“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.


The “Right” To Have Sex Without Pregnancy And Other Ridiculous Claims

From yesterday’s post:

The right to have an active sex life unencumbered by unintended pregnancy is a healthcare issue, but it is so much more than that…

…I see it as a human rights issue, a civil rights issue. I mean it is the most fundamental human and civil right that exists….

What Is Wrong With This Argument?

So many things.

Let me choose just one, or I’ll be here for hours.

All rights are “human rights” (unless we’re talking about animal rights). But what does it mean to have the right to something?

We all have the right to freedom – to do whatever we want. The problem is, so does everyone else, and choices have consequences. So if we’re going to live together as a society, we have to prioritize. That’s really what “rights” means – rights mean priorities.

We prioritize certain things – like “life” (as in “the right to life”) because we don’t want to live in a world where someone could come along and kill us for no reason, and we recognize that in order to have that protection ourselves, we have to grant it to others – reciprocity is essential here, because rules like this have an all-or-nothing nature; if it’s not a universal rule, then it’s not really a rule at all. A rule that isn’t really a rule can be described with the phrase “might makes right(emphasis mine):

“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

— Thucydides, the Melian Dialogue

“I am stronger than you, therefore, I make all the rules.”

This very simple aphorism can be used by a character of virtually any level of intelligence. Usually they’re explicitly evil, usually. Bear in mind that anyone who espouses this belief will almost invariably be wrong- but usually the hero beats them by actually somehow being stronger than they are so, well, the Aesop is kind of broken.

Remember that physical strength is not necessarily the determinant here. Monetary wealth, political power, and just about any form of bullying can take the place of this.

Truth in Television for the vast majority of human history, including today. Fortunately for those of us living in Real Life, people who espouse this philosophy are not always explicitly evil; in fact, the whole idea of Knights In Shining Armor, True Warriors and \”Comes Great Responsibility\” is to espouse and encourage the virtuous use of power….[snip]…It’s also the least constructive of just about any of humanity’s problem-solving tools, which is why people are generally encouraged to settle conflicts with something other than their fists….

…When someone claims that XYZ is a “right”, they are saying that we have made an error in our prioritization, that the thing being claimed  really deserves/ought to be acknowledged as a higher priority than it is – for instance, a black man’s right to do XYZ should be viewed as equally important to a white man’s right to do XYZ, because it is illogical to prioritize a white man’s freedom to keep a black man from doing XYZ. There’s no reason why the white man and the black man should not be equal under the law.

When someone says there is such a thing as the right to have sex without pregnancy, this is so nonsensical on its face (a right to engage in behaviors without experiencing the consequences is obviously not possible) that we know they are saying something else – in this case, that they have a right to do whatever it takes to avoid or end unwanted pregnancy, because sex is a “right” and not getting pregnant is a “right”.

Since nobody is disputing anyone’s right to access birth control, this must mean the abortion debate. But if that’s the case, the argument is either unnecessary or just plain wrong.

The reality of the abortion debate is that either the fetus is entitled to equality under the law or it is not. If the child is entitled to equality under the law, then the right to life must be prioritized over any right – real or fictitious – to not suffer the consequences of one’s own freely chosen actions.

Of course, if the child is not entitled to equality under the law, then the argument is irrelevant: you don’t need to explain or justify killing the fetus, because it has no rights.

Either way, the question of whether that fetus has rights or not can only logically be based on whether the child has rights. Under existing law, the child has no rights. This law is threatened by growing evidence suggesting that there really is no significant difference between a baby inside the womb and a baby outside the womb – thus it is arbitrary and unfair to deprive the child of equality before the law. If this viewpoint prevails, then arguing for some right to have sex without pregnancy is not going to ‘save’ the right to abortion, because even if we granted that there is such a right, it is not a more compelling, more fundamental, more urgent, or more just plain important priority than the right to life.

Rights are hierarchical

Notice my claim that “the right to life must be prioritized over…”

Rights are inherently hierarchical. If the right to not have an interruption in your postal service were equal to the right to life, we would not be able to answer the question of whether postal carriers ought to attempt delivery during life-threatening weather conditions (blizzards and so on).

The right to life is more important than the right to freedom

The right to freedom is more important than the right to not experience the consequences of the choices made in freedom

With rights come responsibilities.
There is and can be no right to have a right without the associated costs, obligations, or consequences.

…a lot of the underlying opposition to contraception comes from a worldview about sex, which says that it’s only for procreative purposes or primarily for procreative purposes….

…If you don’t have the security of your own body and ability to decide for yourself whether and when you’re going to be a parent you really don’t have the ability to determine anything else about your future.

If you don’t have the security of your own body – that is, the knowledge that you’re not going to be killed because someone else finds you inconvenient – you really don’t have a future.

Because it turns out that it’s biology, not man, that decreed sex = procreative.

Addendum: The Right To Be Normal

I have some personal experience that I should probably add (if only for the sake of honesty – “conflict of interest”, you might say). I have experienced firsthand the part about being the one everyone must pretend to be okay with, even when they’re not.

The problem is that it requires the constant application of force.

When the force is not available anymore, it’s like a pressure cooker blowing up.

This contradicts what most people think happened during the supposedly-analogous civil rights movement. We like to try to make heroes out of the men and women who “made” everyone to be nice to black people (which man is really responsible for the Civil Rights Act legislation?) while underestimating the real change-makers. Like Sidney Poitier:

This is how you fight for change – not with enforced lies and suppressed dissent, but with cultural dialog. (It only works if both sides of any given debate are free to express themselves openly, and without fear.)

It is a myth to argue that interracial marriage bans collapsed because of coercion. Those laws collapsed because there was never any logic to them anyway. Nobody ever seriously held “genetic purity” as an important value – least of all the bigots, the grandsons of slaveholders who notoriously had no qualms about mixing their own genes with black genes.

There was never a good reason for interracial marriage bans, but what’s more important is this: nobody ever sincerely believed there were good reasons for interracial marriage bans. (At least not that they were willing to admit to openly.)

Bigots used thinly veiled arguments to hide the reality that their real motive involved not wanting blacks to be equal. It is not therefore true that every other dispute over marriage is going to involve the same  motives. That wouldn’t be a fair assumption to make under any circumstances (it’s an ad hominem – a logical fallacy), but it’s especially unfair when one looks at the genuine point of dispute: gay marriage really does involve trade-offs. It is not like interracial marriage. It is actually more like a disability claim than a racial one.

I just thought of another example of this problem – in this case, I was the perpetrator rather than the victim. There was a little girl with some really disgusting, creepy disease. Her skin was coming off in chunks, and she smelled. The grownups made us play with her. I didn’t want to. I wish I had done everything I was told, because later this girl died, and I would feel so much better today if I’d been the friend she so desperately wanted. But I didn’t, and I wasn’t. I played with her, but she knew. At least, I think – I fear – she did. (I’ll never really know.)

Nobody thought to even bother trying persuasion. Just force. The girl needed someone to play with, and therefore she shall have playmates.

To this day, I wonder how much of the motivation in that incident involved genuine concern for that poor lonely girl, and how much involved appearance (can’t have the visual of a lonely child on the edge of a playground, can we?) or even using that child to teach the rest of us right from wrong – that is, how we ought to be thinking and what we ought to value. If the goal had genuinely been about the girl, was the way they went about it really a good way?

The Right To Be Normal

In Gay marriage and the right to be ordinary, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick writes of a “right” to be accepted, taken for ordinary – whatever that means:

I had an uncle whose second or third wife nobody in my family liked. I don’t really know why, and I didn’t have an opinion of my own. Yet no one uttered a contrary word in their presence.

His example sounds to me like a family that would be healthier and better off today if they’d taken the time and trouble to identify why nobody liked that woman. Surely living as part of – but not really part of – a family where nobody likes you is Hell. Families are supposed to be the most intimate unit we’ve got. When everyone tolerates you – without ever discussing the real objection – what’s the difference between a family gathering and Hell on earth?

You can’t make a bad situation be normal by simply forcing everyone to pretend nothing is wrong. It only makes the situation worse when you do that. It adds a layer of dysfunction.

This becomes way more difficult when we are talking about enshrining the right to be accepted as a legal right. The only way we can grant a “right” to be universally liked is if we take away the right to hold opinions or religious beliefs contrary to the …

…. to the what?

Just who gets to decide what opinions and beliefs shall be universally shared?

I mean, it’s a value judgment – not a demonstrable fact – that says the secularist or humanist beliefs that the gay rights argument are based on are superior to the beliefs of Catholicism and evangelical Christianity, orthodox Judaism, traditional Hindu, Islam, and the Dalai Lama’s version of Buddhism.

(Hence the phrase “intellectual imperialism” – the idea that because you’re sure you’re superior, it gives you the right to force your worldview on those whom you view as more primitive than yourself…)

Unlike the civil rights arguments, the debate here involves unanswerable questions, such as whether and how far human beings can be expected to submit to the social units they belong to and how such social units ought to be ordered (for example, replacing kinship with a new vision of choice as the primary determinant of what does or does not make a “family”).

And it’s.zero-sum. There’s no way that both gay people and religious people can enjoy the same right to be “accepted” or even “tolerated”. It’s gotta be one or the other. If gays have the right to be approved of without having to change who they are, then by definition people who hold conflicting beliefs about marriage do not.

My opinion: just because it’s a humanist telling us what to believe doesn’t make it any better than a Catholic telling us what to believe.

Real acceptance must come from consensus, not coercion.