“sooner or later, they’re going to come for people you do like”

What would actually be worthwhile– what would actually work to advance our country politically– would be for people to actually come out and say what they mean. If you don’t think people accused of rape should have due process rights, you should say so. If you are OK with a society in which only the idle rich have the right to free expression, where people have absolutely no expectation of being able to hold controversial views without risking their employment or their property, say so. But all the hinting and signalling and cultural cues just leave us with no coherent understanding of what rights we actually have left.

via Fredrik deBoer.

Have we replaced policy debate with peer pressure social signifiers?

Worth reading the whole thing.

Defending Integrity Over Partisan Advantage

This is the definition of intolerance. If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel? It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason. If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.

via Dissents Of The Day « The Dish.

Kudos to those who are willing to criticize their own side who have behaved badly – in this case, referring to the Mozilla CEO issue.

Some things are more important than partisan politics. The ability to vote, donate, and campaign for your beliefs in a free and fair political process should be treated as sacred – because without that right, there are no other rights, save what our Dear Leaders choose to grant us at any given moment in time.

Those who think it’s okay to punish someone for their private political behavior (kept appropriately outside of the office) might want to rethink the tool they are using to squash their enemy. Unintended consequences are certain to follow (and of course the precedent that has been set might very well come back to bite you).

“I am the victim of h8 (that is, you having an opinion that makes me h8 you)”

Brendan Eich is gone. The creator of JavaScript and co-founder of mozilla.org has quit as Mozilla’s CEO, forced out by the uproar over a donation he made six years ago to a ballot measure against gay marriage.

via Slate

…or for traditional marriage, since – despite the deliberately misleading rhetoric of the pro-ssm camp – something important in traditional marriage will be destroyed if marriage is redefined.

The distinction is important. Whether or not you believe, personally, that the redefinition of marriage is good or bad, the reality is that there’s only one reason for refusing to acknowledge that marriage is being redefined, and that is to make it sound like the only motive someone could have for voting “against gay marriage” is animus.

Which turns the entire argument into an ad hominem – as the side that openly and unapologetically hates its rivals accuses the other side of being motivated by hate and thus having no argument.

But I digress:

But that wasn’t enough. A revolt among Mozilla staffers, compounded by pressure from software developers, outrage on Twitter and a boycott movement spearheaded by OkCupid, has driven Eich out. Baker, having accepted Eich’s resignation, offers this apology: “We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.”

 

It may seem unrelated, but a professor on campus was recently arrested for taking the sign from a pro-life protester and destroying it. The professor said – apparently sincerely – that she had a “right” to be free of their viewpoint:

I asked Miller-Young if she could have behaved differently in this instance. There was a long pause. “I’ve said that I think I did the right thing. But I acknowledge that I probably should not have taken their poster.” Miller-Young also said that she wished that the anti-abortion group had taken down the images when they demanded them to.

Miller-Young also suggested that the group had violated her rights. I asked Miller-Young what right the group had violated. Miller-Young responded, “My personal right to go to work and not be in harm.”

Miller-Young elaborated that one of the reasons she had felt so alarmed by this imagery is because she is about to have the test for Down Syndrome. Miller-Young said. “I work here, why do they get to intervene in that?”

via Washington Post

We appear to have reached a point where identity politics teaches its adherents that they literally have the right to be free of any dissent – free of the presence of dissenters, and free of any unwanted signs of dissent.

The next question will be, is there an upper limit on what may be done to those who dissent “inappropriately”?

But of course, we should not confuse the rejection of Eich’s viewpoint (as a position so extreme it renders an individual unacceptable for prominent employment) as an act of intolerance. As Mozilla tweeted:

@nycconservative We believe in openness & that no one should be persecuted for the beliefs they hold, no matter what they are.— Mozilla (@mozilla) April 3, 2014

via The Federalist

Welcome to diversity. This is what tolerance looks like.

realistic_coexist1

On Using Godwin’s Fake “Law” To Silence Ethical Debate

Godwin’s Law ought to be enshrined next to Newton’s Laws or Kepler’s Laws for all posterity. For the uninitiated, Godwin’s Law states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” The concept was devised by Mike Godwin in 1990 and officially codified into law in a Wired article in 1994. Since then, the evidence for this law has only gotten stronger.

Because of the unquestioned veracity of Godwin’s Law, it is perhaps inevitable that a journalist will, eventually, be compared to a Nazi.

via RealClearScience

Let us start with what ought to be obvious: Godwin’s “law” is not a law. It is an Internet joke that was funny the first few times you heard it, then started getting kind of annoying.

If someone is comparing you to a Nazi for frivolous reasons, don’t “call Godwin’s Law”, the way a five year old “calls” the front seat as he and his sister race for the car. Confront them! Trivializing the Holocaust is a serious thing, and you should make that case forcefully.

But this is not an obviously frivolous comparison. It might or might not be correct or “right” or “valid” or “legitimate”, but the author absolutely intends to make the case that the new “good” eugenics is not different in kind from the old “bad” attempts to control that which is currently viewed as beyond mankind’s control.

It’s a serious argument. It raises valid questions. Are we prioritizing the “purity” or “health” of the race is prioritized over the rights of individuals? Are we overreaching, using, exploiting, seeking to take more than we’re actually able to handle? Do we know what we’re doing? Are some of us going to benefit at the expense of others?

Are we compromising ethics in the same way that Nazi scientists did – and for similar reasons?

That argument deserves better than playground taunts about Godwin cooties.

A man voices opposition to reckless human experimentation on ethical grounds, and the science guy spews forth a stream of emotive invective laced with ad hominem attacks. Raise a question about the proper use of an applied science, and you don’t have a legitimate avenue of discussion. You are anti-science. But are you?

from Celebrate Life Magazine

Really, what this is about is whether a parent has the right to a “perfect” child – or whether society has reason to demand that action be taken against the birth of imperfect children before birth – even if that means stealing something of value from the child in order to “give” something of value to the parents, or to the larger society – or to the scientists who have the most to gain (while of course they aren’t the ones taking any of the risks).

The stakeholders differ – parents, not “The State”, are viewed as the ones who can and should decide when it’s justifiable to experiment on one’s own descendents. But this distinction is not significant from a logical point of view. It is only significant – very significant – from an emotional point of view, because we idealize parents and we don’t like to think about even the possibility of a conflict of interest between what a parent wants and what a child might want or need or have reason to value.

And the language is changed; we use language that suggests the child is the beneficiary. This is how our culture handles the taboo regarding the conflict of interest between parent and child that isn’t supposed to exist.

The only way to honestly balance the rights of all stakeholders is to do just that: balance the rights of all stakeholders. After taking out the exaggerated promises of success, and the equally exaggerated tendency to minimize (or outright deny) risk, what would a child in such a situation want?

I was an IVF baby. Given this intimate connection with technology and test tubes, you might think I’d be a cheerleader for all developments in the field. But a new technique under consideration has broad and troubling implications, not only for hopeful parents-to-be and their potential future children, but for all of humanity.

This new technique, called mitochondrial replacement or “three-parent IVF,” would make genetic changes to IVF embryos and thus to every cell of the children born as a result of it. And these changes would be passed down to future generations. Human inheritable genetic modification of this kind is currently prohibited in over 40 countries and by several international agreements due to numerous problems and concerns. But proposals that would break this long-respected international consensus are now under consideration in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The goal of the new technique is, in one sense, the same as with all IVF procedures: to allow parents to have an (at least partially) genetically related child. But mitochondrial replacement requires genes from three people, and a biologically radical process to combine them. It is being proposed for a small number of women who suffer from a particular kind of severe mitochondrial disease (many kinds are actually caused by nuclear DNA, which this procedure would do nothing to help.) The idea is that replacing the unhealthy mitochondria in an affected woman’s egg with the healthy mitochondria of a donor’s egg could produce a disease-free child (that could have Dad’s eyes and Mom’s bone structure).

It’s an enticing story, and some insist that the technique should be made available as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for the families whose hopes have been raised, the feel-good story of a “life-saving treatment” covers up critical safety and efficacy problems, and hugely important social and ethical considerations.

On the safety front, there are a number of concerns for the women involved….

…There are also profoundly worrying safety and efficacy concerns for any resulting children, which a growing number of scientists are speaking up about.

This ethical dilemma would only be compounded by the fact that an effective, less invasive option already exists.

via Huffington Post (emphasis mine)

It cannot be argued that it is self-evident that any child would want to be experimented on in such a way.

And there is the conflict. Do we value some concept of scientific knowledge and/or genetic purity as a good in its own right, engineering perfect humans as an inherent good, or do we value the rights of people – all of whom are currently born imperfect, as measured against the current and future ideals of those who would “improve” us all?

Here is the quotation that caused all the trouble:

The empirical sciences don’t speak to principles of right and wrong. Those must be supplied by the human practitioners of science, or short of that, people of conscience with the moral clarity and will to hold them accountable. The conflict between Smith and Berezow, then, was not a case of anti-science versus science, but of science informed by conscience and directed for human good versus science barreling on, ignorant of good and evil. That kind of science was to novelist Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; to Lewis, The Abolition of Man; and to Jews in Nazi Germany, the death camps of Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

Mixing Up Metaphors

Best headline on the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS case:

It’s All About Privacy, So Make Sure My Boss Has to be Involved: Curious Arguments Outside the Supreme Court

via  National Review Online

Hey, maybe if you don’t want your boss in your bedroom, you should leave your bedroom at home when you go to work in the morning!

Ya think?

Didn’t feminism used to be about more than just staying a bossy little girl forever while hanging on to Daddy’s wallet?

Yeah, I said “bossy” – it’s becoming *the* word I think of whenever I meet a combination of shrewish + inappropriate + slightly sinister + impotent, and thus looking to scapegoat…
in other words, it perfectly describes feminism these days.

Oh – and I’m adding a new category: grownups who think they are children and/or want children to be grownups. Just for you, creepy girlchild-ladies!

Trying So Hard…Coming So Close….

Ever have a ‘friend’ insist that you shouldn’t be prosecuted for a crime you didn’t commit because obviously you’re too stupid to have committed the crime?

It’s known as a “backhanded compliment”, I think.

The facts of her case do suggest that she regards marriage as a religious sacrament with a procreative purpose, that her Christian beliefs cause her to reject same-sex marriage, and that her business discriminates against same-sex weddings because she believes wedding photography requires artistic efforts to render the subject captured in a positive light. She believes making that effort would be wrong.

In America, there is plenty of homophobia, plenty of anti-gay bigotry, and plenty of people whose antagonism to gays and lesbians is rooted in hatred. Sometimes the language of religious liberty is used to justify behavior that is anything but Christ-like. But the Slate article is implicitly trafficking in its own sort of prejudice. The working assumption is that homophobia, anti-gay bigotry, and hatred are obviously what’s motivating anyone who declines to provide a service for a gay wedding.

That assumption is wrongheaded. A closer look at the photographer’s case is the best place to begin. Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin lost a case before the New Mexico Supreme Court, and have now appealed the ruling. As noted in their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Huguenins’ photography business does serve gay and lesbian clients, just not same-sex weddings. Insofar as a photographer can distinguish between discriminating against a class of client and a type of event—there is, perhaps, a limit—their business does so: “The Huguenins gladly serve gays and lesbians—by, for example, providing them with portrait photography—whenever doing so would not require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.”

The photography business has also turned down clients other than gay and lesbian couples while citing religious objections. “They have declined requests for nude maternity pictures,” their petition states, “and photographs portraying violence.”

Finally, it isn’t just same-sex weddings they’d be uncomfortable photographing: their petition states that they’d also refuse business capturing a polygamous marriage.

Set aside for a moment the tension here between individual liberty and non-discrimination law. Whether you think the New Mexico Supreme Court decided the case rightly or wrongly, that is separate from the question of what motivated Elaine Huguenin. I’ve never met the woman. None of us can look inside her heart. But her petition presents a perfectly plausible account of why she would refuse to photograph same-sex weddings for perfectly common religious reasons that have nothing to do with fear of gays, intolerance toward gays, or hatred of gay people.

This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has spent an appreciable amount of time around practicing Christians. In such circles, there are plenty of ugly attitudes toward gays and lesbians, as well as lots of people who think gay and lesbian sex and marriage is sinful, but who bear no ill will toward gays and lesbians themselves. I wish even the latter group would reconsider. I don’t regard homosexuality as sinful. Unlike my friends in the orthodox Catholic community, I don’t regard sex before marriage or masturbation or the use of contraceptives or failing to attend Sunday Mass as sinful either.

via The Atlantic

Listen to the unwitting nature of that condescending “well maybe we shouldn’t be quite so bigoted toward those backwards people but ohhhh I do so wish they would give up their primitive superstitions already….”

They aren’t arguing for the “coexistance” they claim to prize so highly; “diversity” in this case is not to be celebrated. That Christians are to be tolerated in this case is based on the fact that they’re wrong, stupid, and immoral, “but”….

It’s the lack of self-awareness that is so weird. What makes Christians so awful is their lack of desire to celebrate other peoples’ values. So how come the people who claim that celebrating other peoples’ values is such a great thing to do are themselves exempt? If diversity is a good thing, then why do they act as if Christians holding out marriage as sacred – honoring more than just the sexual pleasure but the whole thing – is somehow evil, in a way that is far more urgent than, say, Islamic honor killings?

Most people are not even aware of the problems that could (and, I predict, will) be associated with same-sex marriage. The issue is the culmination of two disastrous policies: “identity politics” (the idea that justice should be adjusted according to your status as “victim” or “privileged”), and the sexual revolution (the idea that adult pleasure should be prioritized over the well-being of children, families, and social obligations). Both ideas are unsustainable, not only because they are unjust but ultimately because they aren’t grounded in truth – or even reality.

I suspect that, before this issue is done, the secular humanists are going to end up learning a lot more about why Christians hold concupiscence to be contrary to God’s will.

If my wife and I had contacted a wedding photographer who said she refused to photograph our ceremony because we’d “lived in sin” together before marriage….

I actually have experienced such a thing: a particular wedding professional made it very clear that he does not go outside his own denominational beliefs, and we could just deal with it. Can you imagine if I’d played drama queen victim and tried to file a lawsuit? How ridiculous would it be, for a grown-up person to throw a temper tantrum because they’ve encountered religious beliefs that are different from their own!

And I should also note: the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize my marriage. I am not three and therefore I can handle the existence of a person separate from myself without feeling the need to find the nearest available courtroom so that I can drum my heels against the floor and scream like Veruca Salt in front of everyone.

If we want a level playing field with fairness and justice for all, let the law focus on crimes of violence, and let individuals use persuasion in all other matters. This means letting people get away with doing wrong, as long as they commit no act of outright aggression. Even if it is wrong for Elaine to discriminate, we must be tolerant of such behavior if we want to live in a free society with a thriving entrepreneurial base. Those who take joy in this case because the law has ruled in their favor may come to regret a future day when that precedent is used to rule against them. The better way is to not give government such power in the first place.

via Forbes

/snicker

As a bona fide “rural hick”, I took it personally when the Important People mocked Sarah Palin.

So I am amused.

Yes, I could see this one from Alaska. I’m usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did, despite my accurate prediction being derided as “an extremely far-fetched scenario” by the “high-brow” Foreign Policy magazine. Here’s what this “stupid” “insipid woman” predicted back in 2008: “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

via Sarah Palin’s Facebook page

“Obama’s clever campaign to constrict the flow of criticism”

Among the many costs of the Barack Obama presidency is an intentional corrosion for its own political gain of public faith in so many American institutions, among them Congress, the Supreme Court and the media.

If numerous sectors of society are feuding or distrustful of each other, then a well-controlled central authority like a chief executive can more easily rule the pieces. It’s classic Chicago politics, the way the mayor there controls the city’s feuding neighborhood fiefdoms of Democrat pols and workers.

via Investors.com.