the interfering level that England has. And it would be nice to see it gone (although I don’t intend to force anyone except those who intend to force their religion on me).

    I don’t know what you are talking about by mystical experience- Harris is all for them (he is a little nutty- going for ESP, but his grounds on mysticism are more solid). He wants to understand how they work.

  12. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Do you think that Stalin executed people because they believed in God? Or would it be because they gathered together and didn’t recognize the states authority?

    The two issues are admittedly entertwined. But so what?

    No belief on EARTH is persecuted merely for being a NOTION. Ultimately all notions whether objectively true or not are just that–notions. As Paul K. Feyerberand has written, “facts” or “notions” or ideas do not process themselves in some fashion of the way carrots get processed in a blender.

    All is context bound. To that end, all leaders great, small, kind, or sadistic look to see JUST HOW some ideas express themselves. Competition with the government prowess, which is why some members of the Left actually hate religion, is a reasonable as any explanation as to the soft-core persecution of Christians when government is now seen in semi-socialist formats to be the arbitar of all values private and public.

    But the reason for this persecution of the intimate is really beside the point. The point is that rights are violated regardless of some lofty goal of whomever happnes to be in power or shapes public opinion or is fasionable.

    Having said this, there ARE some occasional people, like Dawkins, who are harded to pin down to some ideology than just Political Correctness. Though certainly he has one, he does unfortunate hints of mockery and persecution just for the sake of bully puplit tactics for fun. Much the same way some unfortunate children of lesser minds think it great mirth to stab kittens. Why? Read Lord of the Flies.

    Because they CAN.

    As to the differences in anti-theism and atheism, this is a hair-splitting I’ll leave others to haggle over. It is what my mom used to call a distinction without a true difference.

    Beast I appreciate your attention to this issue.

  13. JOR Says:

    “As to the differences in anti-theism and atheism, this is a hair-splitting I’ll leave others to haggle over.”

    Yeah, I mean, why actually try to understand what it is that other people actually stand for? That project might even lead to something other than dick-waving partisans killing each other for the coveted power to exterminate, or at least enslave, everyone else. What a positively unmanly undertaking.

  14. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Because I’ve already gone down that road, found that it leads nowhere, and thus decided to double back. And of course the realization that there is little there that separates one version from another.

    It is the difference between “what’s on the tele” vs. “what’s on the TV”?

    I already know there’s little there.

  15. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the reply, Sam. Here’s my responses to some of your points.

    Firstly, about Hitler’s religious beliefs, yeah, they are odd. He hated Christianity, and admired Luther because he had broken the uniform hold of the Roman Catholic Church on European culture and set in motion the forces that culminated in rationalism and secularism. He hated Christianity because it was, in his view, like Communism the creation of the Jews, and the Exodus was the world’s first slave revolt. He wasn’t an atheist – indeed, he said that he didn’t want atheist education like they had in the Soviet Union. But he looked forward to Christianity and the churches withering away. The stuff about Christ being really an Aryan is very much the attitude of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who believed that the Germans were the master race and that Christ was the illegitimate son of a German soldier in the Roman army. He certainly made vague claims about being sent by providence, but I got the impression he was a pantheist, with ideas about God and evolution similar to those of Haeckel’s Monist League, rather than a belief in the God of Judaism and Christianity.

    Now for Marx’s views on religion. I’m sure you’re right about Marx being an ivory tower type intellectual. At the time of his death he had supposedly left politics and was writing a study on ‘Slavonic-German dialects’. However, before he discovered Socialism in Paris he was strongly influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach. Feuerbach had combined Hegelian philosophy with the antichristian polemic of the French revolutionary philosophes to argue that God was merely a projection of the human psyche, a result of humanity’s self-alienation. Communism was not anti-religious merely from the ruthless pursuit of power of its leaders. As a doctrine Marxism was innately atheist and anti-religious. And Marx looked forward to the day when even the word ‘God’ would be unknown, in other words, a condition of complete absence of belief.

    Limits on acceptable belief? And who sets these limits? You> Or should all beliefs be treated to the same scrutiny?

    Well, I have the right to consider certain beliefs dangerous or unacceptable, just like you. And Christian philosophers and theologians have certainly debated and attempted to provide criteria to assess the authenticity of mystical experiences and their moral validity. It’s why I’m not impressed by Dawkins’ claim that he is only demanding that religions subject themselves to critical scrutiny.

    Now to get back to your central claim:
    Antitheism is an ideology and atheism is a simple statement about your mind.

    No, this isn’t the case. An absence of belief is simply the minimal definition of atheism. If it’s a global definition of anything, it’s of the ‘apatheism’ where people have no interest in religion or metaphysics, rather than atheism per se . People have come to this absence of belief from a number of different intellectual approaches, and not all of these view it as simply an absence of belief in God. For Nietzsche and the Existentialists, for example, there was far more to atheism than a simple lack of belief in God. The rejection of God, or the lack of belief in God, had consequences far beyond a mere ‘lack of the belief in the Almighty’. It profoundly affected notions of the human condition as a whole. Nietzsche’s works are a comprehensive attempt to explore what the ‘death of God’ actually meant.

    Now I’m well aware that not all atheists are Nietzscheans by any means. But historically atheism has always meant a positive set ideas about metaphysics and the human condition, rather than merely describing an absence of belief. Hence the materialist catechisms produced by the Baron de Grimm in the 18th century. Defining atheism as a ‘lack of belief’ merely describes the common element between different schools of atheism. If atheism was merely a lack of belief, with no ideological component, then Freud would not have recommended atheists to examine their own views regularly in order to be sure that their atheism was rational and coherent.

  16. beastrabban Says:

    I don’t know what you are talking about by mystical experience- Harris is all for them (he is a little nutty- going for ESP, but his grounds on mysticism are more solid). He wants to understand how they work.

    I took your comments about people hearing voices telling them to kill to be a general condemnation of one of the classic forms of religious experience, where one hears the voice of a god or spirit. I got the impression that you considered all forms of religious or mystical experiences to be pathological.

    As for Harris’ ideas on mysticism, they’re problematic for his atheism as it means that he cannot automatically discount supernatural revelation or the existence of God.

  17. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Wakefield – thanks for the appreciation. 🙂

  18. Samuel Skinner Says:

    No- he is err… non rationalist? Problem for consistancy for Harris- not for me. I’m a naturalist.

    The reason atheism is conflated with more than a lack of belief is that historically atheist have had to find alternative was to justify things than “god said so”. Not to mention they weren’t looked on favorably. I am arguing for the minimal definition. After that is done theism isn’t a problem.

    Yes, leftist have been anti-religious since… 1700s. About the time when people could start questioning and mocking religion. Even now most leftists don’t like it- although in all due fairness the reason they don’t is it causes people to vote and value things that are insane (see the US and voting for Bush).

    Lack of belief doesn’t have to be rational and coherent- it is a lack of belief. You mean their ethics and worldview have to be consistant and coherent.

    Why must I defend Dawkins? Sigh. Dawkins is in no way politically correct (except he is polite and thinks that advocating things like genocide is wrong). I mean one of the tenents of political correctness is not attacking others beliefs! I’ll tell you what he is. He is a naturalist, a rationalist, an atheist, a believer in the power of science and an antitheist. I don’t know the mans politics- I’m sure you can find out on his website.

  19. beastrabban Says:

    The reason atheism is conflated with more than a lack of belief is that historically atheist have had to find alternative was to justify things than “god said so”. Yes, they had to present an alternative worldview in opposition to theism. These atheists formed the classic atheist arguments against the belief in God that inform contemporary atheism. In my experience, many atheists don’t simply have a lack of belief, but an actual disbelief informed by perceptions of the nature of God and religion created by the rationalists of previous centuries and passed down as a kind of folk wisdom. And if atheism was merely a lack of belief, with no consequences, then Dawkins and the other atheist polemicists would not argue so strongly for it. After all, Robin le Poidevin calls his book Arguing for Atheism rather than ‘Against God Belief’ or something similar, that would express a lack of belief, rather than a positive act of disbelief.

    Lack of belief doesn’t have to be rational and coherent- it is a lack of belief. You mean their ethics and worldview have to be consistant and coherent.

    No, I mean exactly what I said. Atheism simply isn’t a lack of belief. It is a set of arguments regarding the nature of the world and a positive disbelief in God, that is held to have consequences both metaphysical and in the here and now. Now Dawkins and the other atheist polemicists claim to be defending rationality from theism. So their atheism should similarly be founded on rationality. Otherwise, the atheist claim to superior rationality must be rejected.

  20. JOR Says:

    “Because I’ve already gone down that road, found that it leads nowhere, and thus decided to double back. And of course the realization that there is little there that separates one version from another.”

    Wakefield, I agree, there’s not much difference between Fred Phelps and other Christians.

  21. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Well, seeing that I have no idea who Phelps is I can’t comment on that. When it comes to doctrinaire type things in faith, APPARENT minor skirmishes CAN in some cases make a big difference. But the vacuum is just a vacuum . Void is just void. Do we not have dozens of comments here from nontheists popping in to the effect that atheism proposes no ideology except maybe the Acknowledgement of the Non. Now granted this carries some philosophical baggage with it and standing against this are some like Michael Ruse and Allen Orr. But for the most part the point the some will be willing to make is that atheism is just the NON part, while supposedly the ANTI-THEIST is the aggressive mode of atheism hopped up on naturalistic philosophy and lurking with search and destroy missions and using all manner of mockery and even the occasional legislation to thwart what they think of as “creeping theocracy” in the office or government whenever someone says “God Bless You” after hearing little more than a sneeze in the breeze.

    While I acknowledge that all groups have their circles and then their inner circles, this distinction falls down when we realize that ruffians like Dawkins call themselves…….mere…..atheists. When in fact he looks more like the ANTI type.

    I think that should brighten your day, JOR.

    cheerio.

    –SWT

  22. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Hmmm: On the Net searches so far…..Well, it looks like Phelps is making a pitch based on one issue only.

    So I can’t buy the comparisons. Phelps is on some mission far removed from Scripture, so far as anyone can tell what a mission that might be.

    I have it on some good authority that adultery is just as bad as homosexuality, and so is lying and blaspheming.

    Having said that, on another thread it was said by a one Mr. Williams that the Bible itself contains such “hate speech”–which I find less than untrue but also an Orwellian abuse of the King’s English, akin to doubleplus ungood or Barak Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” and other politically or ideologically motivated words stacked together like chicken houses but utterly devoid of meaning.

    How convenient. Just simply shut down speech of any kind by saying that certain commentary is hereby off limits due to “hate content” or whatnot!
    It is a tack pioneered and perfected by the American Left for decades.

    One remembers who leftists once admired the fascists and now they use that as a slurword although it too actually is closer to what they believe—government control of the major industrical production, while only in the latter decades was it confuted with racism and just being a nasty bloke.

    Thus because some people speak out against ILLEGAL immigration here in the states (something you brits might not like either should your hand be forced and the French came over in droves seeking free handouts also and sumptious health benefits and free medical care and food), they are called “racist” and said to “hate the Latino peoples“(sic)

    Ummmm…..NO –we have some problems here. Real ones.

    Or, if I posit my opinion that homosexuality is neither less nor more of a sin than adultery or telling lies I’ll get accused of “hate speech” and so wil the very Scriptures.

    Hardly. Please.

    Thomas Sowell is said to be an “uncle tom” by other blacks for positing notions about a little independence from the throes of government programs. Ditto for Walter Williams. Wow. A white man who says this is naturally a …you guessed it………RACIST!

    THE POINT: Things can be taken too far in a number of ways, not just with unpopular antics of old men like Phelps who key in on one issue.

    BTW: I’ll be posting about this abuse of the language soon with some contrasts to demonstrate that what constitutes TRUE hate is far removed from the AIDS lobbies demands for research or name calling of others, etc.

    And no, God hardly plays favorites with any person. THAT would be Scriptural–not Phelps’ personal obsessions.

    Like the Marine drill sarge said in Full Metal Jacket, humans are all equally worthless as to their accomplishments in getting perfection. So God would have to hate gluttons and teenie-boppers in the back of Dad’s auto just the same as gays.

  23. JOR Says:

    “Well, seeing that I have no idea who Phelps is I can’t comment on that. When it comes to doctrinaire type things in faith, APPARENT minor skirmishes CAN in some cases make a big difference. But the vacuum is just a vacuum . Void is just void. Do we not have dozens of comments here from nontheists popping in to the effect that atheism proposes no ideology except maybe the Acknowledgement of the Non.”

    Well, atheism itself doesn’t propose an ideology. But since any given person is going to have an ideology, and atheists are a subset of persons, any given atheist is going to have an ideology. It’s true that atheism has some consequences for one’s worldview, but these consequences are usually more modest than theists and atheists alike insist. Usually the consequences attributed to atheism are more correctly understood as proceeding from naturalism (or positivism); sometimes (especially in regards to criticisms made using presuppositional apologetics) the listed consequences only follow from atheism if you also accept some or all of the following: nominalism, meta-ethical authoritarianism, logical psychologism, or polylogism i.e. the positions from which presuppositionalists argue.

    “While I acknowledge that all groups have their circles and then their inner circles, this distinction falls down when we realize that ruffians like Dawkins call themselves…….mere…..atheists. When in fact he looks more like the ANTI type.”

    Dawkins called himself a cultural Christian a while back, and folk seemed a bit less eager to take him at his word. His attempts to pander should not be confused with nuanced thought.

  24. JOR Says:

    “I have it on some good authority that adultery is just as bad as homosexuality, and so is lying and blaspheming.”

    Err, my reductio ad absurdum was contingent on Phelps not being like most Christians – though any Christian who laments the fact that we ‘allow’ homosexuality is really proposing the same thing as Phelps (killing, or at least jailing/institutionalizing homosexuals), even if they don’t realize it. And frankly, if anything, at all, anywhere, counts as hate-speech, it is the Bible’s treatment, and suggested behavior towards, homosexuals.

    “How convenient. Just simply shut down speech of any kind by saying that certain commentary is hereby off limits due to “hate content” or whatnot! It is a tack pioneered and perfected by the American Left for decades.”

    I don’t know why you always bring up the political left as if you’re somehow attacking my views by extension. I’m about as far as you can get from an apologist for government – big, small, or any damned size in-between – let alone speech-controls, of all things.

  25. Ilíon Says:

    JOR:… there’s not much difference between Fred Phelps and other Christians.

    Well, at least now I know without ambiguity that you are an ass … and a fool.

  26. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Err, my reductio ad absurdum was contingent on Phelps not being like most Christians

    Of course. That makes the comparison to the different alleged flavors of non-theism no more meaningful than before you said this.

    And frankly, if anything, at all, anywhere, counts as hate-speech, it is the Bible’s treatment, and suggested behavior towards, homosexuals

    I was waiting on the example du jour that would prove the point.

    I could explain that MOSAIC law was superceded by Christ and was under the impression BR explained this also but it seems the obsession with some people over this ONE thing in MOSAIC law supposedly dictates how all New Testement addendums and believers are to be regarded.

    El Salvador used to execute drunk drivers. This is overkill to most sensibilities.

    This should not be the same as saying that since that harsh treatment is rescinded in recent decades, drunk driving is therefore find and dandy of a habit.

    This understanding is not good enough for some people. They want total and complete acceptance. And on most issues that is not practical, much less this one. Thus for example in Sweden where constiutiional protections are not quite the caliber of the US–where the Founders understood human nature–you can and will be jailed for badmouthing gays even IN the confines of a private church. Ditto for Canada.

    This is what makes the US unique in all the wretched world. We protect speech–even wildly unpopular notions that others don’t like. TOUGH SUGAR. So be it.

    At least so far. This might change even under our noses if the homosexual lobby gets certain legislative ideas moving faster. In California legislation is pending to even force Christian homeschoolers to positively mention the bliss and joy of the gay lifestyle and its alleged equality to heterosexual marriage.

    A popular talk show host is now under investigation for child porn and is being helped by a popular politicians and thhus things get dragged out. Let the gay lobbies heavy hitters find our that a homeschooler is teaching something other than what goes on on Castro Street and the Cally Social Services will all but have you in handcuffs or at least a very stern investigation. Always posted in an “anonymous” call to the authorities. Naturally.

    I don’t know why you always bring up the political left as if you’re somehow attacking my views by extension. I’m about as far as you can get from an apologist for government – big, small, or any damned size in-between – let alone speech-controls, of all things.

    Well, Chief, “paranoia….will detroy-ya!”

    It is not about you. I mentioned this to point out the gross abuse of language all around. They are not the only ones who do this, but have the most refined and honed artform. And as you demonstate elsewhere, however, you are not above the hyperbole of using the term “hate speech” as the same methodology the other groups do–a blunt weapon used to beat at people for merely positing an opinion. Having said that you do display many of their paranoia. A popular psychologist has listed the Left as actually being a kind of psychic disorder or infantile state of being extended into adulthood. People who throw labels around which merely have the effect of saying, “I don’t like what you have to say about my lifestyle or such things” means little to me except that perhaps they are spoiled enough to think this kind of argument makes any headway. Perhaps they too suffer this disorder of namecalling that which they don’t like? Not sure.

    As to the Scripture, it is interesting to note that since only this or a precious few other nitpicked items get hashed and rehashed over and over but the part about sex before marriage is conveniently ignored by most people, the impetus here is politically and ideologically motivated.

    Giving yet more credence to the idea that terms like “hate” have rather plastic and malleable meanings. Thus for example Muslims are up in arms about resistence to Sharia law in Britain (which the Archbishop of Canterbury says is all but inevitable) as “hate speech”

    On and on it goes.

  27. JOR Says:

    Given the source I think I’m justified in taking that as a compliment.

  28. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    And frankly, if anything, at all, anywhere, counts as hate-speech, it is the Bible’s treatment, and suggested behavior towards, homosexuals

    errrr…

    Oh–I think a video that can be downloaded (but I won’t do it here) that shows an innocent human being being slowly decapitated with a fishknife while the cutter is chanting how great Allah’s ways are as blood jets against the side of the wall is a better match for the word “hate” than a law that no longer functions (like Mosaic law) in secular society. And indeed would not–Christians make the differentiation between “that which is wrong” vs. “that which should be killed.”

    Having said that, beyond the issue of sin and the fact that Christians understand this to be one of MANY such sins (adultery dosen’t get the same exotic press releases, for example, and neither does premarital sex) there ARE some socialogical concerns some secularists have made also about certain kinds of notions regarding “gay marriage” and similar.

    But that’s another issue.

  29. JOR Says:

    Wakefield,

    “I could explain that MOSAIC law was superceded by Christ and was under the impression BR explained this also but it seems the obsession with some people over this ONE thing in MOSAIC law supposedly dictates how all New Testement addendums and believers are to be regarded.”

    Fair enough but Mosaic Law is still part of the Bible, and its recommendations are hate-speech if anything is, and some Christians do take its recommended behavior towards homosexuals seriously (and will admit the only reason they don’t follow Mosaic Law on this point is their duty to obey the laws of the land).

    “It is not about you. I mentioned this to point out the gross abuse of language all around.”

    You always seem to bring up leftists totally out of left field. You give the impression that your criticisms of leftists are supposed to also apply to whoever you’re arguing with here. If you say that’s not what you’re trying to do, then fair enough – I’ll take your word for it. But that’s what it seems like you’re doing, and it’s only fair to say so.

    “And as you demonstate elsewhere, however, you are not above the hyperbole of using the term “hate speech” as the same methodology the other groups do–a blunt weapon used to beat at people for merely positing an opinion.”

    I never used the term to ‘beat at’ anyone, if by that you mean ‘try to get them fined/thrown in jail’. Can you seriously say that what Phelps is saying doesn’t count as hate-speech? Maybe the left misapplies that term. They misapply the term ‘racist’ too – does that mean there is no such thing as racism? For that matter, people of every shade on the left-right spectrum misapply the term ‘anti-Semite’ – does that mean there is no such thing as anti-Semitism?

    “A popular psychologist has listed the Left as actually being a kind of psychic disorder or infantile state of being extended into adulthood.”

    Yes, psychologists tend to be worthless, and the ones that aren’t are usually worth even less than that.

    “People who throw labels around which merely have the effect of saying, “I don’t like what you have to say about my lifestyle or such things” means little to me except that perhaps they are spoiled enough to think this kind of argument makes any headway.”

    What are you, some kind of non-cognitivist?

  30. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    BTW–Barak Obama just gave a soapbox speech now saying that Jesus’ Sermon on the mount mentions homosexuality and that it is “unchristian” to say otherwise.

    Hmm. Really now?

    Politicians amaze me. I can’t believe what I just heard.

    Back on planet earth, I might add some historical insight here on how certain words sprout legs sometimes and then get a life of their own in some people’s pieholes. Gay writer/activist wrote a book, And the Band Played On, in which he asked rhetorically “at some point hetero people are going to wake up and figure out they are NOT getting AIDS. Then what?”

    A spark of honesty. More money is spend on AIDS research than heart disease, and all cancers combined. But this never satiated the gay lobby which knew instinctively that lifestyle issues in the bathhouses and feasts of the flesh were the prime vectors of AIDS transmissions. And not a hot night in the back of of car with Suzy-Q. It took science writer Michael Fumento to nail down the actual figures, but because of physical differences that’ll not detain us as they are graphic, it seems that hetero transmission was always very difficult. (Fumento mentions the lies about Africa being the exception to this, which it is not). He was accused of…

    yeah…..”hate speech” for publishing the “Myth of Heterosexual AIDS”

    Fumento made no ugly remarks or hateful insinuations. He merely stated. For that he was parodied and all but had his head removed by certain powerful lobbies. But he persisted and science proved his thesis correct.

    There are many wonderful reasons for chastity. AIDS is not generally one of them. I point these things out to highlight the fact that nothing is helped by this rampant abuse of language when terms are tossed around but the stats remain stable.

  31. JOR Says:

    “Oh–I think a video that can be downloaded (but I won’t do it here) that shows an innocent human being being slowly decapitated with a fishknife while the cutter is chanting how great Allah’s ways are as blood jets against the side of the wall is a better match for the word “hate” than a law that no longer functions (like Mosaic law) in secular society.”

    Decapitating an innocent human being certainly counts as hateful. Recommending that such be done would certainly count as hate-speech.

    Wakefield, here’s an example of four perfectly consistent statements:

    1) Action A counts as a very stark example of hateful action.
    2) Therefore, reccomending action A counts as a very stark example of hate-speech.

    3) Action B counts as a very stark example of hateful action.
    4) Therefore, reccomending action B counts as a very stark example of hate-speech.

  32. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    I never used the term to ‘beat at’ anyone, if by that you mean ‘try to get them fined/thrown in jail’

    No–but what I said was that the term itself is used as a blunt instrument–to shut down thinking on a topic.

    Phelps might describe what you mean.

    Scripture–per Scripture, does not. I simply find it odd that no one wails at the fact that some forms of cursing merited execution as well as other sexual sins. But for some reason our society has not focused on any of these save but one.

    That is due to ideology.

    As to the observations that some Christians secretly pine away to stone the first homosexual they see, this is both unknown and hypocritical of them. Few men reach their marriage night without having been in the sack with at least a high school sweetheart or some encounter set up while in the military. They could get stoned for that also.

    You failed to mention Christ’s admonishment to the men ready to stone the adultress caught in the act (interesting we don’t find the man, so this was probably a set up), where he said “he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    That’s in the canonical Scriptures also, after all.

    I point out the Left’s shinanigancs due to the mere fact that as you’ve no doubt noticed, they alone have the power in government and culture and have mastered the arts of communication but pretend to be objective observers merely commenting blithely. The descendents of the Woodstock generation have many faults but I give credit where due for them in mastering the arts of communication on some issues.

    It merely serves as examples of the masterful abuse of English that men like Huxley and Orwell warned about.

  33. Ilíon Says:

    JOR:Given the source I think I’m justified in taking that as a compliment.

    Silly man! I knew (and anyone paying attention knew) quite some time ago that you had already decided on a non-positive opinion of me. Pretty much from day-one, in fact.

    On the other hand, I have only just now decided on a non-positive opinion of you. Ah well! you know how we “right-wingers” are: always so quick to judge (and condemn) others, always so slow to extend charity.

  34. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    It’s the oddest thing………

    I don’t recall most mainstream churches or myself or those related to me or in large agreement with what I’ve said……

    ..who recommend gays be put to death. I just told people in a roundabout way none of us has room to talk or show out, so it hardly would be appropriate for me to (literally) put my neck out.

    beyond this, it is not something I would recommend even IF I were PERFECT.

    Mosaic law is not a context we have anymore.

  35. JOR Says:

    “Silly man! I knew (and anyone paying attention knew) quite some time ago that you had already decided on a non-positive opinion of me.”

    Why am I always the last one to learn what opinions I’ve decided on?

  36. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Dawkins called himself a cultural Christian a while back, and folk seemed a bit less eager to take him at his word. His attempts to pander should not be confused with nuanced thought.

    No. But while I understand what he’s saying, and NO, you don;’t have to follow a strict party line to be a “cultural member” of any said group, beyond the pander part Dawkins is further creating confusion since he generally acknowledges the cultural part to be mostly positive but elsewhere denegrates the faith.

    Oh well..

  37. JOR Says:

    “No–but what I said was that the term itself is used as a blunt instrument–to shut down thinking on a topic.”

    I haven’t tried to ‘shut down thinking’. I’ve gone to some effort to encourage it.

    “Scripture–per Scripture, does not. I simply find it odd that no one wails at the fact that some forms of cursing merited execution as well as other sexual sins. But for some reason our society has not focused on any of these save but one.”

    Oh, I think Mosaic Law in general contains much that is hateful, and even unjust. I only brought up homosexuality because you did.

    “You failed to mention Christ’s admonishment to the men ready to stone the adultress caught in the act (interesting we don’t find the man, so this was probably a set up), where he said “he who is without sin cast the first stone.””

    There is a good deal of Christian apologetics that aims to show that this only means we shouldn’t kill people who truly desire to repent.

    “I point out the Left’s shinanigancs due to the mere fact that as you’ve no doubt noticed, they alone have the power in government and culture and have mastered the arts of communication but pretend to be objective observers merely commenting blithely.”

    Emphasis mine – I haven’t noticed anything of the sort.

  38. Ilíon Says:

    Perhaps you are one who has finely honed the ability to hide himself from himself?

  39. JOR Says:

    Or maybe people jump to conclusions about me that are unwarranted. Atheists are always thinking I’m a Christian.

  40. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    I haven’t tried to ‘shut down thinking’. I’ve gone to some effort to encourage it.

    There is that word again “I”—good grief. I mentioned the common abuses of certain terms. Yes, true racism exists, as does anti-semitism and other forms of human abuse. But looseness of this creates problems also and distracts from real barbs.

    There is a good deal of Christian apologetics that aims to show that this only means we shouldn’t kill people who truly desire to repent.

    No doubt what many of these passages you might have come across mean is that we ALL deserve death. And Salvation is a short circuit away from the fate of what is actually meant by death. The physical part yes, which we all have to endure regardless. But also the eternal death of hell.

    The wages of sin IS death.

    Oh, I think Mosaic Law in general contains much that is hateful, and even unjust. I only brought up homosexuality because you did.
    I am fairly certain that you introduced pastor Phelps to ME.

    I merely pointed out that while he surely is having some kind of obsession, it is not based on any kind of sound reading of Scripture.
    I pointed out that while all people per scripture deserve the wages of sin being death, that this is a side issue compared to certain sensibilities being offended far out of proportion to others. Political lobbying and culture are the reasons for this, as well as the willfull TRUE hate of people merely pointing out inconvenient ditties like Mr. Fumento. We are to coddle certain groups out of proportion to actual suffering truly experienced.

  41. JOR Says:

    “There is that word again “I”—good grief.”

    Well, you did claim that *I* was doing the same thing “those leftists” do, and that was the context of my objection.

    “I am fairly certain that you introduced pastor Phelps to ME.”

    True, but only as an example of a Christian who believes ridiculous things, and who has probably destroyed his own soul with a level of hate Dawkins has never expressed. It was never my intention to focus specifically on homosexuality.

  42. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    with a level of hate Dawkins has never expressed.
    Maybe. Maybe not.

    I think a good reading of Dawkins (and I’ve seen all I can handle unless in his aging years he softens up) he is quite aggressive in his opinions that religion and more specifically Christian faith should be shut down completely, and he along with Dennet among many others has positited that teaching this to kids is a form of child abuse needing state intervention, etc.

    I gave you the quotes before. We’ve been down that dusty road already.

    Whatever other term you might apply, this is not a recipe for domestic tranquility.

  43. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Well, you did claim that *I* was doing the same thing “those leftists” do, and that was the context of my objection.

    Think of it as a warning not to fall into that kind of trap.

    It is like the dark side. “Once taken forever will it dominate your destiny”

    (attributed to famous linguist Master Yoda)

  44. JOR Says:

    “I think a good reading of Dawkins (and I’ve seen all I can handle unless in his aging years he softens up) he is quite aggressive in his opinions that religion and more specifically Christian faith should be shut down completely, and he along with Dennet among many others has positited that teaching this to kids is a form of child abuse needing state intervention, etc.”

    Until Dawkins travels to some benighted third-world country and praises their practice of murdering Christians, he won’t even be in the same class of dickhead that Phelps is in.

  45. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    If Dawkins seriously believes what he does, and he and his allies COULD forge that change in Britain, he would be more DANGEROUS to most civil liberties than some person of ill repute or lone wolf type like Phelps to the commonweal. It is far more likely–on the scale of such things–that in an aggressive climate of hostility against Christianity, that Dawkins (who has compatriots who believe much the same about shutting down Christians schooling and teaching via state force) that secular society would panic and heed his kind of advice more than someone like Phelps.

    I noticed again you bring up Phelps. Perhaps THIS time for his odd views on the intricacies of the stock market or the Nikkei Index or views on having a beer at the local pub?

    Didn’t think so.

    Because of a certain issue, this man now lives rent free in your mind, apparently. Fascinating. And he made so much fuss and muck and waves and friction that I’d never even heard of him. Sounds less than a mover and shaker in high society!

    My motto is: Pay attention to the hypocrits, and you’ll surely burn along with them.

    Often it is far more dangerous for some people to have a condescending but genteel manner like Dawkins or a Bill Moyers’ avuncular style than some hick from the corner church where snakes might be in the boxes on the floor and people are afraid of goats “markin” the unborn babies.(old funny Southern legend).

    Remember JOR: Emperor Palpatine was soft spoken and a nice chap in his own way too. (lol)

  46. JOR Says:

    Dawkins is probably more dangerous than Phelps, and his illiberal tendencies (and those of his friends) should be unequivocally condemned. But he’s not more vicious as a human being than Phelps, whose only ‘virtue’ is utter incompetence and lack of charisma. That was the context in which I was talking about them.

    “Because of a certain issue, this man now lives rent free in your mind, apparently.”

    I actually don’t think of him very often. This discussion is, I believe, the second time I’ve brought him up. Ever.

    “Remember JOR: Emperor Palpatine was soft spoken and a nice chap in his own way too. (lol)”

    I’m not judging Dawkins simply by his manner, but by his stated beliefs about what actions are just. I guess he could be lying about his own beliefs, but anyone could do that.

  47. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Well viscious he might be.

    But danger to the commonweal is my main concern. If his level of meanness goes to having the cops one day opening his Chevy up and finding body parts, then he’s made good on his nastiness.

    But visciousness and danger are quite often two separate things:

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/cutie-pies-that-bite.html

    Alex is nasty. She is not particular dangerous to humans.

  48. Ilíon Says:

    comment by JOR
    ============
    W.T.:Because I’ve already gone down that road, found that it leads nowhere, and thus decided to double back. And of course the realization that there is little there that separates one version from another.
    .
    JOR:
    Wakefield, I agree, there’s not much difference between Fred Phelps and other Christians.
    ===============
    Ilíon:
    Well, at least now I know without ambiguity that you are an ass … and a fool.
    .
    JOR:Given the source I think I’m justified in taking that as a compliment.
    .
    Ilíon:
    Silly man! I knew (and anyone paying attention knew) quite some time ago that you had already decided on a non-positive opinion of me. Pretty much from day-one, in fact.
    .
    On the other hand, I have only just now decided on a non-positive opinion of you. Ah well! you know how we “right-wingers” are: always so quick to judge (and condemn) others, always so slow to extend charity.

    .
    JOR:Why am I always the last one to learn what opinions I’ve decided on?
    .
    Ilíon:
    Perhaps you are one who has finely honed the ability to hide himself from himself?
    .
    JOR:Or maybe people jump to conclusions about me that are unwarranted. Atheists are always thinking I’m a Christian.
    .
    I’m not an ‘atheist;’ I never thought you were a Christian. If ‘atheists’ are always thinking that you are, well they *are* ‘atheists,’ after all. In general, they can’t handle nuance or ambiguity.

    As for “maybe people jump to conclusions about [you] that are unwarranted,” you’re surely not talking about me. See above.

  49. Ilíon Says:

    Pardon my html slip. The last to paragraphs are not to be italicised.

  50. JOR Says:

    “As for “maybe people jump to conclusions about [you] that are unwarranted,” you’re surely not talking about me. See above.”

    You jumped to the conclusion that I’ve had a negative opinion of you for some time. Since I’m in a fairly well acquainted with my own opinions I think I’m in a unique position to tell you that my negative opinion of you began only a day or so before you inferred that I am an “ass… and a fool” from the fact that I made an obvious argumentum ad absurdum. One that was, I admit, a bit of a cheap shot, but that just makes me an ass, not a fool. And I am sometimes an ass, when my patience is tried.

  51. JOR Says:

    “…visciousness and danger are quite often two separate things.”

    I agree but danger (by which you seem to mean physical danger) is not the only important thing.

  52. JOR Says:

    Furthermore, Ilion, I wouldn’t criticize conservatives in general for being uncharitable or excessively judgmental because I don’t think conservatives are uncharitable or excessively judgmental, qua conservatives. I have plenty of disagreements with conservatism but I wouldn’t frame any discussion in those terms, as I feel they only serve as a distraction.

  53. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    “I agree but danger (by which you seem to mean physical danger) is not the only important thing.”

    societal dangers and loss of rights once held can and generally will in time lead to physical danger.

    Elsewhere my patience gets tried often also, JOR. THough at my age afer seeing much of this over and over and over and over the tiresomeness is counterbalanced by thick skin.

    When it comes to certain terms that seem to take on lives of their own long after demonstrated to be poppycock (as you Brits say, though we yanks have another term dealing with bovine digestive outputs), I should’ve gotten out the garlic and staves to put this thing out.

  54. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    “Hate Crimes” Postings–local and express:

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/search/label/Hate%20Crimes

  55. Wakiefield Tolbert Says:

    Wire reports are now detailing that in California homeschooling has now been declared illegal UNLESS “special certification” requirements are met–which of course few parents have time to get an advanced degree or its correspondence course equivalency in order to continue. I consulted with a lawyer about this and it seems that while homeschooling in California has always been tenuous at best (as it has in all states) in this particular People Revoloutionary Republic it seems some of this influence to “crack down” is about curricula that liberal pressure groups feel should be part of this certification “process”–in other words not enough info about “Heather needs two Mommies” variety and other left wing spice. The State has had a difficult time controlling the materials used in homeschooling in what are generally religious environments, so the back door method of shutting them down is the tack apparently taken here.

    I told you that the Left now has almost all the cards, knows how to play them, and makes the best use of ideology. This in all probability will be the setpoint for other states to follow suit if they can.

    Did you not believe me?

    Over on the other threads Mr. Skinner and some other chimed in to say we “always” have homeschooling as a “perfectly legal option”

    that phase now being a little less vauge than it was. Now it is to be made difficult, at best. Far from perfectly legal, eh?

    I hate to say I told you so, but …….

  56. Feyd Says:

    Nice stuff Beast and WT. Between you two and Vox Day it looks like poor old Harris is pretty much dead and buried. Would feel sorry for him only its hard to feel much compassion for someone who defends torture and is so hateful towards religion. Will still pray for him though.

    Hey, would you mind passing a message to Frank Walton or at least me leaving it here in case he sees it?

    Have just been on Richard Dawkins forum and one of the mods there was asking for Dr Craig to come onto the forum and show them the light:

    http://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=38439&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

    I think Frank knows Dr Craig so he might want to pass the invite along. BTW a great shame Frank has left Atheism Sucks, quite a loss!!

  57. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Feyd: Harris is pretty much dead and buried.

    Actually—–stillborn.

    That mighty Harris rocket blew up on the launching pad.

    Internal combustion confounded by internal valve flow contradictions.

    BTW–Also along the lines here of the recent conversations about what is “hate”, it is funny to see this accusation from some females of note about their men friends. The 60’s Filthy Speech Movement has a rebirth masked as Monologues is a project I was working on for a while doing some interesting research. Yet another commentary on “hate speech”, BTW.

    Warning from nasty mouthed little princesses at leading “Women’s Colleges”—ALL MEN ARE PIGS.

    This is like one of those Highlights for Kids drawings: Find all the contradictions in this pictures. Ones that really hot and bothered teen males would like:

    **WARNING: GRAPHIC PSYCHOLOGICAL CONFUSION AND MYRTH***

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2008/03/v-day-until-vulgar-whorishness-stops.html

  58. Ilíon Says:

    W.T.Over on the other threads Mr. Skinner and some other chimed in to say we “always” have homeschooling as a “perfectly legal option”

    These ‘atheists’ are seldom stupid … anymore than we are. Wilfull ignorance is not the same thing as stupidity.

  59. IrishFarmer Says:

    It’s always good to read your work. It’s like you take the nebulous, disconnected thoughts in my head and put them into elegant prose which I could only dream of having the skill to emulate.

    Never stop writing!

  60. Ilíon Says:

    Irish,
    Oh, now, you do pretty good … for a kid. 😉 Keep practicing and I don’t doubt that you’ll do as well as BR does (shoot! you do better than I would have done at your age, and general education hadn’t been nearly as dumbed-down 30 years ago as it is today). Write out your thoughts, then edit and rethink what you wrote. Do it again.

  61. JOR Says:

    “Did you not believe me?”

    You claimed that the ‘left’ has total control of the government and of society. Unless you mean something significantly different by “the left” than what most people mean by it, this is obviously false. What can be expected is that the worst tendencies of both left and right will become more and more firmly established as policy. The general leftist hostility to things like homeschooling combined with a general rightist authoritarianism manifesting as a deference to armed agents of the state might prove especially tragic. It might take a Waco-scale incident to snap one or both sides out of it, and given recent cultural trends I’m not even sure that would do it.

  62. feyd Says:

    WT,

    I tried to post this comment on your blog, but it came up with an error and nows its saying the server is down when I click on your link, sorry about that!

    Yukk!
    Haven’t noticed any feminists like that in Great Britain Im pleased to say WT.
    Here I think if anything a backlash is underway and most of the women I’ve heard talk on these issues would like at least a partial return to old fahsion values. Its far more common to hear men promoting the humanist agenda.

    In southern Ireland feminism a bit more outspoken, guess the movement started later there.

    Women from Russia and Eastern Europe in general are often said to be much more virtuous and faithful than most of our English lasses. Stange as one hears quite the opposition about Russian men.

    Lets pray for the stability and harmony that healthy assertive religion will bring!

  63. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the appreciation, Feyd and Irish Farmer. Actually, Irish Farmer, I think you do far better than me with some of the arguments over on Atheism Sucks . It’s always a pleasure and an education reading some of the posts. As for being up there with Wakefield and Vox Day, Feyd – it’s a great compliment. I don’t know as much as Wakefield on domestic American politics, so it’s fascinating reading his remarks. As for Vox Day, I got the distinct impression that his The Irrational Atheist had done a very good job of tearing apart Harris.

    Hi JOR – I actually agree with you about western governments generally becoming more authoritarian. At the moment here in Britain there’s real concern about the identity cards that the Blair government planned to implement, and which I think is still set to be introduced. Traditionally British governments have objected to identity cards because it was part of continental-style autocratic regimes. No longer. Despite the fact that experts have pointed out to the government that the ID cards will be just as easy to forge as any other document, the government has still decided that they’re a good idea and will be introduced whether the British public want them or not. They’re going to be a legal requirement, so you’ll be prosecuted if you don’t have one. And according to the government it’ll cost £95 for one, though non-government sources have suggested that the true cost will be £200 – £300.

    Political commentators over here have also expressed concern at the way Blair and Gordon Brown ignore parliament, and the alterations to prime minister’s question time so that the PM is allowed to dodge hostile questions and effectively stage manage an ostensibly democratic process. My own fear is that with fewer and fewer people turning out for elections, we’re slowly drifting into a very authoritarian, oligarchical form of government.

  64. beastrabban Says:

    Regarding Eve Ensler and the Monologues , I can remember that over ten years ago when The X-Files was the latest craze on TV, Gillian Anderson was one of the actresses performing in it when it was staged over here in London. Walking past the Folk Club in town the other day, I found that they were staging it. However, it really doesn’t seem to have made the same impact over here as it has in America. I have come across some feminist misandrists, but it seems to have been more a product of 1980s radicalism than an enduring trend over here.

  65. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    The general leftist hostility to things like homeschooling combined with a general rightist authoritarianism manifesting as a deference to armed agents of the state might prove especially tragic.

    Arguments for free health care–that woord “free” being as plastic as it is.

    The fact that an American Idol candidate who has the ability (he hails from Harvard) is being set up by the media and millions of empty head followers of the Asperiations of Audacity and other such cackle, with no further insight needed..

    The fact that government control of the very terms of the debate is now squarely in the hands of amazingly simplistic arguments like “you HATE the Latino peoples”—also BTW belieing the argument about the Left’s penchant for subtle shades of grey and “nuanced” argumentation…

    The intentional inculcation of schoolchildren to the effect that the United Nations is our salvation, military responses are ineffective, the Palestinians have hearts of gold (as does every Hollywood prostitute), capitalism is evil, socialism is still the wave of the future.

    You can’t test me on this one, JOR. I have the textbooks and the materials from both the present and the past.

    As to violence and strongarming, it would seem that the Duchess of Waco, Janet Reno, was responsible for the kinds of above mentioned violence against perceived enemies like Randy Weaver more so than right wingers like ….BUSH (of which actually he’s a disappointment to true conservatives).

    Right wing regimes worldwide are like the Polar Bear, and maybvery well be extinct. Certainly few agencies here in the States truly bear that kind of mark or live up to that kind of accusation. I always give credit where due: The leftover hippies grew up, and had to learn something beyond eating after other people from garbage cans and spreading venereal disease. They cut their hair, got degrees, and mastered the art of communication. When you control the language as Orwell pointed out, eventually all else becomes your oyster to gnaw on.

  66. JOR Says:

    “The intentional inculcation of schoolchildren to the effect that the United Nations is our salvation, military responses are ineffective, the Palestinians have hearts of gold (as does every Hollywood prostitute), capitalism is evil, socialism is still the wave of the future.”

    I went to public school in the 80’s and 90’s, and don’t remember learning anything of the sort. And really, what is not to like, for someone with rightist sympathies, about the United Nations? That they intrude upon the sovereignty of nations? But rightists love militarism – and what do you think militaries are for, but to intrude on the sovereignty of other nations? And what’s not to like about Palestinians? What’s not to like — for the right — about people who are serious about religious faith, and who kill secular welfare-statists? And really, what’s so great about capitalism? It uproots traditional social structures, encourages selfishness and disrespect towards authority, etc.

    “As to violence and strongarming, it would seem that the Duchess of Waco, Janet Reno, was responsible for the kinds of above mentioned violence against perceived enemies like Randy Weaver more so than right wingers like ….BUSH (of which actually he’s a disappointment to true conservatives).”

    Ah, but what about conservatism is opposed to events like Waco? Conservatives are always telling us to not second guess agents of the law, that whoever they strongarm or kill deserved it (almost by definition), etc. And conservatives themselves were always a small, irrelevant segment of the right, and those conservatives that aimed to actually conserve something like division of power, or individual liberty, were but a brief acident of history.

    “Right wing regimes worldwide are like the Polar Bear, and maybvery well be extinct.”

    You’re right, in a way. Your true error is to see ‘left’ and ‘right’ as some kind of descriptor of immutable ideas. In truth, they describe purely aesthetic or tribal attachments. In every important sense, the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ merged long ago. And even at that point where they were most sharply distinct, they were only a contingent social phenomenon. There are still mutually hostile factions in politics, to be sure – but there were always mutually hostile factions within the left, and mutually hostile factions within the right. It is to be expected; it is politics, after all.

  67. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Conservatives are always telling us to not second guess agents of the law, that whoever they strongarm or kill deserved it (almost by definition), etc

    I don’t recall anything of this sort. As to the rest of your post, you succeeded in losing me. Maybe I’m just overtired today and have too much on the mind. I think what MIGHT be the case, as in the two border guards sent to prison for 11 YEARS for shooting a dope dealer trying to cross (illegally, naturall) the Rio Grande to peddle his wares based on FAULTY PAPERWORK is over the top for prosecution. So yes, we can “look behind” some of these cases. Now that both are in the general prison population of which at the Federal level 1/4 are illegals, they are in danger out of proportion to their own oversights.

    As to the Duchess, her reaction was over the top also. Other than that I have no further input. My point was that all ideology has its own baggage to tote around. A point evidently lost on guys like Mark Williams.

    AS to education and the NEA, I’m not sure if you are Brit or American or perhaps this got served under your nose without notice, but numerous examples have been passed around. Of course not all districts do this.

    As to homechooling, that issues was about POWER. It takes quite a bit to outlaw something by mere fiat. LOTS of power. MUCHO MUCHO power. Without all the details, I have in point of fact confirmed with HSLDA lawyers that this is an ideological hit job with no precedence other than finally getting the Left’s eggs into one tidy basket of outlawing things via fiat and courts (and sidestepping the legislature) and finding more than one way to skin the cat. This takes POWER—LOTS of power. It might be overturned but this is not the end of the Left’s power grab in Cally. It is also a VERY dangerous precent, seeing that the Court case that brought this up is being used from an isolated accusation to be applied statewide.
    The irony is that the local teachers unions and the NEA, while hating conservative Christians, are in some districts realizing they can’t compete and have started trying to duplicate our techniques all the while bashing us for the effort. Or for that matter using “credentialism” as the only means we can do this. Which for the average busy person is impossible.

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2008/03/government-monopolysocial-activist.html

  68. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Hi Feyd:

    Two things–both funny in a way:

    1) try again to post. I think there was an error earlier. Sorry about that.
    It SHOULD work now. That format does’nt even like ME–so we don’t pick on people! 🙂

    2) Ya know, for some reason, and you’ll forgive me for this—I can’t help but remember that phrase from the movie version of Dune where Baron Harkonan goes up to Feyd and says “Feyd…..my …lovely Feyd”….

    As you know, well—-let’s just say I can’t get the flying Fat Man’s visage of saying that out of the noggin.

    Sorry.

    I’m weak.

    :)I suppose I should also ask BR why he chose THAT moniker seeing that the Beast got his head placed on a platter by the Emperor????

  69. JOR Says:

    “I think what MIGHT be the case, as in the two border guards sent to prison for 11 YEARS for shooting a dope dealer trying to cross (illegally, naturall) the Rio Grande to peddle his wares based on FAULTY PAPERWORK is over the top for prosecution.”

    A couple of violent socialists shot an enterpeneuer dead for crossing land that doesn’t belong to them, or anyone really. I’d say they got off easy.

    “As to the rest of your post, you succeeded in losing me.”

    The point was just that ‘right’ and ‘left’ no longer refer to distrust of arbitrary power and/or populism, and enthusiasm for it, respectively. To the extent that they ever did it was a temporary, accidental thing. They primarily refer to aesthetic attachments, and ones that are more or less outmoded at that (to be replaced by new ones, which most people still try and describe as ‘right’ or ‘left’, ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, to the detriment of understanding). For a short time earlier in this decade, at least in America, being on the ‘right’ more or less meant you were enthusiastic about killing Moslems – for whatever reasons and whatever your other commitments; being on the left meant you lacked this enthusiasm, or opposed such projects – again for whatever reasons, and whatever your other commitments. But now even this method of distinguishing between the two has grown stale.

    “As to homechooling, that issues was about POWER. It takes quite a bit to outlaw something by mere fiat.”

    It does take power but it’s a mistake to assume that the ‘left’ ‘possesses’ this power, rather than that the power is there to be used by anyone with the influence to use it.

  70. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Not sure what you meant by “socialists”–if by this you mean the men–the border patrol–not allowed to do their jobs. Dealing dope might not seem anything more than a victimless crime, but has serious ramifications in itself. And yes, it IS against Federal Law (albeit with spineless pols not enforcing the issues as we now see both at local and national levels). Beyond this our spineless politicians refuse to take the issue seriously, so they need a fall guy or two to take a hit for the team while they sort out their own excuses for not taking sterner action. The larger reality is that republicans need cheap labor and Democrats need a new voting block. People living on the border towns in the US have been beheaded, raped, kidnapped, killed in gruesome manners, and robbed all the while the border patrol is undermanned and understaffed. The Mexican “coyotes” who push through thousands every month are starting brush fires and jamming radio signals of the BP. This ordinarily, among all other nations, is seen generally as an act of WAR. Political correcntess on all fronts prevents actions that all other governments on earth would take to protect their borders. Other nations have issues, as does Britain and the Netherlands and Germany, with immigrants, but NOT to this magnitude and NOT to this level of illegality. There is a difference. Legal immiration was the method that all the rest of us got to use. But guess what? I don’t speak Scots-Gaelic. And no one in my family does. Not anymore. Not since the 1700s. We have entire enclaves here who’ve decided that integrating into this society is just not what the doctor ordered. La Raza and other “brown peoples” advocacy groups would be decried as racist (which they are) if outfitted by Whites. There are entire groups dedicated (or in the words of Vincente Fox himself) to taking back the Southwest without fireing any shots. They are succeeding.

    But all I hear from the Left is “you HATE, da latino peoples!”

    So again unless your post was in jest, you lost me.

    As to the rest, if the Right had access to that kind of power this issue would not have even come up. Teams of activists and lawyers did not even see this rulemaking by fiat even coming. It is like having King Longshanks return to power, this time however in California, and not Ye Olde England to fight Wallace.

    For a short time earlier in this decade, at least in America, being on the ‘right’ more or less meant you were enthusiastic about killing Moslems – for whatever reasons and whatever your other commitments;
    It is not about “killing” Muslims–it is about, and has always been about, fighting the terror lords who use the name Allah when sawing heads and flying aircraft into buildings, bombing Brit train systems and killing Spaniaird and using this craft to even influence US policy. The ostensible reason is that we are ignoring Allah’s will or supporting Israel (which IS legitimate compared to the Palestinian gut splat brigades who’ve been know to use the brain tissue of Jewish toddlers to scribble messages of hate on concrete walls). As to the Left, ask Christopher Hitchens why he “left the Left”. It was not just ideology but their refusal, just even for the briefest of moments, to suspend their hate of Western society long enough to realize that Bin Laden was NOT exactly some radical wing of the Baader Meinhof gang or the NEA or the National Organization of Women.

    He (Bin Laden and Co.) is the VERY antithesis of what they claim to stand for. Pluralism, better treatment of females, non-theism, openness, non-militance, coercion. They break all these claims, of course. As seen in past alliances with Nicaragua, the FMLN and the USSR, but the point Hitchens made was that the Left is not interested in a war on a TRUE “fundamentalist” religion.

    They are at war with Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

    Now in my estimation this analysis of Hitchens still stands valid for some if not most corners of ideology. Having said that, I agree partly that some definitions get blurred by politics. Thus for example I think that while Bush and Blair were right in the War on Terror and didn’t exactly get resounding accolades at home (it cost Blair his career, to his credit) I think they are both wrong on many things. Not familiar with much of Blair. He’s not my cup of tea on domestic issues but that’s for Mother England to sort out. Bush for his part has so many contradictions on domestic policy from agricultural issues to illegal immigration getting a free lifetime pass that he has in some estimations detroyed all remnants of conservatism here in the US. John McCain’s a fine man and has endured much and knows the enemy better than most and what they’re capable of but probably cannot manage things domestically much better than Hillary Clinton (for the love of mike….)

  71. JOR Says:

    “Not sure what you meant by “socialists”–if by this you mean the men–the border patrol–not allowed to do their jobs.”

    Yes.

    “Dealing dope might not seem anything more than a victimless crime, but has serious ramifications in itself. And yes, it IS against Federal Law (albeit with spineless pols not enforcing the issues as we now see both at local and national levels).”

    Prohibitionism has serious ramifications. And what is done is the law.

    “As to the rest, if the Right had access to that kind of power this issue would not have even come up.”

    They do, when it really matters to them. The “right” and “left” take turns enhancing the power of the state in their own ways. Mostly in the same ways, just with different aesthetic emphasis.

    “It is not about “killing” Muslims–it is about, and has always been about, fighting the terror lords who use the name Allah when sawing heads and flying aircraft into buildings, bombing Brit train systems and killing Spaniaird and using this craft to even influence US policy.”

    That’s one of the reasons people had for enthusiasm about these wars. But the defining thing about conservatism, at least for a couple of years maybe from 2003-2005 was just to support the wars, for any reasons or none.

    “The ostensible reason is that we are ignoring Allah’s will or supporting Israel (which IS legitimate compared to the Palestinian gut splat brigades who’ve been know to use the brain tissue of Jewish toddlers to scribble messages of hate on concrete walls).”

    ‘Hate’? Now that’s just political correctness talking.

    “As to the Left, ask Christopher Hitchens why he “left the Left”.”

    Christopher Hitchens is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. He transformed from a bloodthirsty communist to a bloodthirsty neoconservative without changing a single idea.

    “Having said that, I agree partly that some definitions get blurred by politics.”

    Oh, it goes much deeper than that. Part of the problem is that ‘conservatism’ never meant anything so much as a rejection of any and all kinds of universal principle – of morality, or humanity, or social organization; historicism, in other words. So it’s easy for it to get swept up in any winds of doctrine that blow by. Really, what is ‘conservatism’ at any given point in history? Usually it’s just yesterday’s revolutionary fads. Hence the current enthusiams for New Deal/War Communism togetherness and obedience; flags and theo-jingoism bordering on sacrilige, loyalty oaths to the state, TV shows and other cultural icons that glamorize torture and arbitrary authority, prohibitionism, all the rest of it. Even when they’re accidentally on the right side, conservatives cloud everyone’s view of what’s really going on because they’re not about ideas, and they never were.

  72. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Christopher Hitchens has many faults, but radical or bloodlust neoconservatism or any other type, is not among them. He simply reassesed his position on the Left. Smatterings of which still remain.
    He still regards Stalinism is insatiably evil and to my knowledge was not among those who were in the apologist category. Further, it is mysterious this equivication of yours of “bloodthirst” to merely responding to terror. Terror and the requirements of response are not morally equivalent, even if the methodology looks equal to you. Which I know that YOU know it is not. If so, then you’d have to make similar simplistic equivications and declare that all killing is murder or that all sex equals rape since the appearance is strikingly similar once ripped from context. You’d have to say all combat or war is murder. Hitchens is merely in this case declaring that much of the Left has decided that a war on Bush is the fater route to victory without considering that from the point of view of Bin Laden and simlilar men such distinctions are not even considered, as he hates us all, and ALL for what we ARE, not so much what we DO. The Left thinks (just ask Obama’s campaign managers and consultants) that this is all Bush’s fault for not “reaching out” and other laughable rhetorical devices. And YET, no one expects American cops or Brit bobbies to “reach out” to organized crime lords when they are forced to shut down vice and rid the streets of filth and murderous elements. No one but radicals makes the case that cops are illegitimate and “equivalent, since they too carry GUNS!” to the criminals–do they?

    You know better than that. Again. Hitchens has many issues, but he is not bloodthirsty for the right any more than he was necessarily allied with the Left’s violence. The Weather Underground and Black Panthers and some other groups still pine for the good old days of giving the finger to the pigs (the cops) and longing for Revolution. But Hitchens has generally been more balanced and has preferred the democratic option. Had had not he’d never been allowed to be near Bill Buckley, whom he admired. Hitchens merely thinks that tinhorns like Hussein needed our scorn earlier and that we paid too much attention to the Soviets, etc.

  73. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    ‘Hate’? Now that’s just political correctness talking.

    Well……NO…..not to be nitpicky and fussbudget here, but….

    that was TRUE hatred. This was action, documented and, unfortunately, verified.

    Words that seem to “diss” an ideological program as in “you HATE da Latino peoples” (since we won’t let them use this nation as a giant parking lot for sumptious social services handouts and actually enforce the law) is not actually “hate”—–though of course it is called that.

    Now, a word about this loosey goosey term “hate.”

    George Orwell warned many decades ago that the first whiffs of true tyranny would be the abuse of language by powerful political interests and “intellectualoids” in academia and pressure groups making a sales pitch. The word “hate” follows this ugly trend. I myself was going to write a story about this to highlight some modern takes on this horrid abuse of language. I keep getting submarined by reality and shot down. What I had posed as parody keeps coming true so I have to keep upping the ante when it comes to political candidates saying things like “audacity of hope” and “stand shoulder to shoulder” and “by the bootstraps” and new realities and broad frontier jibber-jabber of squalid people like Barak Obama. Oh well. I forget now the title of semi-famous essay I once reviewed for a précis in college, but therein Orwell warned that certain terms, like “hate”, “fascist”, “reactionary”, “hatemonger” would soon be rendered inert by sheer force of repetition and shopworn usage by special interests. In the more modern example, and going beyond the name calling most leftist ideologues use to smear people as “hateful” we have the homosexual activists. More on that momentarily. Writers often pondered whether or not we’d all see the Brave New World or 1984. We have both. Thanks to government activism for which there is little true accountability and a commercial and social environment that has drugs and products to ease our woes. The so-called “free market” allied with government prowess against the commoner.

    Such are the sardonic joys of secular society.

    Elsewhere: A man has just been prosecuted in New York for flushing a Koran down the toilet. A “hate crime.” So we are told. No such admonition or respect is seen on behalf of Christians when a crucifix soaked in urine or smeared in human feces is posted in art galleries and hailed as spellbinding, epic, high art worthy of taxpayer donation by force. Complain, and you’re told to go jump in the lake. Not even a shyster lawyer can help me on this one, and certainly not the ACLU and other “civil liberties” groups. Or when public school teachers mock the Bible as “hate literature”; when public funded programming does much the same–much less the major networks in their perennial mockery of Christianity they think is hilarious.

    Let’s see here….oh yes: Palestinians fire rockets into Israeli houses. The Israelis respond, and they are labeled by the media as…..”hateful” for not seeking a compromise on land that does not interest the Palestinians–since by their own admission the Palestinians are not interested in such and by their own words (and actions) seek Israel’s destruction. Even though the UN had this area partitioned decades ago……

    Why do some things qualify for mere speech violations, but truehorrific events do not? Well, like the AIDS lobby, the prime directive is media driven and politics of pressure driven. It’s that simple. Snopes.com liked to say that such events (that I will not directly put in detail here) about the killing of two white people is “all too common” and thus escapes attention and thus does not meet the requirements of being called a “hate crime”. Nice try. Murder is “common”, but the events described above are NOT. Strike out, Jack. I don’t know of horrible crimes like pouring Clorox down the throat of a rape victim and dismemberment done out of abounding love. But this is not what spills beer in pubs or gets the ire going in the power centers of the nation among the pols.

    Here is true hatred:

    FLASHBACK: Barak Obama’s preacher: “Racism is how this country was founded” –

    VIDEO Sweetness & LIght on Obama’s “Spiritual Mentor” 1/25/2007

    Sample:

    Racism is alive and well. Racism is the American way.

    Racism is how this country was founded, and how this country is still run.

    No black man can ever be President. I don’t care how hard you run Jesse.

    No black woman will ever be considered for anything outside of what she can give with her body.

    Fact number three: America is still the number one killer in the world.

    We invaded Grenada for no other reason than to get Maurice Bishop. We destroyed Panama because Noriega would no longer dance to our tune anymore.

    We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training professional killers.

    We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children, while trying to turn public opinion against Castro and Qaddafi.

    Fact number four: we put Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there.

    We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority. And believe it more than we believe in God.

    Fact number five: we supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians, and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic.

    — Transcribed by Sweetness and Light 1/25/07

    AS I wrote elsewhere: “The above accusations are either absurdly wrong or completely devoid of historical context and the usual complexities of politics. To hear Obama’s flock leader preach it, Israel’s existence–mere existence–is seen as a racist threat to the Palestinian gut-splattering peace brigades. Racism is found in all of America. Cambodia, Grenada under Bishop, Iraq and Nicaragua and Cuba’s boot-stomping leaders are peace loving citizens who never had Sovietesque aspirations or were never part of geopolitical ploys. (Castro and Qaddafi, of course, had the full love of their populations, no doubt, seeing that, well, they either loved the dear leaders or ended up in prison with sores crunching cockroaches for breakfast, as Armando Valladares has testified at least in Castro’s case). And the good Lord no doubt misses Noriega as much as his bat-wielding Dignity Brigades. And, the Founders were not so much interested in separating from Mother England as in establishing the slave trade. Oh yeah–we kill people for no reason at all, including having the CIA concoct the AIDS virus to kill minorities.”

    THAT’s hatred.

    This is true hatred, dressed up in the guise of slammer other “haters”

    Charming to the end. I hope that BR one day does a posting on “liberation theology” (think Christ holding a machine gun rather than a shepard’s staff). He’d be the best at it!

    (this will give insights into all this mess).

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2008/03/in-case-you-were-really-wondering.html

  74. JOR Says:

    “Christopher Hitchens has many faults, but radical or bloodlust neoconservatism or any other type, is not among them. He simply reassesed his position on the Left. Smatterings of which still remain.”

    What exactly do you think a neoconservative is?

    “He still regards Stalinism is insatiably evil and to my knowledge was not among those who were in the apologist category. Further, it is mysterious this equivication of yours of “bloodthirst” to merely responding to terror.”

    He’s a goddamned fan of Lenin, and he has advocated terror in the middle east. He hasn’t just advocated regime change or war with the predictable result of collateral damage; he has advocated outright massacre as a strategic weapon.

    “Terror and the requirements of response are not morally equivalent, even if the methodology looks equal to you.”

    Some responses to terrorism are morally equivalent to terrorism. Indeed, mideast terrorism is, to some degree, a response to prior terrorism. Furthermore, not everything that isn’t ‘morally equivalent’ to terrorism is permissible, let alone admirable or advisable.

    “Hitchens is merely in this case declaring that much of the Left has decided that a war on Bush is the fater route to victory without considering that from the point of view of Bin Laden and simlilar men such distinctions are not even considered, as he hates us all, and ALL for what we ARE, not so much what we DO.”

    When the hell did bin Laden become a model of virtue to be emulated? I guess this is to be expected from someone who thinks, “Christians aren’t as murderous as Pol Pot, so they must be okay” is a good defense. Jesus.

    “No one but radicals makes the case that cops are illegitimate and “equivalent, since they too carry GUNS!” to the criminals–do they?”

    I know plenty of radicals who think cops are equivalent to criminals (hell, I am one of them). And none of them thinks this simply because cops carry guns.

  75. beastrabban Says:

    Hi JOR, regarding your comment:

    I know plenty of radicals who think cops are equivalent to criminals (hell, I am one of them).

    I can appreciate where you’re coming from here. Clearly, an ideal state would be one where such coercion and use of force was not necessary and not used. The Czech theologian Chelcicky in the 14th century in his Net of Faith argued that the state was based on violence, and that the true Christian should therefore reject it. The prophet Samuel in the Bible presented a very strong argument against the oppressive powers of the monarchy when the Israelites demanded a king. I’ve come across Black Britons and Americans who are very strongly alienated from the police because of what they perceive to be racist and extremely oppressive attitudes in the force, often from personal experience. Additionally, I’m sure that we could have a great conversation on the radical libertarian tradition in the US, and Nozick and Rothbard.

    Nevertheless, I don’t believe that the cops are equivalent to the criminals. Way back in 1982 Britain experienced a series of riots against the police in many of our towns and cities. My home town was one of them. These occurred in the multicultural areas of the inner city, which experienced poverty and social deprivation. One of the activists at the time of the riots stated that they occurred because there was a feeling that the police were occupying the area. He didn’t feel that was the case now.

    My problem with this is that however bad the police were, the current situation is far worse. Drugs, gun crime and prostitution have actually increased in the inner city, though I’ve got the impression that the particular section of town which experienced the riots in ’82 has actually improved somewhat. Five years ago there was an item on the local news that claimed in one of the streets I used to know when I was smaller, there was a gun-related incident nearly every day. A lady from a charity working for Asian women was one of those remarking on the problems they had with criminals with guns. Now, I’d rather have the area patrolled and kept in order by the police than left to violent criminals and the brutal exploitation of humans through robbery, violence, drugs and prostitution.

    Over in Northern Ireland, one can probably make out a case that one of the reasons the province has a very, very low incidence of organised crime is through the rule of the paramilitaries. I have heard that at one time the IRA would not recruit anyone with a criminal record, and you do find patrols connected with the paramilitaries in their areas looking for anyone dealing in drugs. Despite this, I’d rather have law enforced by the police, who at least have some kind of democratic oversight, and be tried by twelve of my peers than have the suppression of crime left to unelected individuals enforcing it through guns and punishment beatings.

    The cops aren’t perfect by any means. We’ve had scandals over here involving corruption and the framing of suspects, but in my opinion they’re better than the mob rule and gangs that try to usurp their place.

  76. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    JOR: I don’t know what the Left’s definition of NeoCon is, usually not nice to be sure, but it is not and cannot be someone who once wrote for the nation, still praises radical socialism on all levels, hates Christians, writes in that vein, and thinks abortion is a holy sacrament.

    And I’m not sure either about this “violence” he espouses in the ME–perhaps you mean the war–if so further giving credence you think one form of violence, like sex is the equivlanet of another.

    And none of them thinks this simply because cops carry guns.

    Right. Because more likely of idology. Truer than you guess, JOR.

    Having said that, it is an axiom that regular Americans are seen as criminal due to merely owning a gun, just as we are to be (soon) criminals for homeschooling.

    Again, ideology more than action.

    Some responses to terrorism are morally equivalent to terrorism. Indeed, mideast terrorism is, to some degree, a response to prior terrorism.

    Only if by this you mean we responded by wiggling the guts of children for the camera, decapitated screaming innocent men and women, and bombed fruit markets on purpose.

    Ahh–the Circular Saw.

    I bought one of those from Lowe’s hardware once!

    But the problem here is that definitionally this rules out all responses. Since this finer distinction of yours is not common in people barking about the war effort, ya see. Violence begets violence. In that case the Palestinians might take a second look at their gut splat festivals.

    There is a brand of liberalism that says our multi-trillion dollar military is good for nothing but kicking sand around or handing out bags of rice, JOR:

    http://secure.washtimes.com/commentary/20061112-105859-2364r.htm

    We are thus hopeless next to the twain dynamic duo of Mommies Against Bad Things Happening and rag tag warriors numbering about 20,000 at MOST. Or so the Commanders-in-Grief like Cindy Sheehan tell us.

    We are not to go to war. PERIOD. We can’t even pre-empt but must wait for Miami to blaze up.

    Pacifism is not noble in any age under certain conditions. Our world typically meets all those conditions.

    You and Beast might enjoy this too:

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2005/02/orwell-on-pacifism-following-is-great.html

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2008/03/liberals-surge-protection.html

  77. JOR Says:

    Beast, I’m not opposed to the police out of pacifism, and it’s important to point out that by ‘police’ I do not mean ‘peace officers per se’. I’m opposed to them out of 1) a moral commitment to the concept of equality of authority (i.e. an argument that A is justified in doing X is also an argument that B is justified in doing X) and hence a rejection of monopoly, which I take to be a necessary implication of any respectably coherent moral theory; and 2) a suspicion of arbitrary power. There are other important reasons I see to oppose specific applications of police power but those are the two reasons I see for being opposed to police organizations per se. To 2 it may be argued that cops are less arbitrary than mafias and paramilitary organizations and guerilla armies and the like; to which I answer firstly, so what?. Charles Manson was less murderous than Hitler, at least as far as body counts are concerned. Who would I rather have as a next door neighbor? Hell if I know – probably Hitler, who was relatively harmless until he became a high-ranking demagogue-turned-politician. But this doesn’t mean the moral case against Hitler is weaker than the one against Manson. And I also point out that police organizations, facing the same incentives as any monopoly service, have a tendency, other things equal, to grow less accountable over time, until they are not really distinguishable from mafias or paramilitary organizations. Of course other things are not always equal, and there might be social tendencies that render the cops more accountable over time, but these tendencies will usually be decried and resisted and undermined by the mass of policemen themselves, and almost always by the political Right as such (for my purposes here, conservatives don’t count as part of the ‘Right’ but as – in the most literal sense – moderates who may find themselves at any given point on the political spectrum, depending on the circumstances). In any case, the argument that a society that has the moral constitution to render the police acountable even needs them in the first place seems weak; and insofar as any kind of standards are to be enforced on the policement themselves, the argument for a police force is undermined (since the whole point of having them is that we supposedly need unaccountable enforcers).

  78. JOR Says:

    I coulda swore I had that comment broken up into at least three paragraphs.

  79. JOR Says:

    Wakefield, as usual your post is an almost unreadable mess of red-herring attacks on straw men. I think I could get further discussing philosophy with Rich than discussing much of anything at all with you.

  80. JOR Says:

    “Having said that, it is an axiom that regular Americans are seen as criminal due to merely owning a gun, just as we are to be (soon) criminals for homeschooling.”

    Ah, the tired old canard that people who are opposed to illegal homeschooling and gun ownership are ‘anti-homeschooling’ and ‘anti-gun’. Surely some nefarious Orwellian doublethink is at work.

  81. JOR Says:

    “Only if by this you mean we responded by wiggling the guts of children for the camera, decapitated screaming innocent men and women, and bombed fruit markets on purpose.”

    So if al Qaeda used smart bombs to kill innocent men and women, and only ‘targeted’ the WTC towers themselves (thereby killing anyone who happened to be in them ‘by accident’), they’d be okay with you? You can kill anyone you want as long as you “don’t mean to” and have good intentions?

  82. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    JOR as usual your responses are a hybrid mess of misinterpretation and oddball equivocations. As I have said before intentionality is key.

    Saying that terror would be ameliorated due to mere methodology is the very height of straw man attack. Obviously the purpose in terror methodology is part of the intentionality. To sicken people, to make Moms Against Bad Things happening cry, and influence politicians for Allah and create intimidation. Al Quida is not a nation, but a gaggle of warriors who have no legitimate interests in the modern world. None. It is like contrasting the methodology of the Mafia.

    The only thing I can every glean from liberals and libertarians is that generally the cops are as bad as jewelry thieves, responding to terror is the same as terror, we need to be kind to the Jihadists so as not to upset their delicate senses, allow Israel to be subjugated so the Palestinians will get “their” land and thus leave us alone, etc.

    Kinda like Spain having its election changed after their own encounter with Al quiada, the one theme coming across here–and only one, from you–is that nothing can be done but bowing our heads in surrender. That’s the apparent answer to all the riddles. Everything else mentioned beyond this is seen as on moral par with our “enemies” which is also put in quotes to make sure we never feel smug about the high ground.

    As to illegal homeschooling, again not sure what you mean.

    Homeschooling is generally legal until the courts decide by fiat that agendas need to be met some other way. So yeah–you can criminalize anything by decree even if the stats demostrate the superiority of homeschooling and the teachers’ unions. Research the issues of gun ownership, its many advantages, and homeschooling and its advantages over the public school monopoly that indoctrinates kiddies to be good little Germans and get back after that.

  83. JOR Says:

    “Saying that terror would be ameliorated due to mere methodology is the very height of straw man attack.”

    Does this sentence even mean anything?

    “Obviously the purpose in terror methodology is part of the intentionality. To sicken people, to make Moms Against Bad Things happening cry, and influence politicians for Allah and create intimidation.”

    Do you realize just how much of a red herring this is?

    “Al Quida is not a nation, but a gaggle of warriors who have no legitimate interests in the modern world. None. It is like contrasting the methodology of the Mafia.”

    I’m skeptical that they don’t have any legitimate interests; I’m skeptical that anyone would totally lack legitimate interests. And, contrasting the mafia with what? In any case, is your only problem with al Qaeda really just their interests? You don’t object to their actions? And if so then what about their actions, exactly, is objectionable? That they kill innocent people, or that they kill innocent people to terrorize others? Would it be less objectionable if they just did it for fun? Would it be less objectionable if it were in retaliation for genuine injustice? None of these questions are rhetorical.

    “The only thing I can every glean from liberals and libertarians is that generally the cops are as bad as jewelry thieves, responding to terror is the same as terror, we need to be kind to the Jihadists so as not to upset their delicate senses, allow Israel to be subjugated so the Palestinians will get “their” land and thus leave us alone, etc.”

    Cops are usually somewhere between jewelry thieves and rapists. Some conceivable responses to terrorism are morally as bad as terrorism, and some conceivable responses to terrorism are in fact terrorsm (for instance, massacres aimed at turning mideasterners against certain factions – i.e. what Hitchens advocates – would count as terrorist). I don’t much care what happens to Israel or the Palestinians as political units; my concern is for justice.

    “Kinda like Spain having its election changed after their own encounter with Al quiada, the one theme coming across here–and only one, from you–is that nothing can be done but bowing our heads in surrender.”

    If your idea of ‘surrender’ is ‘not invading other countries’ or even something as broad as ‘anything short of genocide’.

    “Homeschooling is generally legal until the courts decide by fiat that agendas need to be met some other way.”

    The same is true with migration. Or anything else. What is done is the law.

  84. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Wakefield – thanks for the comments and links to your articles. It’s always fascinating reading. Regarding Orwell, he definitely ranks as one of the most perceptive political writers of the 20th century. I’ve got a collection of his articles around myself, and he definitely deserves his reputation as a very acute observer of totalitarianism, as well as his remarks on the failure of European colonialism. At the time he was writing those comments about pacifism stemming from a bias towards totalitarian regimes, like the Nazis, I’ve got a feeling that a lot of the organisations campaigning for peace between Britain and Germany were either Fascist front organisations or very strongly pro-Nazi Germany. I also don’t dispute the fact that at the heart of some objections to what is perceived to be British, American, European or Western aggression is an attitude of intense alienation which views Western society as essentially evil and oppressive. Hence the willingness of some on the Left to support Hizbollah, despite the fact that in their attitude towards personal freedom they are everything the Left condemns in its own society.

    Now I have to say that there are pacifists I genuinely respect – people who have a real abhorrence of violence from anybody and for whom the act of killing can never be justified. However, while I respect it, I don’t think its practical or justifiable as a policy. 9/11 was an act of war by al-Qaeda and their hosts, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. If America and the West had not retaliated, it would have been seen as weakness, rather than forbearance, mercy or pity, and further attacks would have resulted. And this is quite apart from the consideration that the deaths of thousands and the attempt to destroy America’s financial and military centres should not go unpunished.

  85. beastrabban Says:

    JOR – thanks for explaining your reasons for condemning the cops. Obviously, I was mistaken, though this is understandable when you compare the police to organised criminals, and I’m glad you don’t condemn peace officers per se .

    Regarding the moral equivalence between the police and criminals, I think this is false. Firstly, although our society is indeed founded on the belief in equality, it’s also marked by professionalisation and specialisation. People aren’t equal, because practical economic and social conditions means that we don’t all occupy roughly the same social roles, as is the case in some traditional societies where everyone is more or less a subsistence farmer. This process of specialisation and professionalisation can be seen in the rise of lawyers. Originally, attorneys were merely people who knew the law better than you did, and so spoke in your defence when you were tried before the local feudal or royal court in the Middle Ages. However, as the customary law was codified as part of the compilation of common law, and legislation issued by the monarchy, parliament and the Church, and tested by the courts, so it required the development of professional lawyers who specialised in detailed knowledge of the law, rather than simply private individuals with a good amateur knowledge.

    This process can be seen in the development of the police force. However egalitarian the medieval legal system may be, such as the Anglo-Saxon hundreds, medieval English views of frankpledge or the streetguild system of Novgorod, where people were required to swear oaths for the good behaviour of their neighbours, and present malefactors to the authorities for judgement, private citizens don’t have the time or the resources to catch criminals or prevent crime. Hence the establishment of a paid, professional police force. As for their status, when Sir Robert Peel set up the British metropolitan police force in London, he consciously chose servants’ coats as part of their uniform to show that they were servants of society, not its masters. While the police clearly have an authority not shared by private citizens to arrest, detain and, in certain limited circumstances, kill, they are not our masters and this authority is limited by society.

    I think it’s also important to point out here that the police differ from criminal gangs like the mafia in that the police enforce the law. They don’t make it – that’s done by parliament/ congress and the courts, and unlike criminal gangs where the head of the gang effectively decides the law and policies his subordinates obey, and inflict on their victims.

    As for the cops monopoly on the use of force to maintain the law, again I feel that’s inevitable. The maintenance of law and order in the res publica – the public thing, or commonwealth, is in my view best left to a public body, open to scrutiny and accountability, than private individuals who may act solely out of their own private interests, such as occurs with vigilantes. Now there is clearly a surrender of power by the sovereign individual here, but it’s part of the same surrender of power that people invest in government, national and local, to keep the peace and maintain justice by preventing chaos and anarchy.

  86. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    BR said, in part:

    Now I have to say that there are pacifists I genuinely respect – people who have a real abhorrence of violence from anybody and for whom the act of killing can never be justified.

    I agree that perhaps some of these attitudes, IF consistent, could turn some people around. But that is the problem. I find little evidence that most of these groups are consistent across the board in the application of such a difficult thinking. Beyond this, even if human nature is conqured we have the problem as you indicated of administrative justice, something lost on JOR but common in every society since the dawn of writing and the forging of spears. Thanks for the commentary on the blog notes.

  87. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    BR please delete the above post: Don’t ever by Dell products. They are junk. For some reason this laptop clicks and flashes and …well.. that was not to be posted just yet:

    JOR said, in part:

    (my responses are in italics

    “Saying that terror would be ameliorated due to mere methodology is the very height of straw man attack.”

    Does this sentence even mean anything?

    I was under the impression that you are among those who feel that the lords of terror have just enough ‘legit’ claims that we need to so much as pay attention to them. But either they are wrong–or not. And yes, the common claim that paying heed to their demands would solve things is staw man argumentation. History shows that this thinking only encourages terror. Wish Ron Paul and his nut brigade understood this….

    “Obviously the purpose in terror methodology is part of the intentionality. To sicken people, to make Moms Against Bad Things happening cry, and influence politicians for Allah and create intimidation.”

    Do you realize just how much of a red herring this is?

    No. I do not. That is also the opinion of Ray Cline and Yonah Alexander (see, ex. Terrorism as State Sponsored Warfare ) among the experts who’ve given us not only definitions of terror vs. administrative justice, but ideas on how to responde. None of them suggests that these “land” and other “legitimacy” issues need cloud our judegments or make moral equivocations or bow to their demands or make compromises or compare us to them.

    “Al Quida is not a nation, but a gaggle of warriors who have no legitimate interests in the modern world. None. It is like contrasting the methodology of the Mafia.”

    I’m skeptical that they don’t have any legitimate interests; I’m skeptical that anyone would totally lack legitimate interests. And, contrasting the mafia with what? In any case, is your only problem with al Qaeda really just their interests? You don’t object to their actions? And if so then what about their actions, exactly, is objectionable? That they kill innocent people, or that they kill innocent people to terrorize others? Would it be less objectionable if they just did it for fun? Would it be less objectionable if it were in retaliation for genuine injustice? None of these questions are rhetorical.

    Their interest is to use force to either eliminate the state of Israel or to convert the West to Islam in their image of the imams. Who’s to say that in doing it for some “end” they don’t do it often for fun? It is not just the “interests”–irrational though they are, but also the fact that the techniques employed are gruesome by design–not by default or accident. Obviously bad things happen in anyh conflict. The United States and Britain punish these kinds of offenses if intentional. And intentionality is what I go back to as much as concecpts of freedom when it comes to human relations. We don’t punish the car accident cause if the person was truly causing an “accident” the same way we do for outright vehicular homocide or drunk driving–the latter two meaning we believe in some culpability. Likewise in war there were accidents and horrors caused by, say, the Allies in WWII when Allied bombs often hit canneries, daycares, or schools when the bombs were errant or the command messed up the pathway for the airraid on German factories never far away. I doubt this puts the Allies on par morally with the Third Reich. Is there a revisionism in London that claims that these days, BTW???

    “The only thing I can every glean from liberals and libertarians is that generally the cops are as bad as jewelry thieves, responding to terror is the same as terror, we need to be kind to the Jihadists so as not to upset their delicate senses, allow Israel to be subjugated so the Palestinians will get “their” land and thus leave us alone, etc.”

    Cops are usually somewhere between jewelry thieves and rapists. Some conceivable responses to terrorism are morally as bad as terrorism, and some conceivable responses to terrorism are in fact terrorsm (for instance, massacres aimed at turning mideasterners against certain factions – i.e. what Hitchens advocates – would count as terrorist). I don’t much care what happens to Israel or the Palestinians as political units; my concern is for justice.

    huh? What is justice then? I have not once heard Hitchens advocate the complete and utter destruction of Islam or its adherents or of whole peoples. Not even Hitchens is worthy of that accusation.

    “Kinda like Spain having its election changed after their own encounter with Al quiada, the one theme coming across here–and only one, from you–is that nothing can be done but bowing our heads in surrender.”

    If your idea of ‘surrender’ is ‘not invading other countries’ or even something as broad as ‘anything short of genocide’.

    Spain did not even consider such–nor has anyone else–in its most radicalized form past the days of the Conquistadors. A war on Islamofascist thugs is not ‘genocide’ any more than the war on Hitler was the death knell for blue eyed blond haired people of Germanic descent. The Islamists got what they wanted from the terror. See Ray Cline above. That proves my point. In this case the Islamists won that round. Again, responding to terror is not on par with these clumsy and hyperbolic notions of ‘genocide’ any more than theh old saw from the Vietnam era is that being in the military makes you a ‘baby killer.’

    “Homeschooling is generally legal until the courts decide by fiat that agendas need to be met some other way.”

    The same is true with migration. Or anything else. What is done is the law.

    Comparing illegal migration to homeschooling is confusing at best. One is an inherent right–the other is an abuse of our goodwill.

    So–we are to do NOTHING at all, then, JOR?

    I guess that means Q.E.D.

  88. JOR Says:

    “I was under the impression that you are among those who feel that the lords of terror have just enough ‘legit’ claims that we need to so much as pay attention to them. But either they are wrong–or not.”

    I think some of their demands are more or less legitimate. We should concede where we are in the wrong, becase that’s the right thing to do. If they want to keep attacking us for other reasons, that’s their problem.

    “And yes, the common claim that paying heed to their demands would solve things is staw man argumentation. History shows that this thinking only encourages terror. Wish Ron Paul and his nut brigade understood this….”

    I agree with Ron Paul’s conclusions, mostly, but not with some of his reasoning. In any case, whoever is right on this point, <a href=”http://www.lewrockwell.com/callahan/callahan97.html”)history shows nothing.

    “No. I do not. That is also the opinion of Ray Cline and Yonah Alexander (see, ex. Terrorism as State Sponsored Warfare) among the experts who’ve given us not only definitions of terror vs. administrative justice, but ideas on how to responde. None of them suggests that these “land” and other “legitimacy” issues need cloud our judegments or make moral equivocations or bow to their demands or make compromises or compare us to them.”

    Do you realize how much of a red herring this is? Not everything that is morally equivalent to terrorism is terrorism. (Killing a thousand people for fun is morally equivalent to killing a thousand people to scare a million others into giving them some kind of political concession; the latter is terrorism, the former is not).
    “Their interest is to use force to either eliminate the state of Israel or to convert the West to Islam in their image of the imams.”

    Those are some of their (very, very long-term) ends.

    “Who’s to say that in doing it for some “end” they don’t do it often for fun? It is not just the “interests”–irrational though they are, but also the fact that the techniques employed are gruesome by design–not by default or accident.”

    So it’s the means they use that are bad? Would you still think their means were wrong even if I convinced you of the total rightness of their ends? (Note: I understand your eagerness to assault convenient straw-men, so I’ll say right here that I don’t believe in anything like the total rightness of their ends; it’s a strictly hypothetical question)

    “The United States and Britain punish these kinds of offenses if intentional.”

    Sometimes. When it’s politically expedient.

    “And intentionality is what I go back to as much as concecpts of freedom when it comes to human relations. We don’t punish the car accident cause if the person was truly causing an “accident” the same way we do for outright vehicular homocide or drunk driving–the latter two meaning we believe in some culpability. Likewise in war there were accidents and horrors caused by, say, the Allies in WWII when Allied bombs often hit canneries, daycares, or schools when the bombs were errant or the command messed up the pathway for the airraid on German factories never far away.”

    1) Hitting canneries, daycares, schools, and the like was part of the objective of allied bombing of German and Japanese cities in the first place. The idea was to weaken civilian morale for the war effort – literally a kind of terrorism – or even just to punish them for having naughty governments.

    2) There’s a limit to the importance of intentionality to culpability. If a guy points a loaded gun straight at a kid, and pulls the trigger, sending the bullet through the kid’s head, he is culpable even if his intention was to ‘point a gun and pull the trigger in a randomly chosen direction’. Likewise someone who drives his car down the sidewalk on a busy day is culpable for anyone he injures or kills, even if his intention is just to drive his car on the sidewalk. Even if he swerves a little to avoid hitting people.

    3) Whether ‘the allies’ are morally equivalent to ‘the axis’ is not only morally irrelevant, it is a gramatically meaningless question. People can do good or evil. The important question is, ‘Is this action worthy of condemnation and/or retribution’, not, ‘Are these people better or worse than those people?’

    “ What is justice then?”

    Ensuring that legitimately enforceable claims are proportionally attended to and enforced.

    “I have not once heard Hitchens advocate the complete and utter destruction of Islam or its adherents or of whole peoples. Not even Hitchens is worthy of that accusation.”

    I never said he advocated wholesale genocide. Terrorism is, roughly, using violence against ‘soft targets’ to intimidate a government or society into making concessions of some sort. This is what he advocates.
    “A war on Islamofascist thugs is not ‘genocide’ any more than the war on Hitler was the death knell for blue eyed blond haired people of Germanic descent.”

    Christ. I didn’t say that responding to terrorism, even in an immoral way, is necessarily genocide. I tacked it on at the end for emphasis, because some people who go around calling everyone else ‘surrender monkeys’ or whatever the proper saying is now, do seem to want genocide or something close to it.

    “Comparing illegal migration to homeschooling is confusing at best. One is an inherent right–the other is an abuse of our goodwill.”

    Not homeschooling. Illegal homeschooling. See? The magic word makes it bad.

    “So–we are to do NOTHING at all, then, JOR?”

    About what? Illegal homeschooling? Terrorism?

  89. JOR Says:

    Link:

    History shows nothing.

  90. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Other than not finding a point on which homeschooling SHOULD be illegal, unless by this you mean that “homeschooling” offends the teachers unions (which is the case but that is not a legal issue) or perhaps some case in which said education consists of chaining the kids to the backyard like some retrorade puppy or lock them in closets to feed cold gruel, I have no guess why you’e added this in with terror topics.

    So yes, the issue was terror. (on the other, the State of Cally offered their thinking on homeschooling)

    It appears, as is usually more typical among libertarians that we are to do nothing. Compromise, the middle road, moral equivalency, etc are the rules of the road here. Israel gives up vast swaths of territory when she is not legitimately required to and the problem remains. the Gaza strip of forefathers and vast orchards is handed to the squalor of Palestinian claims and now the area is used (as I predicted, but polititians and other squatters don’t care) to fire rockets on Israel.

    And again–i have not once heard Hitchens use the “soft target” approach in any conversation I’ve ever seen about terrorism and the response.
    Has Hitchens advocated hitting fruit stands and beheading people with dull fish knives? Has he? really?

    And my response to Ron Paul and Co. is the same as with Lincoln’s personal letter penned in a bit of a hurry to gen. McClellen. To the general effect of:

    “My Dear General–if you have no plans to use the Army I have provided, I should like to borrow it for a while if I might.

    Sincerely,

    Pres. Abraham Lincoln.

    I long ago gave up trying to cull meaning from Lewrockwell and Co. their opinion of our troubles in the world is to withdraw, have free trade as the answer to all commonweal, and the majic of the market will do the rest. they think terrorists are like hornets. Nasty sting but if we just stay out of their way and allow Israel to be on her own the problem will sovle itself. We are to have no allies and no alliances and of course all troubles are our fault.

    I am astonished that the wonderous ways of Allah are “legitimate” interests from …whomever….

    AS to this:
    “ What is justice then?”

    Ensuring that legitimately enforceable claims are proportionally attended to and enforced.

    I don’t know what this means. The terror lords have no legitamacy. Their destruction, and removal of hope, is the best answer for administrative justice, as Jefferson did with the Barbary pirates and governments the world over do with murderers. trying to compromise on these “issues” (so called) has only led to more hunger.

    Perhaps for his next trick, Paul can convince us that crocodiles really do make distinctions between the hand that feeds meat to satiate the hunger and the hand itself?

    That’s the problem with the libertarians. they are merely the right wing version of sandaled hippies who like low taxes and worship at the alter of Rand. They don’t think things all the way through from practical life experience. either governments have the right to defend people and ideas–or they don’t. at a certain point those are your choices. Instead, we get this:

    1) Hitting canneries, daycares, schools, and the like was part of the objective of allied bombing of German and Japanese cities in the first place. The idea was to weaken civilian morale for the war effort – literally a kind of terrorism – or even just to punish them for having naughty governments.

    And let me guess–the hitting of Dresden too? These were “backbreaking” moves to crush not just resolve but industrial capability as well. It is unpleasant but is a move of war that definitionally is not the same as the directed goals of terror in politics. In this kind of war strategy it can be demonstrated that with the fielding of vast armies, armament, and other production you have to remove this from the equation. Again, this was in response to other actions. I don’t recall from history the Allies doing this kind of thing just “because” the Poles got mad at Hitler. This was done when recalcitrance was high among the Axis powers and a way had to be made to “break” their power. By the standards you seem to have (and the libertarian deep thinkers other than Rand) any action we take would be immoral and “terror.” War always has incidental needs and goals that if seen without context could be considered terror. Some people think yelling at new recruits to clean the latrines with a toothbrush is a form of terror-soft and neanderthalish. the libertarian mold limits us to merely wringing our hands. And that would be about it for a response or to defend our nation. If in point of fact that’s even a goal for libertarians.

    2) There’s a limit to the importance of intentionality to culpability. If a guy points a loaded gun straight at a kid, and pulls the trigger, sending the bullet through the kid’s head, he is culpable even if his intention was to ‘point a gun and pull the trigger in a randomly chosen direction’. Likewise someone who drives his car down the sidewalk on a busy day is culpable for anyone he injures or kills, even if his intention is just to drive his car on the sidewalk. Even if he swerves a little to avoid hitting people.

    There is an upper limit on anything. Yes, there is some culpability for any accident, and tragedy in accidents. But we do distinguish regular homocide from MURDER and killing. Not all killing is outright murder any more than all sex is rape. Unless you’re talking to Amanda Marcotte or Bella Abzug, maybe.

    3) Whether ‘the allies’ are morally equivalent to ‘the axis’ is not only morally irrelevant, it is a gramatically meaningless question. People can do good or evil. The important question is, ‘Is this action worthy of condemnation and/or retribution’, not, ‘Are these people better or worse than those people?’

    that is an abominably strange statement. If by moral equivlance (should you even believe in such things, which might be part of the problem here), then the statement is valid. I’d say its a good bet the Nazis and Tojo were not good for human commonweal.

  91. JOR Says:

    “Other than not finding a point on which homeschooling SHOULD be illegal, unless by this you mean that “homeschooling” offends the teachers unions (which is the case but that is not a legal issue) or perhaps some case in which said education consists of chaining the kids to the backyard like some retrorade puppy or lock them in closets to feed cold gruel, I have no guess why you’e added this in with terror topics.”

    Ah, so now there is suddenly a standard outside mere law by which decrees can be judged. As to what it has to do with terror, I was taking a page from you and digressing wildly for the sole purpose of making a cheap shot. With the difference that my cheap shot was well-aimed.

    “Has Hitchens advocated hitting fruit stands and beheading people with dull fish knives? Has he? really?”

    You can commit terrorism without using dull fish knives. Would Islamist terrorists be any better if they used howitzers and napalm? Answer the damn question this time.

    “I long ago gave up trying to cull meaning from Lewrockwell and Co…”

    That article answers well the silly notion that there are lessons of history, or any such nonsense.

    JOR: Ensuring that legitimately enforceable claims are proportionally attended to and enforced.
    WT: “I don’t know what this means.”

    I’m sure you don’t.

    “The terror lords have no legitamacy.”

    Let’s say murderer X is demanding that, say, the government stop funding abortion. He has no ‘legitimacy’, whatever that means (applying this term to people seems to be a category error).

    Would that make it a bad thing for the government to stop funding abortion? On your account it would be a ‘concession’, a ‘compromise’, ‘moral equivalency’.

    “That’s the problem with the libertarians. they are merely the right wing version of sandaled hippies who like low taxes and worship at the alter of Rand.”

    This conversation sure is getting intellectually satisfying. No, I mean that seriously. You’re proving a theory I’ve been developing lately.

    “They don’t think things all the way through from practical life experience. either governments have the right to defend people and ideas–or they don’t. at a certain point those are your choices. Instead, we get this…”

    Then you hit me with this…

    JOR: 1) Hitting canneries, daycares, schools, and the like was part of the objective of allied bombing of German and Japanese cities in the first place. The idea was to weaken civilian morale for the war effort – literally a kind of terrorism – or even just to punish them for having naughty governments.
    WT: “And let me guess–the hitting of Dresden too? These were “backbreaking” moves to crush not just resolve but industrial capability as well.”

    …ESSENTIAL AGREEMENT WITH MY STATEMENT. First you dishonestly claim that widespread civilian deaths from allied bombardment in WWII was accidental. When I point out this is a LIE, you insult my intelligence and what you think to be my political ideology, and then offer handwringing justifications for terrorism. I can handle insults, mind you. I just thought it was funny that you insulted my intelligence because I was knowledgeable enough to call out your lie.

    “It is unpleasant but is a move of war that definitionally is not the same as the directed goals of terror in politics.”

    Terrorism has nothing to do with goals. It is a tactic, not a political ideology.

    “In this kind of war strategy it can be demonstrated that with the fielding of vast armies, armament, and other production you have to remove this from the equation.”

    1) There are lots of immoral things I could do that would make it easier to achieve certain ends – ends that are themselves unobjectionable. Doesn’t make them right.

    2) There have been studies showing the bombing didn’t significantly reduce Germany’s productivity.

    “Again, this was in response to other actions. I don’t recall from history the Allies doing this kind of thing just “because” the Poles got mad at Hitler. This was done when recalcitrance was high among the Axis powers and a way had to be made to “break” their power. By the standards you seem to have (and the libertarian deep thinkers other than Rand) any action we take would be immoral and “terror.””

    No. Any action that WAS terror – that fit the definition of terror – would be terror. Unlike Rand, I believe there are objective and universal principles of justice by which everything must be judged (she claimed to think this, but her particular brand of empiricism and egoism aborted any commitment she might have actually had to a coherent moral theory). I realize conservatives reject this idea, however, which is why I’m starting to think that appealing to their conscience is a complete waste of time. And since they have no conscience, they can’t be trusted to argue in good faith – so it’s not just moral discussion that is fruitless, but any discussion at all. Like the Randroid egoists, they think moral inhibitions, and principles, and feelings of sympathy are intellectually vapid things fit only for hippies, so they kill themselves from the inside out, until they’re no better than apes or calculators.

    JOR: 2) There’s a limit to the importance of intentionality to culpability. If a guy points a loaded gun straight at a kid, and pulls the trigger, sending the bullet through the kid’s head, he is culpable even if his intention was to ‘point a gun and pull the trigger in a randomly chosen direction’. Likewise someone who drives his car down the sidewalk on a busy day is culpable for anyone he injures or kills, even if his intention is just to drive his car on the sidewalk. Even if he swerves a little to avoid hitting people.

    WT: “There is an upper limit on anything. Yes, there is some culpability for any accident, and tragedy in accidents. But we do distinguish regular homocide from MURDER and killing. Not all killing is outright murder any more than all sex is rape. Unless you’re talking to Amanda Marcotte or Bella Abzug, maybe.”

    Killing doesn’t have to be murder to be morally as bad as murder. The examples I gave above I take to be better analogies to the “accidental” killing by aerial bombardment than traffic accidents.
    JOR: 3) Whether ‘the allies’ are morally equivalent to ‘the axis’ is not only morally irrelevant, it is a gramatically meaningless question. People can do good or evil. The important question is, ‘Is this action worthy of condemnation and/or retribution’, not, ‘Are these people better or worse than those people?’

    WT: “that is an abominably strange statement. If by moral equivlance (should you even believe in such things, which might be part of the problem here), then the statement is valid.”

    Er, the only people who don’t believe in moral equivalence (i.e. the idea that there are universal principles by which to judge the actions of different agents; that the actions of two different agents could be morally equivalent) are moral relativists. And if you’re a moral relativist, you have no business talking about the morality of a given action AT ALL.

    WT: “I’d say its a good bet the Nazis and Tojo were not good for human commonweal.”

    If this was so it was so because of their actions – actions which it would be just as immoral for anyone else to perform.

  92. bite and tea cup worked daycares worker police arrested Says:

    […] – even when … organisation that has done brilliant work promoting freedom of conscience and …https://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2008/03/02/sam-harris-on-atheisms-tolerance-and-lack-of-dogma/Drew Curtis&39 FARK.com — Archives for &392007-03-25 23:59:59&39Mar 25, 2007 … Bright enough to […]

  93. Reader Says:

    Sorry.

    First of all, atheism and anti-theism are two different terms. Atheism is the rejection of belief in a supernatural deity due to lack of evidence, end. Anti-theism is the belief religion is bad blah blah blah.

    The Soviet Union etc’s end goal was a marxist utopia. Atheism may have been a part of that, but atheism was not its cause; they thought religion was incompatible with their marxist utopia. Marxism =/= atheism. Take away communism and socialism and you’re left with nothing. There’s no doctrine or anything to interpret atheism as some kind of murderous creed, or to justify murder, as you can, say, Islam.

    Harris is correct.

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