Wednesday, September 17, 2014

These Sorts Of Conversatons Are Fine Until Someone Disagrees With You

Over on the blog where a fellow has decided I'm the worst person in the world, my condemner has been flirting with a discussion of Islam and ISIS because one of the cartoonists who frequents that site indicated on his Facebook page (sorry, no link, I don't do Facebook), that Islam is not a religion of peace.

Political discussions are against the site's rules, but my accuser apparently really wants to have the discussion. He says: "Listen, as Laura said, if it even qualifies as political (which I don’t think it does, since we are not talking about political policy here but rather one person’s perception of other people for reasons which I, personally, think are stupid–and calling comic strip creators stupid for stuff they’ve said on the internet is absolutely not against the rules here, considering we do it to guys like Batiuk and McEldowney all the time) it’s still far, far from the most politically-charged issue that’s been discussed here. It isn’t even the first time ISIS has been brought up. World events do not necessarily equal politics."

I think we can all infer, based on my accuser's past statements, that if I did participate and mount a formidable defense of the cartoonist's statement, which would be easy, it would immediately, in his opinion, cease to be a worthwhile conversation.

In any case, the violent nature of Islam has to be one of the top five most loaded political topics on the planet right now, so I'm going to do all the other readers a favor and not participate there.

My accuser is the kind of person who can watch the literal daily reports of Muslim atrocities over decades; see that every Muslim-dominated nation on earth is one that denies basic rights and freedoms -- even the best of them (Malaysia) are incredibly restrictive of religious freedom, but most are violent, misogynist hellholes; read Islam's scriptural exhortations to military domination, subjugation and murder of non-believers; see its blessings on violence against women and children by mainstream Islamic clerics and governments, and still say "Islam is a religion of peace, and, oh, Crusades, and some crazy Christians bombed abortion clinics back in the day, so Christianity is just as bad." It's like comparing a lone gnat on your apple to a plague of locusts.

But, religion of peace aside, what really annoys me is that I know the guy would just go nuts if I said what I think on the site, and I, the horrible, bad person, am the one who has to be the adult and not take his bait, for the sake of the innocent readers of the site.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Abolition Of The First Amendment, Redux

A few months ago, I made a short post, "Democrats Propose Amendment To Gut Free Speech."

Since almost nobody actually reads this blog, it was a rather monumental occurrence for someone to actually comment. The comment, was, sadly, the sloganeering soundbite "Uh huh; over in the real world, money is not free speech."

This is so disappointing. Not only because it's obviously false, but because the poster (who I have encountered elsewhere) clearly considers himself an intelligent, enlightened, right-thinking liberal.

Once upon a time, free speech was a liberal no-brainer. You were for it:

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." -- Justice Louis D. Brandeis.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" -- Evelyn Beatrice Hall, The Friends of Voltaire
But this silly "money is not speech" meme seems to have substituted for actual thought in an alarmingly large segment of the portion of the population that considers itself liberal.

I noticed today that noted right-wing hate group, the ACLU, agrees with me.

The ACLU drafted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee strongly opposing the Udall Amendment, for all the reasons that are absurdly obvious to anyone who has read the amendment and given it the slightest thought.

Of course money is speech. It takes money to reach people with your speech. The bill would allow complete regulation not only of campaign contributions, but of all funds spent in support of or opposition to candidates.

The ACLU letter goes into great detail. I encourage you to follow the link.

The grant of power to infringe speech is draconian and vast. The ACLU lists some obvious examples:

To give just a few hypotheticals of what would be possible in a world where the Udall proposal is the 28th Amendment:
  • Congress would be allowed to restrict the publication of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming memoir “Hard Choices” were she to run for office;
  • Congress could criminalize a blog on the Huffington Post by Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, that accuses Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) of being a “climate change denier”;
  • Congress could regulate this website by reform group Public Citizen, which urges voters to contact their members of Congress in support of a constitutional amendment addressing Citizens United and the recent McCutcheon case, under the theory that it is, in effect, a sham issue communication in favor of the Democratic Party; 
  • A state election agency, run by a corrupt patronage appointee, could use state law to limit speech by anti-corruption groups supporting reform; 
  • A local sheriff running for reelection and facing vociferous public criticism for draconian immigration policies and prisoner abuse could use state campaign finance laws to harass and prosecute his own detractors; 
  • A district attorney running for reelection could selectively prosecute political opponents using state campaign finance restrictions; and
  • Congress could pass a law regulating this letter for noting that all 41 sponsors of this amendment, which the ACLU opposes, are Democrats (or independents who caucus with Democrats).
Such examples are not only plausible, they are endless.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Survival Manual

Today I draw your attention to Richard Fernandez, Belmont Club at PJ Media, The First Horseman

From the article:

We often forget that the sacred texts of mankind began as practical documents.  They were checklists. And we may well rediscover this fact before the end. One can imagine the last two postmoderns crawling towards each other in the ruins of a once great city to die, and while waiting to expire engage in conversation to pass the time.
“Waldo,” the first said, “do you remember that tablet displayed in front of the Texas Statehouse. You know, back when there was a Texas?”
“Yeah, didn’t it have a whole bunch of stuff scrawled on it? Tell me again what it said,” replied the other.
“Waldo, it said, ‘thou shalt not kill.’ And ‘thou shalt not lie’.”
“Anything else?”
“Yes it also said, ‘thou shalt not steal’. Plus somewhere in the middle said, ‘thou shalt not have sex with people you weren’t married to.’”
“Yeah, I remember it now,” the second post-modern said. “What a bunch of hooey. It’s a right wing, nutjob, racist document called the Ten Commandments.  It’s a religious document.”
“No Waldo,” the first replied. “That’s where you’re wrong. It ain’t no religious document. I just figured out it was a survival manual.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Parking Lot

Hamas strikes at Israeli Nuclear Reactor

"Now what might a “reasonable” response look like?"

It would look like a parking lot where Gaza used to be.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gay Marriage And The Nature Of Rights

 My reponse to this article at Reason: The Texas GOP Stands on a Platform of Ignorance

The sleight-of-hand in the gay marriage debate is the nature of the "rights" in question. The Bill of Rights is predominantly a charter of negative rights. All the rights enumerated in the bill of rights are of this nature: the government protects the right in question by simply not doing stuff to you.

There are no positive rights listed. Positive rights are "rights" where others are required to grant you something. They are popular in modern progressive Constitutions and U.N. charters: the "right" to health care (implies that someone has an obligation to provide you with health care whether they want to or not); the "right" to housing (implies that someone has the obligation to fork up the expense of housing you, whether they want to or not).

Libertarians are usually opposed to positive rights, because they require compelling the labor of others in order to provide you the "right."

Homosexuals already have the negative right of gay marriage. Just say "we're married." Nobody's stopping you.

The problem is that in the U.S., being married comes with a whole lot of "gimmes" that the government is obligated to provide: tax status, social security benefits, inheritance benefits, health care benefits, property rights.

All these are, if anything, positive rights, and can not be construed as the type of negative rights included among enumerated and unenumerated rights in the Bill of Rights.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Boy Scouts Rescue Ann Curry

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/boy-scouts-rescue-ann-curry-after-tv-journalist-is-hurt-on-hiking-trail-211601184.html

“I feel enormously lucky you came along at just the right moment, and were so willing to help a stranger in need,” Curry wrote. “You are a credit to the Boy Scouts and to your families, and I want you to know I am deeply grateful for your kindness and skill.” -- Ann Curry

These young men are the product of an institution that has been hounded by progressive activists and media for decades.

I think you can tell the worth of an institution by its fruits. By that measure, would you rather have the Boy Scouts or gay bath houses?