October 2016 Archives
October 3, 2016
"The only people I meant to insult viciously were the ones who disagree with me"
One of the several (non-Christian) philosophers recently posting vile insult towards moral traditionalists on social media in the wake of the flap about Prof. Swinburne's paper was one Rebecca Kukla, a philosopher at a university "in the Jesuit tradition"--namely, Georgetown. She's a specialist in ethics.
Because I try to keep my posts as family-friendly as possible, I won't repeat her words, but you can find them in Ed Feser's post on this subject (gotta love his picture of the bust of Socrates with its caption).
In response to Kukla's highly unprofessional behavior on social media, a conservative blog site loosely affiliated with Georgetown put up this post (language warning--this post keeps repeating Kukla's language). It includes speculations about how Georgetown would respond if Kukla's political inclinations were the opposite of what they are and if she were directing her despicable ire toward a different group with which the administration sympathizes.
October 6, 2016
What is a Christian leader thinking?
Here's a rather odd development in the SCP/Swinburne flap. Readers will recall from my previous posts the insanely nasty comment by non-Christian philosopher Rebecca Kukla and her defiant self-defense.
Kukla has since taken that self-defense non-public, but it was public for several days (I read it myself) and garnered many "likes" and expressions of solidarity with her. While it was public, Rod Dreher copied it, and I'll be quoting it below.
Suffice it to say that, though Kukla wasn't viciously cussing out everybody who disagreed with her right in that status update, she was proudly defending herself for having done so, and the only nice things she had to say were about all her "supporters" at Georgetown and about others who have tried to appease her side of the political spectrum. She also complained about the so-called "attack" on her by the Georgetown conservative blogger. The only thing in that post that could remotely be called an "attack" was putting a link to her e-mail along with links to about a gazillion other people's e-mails, tacitly suggesting that readers contact her, which could have (and in this day and age probably did) result in her getting abusive e-mails. I raised a demurral about that in my own post on the subject. But the actual content of the Georgetown Academy post was accurate and non-abusive and raised entirely legitimate concerns about her outrageous behavior and her future relationship to conservative students at Georgetown.
October 7, 2016
Timo Miller and Philip Zodhiates update
We have news:
Timo Miller was "deported" from Nicaragua (which I'm sure he, in a sense, didn't mind, having been arrested there and kept in a foul prison for several weeks) and "arrested" when he arrived on U.S. soil. In other words, an extradition by another name. The Department of Justice states that he "is due to appear in the Western District of New York at a later date." At least in the U.S. he can't be held indefinitely without trial.
It's a horribly depressing thought that we have come to such a pass in the United States that this is good news. It's good news that a kindly, gentle, harmless Mennonite missionary has been arrested and is going to be tried and (in all probability) sent to federal prison merely for helping a woman who fled to Nicaragua to save her child from being given over to her former lesbian lover. All of his "crimes" were committed on Nicaraguan soil (you know, giving Lisa and Isabella a place to stay and introducing them to the Mennonite community), but apparently the U.S. Congress asserts jurisdiction over such acts committed abroad by U.S. citizens in so-called "international kidnapping" cases. It is a grave injustice that this is a crime at all. Yet I admit to being relieved (as I'm sure his family is) that he is not being held indefinitely without trial in Nicaragua, as seemed a real possibility at one time.
This reminds me of something once said over lunch to me and some others by someone who had lived as a child under Communism in Poland. He said something like this (paraphrased): "We had due process in Poland at that time. There were many crimes that shouldn't have been crimes, but they still had to get evidence to convict you of them."
That's pretty much where we're getting to in the U.S. now.
October 8, 2016
In addition to the excellent points Lydia made about the flap over philosopher Richard Swinburne's talk at an SCP conference and Michael Rea's “apology” afterwards, our good friend Professor Feser made some pretty significant observations in his comments, here. Some of the most interesting were quotes from gays from the late 1980's, which I am going to reproduce here because they deserve a wider audience. Actually, they should be shouted from the rooftops.
To pretend (as some Christian philosophers I know do) that this sort of thing is essentially just a regrettable but understandable overreaction on the part of wounded souls who have had some bad experiences with obnoxious religious people is naiveté. It is often rather a calculated political tactic aimed at making public dissent from liberal conventional wisdom on sexuality practically difficult or impossible. Some activists admit this. For example, in their 1989 book After the Ball, Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen called for a long-term propaganda campaign to change attitudes about homosexuality by shaming, social ostracization, and other tactics deliberately aimed at manipulating emotions rather than appealing to reason. They write:
The trick is to get the bigot into the position of feeling a conflicting twinge of shame… This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, all making use of repeated exposure to pictorial images or verbal statements that are incompatible with his self-image as a well-liked person, one who fits in with the rest of the crowd. Thus, propagandistic advertisement can depict homophobic and homohating bigots as crude loudmouths and assholes… who are 'not Christian.' It can show them being criticized, hated, shunned… It can, in short, link homohating bigotry with all sorts of attributes the bigot would be ashamed to possess, and with social consequences he would find unpleasant and scary…
October 9, 2016
This will be short. I plan to write more later on the despicable defenses of Trump's behavior. But for right now let me just say that the defense that "all men talk that way" comes straight from the pit of hell.
It normalizes evil and the degradation of women and of sex. If you are a non-Christian man with relatively mediocre standards of discourse and behavior, I point you to the pithy comment of Iowahawk. If you have a higher standard of behavior and discourse, either because you are a Christian or belong to some other religion that doesn't normalize such things or because you are a noble pagan, then you will be even more disgusted, and not only because of the assault aspect.
And in both cases, you should be outraged at the shrugging claim that everybody talks like this.
In the olden days, when one man insulted another's honor or integrity, the second man challenged him to a duel. Therefore, I suggest a metaphorical challenge in response to this gross insult to all decent men. You can throw down this challenge by posting
on Facebook or Twitter.
If you want something self-explanatory, post
Yes, you should do this even if you are (hopefully reluctantly) voting for that particular lizard.
Because real men don't Trump talk. Whoever you are, whomever you are voting for, resist the corruption that this candidacy is producing in our concept of manhood.
October 12, 2016
Is Jahi McMath breathing on her own?
This is interesting news:
You may remember Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead almost three years ago now. Three years. I've written about her case here, here, and here. Her family was able to keep her on life support, her body has not deteriorated or decayed, and her heart has continued to beat. If your brain stem really is completely dead, this is highly unlikely. Her family says that she has even gone through puberty during this time.
They are suing the hospital where her original surgery was, and a court has ruled that they can bring evidence that she is alive (despite the fact that a death certificate was issued), as this makes a big difference to how much the original hospital can be sued for in malpractice.
Now the family has put up a video purporting to show that she is beginning to breathe on her own. The video shows a breathing monitor with numbers that counts her breaths per minute and purportedly shows her getting up to sixteen self-generated breaths in a minute, while her mother cheers her on. If true, this absolutely refutes any claim of whole-brain death. Without an operating brain stem, this is not possible. It now remains for the family to show this to "outsiders," because it isn't going to be deemed relevant in a court if the only people who claim to have seen it are already family members and friends of the family. If it's happening, they need to bring in some sort of agreed-upon witness to testify to it.
October 16, 2016
NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE AWARDED TO AMERICAN JUDEO-CHRISTIAN
Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Not everyone is happy about it. For some it remains an absurdity to present his art as an example of excellence. For others, while the excellence is undeniable, its categorization as literature remains problematic. These questions are not my chief concern here.
I confess that don’t know a great deal about the details of the Nobel Laureates in Literature. I also confess that this want of knowledge doesn’t much bother me. If one were to build a list of greatness in literature for all time, how many of these particular writers, dating back to 1901, would even merit consideration?
Put another way, when I look over the Nobel Laureate list, I feel somewhat in the kind predicament that Bilbo, delivering his farewell speech in Hobbiton, dealt with by means of this obscurity: “I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
Now, I do know this for a solid fact. Nobel Committee has, more than a few times, well and truly beclowned itself with this Award. A clear illustration: It would appear upon even cursory glance, that more tiresome and superstitious propounders of socialism have earned the Award, than brave dissenters seeking to break free and expose socialist tyranny.
In light of that knowledge, I can say emphatically that the Nobel Committee did not, this time at least, beclown itself by bestowing its Award on another tiresome and superstitious socialist. That a large mass of Bob Dylan fans, especially of the academic sort, would like folks to think the Committee has done this . . . well, let’s just say that speaks to the level of tiresome, superstitious socialism still dominant among American elites.
But Bob Dylan is not a socialist. (If he ever was one, he obligingly shook off that superstition well before I was born, and I’m almost 40 years old — just to illustrate how behind the times these aging fellow travelers are.) Scouring for suitable descriptors of the political variety, I’d go with patriot and traditionalist; though I would make haste to add that political descriptions are ill-fitting on this troubadour.
Bob Dylan is surely still a Christian as well. Every time he’s in the news I run into a common phrase along the lines of “but Dylan eventually renounced organized religion.”
No, he didn’t. I have searched for the source of this pernicious platitude more than once; and have concluded that its origin can only lie in the imagination of certain interested journalists. Call it the elegy of discomfited secularists.
So it is only natural that the odious utterance creeps into quite a number of the write-ups of Dylan the Nobel Laureate. Again, take it from me, in the bluntest terms I can muster without breaking our “no profanity” rule: It just ain’t so.
October 22, 2016
Bad Voting Ideas
I am not offering advice (directly) on who to vote for, or whether to vote. Rather, I am offering comments on various bad ideas to avoid in formulating your choice of whether to vote and who to vote for. As a public service, I offer these critiques of stupid, false, or pernicious errors about voting. The first is stupid, others may be merely wrong, YMMV. This list is not exhaustive – there can be others that should be mentioned. So mention them, OK?
1. A vote for X (insert one of: Castle, Johnson, Mickey Mouse, other) is a vote for Hillary.
No. Direct proof: A vote for Castle is a vote for Castle. Castle is not Hillary. So a vote for Castle is not a vote for Hillary. End of story. The logic really is as simple as it looks. It’s the silly-clevers who want to distort it.
Reductio Proof: Assume the logic of the premise “a vote for X is a vote for Y” is valid.
Person A thinks that Castle is the best candidate, while his friend B thinks Trump is. Person B points out to A “a vote for Castle is a vote for Hillary.”
Person A thinks that Castle is the best candidate, while his friend C thinks Hillary is. Person C points out to A “a vote for Castle is a vote for Trump.”
Consequently, if A votes for Castle it is both a vote for Trump and a vote for Hillary. Which is absurd. Therefore, the premise is invalid. QED
October 25, 2016
Attacks on life and medical conscience and the importance of the states
The bad guys are always up to more badness in the world of bioethics. Several weeks ago Wesley J. Smith highlighted some of the worst points in a "consensus statement" by a group of bioethicists. The topic was forcing doctors to participate in abortions and euthanasia. (I say "the topic," though neither of these is named in the statement. However, the statement is filed on the blog under "abortion," and in the social context this is clearly what the participants have in mind. The comments are somewhat interesting. One commentator points out that the much-maligned "reparative therapy" would have fallen within the ambit of the "services" that doctors can be punished for not referring for or providing, right up until the time that it was disavowed by the medical profession.) The statement was published by Oxford University and is available en toto here. It represented conclusions drawn by participants in a bioethics conference in Geneva in June of this year.
In the event of a conflict between practitioners’ conscience and a patient’s desire for a legal, professionally sanctioned medical service, healthcare practitioners should always ensure that patients receive timely medical care.
The assumption is that any "legal, professionally sanctioned medical service" is a form of necessary "medical care" that the patient must receive.
October 29, 2016
This is why we can't have nice things
Occasionally liberals (or other people who are clueless about economics) will say that we should just "make such-and-such free." They will even imply that, if it weren't for the "profit motive" (which is seen as per se a bad thing, a manifestation of greed), all sorts of things could just "be free."
Patiently, the free market advocate will attempt to explain that nothing is free. If you "make" some particular medication "free," that just means that the cost of researching it, developing it, manufacturing it, prescribing it properly, shipping it, etc., are spread around somewhere else--to people paying higher insurance premiums, for example.
Just occasionally, though, someone will actually try their best to "make something free." This might take the form of volunteers who give their time and money to hand out food to the homeless. Or it might take the form of a university that, having developed on-line courses and having a lot of bandwidth, tells the public at large that they may avail themselves of the on-line material of the courses.