14 Responses to Cult of Personality? What Cult of Personality?

  • Yep, my comfort level with homeschooling goes up a little more every week.

    Here’s the Burlington schools superintendent’s response, which offers no apology whatsoever:

    Dear Burlington Township Families:

    Today we became aware of a video that was placed on the internet which has been reported in the media. The video is of a class of students singing a song about President Obama. The activity took place during Black History Month in 2009, which is recognized each February to honor the contributions of African Americans to our country. Our curriculum studies, honors and recognizes those who serve our country. The recording and distribution of the class activity were unauthorized.

    If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or Dr. King, Principal of B. Bernice Young School, directly.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Christopher M. Manno,
    Superintendent of Schools

    http://www.burltwpsch.org/?pageID=00013&docset=super&docid=200910011

  • Lyrics that would otherwise never be allowed at this school suddenly become acceptable, just so long as you substitute the name “Barrack Hussein Obama” for “Jesus”:

    “Red or yellow, black or white, all are [equal] in his [or is it His?] sight.”

    Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

    And to think that last year many of us were criticized (quite harshly in some quarters) for poking fun at the messianic overtones in much of the adulation towards Obama.

  • There is just about no chance I will ever send any of my children to a public school. That was the case before this, and this just re-affirms my opinion.

  • Why don’t we scrap the lame lyrics and poor tone and just chant:

    Duce! Duce! or Fuerher! Fuerher!

    This is just sick.

    But you’d better be nice to these kids, they will be watching you as you type, set your thermostat, fire a gun, hunt, drive a car, pray, etc. etc.

    Big Brother needs eyes everywhere and cameras can only do so much.

  • Good Lord.

    Have mercy on us, Jesus Christ, for we are a nation of frighteningly servile utter nitwits, singing praises to tubes of toothpaste and empty-suited politicians with gushing enthusiasm, while neglecting your altar, denying your Father, and rejecting your Spirit.

  • Except that these are just children, Knight and Excelsior, who were taught to parrot this nonsense by someone presented to them as a trustworthy adult. They may have vague notions of who “Barack Hussein Obama” is and what a “president” is, but it’s doubtful any of them really understood what they were chanting.

    The kids don’t worry me nearly as much as the adults who took advantage of their innocence in this exploitative indoctrination attempt.

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  • cminor,

    It isn’t the kid in and of themselves that frighten me. It is what is being done to them and what that may make them do.

    What is taught in today’s clasroom is tomorrow’s policy.

  • I love the part were they do the little “sieg heil”, “sieg heil”, “sieg heil”, with the nazi salute. It looks a lot like this:

    http://www.authordon.com/images/site_graphics/hilter_youth_mind_contol.jpg

    or this:

    http://www.authordon.com/images/site_graphics/YouthColor.jpg

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  • Can I ask an rather obvious question? Is this a one-off activity? Or is there a clear and consistent pattern? Where is the actual evidence besides these seemingly isolated youtube videos?

    It seems unless there is a clear established pattern of consistent activities like this within all schools that we are over-interpreting things. To claim this is the establishment of a “cult of personality” is to severely trivialize what a cult of personality actually is and what it actually looks like (sorry, the “cult” around Obama is nowhere even remotely close in scope to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Hussein, Jong-Il, etc.)

    It could just be a poorly conceived activity. Lord knows I had to go through a few of them in my schooling…

  • John,

    if you see 5 or 10 roaches in your kitchen, do you assume they are isolated roaches? The fact is that there are obviously far more incidents which have not been videoed at all, and many that never found their way to Youtube.

    Nobody is claiming that the cult of personality is currently at the level you mention, but those cults I’m sure started more isolated and progressed. That’s what we’re trying to stop.

  • @ Matt- are you comparing the public education system to a roach infestation? So is your solution is to fire all the teachers (cockroaches), seeing as the teacher (cockroach) who led the activity is supposedly a harbinger of all the other teachers (cockroaches) also leading similar activities? Maybe we need another analogy…

    Is it obvious? I’m not so sure it is. Is it a “fact?” A fact is something “known to exist/have existed.” Apparently we have a few videos that prove one thing- these classes sang songs about Obama. Are they tasteless? Yes. Are they totally out of place in an elementary school classroom? ABSOLUTELY. Are they evidence of a state-sponsored attempt to hijack the brains of today’s children? Not sure about that…

    Unless I see clear evidence 1) that students participate in repeated activities (aka, more than one) of this sort and 2) of a centralized mandate coming from Obama or Arnie Duncan or whoever that schools must comply with regarding COP activities, I will chalk this up to highly localized decisions on the part of individual teachers to be dealt with on a local level. How are we so sure that these activities aren’t simply the products of poor lesson planning? Why pick a conspiracy of nefarious intent over simple incompetence?

    It is also amazing that for conservatives (the ones typically leading the accusations of a COP) that government is so incompetent on EVERYTHING, but Obama can somehow successfully implement an initiative to program the youth in a little over 8 months of his term in Office. Why the sudden assumption of competence?

    While the activities are poorly conceived, let’s not go crazy about it. I am actually pretty critical of Obama, but I really feel this COP stuff is overstating the available evidence.

Prime Directive Debate

Thursday, September 24, AD 2009

“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”

Yesterday Darwin had a thought provoking post about the impact of technologically advanced cultures on less developed cultures.  In the combox discussion there were frequent references to the Prime Directive of Star Trek.  This of course gives me an excellent excuse for posting this examination of the Prime Directive and for me to burnish my credentials as the “Geekier-Than-Thou” member of this blog.

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38 Responses to Prime Directive Debate

  • Cogent analysis.

    I enjoyed the mental excercise and I must admit that you are more of a geek than I am becuase I didn’t know there was this depth of knowledge about the Prime Directive. I also cannot speak Klyngon, but I am trying to learn Latin (EL).

    I think we could use something like the Prime Directive for the American Empire. Non-intervention is a great policy – but, as you stated, NOT everytime.

    Our first obligation, our Supreme Prime Directive, if you will is to obey God. Not to play God, but to do His will and that requires that we use the gifts, whatever they be, spiritual or temporal, for His greater honor and glory. Naturally, we suck at it, which is why non-intervention would be best in most situations, like trying to impose Democracy at the barrel of a gun (not that I am against the war in Iraq per se, just its stated goal and the execution).

    Conversly, even though American interests had a hand in the rise of Nazi Germany, would it have been ethical for us to NOT intervene in WWII to stop the spread of fascism and national socialism? Of course, that doesn’t excuse our cooperation with Soviet and Chinese Communism. We stopped Hitler and that was noble but handing half of Europe over to Stalin and China to Mao is not excusable.

    I think we need to keep in mind that the Supreme Prime Directive is a commandment, the first one, all other directives come from that.

  • Oh, the Prime Directive is not only a non-starter for Catholics, it’s pretty much impossible to square with any sane/serious ethical tradition, religious or not.

    In fact, about the only “philosophy” it comes close to jibing with is objectivism, and even Ayn Rand probably would have at least *sold* the vaccine to the dying species in “Dear Doctor.”

    I suspect the PD was the result of something approximating a late-night undergrad bull session amongst the scriptwriters.

  • I suspect the PD was the result of something approximating a late-night undergrad bull session amongst the scriptwriters.

    More likely it was just a convenient plot device. Lots of ST:TOS episodes would have been over in five minutes if Kirk et al had been able to reveal who they were and use the full extent of their technology. You’ll notice that whenever following Directive Prime would hinder advancing the plot, it is promptly abandoned or ignored.

  • Dale’s right, how is it possible to obey the prime directive of Jesus Christ and this prime directive at the same time:

    Matthew 28:19-20
    19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

    That commandment necessitates a cultural and religious intervention with any society that is not converted to the True Faith.

    This not a coercive action, it is one of deep and abiding love for God and His creation.

  • Though it does seem to have a certain appeal for people suffering from a near crippling case of relativism of the youthful variety. Back in the golden age of science fiction (high school) I did have a few people insist to me in all seriousness that the prime directive was moral because it was _wrong_ to impose our ideas of what a good outcome was on other people who might have a different cultural context.

    I don’t think that kind of idealism holds up to any real serious thought or experience, but it does apparently have a certain appeal. Of course, for my part, I was always a Babylon 5 guy rather than a Star Trek guy…

  • Actually, there was an episode (Observer Effect) in the short-lived series, Star Trek: Enterprise, which presented what I believe to be a balanced perspective concerning what was ultimately to become the Prime Directive.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_Effect

    An alien species called the Organians refused to interfere with the dying crew of Enterprise which had contracted a deadly silicon-based virus since these aliens themselves adhered to such a directive.

    Captain Archer, who ultimately discovered their presence nearing the end of the episode, engaged in dialogue with the aliens, acknowledging the apparent soundness behind the reasoning for this Prime Directive they adhered to since when they, the crew of the Enterprise, had actually interfered with more primitive alien races, introducing advanced technology and what not, the results were often disasterous (perhaps that is why and how the Prime Directive itself came into being?*).

    However, he made an impassioned appeal to them, saying that adhering to such a directive in this case was not only foolish but also an act of bloody murder and that if becoming an advanced species meant being absent of compassion, he would rather remain primitive.

    * With regards to what Archer said concerning their experiences with primitive alien races and the harm that ultimately resulted when they interfered with these, this would seem to provide somewhat compelling evidence for why the Prime Directive came into existence, where Picard himself eloquently remarked in a past Next Generation episode:

    “The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy… and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.

    – Captain Picard (TNG: “Symbiosis”)

  • History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.

    That’s the theory. My question would be: what’s the evidence. I can think of plenty of examples where a less technologically advanced civilization has been harmed by contact with a more advanced civilization because the more advanced civilization used their superior technology to kill or enslave the less advanced people. Absent that, though, I can’t think of any cases where simply being given access to more advanced technology, medicine, etc. has been harmful. On the contrary, there are plenty of examples (such as, for example, in the wake of the Tsunami a few years back) where this has been very helpful.

  • The flaw with Picard’s logic is that he presumes to have perfect knowledge. It isn’t up to a Starfleet captain to know outcomes. We are not to have anxiety over how things will go, we are to only do our part as Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

    That is the Supreme Prime Directive. Suspecting that Picard is a descendant of ours then we have to assume a) he has knowledge of Christ or at least the Catholic Church is still alive and well in his time or, b) Rodenbury was even more sinister than we thought and interjected this athiestic, relativist Prime Directive in order to deny Christ.

    Either way, it doesn’t work. You CANNOT know that results will always be bad and perhaps a little bit of prudence will help you determine what technology to share and what to hold back all the while it is incumbent on you to improve the primitive species’ situation as pertains to basic needs and share positive cultural values with them and most importantly the Gospel.

    Say you get in your DeLorean and activite your flux capacitor and end up in Rome before Christ. Would it not be incumbent upon you to do all in your power to prevent children, especially girls, from being left to die on the hillside? I know what you’re thinking (y’all are really geeky)doing that you are going to skew the timeline and all manner of craziness can ensue. That’s a nice plot device, but if reverse time-travel were possible do you not think God allowed it? Wouldn’t it still be incumbent on you to OBEY His commandments and leave the outcome up to Him?

    Prime Directive may be a plot device, it may also be a tool of the devil to insert relativism into our culture through media entertainment. Evil has never had better marketing.

  • Blackadder:

    That’s the theory. My question would be: what’s the evidence.

    Did you even read my previous comment?

    I believe that was one of the things that that prequel, Star Trek: Enterprise, attempted to answer.

    Again, it would seem that Captain Archer’s previous interferences with primitive races by introducing advanced technology and what not, and the negative repercussions that ultimately came as the result, would seem to have provided the basis for why the Prime Directive ultimately came into being.

    This is why in that episode, Observer Effect, he couldn’t really fault the Organians for this Prime Directive that they seem to subscribe to due to his own set of experiences; however, he did fault them for the fact that in the particularly fatal circumstances facing his crew, if an advanced race were to act absent compassion, that race wouldn’t be so advanced after all since it lost that sense of compassion he felt integral even to an advanced culture.

  • So the man-made rules are absolute until they are no longer convenient to the rule makers.

    That makes sense.

  • e,

    Star Trek: Enterprise is a work of fiction. The fact that a character in a work of fiction says “history shows X” doesn’t mean that history actually shows X.

  • American Knight:

    Say that I am part of a complement that possesses advanced technology that happened to be nuclear-based.

    Suppose that I encountered a race on a planet that is exactly the kind of midiaeval earth.

    Their inhabitants are all dying of a deadly plague.

    Now, we possess a nuclear-based apparatus that would ultimately cure these peoples; however, the cure itself requires perennial treatments.

    So, tell me, if we were to provide such potentially deadly technology to this relatively primitive race; do you really believe that doing so would not result in harm?

    For one thing, the inhabitants themselves obviously wouldn’t possess a thorough understanding of the technology that we do.

    For another, all the negative episodes of our own people’s history (e.g., the devestating historical events we collectively endured due to misuse of this technology) where we as a people ultimately learned wisdom never to misuse this technology again, could not really be transferred to a comparatively primitive people such as the ones here.

    Why?

    Because absent of actual experience, like a curious and even errant child, no matter if one were to warn them, they’ll simply go off on their own and misuse the technology regardless not only due to an overwhelming sense of curiousity but also due to their comparatively adolescent mindset as a race where they do not know any better.

    What you’ll likely discover, in the end, is that if you were to revisit that primitive race years later after endowing them with such technology, you’ll find that they had eventually wiped themselves out because they had come to actually utilize that technology in order to gain power over other warring factions.

    Hence, there are delicate considerations in the matter that you are obviously neglecting.

  • Blackadder:

    Star Trek: Enterprise is a work of fiction. The fact that a character in a work of fiction says “history shows X”; doesn’t mean that history actually shows X.

    I was simply providing you the background on how the Prime Directive in the Star Trek Universe came into being because of Captain Archer’s own (mis-)adventures in the Star Trek Universe.

    How, in heaven’s name, did you actually come to think that we were discussing about something that resembled current/historical reality?

    Note:

    Captain Archer had these set of negative experiences in the maiden voyage of the original enterprise in the Star Trek universe as a result of his deliberately interfering with a primitive race; therefore, the Prime Directive came into being in the Star Trek universe

    /=

    Captain Archer had these set of negative experiences in the maiden voyage of the original enterprise in the Star Trek universe as a result of his deliberately interfering with a primitive race; therefore, the Prime Directive came into being in our universe.

  • How, in heaven’s name, did you actually come to think that we were discussing about something that resembled current/historical reality?

    Don’t play dumb and don’t treat me like I’m an idiot. You’ve been an active participant in this discussion and you know very well that it involves the application of PD to current or historical reality.

  • My original comments were strictly with regards to how the PD came into existence in the Star Trek Universe.

    Obviously, there is no Captain Archer, as far as I know, who is gallavanting in outer space in some space ship called Enterprise, deliberately interfering with primitive races.

    You’re better than that, Blackadder; don’t play the obtuse card.

    I have much higher regard for you.

  • Technology is just a tool.

    Our medieval ancestors were perhaps less technically proficient than we, but they were also, probably more moral, holy and pious.

    Man has NOT changed at all since he was created. We may have more knowledge of God’s universe, we certainly have been given more revelations but we are basically the same.

    The only moral advancement has been made becuase of Christ’s sacrifice and teaching and communion.

    So if we assume that Star Trek takes place in our future then the Church will still be there and man will essentially still be the same. Take that technology and bring it back to today and we would have the same dispositions for proper use or ill.

    This is much like the gun control debate. We need to control guns becuase guns are dangerous in the wrong hands. This false permise assumes that the wrong hands, presumably attached to wrong heads will obey gun control laws while they vilate ever other law and moral precept.

    If you give me a nuclear weapon, I am confident that I would NOT use it.

    A certain President of a certain country that used to be ruled by King Darius in ancient times — may be not so much.

    So the Pime Directive is nothing more than hubris, relativism and happy horse manure.

  • American Knight:

    You didn’t answer my question.

    Would you provide such a race with that kind of advanced technology or not?

  • There is not enough information to make that statement definitively. I would do whatever, to the best of my knowledge at the time, fulfils my baptismal promise of loving my neigbor our of love for God. If it saves lives I would do it. We all would have to.

  • Blackadder
    it seems that the Star Trek guys are always doing more of a “hand out hand grenades and bio-labs” type interference, instead of the “install a couple of solar powered water purifiers and a windmill powered well” type interference.

    Like I said on the prior topic– Fleeters are morons. They’ll choose to tweak a culture along Nazi lines because it’s organized.

    I can’t think of a single “turned out bad” interference that star fleet did where any random 20-something enlisted kid couldn’t have come up with a better plan that had fewer risks.

  • American Knight:

    Now you can see why Captain Archer himself remarked when confronted with a choice of bestowing advanced technology to a technologically inferior race in desperate need of it (remember: his time was way before the Prime Directive ever even came into being):

    “Some day, my People are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that says what we can and can’t do out here, should and shouldn’t do. But until someone tells me that they’ve drafted that… directive, I’m going to have to remind myself every day, that we didn’t come out here to play God.”

  • No e.,

    I don’t see it. I know your question was designed to get me in that trap, you may be an amateur attorney 🙂

    Archer’s well intentioned sentiment may very well have lead to the illogical (Vulcan pun intended) construct of the Prime Directive.

    The road to hell is paved with those kind of intentions.

    We are to keep His commandments becuase we love Him.

    The Prime Directive is a violation of His commandment so it is false no matter how well intentioned.

    We are not to know what will happen, we are only responsible for obeying God’s rules as we work. The Prime Directive is hubristic because in it Fleeters presume to know what is best. They don’t. Only God knows what is best.

  • Actually, even Captain Archer himself thought that such a draconian application of the principle (before, it was simply some prerogative the Vulcans handed to them, which he & his Enterprise crew personally disagreed with but eventually found it to be generally justified) was wrong, as evidenced in many episodes.

    That said, I don’t think Captain Archer himself, who could be considered the Forefather of the PD, would agree with the strictly literal interpretation (without noting the Spirit of the Law, as it were) that subsequent generations at Star Fleet gave to it.

    It reminds me of how later generations of Americans are doing same with respect to our Constitution, who more so than not cling to an absurd literal interpretation of it and, indeed, deliberately defy the very Spirit of that Law which our Forefathers actually intended.

  • The only law with spirit is the Law of the Spirit.

    The Consitution is man’s law and it has no point if it has spirit. Law is fixed until legitimately changed; otherwise what is the point?

    Rules that are not fixed may as well not be rules.

    We need to read the law in CONTEXT not in spirit. This is true for what used to be our Constitution and it is true for the PD. The difference is the Constitution conforms to God’s Law, the PD doesn NOT!

  • AK-
    I think he means “spirit of the law” in the not doing something technically legal but totally against the idea– ie, the law says no marrying girls under 18, so folks just enter common law marriage until they’re 18…..

  • OK.

    I suppose I’m just overy sensative these days becuase of the dictatorship of reletavism.

    This living breathing Constitution BS is getting really old.

    Laws are a gift. We are free becuase of the Law and man’s laws are to be written in light of the Spirit, which is Truth.

    The laws we are handed these days are anything by truth and have no regard for the Truth. It is disgusting and I fear that we will end up with a future like the socialistic brave new world of Star Trek, or no future at all. I prefer the future of Star Wars, a heroic battle to slay the Empire and restire the Old Republic.

  • We need to read the law in CONTEXT…

    The Spirit of the Law actually means that you have to keep in CONTEXT the very reason for the law.

    It would seem Foxfier has a much clearer understanding of this than you do.

    It is disgusting and I fear that we will end up with a future like the socialistic brave new world of Star Trek, or no future at all. I prefer the future of Star Wars, a heroic battle to slay the Empire and restire the Old Republic.

    Rest assured, Star Trek and Star Wars are all works of fiction.

    Besides, socialism (or, rather, a variant thereof) has long been in existence for quite some time now in America and, indeed, the socialist project is even being further extended currently to much greater degree by the present Administration.

  • e.,

    I conceded the point when Foxfier pointed it out. Did you really have to go and beat up on me for it?

    I think our language can be more poetic when we are all on the same page. As in standing on something solid, you know, like the truth. Sadly, we aren’t all (I am not referring to you or most people here, I am referring to America in general)on the same page.

    As you cogently pointed out we are already socialist and on our way to full-blown communism. I suppose I am just quick to the trigger because socialism isn’t only an economic system, a false one at that, but it is a cultural sickness that perverts men’s minds.

    Be wary, be very wary.

  • American Knight:

    I conceded the point when Foxfier pointed it out. Did you really have to go and beat up on me for it?

    Apologies, but that was not my intent; I was merely amused at the irony in that what you declared then (and coincidentally accused the Spirit of), was actually much aligned with what the Spirit of the Law meant. That’s all.

    I suppose I am just quick to the trigger because socialism isn’t only an economic system, a false one at that, but it is a cultural sickness that perverts men’s minds. Be wary, be very wary.

    Believe me, friend, whenever I witness even mere rhetoric resembling that of the Spectre haunting Europe employed likewise concerning America, I instantly become leery of exactly this kind of perversion that is indeed socialism.

  • Picture-perfect example of why I really dislike PC talk– stuff with a good, solid, serviceable and honest standard meaning gets twisted to the point where I can totally understand folks twitching from the phrase “spirit of the law.”

    Sounds a lot like the “penumbra of an emanation” we all now and ‘love’, eh?

    Shoot, even the word “choice” totally out of any birth-related context makes me twitch…. Charity is similarly abused….

    *sigh* How did I get on a serious note when what I *really* want is to find a good geek board to discuss who would provide a better Pope, the Cardassians or the Vulcans?

  • Pius XII Foxfier is a good example of a Vulcan pope. Julius II, Cardassian all the way.

  • *sigh* How did I get on a serious note when what I *really* want is to find a good geek board to discuss who would provide a better Pope, the Cardassians or the Vulcans?

    Neither… it would always be human.

    As even the prequel attempted to make clear, it was the human race that was ultimately destined to serve a greater purpose, which was ultimately gathering into One all foreign races into a unified whole, later known as the Federation.

    That same special destiny, I would imagine, could easily translate into the enduring fact that only a human could be a better Pope, due to this faculty unique to humans (at least, according to ST/Enterprise lore), which enables them the remarkable talent for engendering peaceful, diplomatic relations amongst disparate alien races.

  • Ambassador Soval: “We don’t know what to do about Humans. Of all the species we’ve made contact with, yours is the only one we can’t define. You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites. One moment you’re as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next you confound us by suddenly embracing logic!”

    Admiral Forrest: “I’m sure those qualities are found in every species.”

    Ambassador Soval: “Not in such confusing abundance.”

    Admiral Forrest: “Ambassador… are Vulcans afraid of Humans?”

    (Soval answers with a slight nod)

    Admiral Forrest: “Why?”

    Ambassador Soval: “Because, there is one species you remind us of.”

    Admiral Forrest: “Vulcans.”

    Ambassador Soval: “There are those on the High Command who wonder what Humans would achieve in the century to come, and they don’t like the answer.”

    Admiral Forrest: “We’re not the Klingons. We only want to be your partners, to do what the nations of Earth have learned to do: to work together in common cause.”

  • E.- I don’t generally accept Enterprise, since they felt the need to pull a “it was all a holodeck” thing at the end, but given that the humanoid species are inter-fertile and several of the half-breeds have been shown to be fertile themselves (for example, a crewman who’s got a Romulan grandfather) I’d have to consider them the same species…which is really a pain for the atheistic version, even with the “seeded DNA” ep in TNG.

    What a horribly irrational thing for a Vulcan to say! Sounds oddly racist, even….

  • I can think of several examples where trying to do the right this has backfired. Think of all of the developing countries particularly in Africa that we brought medicine and doctors too back in the 50’s and 60’s. As a result the infant mortality rate dropped significantly. Good thing right?

    Well maybe not. These cultures have spent millenia having 10 or more children each assuming that 80% of them will die before becoming adults. The high birthrate was needed to maintain their numbers.

    However, with modern medicine, the mortality rate dropped while the birthrate remained high. Populations skyrocketed, and the subsistence agriculture they had practiced for centuries no longer supported them. What followed was massive poverty and famine.

    This was a major problem beginning in the 1950’s and 60’s when Star Trek was created. It was also a problem that the majority of the population was not really away of. Few people back then realized the negative impact of providing food and medicine to people who need it, hence the writers developed the Prime Directive as a plot device to point out that even well intentioned actions can have disastrous consequences.

  • Also, there is a fairly good chance that the church wouldn’t play a significant role 350 years in the future. If current trends continue, there will be very few Christians in 2350AD. The only two religious groups that continue to grow are Islam and non believers.

    Of course this isn’t taking into account the prediction of Star Trek that there will be hundreds of other worlds in the Federation. I doubt any of them will have religions similar to those on earth.

  • The assumption that current trends will continue is generally a losing bet.
    (That statement is the only trend that I can think of where it’s a good bet it’ll continue….)

    Africa is not in trouble just because of their birth rate– systemic corruption that prevents long term improvement for short term personal advantage is a much bigger problem. (Very symbolically, there’s a tendency to sell the seeds for next year’s crop.)

  • 2/23/2010
    I sit down and typed in the words for Prime Directive For A Health Care Reform, and it was like wow, just look at all this stuff,
    God vs./ or and the Prime Directive, As a Star Trek fan for over 30 years, I wish to see in to this blog, but I am a little lost so let me show you the tomorrow,”So as these Government Officials get your vote and send you off to you room so that all can be fixed by their Artificial Intelligence, {because they have been stuck in that Matrix} and now all they can do is see us as variables in a equation as dollar numbers, they do try to see, but without that Mathematical A.I. They are so lost. This is the same with Health Care Insurance Companies, as A.I. shows the way for D.N.A testing and other inventive forms of how to calculate the dollar as a human input.
    It has been stated that because of diversity that Government Officials must intervine,For days I worked the word diversity in my mind and it came to me that because of this it is not Americas weakness it is our greatest strength. And this is how I will show you.
    Constitution-
    Bill Of Rights –
    The Declaration of Independence-
    United under one forum, builds what is called the Trinity of the Protection Of Laws. This is because these Laws were built by people of faith who gave thanks to God for this wisdom. One would have to see and admire the simplicity of the three as one and at the same time they maintain their independence.”
    But I do offer my congratulations again to the Administration and theses Law Makers In And for The People Of The United States Of America.
    Henry Massingale
    FASC Concepts in and for Pay It Forward
    http://www.fascmovement.mysite.com.

Pittsburgh Summit Insights

Wednesday, September 23, AD 2009

The always informative Dr. Boli provides an installment of his astonishing Encyclopedia of Misinformation (Diderot, eat your heart out!) bringing you up to date on some important world facts in regards to the G-20 summit. Kindly be informed:

…Australia. In an Australian sink, water spirals up from the drain and is evacuated through the spigot.

China. If Pittsburgh proves a successful venue, President Hu plans to have the city crated and moved to Yunnan province as a regional conference center.

France. President Sarkhozy never travels to North America without his mascot, a badger named Alphonse.

Mexico. President Calderón was detained briefly by airport security after reportedly threatening to punch the next person who asked him about the Maya calendar.

Russia. As part of a recent economic-reform package, the Russian government is now operated on a for-profit basis by IKEA of Sweden.

South Korea. It is reported that the South Korean delegation will not sign any agreement unless the United States promises to increase its consumption of mediocre pianos.

For enlightening insider information on Canada, the US, EU, Indonesia, and others, it is needful that you should read the whole thing.

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One Response to Pittsburgh Summit Insights

Who Is Irrelevant, Obama or Americans

Wednesday, September 23, AD 2009

Tea Party Protest 9-12

At this point it is almost irrelevant what President Obama thinks, says, or does.

As long as former Presidents Carter and Clinton keep calling Americans racists…

As long as Speaker Pelosi refers to Patriots as violent, swastika wearing, un-Americans…

As long as the extreme left on the Democratic Party insist on ignoring a movement that not only contains conservatives and Republicans, but pretty much everyone else in America…excluding most liberals.

Then it really doesn’t matter what the Obama Administration and their proxies continue calling ordinary American patriots.

Thus the only relevant question that can be asked is how badly will the Democrats continue to shoot themselves in the foot?

…It depends on how radical a health care bill they pass.

In the meantime  an insignificant handful of crazies the rest of America will wait for another round of insults as they continue to turn a deaf ear to the rhetorical platitudes of an ever increasingly irrelevant presidency.

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10 Responses to Who Is Irrelevant, Obama or Americans

  • A lot can happen between now and November 2010. One thing the Dems can count on is Americans’ short attention span. They can keep shooting themselves in the foot until May 2010.

  • That’s what I am anticipating.

    More shoot-in-the-foot comedy from here till next year.

  • The Seniors will remember. There are 9 Million plus who elected to replace normal Medicare with Medical Advantage Plans which have more coverage and very minumunal $10 and $25 dollar deductibles for regular or Specialist vists. O on Hospitalization and any type of lab tests and X Rays including MIRs Cat Scans etc. plus an excellent RX program. All the bills plan to strip the coverages and increase premiums for these plans. The 9 Million plus Seniors will not forget in 2012.

  • You are assuming the new plan will allow those 9 million to still be alive to vote in 2012.

    One year plus is a long time and we, the public, are entertained idiots. But it only takes a few people with strong conviction to keep the pressure on and the blind arrogance of the left to keep over-reaching and upsetting people to change the wind beginning this year in VA and NJ and next year in the House.

    The problem as I see it is that the change will be simply to put Republicans back in charge so they can do the same stupid stuff Democrats do while pandering to the pro-Life movement (while doing nothing to protect life), lowering visible taxes (while inflation is the real tax and it is hidden and increasing dramatically, smaller government (while expanding the strained empire), etc.

    I think thinking Americans are fed up with both parties, but third parties don’t seem to succeed at anything other than peeling votes off to ensure the worse of two options wins.

    Teddy Roosevelt crushed the Republican and gave us Wilson, Perot gave us Clinton, it is a ruse. What we need is to revitalize the Republican party so that they can actually be conservative.

    The Constitution is just a piece of paper if the political class walks all over it and the public sits back and does nothing.

  • You are assuming the new plan will allow those 9 million to still be alive to vote in 2012.

    I don’t know what’s with today, but I’m just cracking up at all the comments!

    Keep bringing them!

  • American Knight…from my Actuary background I would first suggest to you that over 92% will still be with us and able to vote. I would also suggest you might want to look at the “liquidity trap” rather than inflation which can and will cause deflation. Most of money in the stimulus package is still in the Banks and they are keeping it, not lending it or helping other to create jobs. Also if the current administration keeps on its downgrade of our CIA, Military, Homeland Seurity and appeasement toward those who want us to fail and attack us, we may not get to 2012.

  • afl,

    I wasn’t referring to the aged dying naturally, I was implying, toungue in cheek, that the current so-called health care plans may lead to expedited, mercy killings for the useless old people. In other words, a kind way of legalizing more murder.

    As for liquidity and inflation, inflation has already occured tot he tune of trillions on newly fabricated money units and as you said, the banks are still holding on to it but it has occured – the money supply has been inflated. If you are referring to the symptom of inflation, price increases, we will see that. Right now it is offset by low demand, but the supply will clear soon. Also, the losses of the stock and real estate markets have reduced the overall amount of additional money stcked (using fractional-reserve banking). All this accomplishes is delaying the inevitable inflation (money unit devaluation, loss of purchasing power). Qui bono? Government, banks, military-pharma-industrial corporations that are closely allied with government.

    Central banks breed fascism/corpratism and eventually a communist oligarchy. That frigthens me more than any other earthly thing.

  • American Knight Amen and I totaly agree. Point I was making on deflation ( prices go down ) as people do not have the money to spend and unemployed continues to escalate ( Ala 1930’s and it took WWII to change the economy. not FDR ) so we keep printing worthless paper. Maybe we do need to start start a new political party or bring the orthodox thinkers together to keep us from continuing socialism and an oligarchy run by all these new CZARS.

  • afl,

    Ok so we agree, then why do we think we might not. I am not necessarily referring to you and I, just this topic in general.

    It is designed to be confusing. The terms are designed to get us off track.

    What is inflation? No one really knows except the perpetrators of the theft.

    INFLATION is often thought of as prices going up. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Prices will probably go up as a result of inflation but rising prices are NOT inflation.

    INFLATION is the increase in the quantity of money.

    DEFLATION is obviously the decrease.

    Prices do not necessarily rise or fall as a result of inflation. Prices are merely distroted and so is the entire nervous system of the economy — price signals fail and no one knows what to make or not make.

    Prices are determined by SUPPLY and DEMAND, independent of the quantity of money.

    It is a stable quantity of money that allows for a stable measurement and allows the price system to signal properly.

    Inflation/deflation of the supply of money, a change in quantity, distorts those signals.

    Obamunism is designed to destroy the pricing system of whatever it is he and his masters want to control next. Right now it is so-called health care.

    Perhaps they will combine the clunkers program and health care and just pour ‘liquid glass’ into pefectly functional but old engines that are emitting too much CO2 becuase they are upset about losing their medical coverage.

  • Pingback: Carter Tries to Deny He Said Obama Critics Driven By Race « The American Catholic

Third World

Wednesday, September 23, AD 2009

Thought experiment:

Imagine that in 1880, Europe and the Americas had been brought into contact with another continent on which civilization had already advanced to the point at which we are now in 2009.

Let’s call this new continent Futureland, and place it in the middle of the Pacific where the Polynesian Islands are. They speak a non-Indo-European language. They’re highly secular, but have in their background an essentially animistic religion ala Shinto. The Futurelanders are friendly and open, eager to sell Americans and Europeans high tech products and to build factories in Europe and America. They also happily sell the “old world” modern farming equipment, superior strains of crops, and advise them on more efficient farming practices — resulting in a rapid increase of agricultural output which requires far fewer farmers than contemporary 1880s practices. They’re also quite willing to allow Europeans and Americans to travel to Futureland to attend university, and indeed settle there.

What happens to “old world” language, culture, political institutions, religion and economy? Would such a situation be at all desireable for Americans and Europeans, and if so in what sense?

Would such an encounter be significantly different if it were between Futureland and an “old world” circa 1800 or circa 1650? Or 1950?

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40 Responses to Third World

  • My initial thought is that it’s probably always profoundly disruptive (in a bad way) for a culture to come into contact with another which is quantum leaps ahead in terms of technology. I would imagine that even the Europe and America of 1950, if they had suddenly come into constant cultural and economic contact with a continent at 2009 levels of technology, would have quickly succumbed to a lot of the economic, political and cultural disfunctions that we associate with the third world. And the farther back you go (thus the greater the technological disconnect) the greater the disruption.

    That said, I don’t really know that there’s a way of avoiding that. Certainly, I can’t imagine anyone supporting some sort of “prime directive” in which more advanced cultures don’t allow themselves to come into contact with less advanced ones. Not only would this not work (there would be huge incentives to break the rule) but it hardly seems moral to refuse to chare information about things ranging from vaccines to agricultural techniques that would prevent famine. And yet, it appears to be massively destructive to a culture to find that someone else has done everything first.

  • DarwinCatholic:

    What stretches credibility is the fact that the highly-technologically advanced civilization which you conceived herein happens ironically to embrace not only religion but, even more remarkably, a very primitive one at that (i.e., an animistic religion).

    You’ll need to deal first with what I believe to be a discrepancy prior to any further development as to what might occur then as concerning this advanced society.

  • Sounds kinda/sorta reminiscent of Eric Flint’s “1632” series, with the difference that modern Americans (children of the West) are offering somewhat similar disruptions and benefits to war-battered 17th Century Germans. The clash is much, much less, and the interaction much more beneficial overall.

    In your scenario, I think a crucial element is population–how many Futurelanders are there? If the numbers are significantly smaller than those of Europe and North America,, then I think things may work out better. If not, then it’s going to be rather uglier, regardless of the benevolence of the FLers–it will present much more of a threat to the less advanced.

    Also, don’t discount the possibility of the Europeans/Americans providing a reverse influence on FLers. The currents run both ways, as could be seen by the late 19th century with the burgeoning western interest in “the Orient.”

  • Imagine that in 1880, Europe and the Americas had been brought into contact with another continent on which civilization had already advanced to the point at which we are now in 2009. Let’s call this new continent Futureland…

    What happens to “old world” language, culture, political institutions, religion and economy? Would such a situation be at all desireable for Americans and Europeans, and if so in what sense?

    Would such an encounter be significantly different if it were between Futureland and an “old world” circa 1800 or circa 1650? Or 1950?

    Curious, you weren’t by any chance making some compelling argument for the Prime Directive now, were you?

  • Sounds kinda/sorta reminiscent of Eric Flint’s “1632” series, with the difference that modern Americans (children of the West) are offering somewhat similar disruptions and benefits to war-battered 17th Century Germans.

    Actually, one can take, for example, Japan and the Meiji era and the “Black Ships” and the subsequent negative repercussions (as concerning their traditional society) that came along with the positive ones that propelled their relatively primitive society to become a comparatively more advanced one.

  • e.,

    What stretches credibility is the fact that the highly-technologically advanced civilization which you conceived herein happens ironically to embrace not only religion but, even more remarkably, a very primitive one at that (i.e., an animistic religion).

    Yeah, I’ll admit that’s an odder element. What I was trying to think of was that their religious background was something very different from Christianity and the monotheistic faiths generally. I landed on an animistic one basically because one of the things that’s always struck me as interesting, as someone with an affection for Japanese culture, is the way in which bits of Shinto hold on even in modern Japanese society, which is arguably one of the most technological in the world.

    But it does leave aside the argument, which I think has merit, that the monotheistic faiths and understanding of faith/reason compatibility is one of the things that resulted in Western civilization advancing more than other cultures.

  • This puts me in mind of a similar thought experiment Mencius Moldbug posed a while back:

    [W]hat would become of 1908 America, if said continent magically popped up in the mid-Atlantic in 2008, and had to modernize and compete in the global economy[?] I am very confident that Old America would be the world’s leading industrial power within the decade, and I suspect it would attract a lot of immigration from New America….

    [W]ithout computers, cell phones or even motor vehicles, 19th-century America could rebuild destroyed cities instantly – at least, instantly by today’s standards. Imagine what this vanished society, which if we could see it with our own eyes would strike us as no less foreign than any country in the world today, could accomplish if it got its hands on 21st-century gadgets – without any of the intervening social and political progress.

  • Meetings between civilizations at different levels of technology are endlessly fascinating and they don’t always go the way one would expect. The Philistines for example clearly had a technological and economic advantage over the twelve tribes of Israel and yet Philistia ultimately lost the struggle. If the technologically less advanced society can withstand the initial rush of the technologically advanced civilization, time is not always on the side of the more technologically advanced.

  • Obviously this experiment is flawed in that we can never know what would have happened or what may happen. Nevertheless, it is very interesting.

    The point that strikes me and I am sure there are many, is that we are addressing the technological superiority of Futureland. Of course, we can discuss how and why ad infinitum. What if Henry VIII had not destroyed the Catholic monasteries? Would the industrial revolution have occurred before America was populated by Europeans? Would a more religious people have handled technology better?

    The key here, at least to the aspect I noticed at first, is the question of the primacy of technological development or religious revelation?

    More advanced technology does not necessarily mean a better ‘quality of life’ it just means better means. What we, or in this case the Futurelander’s do with the technology is a matter of philosophy and application not development. I say philosophy and not religion because here we are addressing the underlying view of the culture, which may or may not be religious. Someone brought up the Star Trek Prime Directive which would be the practical application of that culture’s philosophy (clearly a secular fascist/militaristic/socialist/arrogant one).

    As neo-Shintoists or animists I would be quite fearful of what these Futurelander’s would do with superior technology. I fear conquest, domination, eradication, assimilation or a horrible combination. Their ethos would likely be utilitarian and they would perceive us as ‘lower’ and in need of their brand of ‘quality of life’. I know that we are guilty of that to some extent with our Third World; however, that is the result of human weakness and not our philosophy. At least not the primary philosophy based on the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Covenant.

    Keep in mind that Queen Isabel charged Columbus with bringing the Word of God to the indigenous people and decreed laws forbidding slavery and subjugation. It failed because we are fallen but the overriding attitude was make their lives better by preaching the Gospel first and applying utilitarian technology as a fruit of that and not as the primary purpose.

    I fear that Futurelander’s wouldn’t be so kind and respectful because they wouldn’t have any knowledge of the inherent human dignity that God gives to all of his creatures. They would view us as sub-par, much like Nazis thought of Jews or Klansmen think of Catholics. The results cannot be good. I also doubt they would adopt the utopian Prime Directive of observing us like you would ants in an ant-farm unless it is to learn the best way to assimilate us like the Borg.

    Either way a solid argument can be made that it is our Christian faith and the vestiges of it in our culture that we are so aggressively trying to kill that not only dispose us to want to help everyone we encounter (no matter how we screw it up) but also facilitates our technological advancement. What we do with it remains to be seen and although we have used it to improve conditions in the Third World we have also ravaged the Third World, intended or not.

    The amazing thing is they love us for our technology and hate us for our values. You’d think those are the values of Christendom that we inherited but I think they hate our neo-liberal, secular progressivist values. When Christian missionaries go visit the Third World, especially Catholics numerous souls are converted to Christ because He draws all men to Him. America still draws more men; however, it is drawing them for economic opportunity or because they are economic parasites and not because of our quality of life given us by Christ. We need to fix that.

  • I am very confident that Old America would be the world’s leading industrial power within the decade, and I suspect it would attract a lot of immigration from New America…

    Blackadder has just morphed into John Edwards with all his talk concerning Two Americas.

    If the technologically less advanced society can withstand the initial rush of the technologically advanced civilization, time is not always on the side of the more technologically advanced.

    Again: Japan.

  • Someone brought up the Star Trek Prime Directive which would be the practical application of that culture’s philosophy (clearly a secular fascist/militaristic/socialist/arrogant one).

    Actually, although I myself am not quite the fan, I believe you have a failed comprehension of what exactly is the reason for the Prime Directive and what it actually consists.

    In fact, quite ironically, it was because of the principle that mankind shouldn’t arrogantly impose inter alia their own belief system on peoples of more primitive cultures and, indeed, allow these to develop naturally on their own without their deliberate interference which could ultimately result in ominous negative repercussions for that particular people.

  • Blackadder,

    Interesting point about rebuilding efforts in that past. I remember being struck when I read the history of the Hoover Dam of the astonishing (by modern standards) speed with which it was done.

  • To let my inner geekness out I submit the following statement. Is this a violation of the prime directive?

  • e. I see what you mean; however, I know that is the intended reason but like all things Star Trek you have to read between the lines because Star Trek is a utopian secular progressive’s dream.

    What about the damage to the society because you did not introduce yourself? For example in the 4th movie installment the Enterprise crew is in 20th century San Francisco and Bones gives a kidney dialysis patient a pill and she’s cured. Would it have been ethical to withhold that?

    A more practical example: DDT kills mosquitoes; however, it may also cause damage to human beings. Africa suffers from malaria and we stopped using DDT for ‘environmental’ reasons decades ago and millions of African children have died of malaria because we saved the environment and the lives of the few that may have been killed by the side effects of the DDT. Is that ethical?

    Should we withhold preaching the Gospel because those that haven’t heard the Good News may have some cultural issues with the Word? Was it arrogant of Cortez to destroy the statue of the Humming Bird Wizard and replace it with a Madonna and Crucifix?

    I think the Prime Directive is a cowardly approach. It is condescending and arrogant and self-loathing. The assumption that all culture is morally equivalent is false. It is equally false to assume the stronger culture is better in a Neitzschian view. We must subdue the earth by unleashing our cooperative creativity – this is only valid when we creatively cooperate with the Creator.

  • What if the society that is more technologically advanced also has a large population in there Country that is still living at same level of the americas and europe? As in the “haves” are the ones with the technology and the “have nots” are not able to buy or use or whatever the advanced technology that there country actually produces.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Note that the Empire State building was built in one year and seven or so weeks. Ground Zero has been vacant (other than the post 911 solemn clean up) for eight years.

    Amazing how the less moral a culture is the less their technology is used well. We can kill more babies in a single day than Ghengis Khan could have ever imagined!

    Things don’t look good for Futureland.

  • Rick that would denote a socialistic system in which arbitrary power determines who has and who doesn’t.

    In a free market system everyone can have access to the technology eventually.

    How much was a DVD player ten years ago? Who had them? How much are they now? Who doesn’t have one that wants one? H. D. Ford was able to reduce the price of the automobile from $3,000 to $300, a price his employees could afford.

    The socialistic system can only develop existing technology and only for a short while without a free market system to copy and acquire capital from or the incentive of war.

  • Ground zero may be empty not for lack of technology, but more for lack of will. No one is really sure what to do with it, or how anything that is done will be viewed. Also, it may be a question of economics.

  • The problem with Ground Zero is that the Gub’ment is in charge. WTC 7 was also destroyed on 9/11. The new building was operational in 2006. That’s not quite 1908 levels (the red tape of regulation applies to private enterprise these days too), but I think it indicates where the problems lies.

    Also, the Prime Directive is for sissies.

  • I think the Prime Directive is a cowardly approach. It is condescending and arrogant and self-loathing. The assumption that all culture is morally equivalent is false.

    Again, I think you have a flawed understanding of the purpose of such a directive.

    Although not really an ST fan myself, this is perhaps one of the underlying reasons I took particular interest in ST because of such things as the Prime Directive, principally due to the kind of philosophical exercise it inspires.

    Think of it: if an advanced civilization were to surrender advanced technology to a very primitive people; do you really believe doing so would not actually harm them?

    For instance, that primitive people would not have learned how to develop technology on their own (thereby, making them heavily dependent on the advanced culture for continued supply & maintenance of such advanced technology; disregarding the need for self-sufficiency), would not learn by themselves how not only to develop such technology but even technology that was distintively theirs, would not learn all the lessons necessary that only comes with that people personally undergoing their own periods of technological advancement & development (thereby, forfeiting the much needed wisdom that only comes with that process of natural development of technology), etc.

  • I’ve only read the last few comments and this is hilarious. I don’t even want to read the other comments just so I can keep this in my head all day and laugh!

    Also, the Prime Directive is for sissies.

  • Uhhhh… sorry to disappoint, but that is something that Blackadder yet again borrowed; it’s actually found on many t-shirts, in fact.

  • I don’t care, BA made me laugh!

    When I laugh I smile!

    So apology accepted son.

  • Blackadder’s delivery is what made it hilarious. (No surprise; he is, after all, Blackadder)

    Of course, the deciding factor, in this particular case, could very well be the inane simplicity of that little mind which it had consequently amused. *smile*

    The Prime Directive Rules… literally.

  • e.,

    I think I may not be posting clearly. I am far from a professional or experienced Internet poster. I can barely turn my computer on and no one will help me becuase of some directive 🙂

    I understand exactly what you think the Prime Directive is. I think the stated premise is false. The Prime Directive is a flawed, cowardly and immoral directive.

    As another poster put it so eloquently — it is for sissies.

    Technology is not art. It is not some kind of cultural expression. Technology is born of understanding the laws of the universe as made by the Supreme Lawmaker, to the extent he allows. The application of that understanding is manifested in technology.

    Prometheus didn’t steal fire from the gods. Man discovered fire in nature and learned how to use it as technology. Fire was not invented by a certain culture. Fire belongs to all men. If a man who knows how to use fire to cook food comes across another tribe of men who don’t cook their food and die from all manner of disease, does he have an obligation to share his discovery of fire with them? Does he have a right to withhold his discovery? Will the other tribe burn him to death with the new power he gives them? We can keep going.

    In any event it is immoral to view other humans (or in the ST world sentient beings) as a sociological experiment to observe from a cowardly distance for your own amusement or out of a hubristic sense of superiority. Rather it is incumbent on us to share the benefits we have been given and try hard to not share the decadence we have inherited. Foremost it is incumbent upon the West to baptize all nations in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    If Rodenberry was a Christian and not a secularist, then Star Trek may actually be cool. Rather, it stinks of a Brave New World that is antiseptic, vapid, Godless, pointless and banal. Sadly, it may be the shape of things to come if we sit back and wonder about what went wrong with our culture and seek solace in some other non-Christian culture. Instead we should be charging forth with what we know is right and begging Mercy for what we know is wrong in our own.

    The only Prime Directive is to know, love and serve the immoveable Prime Mover.

  • Technology is not art. It is not some kind of cultural expression. Technology is born of understanding the laws of the universe…

    That’s just it —

    Such a primitive race would not have any such understanding of the very gravity of such advanced technology, the wisdom required to use it wisely; the knowledge required to handle, let alone, maintain/develop it; etc.

    Now, again, that required knowledge and wisdom are usually gained only by a primitive race developing such technology on their own.

    Consider these development periods as required growth periods that must be endured by that primitive race in order to gain such knowledge and wisdom necessary for not only effectively developing and even using that sort of technology wisely but also advancing that people as a whole morally, too.

    Think of the act as being the equivalent of giving some toddler a highly technologically advanced apparatus in order to satisfy an immediate basic necessity, but without the knowledge & wisdom necessary, may potentially result in remarkably devastating consequences.

    As far as Rodenberry being/not being a Christian; although, as I’ve earlier remarked, I’m not an avid fan of the series (so, I hope somebody who is can correct me on this), wasn’t there an episode where Jesus was actually alluded to wherein Uhura (or however you spell her name) made mention of Him at the end of an episode?

  • I don’t know about all the ST episodes. I am sure some sci-fi freak on here can tell us. However even the devil knows Scripture so just a mention of Christ doesn’t make it a correct message, that is why we have Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Mageserial Teaching.

    Nevertheless, just becuase they don’t have the social understanding to use the fire of the gods doesn’t mean we get to be gods deciding if they should benefit from the technological discoveries and inventions or not. What we need to do is help them learn how to use it responsibly and why we should share our culture before we share our technology. By culture I mean our ancient culture and not the new secular crap.

    Also what makes you think that just because a society discovers a new technology that means they would know how to use it becuase it happened organicaly? We invented the nuclear bomb and then dropped it on the two largest Christian cities in Japan. Sin is sin is sin and we cannot get away from it on our own. Withholding technology from the more ‘primative’ doesn’t free them from sin and may just allow more of them to fall into the abyss.

    That is Prime Irresponsibility.

  • We invented the nuclear bomb and then dropped it on the two largest Christian cities in Japan.

    THAT’S THE POINT!

    Because of our having developed that technology (knowledge) and our experience with it, we have learned (wisdom) of the horrors of its misuse that we, in the future (hopefully), would dare not repeat such horrible incidents again in our history.

    (Although, keep in mind, within the context of the ST science-fiction (again, open to correction), the human race had achieved the kind of society wherein wars between human peoples themselves were no longer waged, most likely due to the collective experiences (whereby they gained the knowledge + wisdom necessary that ultimately made this possible in the first place) that they endured as a race.)

  • You assume that we can only transfer technology and not cultural values or lessons from experience. I think history would disagree with you.

    As for the Star Trek utopian, they don’t have war in their world becuase it is science FICTION! It is fabricated on the premise that WE are the MASTERS of our destiny and we can achieve peace by sheer will and power.

    We will NEVER have true peace in this lifetime, becuase of WILL and POWER.

    Only the LORD can bring Peace and he won’t be restrained by no stinkin’ Prime Directive.

  • What we need to do is help them learn how to use it responsibly and why we should share our culture before we share our technology.

    Seriously, are we talking about a roughly advanced race here or a primitive one?

    In the case of a primitive race, how can such a people learn how to use technology if they do not possess the knowledge (e.g., an understanding of quantum physics or advanced molecular biology, etc.) required for it?

  • I think we have taken the Futureland hypothetical situation into outer space too far. Sorry for getting off on a tangent. I was trying to keep my Star Trek references limited to only the Prime Directive as brought up by someone else. I meant to discuss the intent of the Prime Directive in reference to DC’s Futureland scenario. In that regard we aren’t talking about phaser toting Kirk, Spock, Bones and crewman #5 beaming down to a planet of troglodytes, well except the hottie that Kirk makes out with.

    I was trying to apply the Prime Directive to similar people that have disparate technology. Like the USA compared to say, Belgium.

    Australian aborginines wear sneakers and have iPods. Nomadic Arabs use satelite phones. Primative African villages have access to modern medicine and water purification from missionaries and Doctors without Borders.

    So I think in the more realistic (at least more so than Star Trek) scenario of Futureland and 18th century Western culture the Prime Directive is for sissies. Furthermore, the key concern, as per my original point, is their animism combined with technological superiority as compared to our Christian faith with technological inferiority.

    I’ll keep Christ you can have the Vulcans.

  • I meant to discuss the intent of the Prime Directive in reference to Futureland scenario.

    I don’t think anybody here was actually arguing for the Prime Directive being applied to Futureland.

    Moreover, I don’t think the purpose of DarwinCatholic’s entry here was to contradict the Christian faith or challenge the spreading of the Gospel, as somebody here seems to have mistakened.

    Although, I would’ve love to have witnessed Blackadder becoming unnerved once again by remarks concerning a much beloved British Empire, which could’ve easily been the subject of DarwinCatholic’s own Futureland!

  • My last comment was tongue in cheek, e., I wasn’t trying to disparage. I also didn’t think anyone was trying to disparage the Christian faith. I am confident that was one aspect, the one I discussed, that was actually central to the discussion on account of the people of Futureland being animist.

    There are many aspects to this interesting question that we can discuss. I think the most relevant to the US at this time is the fact that we import our errors (even though they may only be promoted by a small cabal) rather than our successes. Successes born of the vestiges of Christian philosophy that we inherited from Christendom. The same values preserved by the Church.

    I am reminded of the splendor of the moral, relatively considering they were pagan, Roman Republic that was the springboard for the Roman Empire, which collapsed under the wieght of its immorality and diminishing warrior capacity borne of it. The fights between the Optimates and the Populares are a foreshadow of the Republicans and Democrats today.

    From the ashes of Rome rose Christendom, warts and all, and the conduit was and is the Church.

    We still hold on to more Christian values than most would care to admit, yet that is not the face we show the world. Assuming we are the Futurelanders, we are foisting our errors on the world while we let our true successes falter. This cannot last and if we shirk our inheritence, we will go the way of Rome and the less ‘advanced’ cultures will overtake us or we will become slaves for a small oligarchy becuase we are so weak.

    Of course, I could also be completely off base and have no idea what DC expected when he posted this interesting scenario.

  • I’m not entirely convinced of DarwinCatholic’s argument though.

    Although, I admit, his theory here seems quite interesting:

    But it does leave aside the argument, which I think has merit, that the monotheistic faiths and understanding of faith/reason compatibility is one of the things that resulted in Western civilization advancing more than other cultures.

    If one were to survey history itself, many of the advances that collectively contributed to the overall advance of Western Civilization itself were largely due to those that happened to eminate from once great civilizations, which were themselves non-monotheistic.

    Firstly, DarwinCatholic needs to provide evidence for his claim, however interesting it may very well be for the Christian personally.

    Yet, I’d suspect that a compelling argument can be made similarly wherein Western society was only able to make such great strides only when it dare challenged the existence of “God” and not actually because it was generally monotheistic.

  • Besides, Muslims are monotheistic.

    And while they once possessed great medical technology back in the middle ages, look at where their countries are now.

  • e.,

    You call for DC to provide evidence and maybe that is a good idea. Then you make some assertions and provide no evidence yourself.

    What are these great strides of the West that eminated from poly-theistic cultures and the times that the West challenged the existence of God?

  • Also, the Prime Directive is for sissies.

    Dang skippy!

    wasn’t there an episode where Jesus was actually alluded to wherein Uhura (or however you spell her name) made mention of Him at the end of an episode?

    They’d been assuming that folks were “Sun” worshipers, and they were “Son” worshipers. The roman gladiator ep.

    You assume that we can only transfer technology and not cultural values or lessons from experience. I think history would disagree with you.

    For real people, I agree with you; for the Star Trek people, well… they’re not so very bright, y’know? One of their Smart Guys chose *Nazi Germany* as a good template when he broke the Prime Directive….
    I don’t think they’ve got the gumption to effectively transfer culture, since they can’t even manage to say “boo” (or stop following a treaty) when the Romulans break treaties left, right and center.

    They also decided that Data, despite all evidence, was not a person in a moral or legal sense, and are letting the Cardassian empire rebuild without any attempt to tilt them towards, say, a Republic instead of a military dictator-bureaucracy. About the only group that tries to spread their “faith” is the Ferangi– oh, and Ambassador Spock is trying to convert the Romulans to logic….

    Why, yes, I am a geek who knows a bit about Star Trek…..

  • Woah! You lost me somewhere around the leap from ST to DS9 🙂

    Funny, they have these rules that they honorably stick by no matter what the consequences are. The problem is the rules are man made and flawed. Kind of like the leader of a powerful nation bending over backwards to appease and apologize to nations that want his dead. All the while he attacks his own people. I wonder if something like that would ever happen here. . .Hmm. . . ?

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  • Let’s just say I’m praying for a Sisko… or even a Spock….

Nouveau Poor

Wednesday, September 23, AD 2009

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  I am afraid even the Onion fails at milking humor out of the current economic hard times. As a matter of fact the whole thing is probably in bad taste, which is about par for the course for the Onion.  For a truly hilarious take on the economy I refer you here, here and here for attempts by the media to convince people that under Obama it’s funemployment not unemployment.  Seems sort of peverse to me.  Never fear however.  Once a Republican President is in charge, I assume the media will banish the term funemployment.

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Kmiec Explains It All

Tuesday, September 22, AD 2009

Douglas Kmiec, ambassador to Malta and spiritual descendant of Richard Rich, has an interview with the Times of Malta here.

 

“Prof. Kmiec’s views on abortion have certainly not changed since he was appointed an ambassador by the Obama administration.

“I believe life begins at conception, in the womb, and is to be protected there as it is to be protected at every moment throughout the progression of life,” he emphasises.

He was disappointed when the US Supreme Court legalised abortion in 1973 and for some 30 plus years, as an advocate in the judicial system, including when he worked for Mr Reagan in the White House, he wrote briefs and made arguments seeking to reverse the law on that question.

“Of course it hasn’t happened; year after year, millions die in those awful procedures.”

He recalls how he told Mr Obama during the campaign: “How can you allow someone to terminate another person’s life? What moral authority do you have for that?”

Mr Obama replied: “Well, professor, not everyone sees life beginning in the same way. The Methodists see it differently, the Jewish faith in part sees it differently.” And he went through the list, Presbyterians and so forth.

“If I am elected President,” he told Prof. Kmiec, “I am President of all these people.”

Prof. Kmiec says Mr Obama told him that he views abortion as “a moral tragedy” and that there were two ways of addressing it. There is the law in which people who involved themselves in this procedure would be subject to a penalty. The Supreme Court has put that off limits.

The other way is to do something about it and look at what causes people to have an abortion.

Mr Obama asked Prof. Kmiec: “What would cause a mother to contemplate taking the life of a child? It has to be something awful. It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table.”

Prof. Kmiec admits that this approach to abortion is not the ideal solution, saying that poverty or not being married is no excuse to take the life of a child. However, he believes one should be realistic about the problem and if the abortion rate could be reduced – and some studies point out that tackling poverty could lead to fewer abortions – “this seems to me a good interim step”.

“I prayed on this,” he explains, pointing out that Pope John Paul II had said that Catholics must be clear on their stand on abortion but also that people in political life could sometimes do less than they would like to do as long as there were moves towards the protection of life.

“Mr Obama has taken some steps towards this, perhaps not as fast as some would like,” he says.”

I will do Kmiec the courtesy of assuming that he is being mendacious in the interview and that he really isn’t stupid enough to believe the bilge Obama was dishing to him.

Thomas Peters has a must read article here on the interview.

“This is delusional. Mr. Obama has “taken steps towards the protection of life … not as fast as some would like” in Dr. Kmiec’s view? In fact, Mr. Obama has taken steps in the opposite direction. And fast.

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16 Responses to Kmiec Explains It All

  • “If I am elected President,” he told Prof. Kmiec, “I am President of all these people.”

    All these people – except the unborn. Of course, the unborn don’t vote Democrat.

  • Mr Obama asked Prof. Kmiec: “What would cause a mother to contemplate taking the life of a child? It has to be something awful. It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table.”

    Doug has never stood outside a PP clinic on abortion days.

    “Mr Obama has taken some steps towards this, perhaps not as fast as some would like,” he says.”

    What alternate reality is he living in…. or….

    as my favorite SC legislator says….

    HE LIES.

  • Thanks for this post, my blood pressure was feeling a little low. Nothing like a little Kmiec to fix hypotension.

  • What interests me is this:

    “What would cause a mother to contemplate taking the life of a child? It has to be something awful. It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table.”

    Obama, like some pro-choice advocates, is taking a position that is even worse than the traditional position.

    After all, if one believes that the unborn child is not really a child, but a valueless clump of cells, then it follows that abortion is no crime or sin. As one pro-life writer I like has often put it: if abortion isn’t murder, no justification is necessary – if it is murder, no justification is sufficient.

    Here Obama, like a lot of “religious” pro-choice, acknowledges that it is a life – but that it deserves no protection under the law. He acknowledges, at least here, the premise of the pro-life position but denies the only moral conclusion one can draw from it.

    This inconsistency demonstrates a far greater callousness and moral cowardice than the pro-choicer who maintains that abortion ought to be legal because the thing being aborted isn’t human and has no value.

    As for being the president of all those other people, well, that argument didn’t work out so well for slave owners, did it? He’s president of racists too – where is their voice in administration of government?

  • Obama, like some pro-choice advocates, is taking a position that is even worse than the traditional position.

    After all, if one believes that the unborn child is not really a child, but a valueless clump of cells, then it follows that abortion is no crime or sin. As one pro-life writer I like has often put it: if abortion isn’t murder, no justification is necessary; if it is murder, no justification is sufficient.

    Here Obama, like a lot of religious; pro-choice, acknowledges that it is a life; but that it deserves no protection under the law. He acknowledges, at least here, the premise of the pro-life position but denies the only moral conclusion one can draw from it.

    The Great Obama did, in fact, acknowledge that there is a moral dimension to abortion, but that any person of “good will” can have an abortion and still be considered doing the “right” thing. As he said previously:

    I absolutely think we can find common ground. And it requires a couple of things. It requires us to acknowledge that..

    There is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that’s a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.

    People of good will can exist on both sides. That nobody wishes to be placed in a circumstance where they are even confronted with the choice of abortion. How we determine what’s right at that moment, I think, people of good will can differ.

    And if we can acknowledge that much, then we can certainly agree on the fact that we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion.

  • It moves one to pity and sorrow to see such a lack of character in a person who claims to be a member of the Church but has succumbed to culture and become one with it. The vignette from A Man For All Seasons is a perfect accompaniment to the pathos of Doug Kmiec.

  • At the very least, Kmeic got Wales, errrr…Malta; but what did all the supposedly Pro-Life Vox Novans get for their support of The Great One?

  • It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table.

    If this is a justification for abortion, then it is also a justification for gunning down anyone who is homeless, uninsured, or without food.

  • “It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table.”
    This statement isn’t true. Surveys have shown that these issues account for <20% of abortions. ( Data courtesy of Gutemacher Institute aka Planned Parenthood )

  • “What would cause a mother to contemplate taking the life of a child? It has to be something awful. It has to be a woman without shelter, without insurance, without the next meal on the table.”

    Off the top of my head, I can think of two women I am actively acquainted with who have had abortions. Both had insurance, both lived in agreeable digs (one lived in a succession of ducky apartments and the other owned her home), and both could well afford groceries. The motive for one of these abortions was never specified; the other aborted a child with a genetic defect of modest significance.

  • Secretary of Health, Sebelius, of course, the recipient of donations per Tiller, I don’t know how much and to what extent. Obama of course, placates (Lapdog is a better word but doesn’t sound too kind) Planned Parenthood, Obama said something like “I wouldn’t want my daughters to be punished with a baby”, I mean, you can’t see your nose despite your face (however that expression goes). I know somewhere, there may be a liberal that is enamored with the talk or more likely, don’t know what the talk is, enamored with the individual. It is understandable that some figure comes along who can look like the new JFK or something to some people.

  • If our President really believes in what he says and is against abortion, why hasn’t he used his position to tell NARAL, Planned Parenthood, etc he wants them to use their resources to help the women to have the child and help them with their resources afterwards toward adoption or helping to raise the child if necessary instead of the the killing. Why does he not spend dollars on taking care of these unwanted children versus aborting them.

  • “…what did Vox Novans get for their support of the Great One?”

    Income redistribution.

  • Things have been great since the Glorious One took office. The US is out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Gitmo is closed, the “need for abortion” has been eliminated, the deficit is under control, unemployment is down, we have many nice icons of Dear Leader with a presidential seal halo, and an unicorn in every driveway.

    It’s all good…

  • Perhaps they can develop a test to determine if the pre-born child is a Republican or a Democrat and then only murder the ones that won’t vote for them.

    Then we can treat murder through pregnancy abortion like all other moral issues — it is just another political choice subject to the whims of the mob.

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It's Just Legislation

Tuesday, September 22, AD 2009

Having a number of fairly liberal friends and acquaintances, it struck me recently how many blog posts and facebook updates I’d seen lately that began, “I was just watching one of the anti-health-reform protests and I’m just so angry right now.”

I get that many on the progressive side are very, very excited about whichever of the major proposals in the congress at this point ends up being the chosen one by Obama (despite the fact that none of them actually get that close to being what progressives have wanted in regards to health care reform for all these years), if only because they’re very excited to see Obama succeed at whatever he tries. But it strikes me that there’s a difference in how people think about the state and about legislation at play here as well. Thinking back, I can’t recall any example of a piece of legislation on any topic that I was so excited about that it made me angry to see people out protesting against it. Sure, there have been a few things that I’ve strongly supported (like the marriage amendment ballot initiative in California; the national partial birth abortion ban, etc.) or strongly opposed. But there’s nothing I found myself so worked up about that I felt it necessary to watch the protests for or against and then get furious that there were opponents out there — whether their sentiments were fair and honest or not.

My thinking would tend to be, “Hey, it’s just legislation. We win or we lose.” But then, that springs from a basic assumption that things will not change very much from the status quo, that the government will work no miracles for us or against us, and that on a day to day basis the government basically is and should be invisible to us. That seems to be a set of assumptions which many on the more progressive side of the political realm do not share.

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21 Responses to It's Just Legislation

  • That struck me at first too. I think on reflection, though, that the reasons it is upsetting are fairly clear:

    1) Liberals had/have very high hopes for Obama; and they’ve had to wait 15 years for someone to try health care reform again after the HillaryCare debacle.

    2) If health care reform fails, it will be damaging for him and for the political party they support.

    3) In addition to wanting Democrats to succeed, they (like everyone else) think the U.S. health care system is in desperate need of reform, and believe that this particular legislation is the best way to fix it.

    4) Much of the criticism of the legislation – as with the opposition to any legislation – is based on fear-mongering and distortions.

    Put all these together, and it seems like the good Democrats are trying to do a good thing for the country, but the evil Republicans working for evil purposes are harming the country by lying to it. If I shared a few more of those premises, I’d be upset also.

  • JH,
    is based on fear-mongering and distortions.

    or is it based on reasonable expectations of what government bureaucrats will do based on observation and deduction?

    I think the point being made here is very interesting. I feel disdain the gay activists, tree-huggers and animal rights activists, but not anything approaching anger (except when they go beyond protesting to terrorism). I am angry at private business who take MY MONEY and spend it on liberal causes, or when the government does it, but if people want to invest their own time and money into such nonsense, let it be.

  • Speaking from the progressive side, I can’t say I’m very excited or angry at the current situation. However, the snippet above struck me:

    ” … on a day to day basis the government basically is and should be invisible to us …”

    … as being very much akin to the attitude of bullies, or worse, criminals. “Don’t watch us too closely,” accompanied by an Eddie Haskell grin.

    My concern is that when government (aka the law) looks the other way, the rich and powerful have free reign to do as they wish. The small government meme is pretty much a non-starter for Republicans. They actually like Big Gov when it keeps the gravy running to the corporate train station. The main thing I’m looking for (and don’t expect to see it from the Dems) is an end to corporate lawlessness.

  • … as being very much akin to the attitude of bullies, or worse, criminals. “Don’t watch us too closely,” accompanied by an Eddie Haskell grin.

    Todd, the key phrase was ‘on a day to day basis’. Now, on a day to day basis, you are more than likely (in a metropolitan area) to catch sight of postmen, cops, firemen, street cleaners, garbage collectors, ploughmen, men in manholes, or city parks and forestry employees. It is rather excessively literal-minded to infer that these folk are those to which he was referring. None of the foregoing are going to protect you from Citibank or Texaco, by the way..

    My concern is that when government (aka the law) looks the other way, the rich and powerful have free reign to do as they wish. The small government meme is pretty much a non-starter for Republicans. They actually like Big Gov when it keeps the gravy running to the corporate train station.

    Barney Frank and Robert Rubin are Democrats.

  • I think the invisibility of government concept is more akin to a good referee. While keeping the game fair and within the rules, you shouldn’t really notice he’s there. In other words, he shouldn’t become a deciding factor in the game.

  • … as being very much akin to the attitude of bullies, or worse, criminals. “Don’t watch us too closely,” accompanied by an Eddie Haskell grin.

    My concern is that when government (aka the law) looks the other way, the rich and powerful have free reign to do as they wish.

    See, I guess my thought is: the government is pretty much run by the rich and the powerful, so when we go in the direction of letting the government run more things, it’s unlikely to result in the rich and the powerful being reigned in very much. Sure, they may take out a few of their own who cross the lines, but overall the government will look out for those that run it. And the fact that we can vote doesn’t change the fact there’s an aristocracy of sorts that actually ends up holding office and running things — whichever party wins out.

    So I have very little expectation that a larger government will serve to reign in the excesses of large companies. Big business and big government get along too well. But government is very, very good at making life hard for ordinary people and especially small businesses. Trying to start and run a small side-business is an incredible education into how difficult and intrusive government can be in ways that do very little to increase the safety of the “little guy”.

    Rather than relying on one party or the other to magically change that dynamic, I’d rather the government keep its brief as small as possible.

  • it seems to me that “small government” can actually be effective at keeping big business from illegal behavior. I’ll take a state or county prosecutor who must go to his constituents for re-election over an appointed federal prosecutor who serves at the whim of political interests in Washington.

  • Agreed, Matt. I wouldn’t see the “small government” approach as meaning “big companies get away with whatever they want” so much as:

    – Get rid of all subsidies.
    – A simple tax code and tarrif code (or ideally, simply free trade — real free trade, not 200 page “free trade” agreements)
    – A clear and fairly simple law code
    – Rigorous enforcement of that code

    I’d tend to see that as, in the end, being much more able to protect the “little guy” than a faith that a subsidy here, a tax break here, an extra tax there, and lots of regulators running around all over will somehow result in an optimal result — when the only people who can hire enough lawyers and consultants to understand it all at that point are the largest entities.

    But then, that’s what makes me fairly conservative…

  • “- Get rid of all subsidies.
    – A simple tax code and tarrif code (or ideally, simply free trade — real free trade, not 200 page “free trade” agreements)
    – A clear and fairly simple law code
    – Rigorous enforcement of that code”

    A nice list. Too bad American conservatives, as a whole, and especially Republicans, don’t believe in any of this. It’s really a matter of favoritism, and it happens both federally and locally.

    It gets back to the point about “just legislation.” It would be nice to see it. I share the skepticism that major party politics are in favor of any sort of change, be it abortion legislation, insurance reform, or whatnot.

  • Be I not mistaken, but I believe that reports are that Wall Street donates more to the Democratic Party than to the Republican.

    This echoes George Steinbrenner explanation of why he donated to the Dems: “They’re better for business”.

  • Gabriel,

    I believe that is true. One big contributor to the Dems was Bernie Maddoff:

    http://spectator.org/archives/2009/01/05/de-funder-of-the-left

  • See, I guess my thought is: the government is pretty much run by the rich and the powerful,

    Some years ago, I read an essay by a political scientist deconstructing a book by Ralph Nader, Who Runs Congress. The conclusion of said academic: “Congress runs Congress”, just in ways Mr. Nader does not like.

    I think you will find if you research matters that the generically wealthy are not notably influential, except perhaps in fairly restricted spheres. Institutions and organized constituencies have influence, and they are motivated to acquire it in part because of extant state intervention in their sectors. That would be the casino banks, to be sure, but also the United Auto Workers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Association of Retired Persons, and (on the local level) the real estate business. The shnooks that run Citigroup are big rich; the remainder are not.

    I also suspect that you will discover that much of the trouble you have with commercial law and regulation is the result of accretion, inattention, and incompetence. With reference to another of our threads, legislators who cannot be bothered to come up with intelligent alternatives to ‘three-strikes’ laws (a simple problem) likely are unwilling to put the effort into a more intricate exercise of scraping the barnacles off the federal or state commercial code (as amended by regulation and case law). I had an instructor many years ago much enamored of public choice theory who maintained that William Proxmire was nearly alone in Congress in concerning himself with the actual implementation of policy by federal agencies, the rest of them figuring there was nothing in it for them.

    A nice list. Too bad American conservatives, as a whole, and especially Republicans, don’t believe in any of this. It’s really a matter of favoritism, and it happens both federally and locally.

    Todd, I think you will look in vain for literature in economics journals or in opinion magazines making the case for business subsidies. You might find it in the business press, but not elsewhere. As for legislators, politicians are politicians. They commonly, though not universally, fellate constituency groups. The notion that this is a peculiarly partisan phenomenon cannot be taken seriously. Ask yourself who stood athwart history yelling STOP! to efforts to reform the accounting and improve the capitalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or who has been among those impeding debt-for-equity swaps to recapitalize the megabanks. His name is Barney Frank and he runs the House Banking Committee.

  • Art Deco,

    Good point. A more precise formulation would be that influence is predominatly had by those who have a strong interest in the outcome and who have the time to make their wishes heard. Doubly so if they contol either money or large numbers of votes — or better yet, both.

    This certainly means that anyone who is rich or powerful can get a good hearing if they want to, but unions and interest groups also get a lot of play. Though in a sense, I’d argue that ability pretty much defines you as “powerfu” even if not “rich”.

    I guess what it seems to me is that since our government has its finger in so many pies, legislators really have very little time to investigate any given topic, so they tend to listen to whoever is willing to sit down with them and explain to them how things ought to be — especially if its also someone who supports them with votes or money.

  • Art, I’m not sure exactly for what you’re making your case. I think I’ve already stated my opinion that politicians being owned is non-partisan, generally speaking.

    Getting back to DC’s original point, it’s largely why my spectatorship of the current political cycle is without excitement or anger. I confess that when corporations get nervous about legislation, that’s usually a good marker. There’s also the entertainment value to see so-called “values” conservatives wring their hands, and get caught up in a degree of hypocrisy. That’s pretty much the most I can wring out of current events. What about y’all?

  • Well, Todd, I am occasionally reminded that politicians are not the only poseurs in this world.

  • I confess that when corporations get nervous about legislation, that’s usually a good marker.

    I’m not sure why seeing a particular group of corporations “nervous” about legislation would necessarily be a good thing. Corporations survive and thrive via a Smithian self-interest — that is, a self interest which is only fulfilled through fulfilling the self interest of others. It’s possible this alleged nervousness would indicate that, in the case of health care reform, insurance companies are in danger of making lower profits. But then, as I wrote about a while ago, insurance companies are not really making profits which are all that high in the first place. If they’re concerned that their revenues will be going down rather than their profit margins, that would almost certainly be an indication that people would be getting less health care overall — as would, for instance, be the case with getting rid of the MediCare Advantage program, as the Administration wants to do.

    Now, some would clearly consider that to be a good thing. The administration is obviously convinced that the “extra” benefits people are getting through MediCare Advantage are not actually of great benefit to the seniors getting them (or else are things they can afford to pay for on their own) but clearly it’s stuff that the seniors themselves are rather attached to. And so in the end, it’s they who are rather more nervous than the corporation.

    There’s also the entertainment value to see so-called “values” conservatives wring their hands, and get caught up in a degree of hypocrisy.

    I’m not really clear here the hypocrisy comes in. “Values voters” who are conservative don’t generally trust the government to do things well, and they particularly don’t trust politicians who are big fans of abortion and euthanasia, so I’m not really sure why it’s inconsistent of them not to trust the party of abortion and euthanasia to reform the health care industry in a way that would in any way be good for the population.

  • “I’m not sure why seeing a particular group of corporations “nervous” about legislation would necessarily be a good thing.”

    It’s an anti-narcissism thing. Corporations often have interests at odds from the good of society.

    “I’m not really clear here the hypocrisy comes in.”

    Neither major political party is sufficiently pro-life, assuming one includes issues like torture in one’s firmament of conception to natural death.

  • Corporations often have interests at odds from the good of society.

    And yet corporations only succeed in existing by providing some sizeable number of people with something that they want or need. Indeed, one could well argue that they are much more directly at the mercy of the people’s will than government is.

    Neither major political party is sufficiently pro-life, assuming one includes issues like torture in one’s firmament of conception to natural death.

    Given that Obama has made virtually no changes on “issues like torture” from the status quo of Bush’s second term, I’m not clear how this is decisive, much less relevant to the health care debate.

  • I find this discussion very interesting. I think we are all in some kind of a fog, caught between the Republican’ts and the Demoncrats. Is there really a difference? I know Republican’ts are pro-Life, right? I don’t believe that. I think they pay life lip-service. I am not saying ALL R or ALL D are that way, I am talking about the party in general.

    This is not Right vs. Left, this is a hallucination. It is Right vs. Wrong and both of them are often wrong. The fact is that all American’s should be conservative and none should be Republican or Democrat in their current incarnations. Why? Because the founding of this nation is inherently conservative, despite the fact that the founders can be described as liberals (in the classical form). This is true because the Constitution is supposed to be the Supreme Law of the land and it has respect for The Supreme Law’s of God (this is good even for secular humanists because they can only survive in a nation based on Christian law). We all should want to CONSERVE the Constitution and run government within those CONSERVATIVE parameters. Of course this means most of the actions of government for the last 100 years for BOTH parties would be illicit. This is true because neither party is conservative although the elephants have brief moments of clarity and then slip back into their old habits of being Democrats from 40 years ago.

    If, in fact, we were all Constitutionally conservative, then we can all make the statement that it is ‘just a piece of legislation’, which would do something within the enumerated parameters of the Constitution. We can then trust that the delegates would only be able to exercise their limited authority on issues that would be virtually invisible to all of us because our state an commonwealth laws would be more relevant, declaration of war excluded. If Congress set the weight of our money and the immoral, usurious, so-called Federal Reserve cartel didn’t exist then funding for BIG government would be severely curtailed and conservative thrift would rule, which facilitates a more moral rule. The Constitution is designed to create a free-trade zone within the borders of the USA, ensure republican government, set standards of weight, money, etc. and settle disputes that may arise between the states (preferably without invading any of them). Those would be ‘just pieces of legislation’ and they would also be more likely to be Just.

    A Constitutional Republic with sound money and a Christian-moral base would not be the welfare/warfare giant it is today. The truly poor would be raised up, instead of kept as an excuse for larger welfare departments while they are socially engineered to be slaves. The corpratist interests would have to be effective in order to survive in a competitive environment; rather than securing welfare for the corporations from the government largesse and controlling the government in a sick, incestuous relationship. Wars would need to actually be just and when war is declared it would be expedient and necessary to win and win quickly with superior numbers to reduce damage, cost and loss of lives.

    The constant bickering between so-called liberals/progressives and so-called conservatives is only about the methods and intent of the pre-determined outcome which is simply MORE government. And we are all happy with it when it is AGREEING with us and ANGRY when it isn’t. The truth is it isn’t good either way in its current form and seeks only to make us the DIVIDED states of America. We all need to reach back to our authentic CONSERVATIVE roots and return this country to the place she belongs. Bastion and beacon of human liberty so men are free to seek salvation or perdition.

  • DarwinCatholic writes Tuesday, September 22, 2009 A.D.
    “My concern is that when government (aka the law) looks the other way, the rich and powerful have free rein to do as they wish.
    See, I guess my thought is: the government is pretty much run by the rich and the powerful, so when we go in the direction of letting the government run more things, it’s unlikely to result in the rich and the powerful being reigned in very much. Sure, they may take out a few of their own who cross the lines, but overall the government will look out for those that run it. And the fact that we can vote doesn’t change the fact there’s an aristocracy of sorts that actually ends up holding office and running things — whichever party wins out”.

    The subject was thoroughly and repeatedly discussed by GKC. He referred to the plutocrats, a group that came to have the power in England in the early 19th Century. It is pretty much the same in the U.S. today.

    I note simply in passing that corporations [actually executives, who run the corporations despite the stockholders and their “representatives”, the board of directors] are not particularly the villains. They are part and parcelof the U.S. polity.

  • The problem we are discussing is exactly what the genius of the Founding Fathers was seeking to prevent.

    By expanding government well beyond the Constitutional parameters and delegating power that the Constitution forbids to be delegated – control of the money supply – to a private corporation, we have distorted what American government is supposed to be.

    We have created a powerful monster that is a highly desirous prize to secure power and wealth and lord it over everyone else. A small cabal of unscrupulous and arrogant individuals now have the ability to control the fate of millions of people and trillions of units of money, which consolidates the power and the wealth.

    These are the ideological descendants of the same group that did it in France and Germany and Britian beginning centuries ago. Only now they are more bold and powerful.

    This Republic was made for a moral and religious people precisely because without that strong moral backbone for the governed it is inevitable that government will be used for sinister purposes and sadly it is by the consent of the governed. The elite insiders have illegally blended government and industry in a fascist concoction, but not enough people are on the take — yet. Once the receivers of government wealth transfers exceed the producers it is game over. We need not go there.

    We need to return to limited, consitutional government and federalism (subsidiarity). Once the Constitution is restored, then the power of the oligarchy will vanish. Sadly, this is something that Republicans and Democrats and everyone in between should agree on. Yet, we bicker becuase we like the power when our guy or our party is seemingly in control of the machine. This is a false illusion. The real control is always hidden. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, just tear at each other’s throats to be the winners and have your inneffectual idiot stand as figurehead next. Mmm . . . what’s in this Kool-Aid?

Father Jenkins: Looking for a Pro-life Initiative? Drop the Charges Against Father Weslin

Tuesday, September 22, AD 2009

NotreDameDialogue

 

Hattip to Ignatius Insight.  Father Norman Weslin, arrested at Notre Dame for protesting Obama Day, faces trial on October 1.  Notre Dame has refused to drop the charges.  Now that Father Jenkins is trying to get some pro-life street creds,  perhaps a good place to start would be to drop the charges against Father Weslin. 

An open letter from Dr. Charles E. Rice, Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School, to Fr. John Jenkins, President of University of Notre Dame:

Open Letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame

September 21, 2009
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Dear Father Jenkins:

Professor Fred Freddoso has shared with me the response on Sept. 17th by Dr. Frances L. Shavers, Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President, to Fred’s email of that date to you asking that Notre Dame request dismissal of the charges against the persons arrested for trespass on the campus in relation to the honoring of President Obama at Commencement.  Dr. Shavers responded on your behalf to Fred’s email because, as she said, “the next few days are rather hectic for [Fr. Jenkins].”  I don’t want to add to the hectic burden of your schedule by sending you a personal message that could impose on an assistant the task of responding.  I therefore take the liberty of addressing to you several concerns in the form of this open letter to which a response is neither required nor expected.

First, permit me to express my appreciation for the expressions of support for the pro-life cause in your September 16th “Letter concerning post-commencement initiatives.”  I know, however, that in a matter as significant as this, you will appreciate and welcome a respectful but very candid expression of views.  In my opinion, the positions you have taken are deficient in some respects.

In your Letter of Sept. 16th, you rightly praise the work of the Women’s Care Center (WCC) and of its superb leader, Ann Murphy Manion.  I commend you on your statement that the WCC “and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.”  Your praise of the WCC and similar efforts, however, overlooks a practical step that Notre Dame, as an institution, ought to take.  That would be for you, on behalf of Notre Dame, to issue a standing invitation to the WCC to establish an office on the Notre Dame campus to serve students, faculty and staff if, in the judgment of the WCC, that would be desirable and effective.  Such would give practical effect, right here at Notre Dame, to your words in support of the WCC and similar efforts.

Your Letter announced your formation of the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life.  Rather than offer a detailed evaluation of my own, I note my agreement with the personal analysis of William Dempsey, ND ’52, President of the Sycamore Trust, calling attention to “the obviously deliberate exclusion from Task Force membership of anyone associated with the ND organizations that have been unashamedly and actively pro-life: the Center for Ethics & Culture and the ND Fund for the Protection of Human Life.  Nor was the student representative chosen from the leadership of the student RTL organization or from anyone active in last year’s student alliance protesting the honoring of the President, ND Response.  It is hard to resist the inference that this is as a move toward marginalizing the Center and the Fund, neither of which receives any University support the way it is…. Finally, it is unsettling but instructive that this announcement comes a day after Fr. Jenkins’ annual address to the faculty in which he described his goals for the year, which included increasing female and minority faculty representation but not a word about the most crucial problem facing the university, the loss of Catholic identity through the failure to hire enough Catholics to restore the predominance required by the Mission Statement.  This is a striking falling away from [Fr. Jenkins’] wonderful inaugural address.  The fact that ND did nothing to serve the pro-life cause until forced by the reaction to the Obama incident testifies to the fact that, without a predominance of committed Catholics on the faculty, any pro-life efforts launched under pressure will in time fade away.  The risk, and surely it is real, is that this initiative and the publicity ND is generating about it will deflect attention from the fundamental problem besetting Notre Dame….But I return to where I began: A project that deliberately excludes from participation those who have courageously manned organizations standing against the faculty attitude toward the pro-life cause ought to be regarded with suspicion.” 

My main concern in this letter arises from your statement in your Letter that “Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life.  I plan to participate in that march.  I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event.”  I understand that Notre Dame students have invited you to participate with them in the March.  The problem arises from an aftermath of Commencement.  On this I refer back to Chief of Staff Shavers’ response to Professor Freddoso’s request that Notre Dame ask dismissal of the charges against those arrested.  Dr. Shavers states that “these protesters were arrested for trespassing and not for expressing their pro-life position.”  That is misleading.  This is not an ordinary case of trespass to land such as would occur if a commuter walks across your lawn and flower bed as a short-cut to the train station.  Notre Dame is ordinarily an open campus.  Those 88 persons, 82 of whom are represented by Tom Dixon, ND ’84, ND Law School ’93, were arrested not because they were there, but because of who they were, why they were there and what they were saying.  Other persons with pro-Obama signs were there but were not arrested and not disturbed.  Serious legal and constitutional questions are involved, arising especially from the symbiotic relationship between the Notre Dame Security Police, who made the arrests, and the County Police.  This letter is not a legal brief.  Rather I merely note that it is disingenuous for Notre Dame to pretend that this is merely a routine trespass case.

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9 Responses to Father Jenkins: Looking for a Pro-life Initiative? Drop the Charges Against Father Weslin

  • Wow.

    (I hope professor Rice is tenured).

  • Even better c matt, he’s retired! (Knowing Professor Rice, however, I suspect he would have written precisely the same letter even if he were a young Professor, newly employed at Notre Dame, and lacking tenure!)

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  • Prof. Rice is the man! I encourage you to read his new book, What Happened to Notre Dame?. I’m reviewing the book in a series of posts at my blog.

    Prof. Rice does take one unfortunate turn in the book, however, when he intimates in a few throw-away lines that there may be some legal credibility to the “birther” claims. By going there, I’m afraid it gives his detractors the means to completely dismiss his important book.

  • That’s gonna leave a mark.

  • There is a petition to Notre Dame gaining momentum, called the university to intervene with the county prosecutor and drop the charges against 88 pro-life advocates facing up to 1 year in jail and heavy fines.

    Sign it here
    http://www.tfpstudentaction.org/get-involved/online-petitions/urgent-petition-to-notre-dame-please-drop-the-charges.html

    God bless!

    Let’s pray Notre Dame’s Catholic identity is restored.
    Maybe Fr. Jenkins should retire early.

  • Fr. jenkins shouls be removed from his post as president of the university. There is no other way. We should not judge but he seems devious, and I wonder if there is a possibility that he is trying to undermine the activity – pro life and otherwise – of faithful Catholics on campus. He is going to continue to damage the Catholic identity of the University and severely damage the souls of the young people who are sent by their parents expecting there to be a real “Catholic” adherence to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church. Fr.Jenkins publicly thumbed his nose at, not only his own Bishop, but all Bishops who disagreed with his honoring the most radically pro abortion President/politician in our history. He has covered himself and the University with shame and has dishonored the trust given to him and failed his students and his Church…how far does he have to go before the Bishops have the courage to say: “Enough!” We’ll see…

  • He is going to continue to damage the Catholic identity of the University and severely damage the souls of the young people who are sent by their parents expecting there to be a real “Catholic” adherence to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t recall a time when Notre Dame ever adhered to strict, authentic “Catholic” teaching.

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Right to Choose: 15 times.

Tuesday, September 22, AD 2009

Impossible Motherhood

Irene Villar, self described abortion addict, details in her book Impossible Motherhood her 15 abortions in 16 years.  Read a story on the book here.  The story is a prize example of mainstream media treatment of abortion.  Obviously Villar has psychological problems according to the story, but the right to abortion is sacred and must be protected.

Irene Vilar worries that her self-described “abortion addiction” will be misunderstood, twisted by the pro-life movement to deny women the right to choose.

Of course Villar is merely the abortion rights movement taken to an extreme.  Children in the womb are completely disposable for any or no reason.  There is nothing wrong with a woman having 15 abortions except for the impact upon her.

The blurb on the book states that “today, Vilar is the mother of two beautiful children”. Wrong.  She is the mother of 17 beautiful children, two of whom survive.

A wonderful resource for women who have been through abortions is Project Rachel.

In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning,
of bitter weeping!
Rachel mourns her children,
she refuses to be consoled
because her children are no more.

Thus says the LORD:
Cease your cries of mourning,
wipe the tears from your eyes.
The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward…
There is hope for your future.

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5 Responses to Right to Choose: 15 times.

  • Gosh, how sad. What a sick situation she seems to have been in.

    It’s really too bad she seems to still see pro-lifers as the enemy, because publishing this will not curry her any favor with the opposition. That and she’s probably still got quite a lot of healing left to do and I’m not optimistic that she’ll find that in the pro-abortion camp.

    From the story you cited:
    “An American Psychological Association task force concluded that mental health problems are ‘not a direct result’ of choosing to have one abortion.”

    So how many does a woman need to have before it affects her (or before her behavior is considered abnormal?) Three? Ten? Two or more in one year? Or are they trying to pretend that fifteen abortions in one woman’s lifetime might be OK? There are no lack of psychologically damaged women out there; the APA needs to get its head out of the sand or it may find itself facing disaster.

  • And of course, the solution touted is always “promote and teach better contraceptive use.” As if a young university woman and a middle-aged academian couldn’t have figured that out themselves had they so desired.

  • Years ago I talked to a priest who was involved in Project Rachel counseling. He also worked with recovering alcoholics and people with other addictions.

    If you are familiar with the 12 Steps of AA, you know that the 5th Step is “admitting to God, to oneself, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Many Catholics in AA use sacramental confession to do this.

    Anyway, this priest said that of all the women alcoholics and drug addicts who came to him for their 5th Step, 95 percent (that’s right, 95 percent) had had abortions in their past, and often more than one. He said it was a vicious cycle for many of them — woman gets pregnant, has abortion, uses alcohol, drugs and/or promiscuous sex to drown her pain and sorrow, which causes her to get pregnant again, and have another abortion, etc. etc.

    It does not surprise me at all that repeat abortions and addiction would go hand in hand. This woman urgently needs prayers and help.

  • I?ve only had one really rude comment. I was eating at work and some guy (whose wife was also pregnant) said ?you should be eating healthy food when you?re pregnant?. I was eating fish stir fry, no fat anywhere to be seen. Plus it was totally none of his business even if I had been eating a Big Mac. I guess he was just stupid as well as rude.

Off Topic

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

We don’t do this too often, but judging from the number of off topic discussions that have erupted in some of the threads recently, I decided that some of our commenters might enjoy a post where they could discuss what interests them.   The usual blog rules regarding charity and not engaging in personal attacks apply.  Otherwise, this forum is yours, so long as the topics, broadly speaking, relate to the Church and/or the US.

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36 Responses to Off Topic

Chutes, Ladders, & Progressivism

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

I came across this comment a while back, and I think it summarizes the experience of many of my fellow law and MBA classmates (all of whom are recent graduates or current students):

I don’t know how it was elsewhere, but the game my friends and I were sold had breezy constant ladders and shallow painless chutes. Now the ladders are falling apart or growing queues, and the chutes have proved to be sudden and devastating.

Now, on the one hand, it’s almost never rational to expect wonderful career opportunities to be awaiting one at every turn. And the graduates he’s talking about – people with sparkling resumes from the most prestigious undergrad and graduate schools – are hardly Dickens-level sympathetic protagonists. On the other hand, endless career opportunities are what many grad school admission offices are selling. And for many students and recent graduates of these institutions, six figures in debt with rapidly eroding job prospects,  the recession has been a rather traumatic experience.  This is certain to have a number of consequences, but I’ve been idly speculating that twenty to thirty years down the line, when they will be in a position to influence public policy, these individuals are likely to be more sympathetic than they might otherwise to redistributive policies. And, as it turns out, there is actually a recent academic study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that supports this idea. Here is the abstract:

Do generations growing up during recessions have different socio-economic beliefs than generations growing up in good times? We study the relationship between recessions and beliefs by matching macroeconomic shocks during early adulthood with self-reported answers from the General Social Survey. Using time and regional variations in macroeconomic conditions to identify the effect of recessions on beliefs, we show that individuals growing up during recessions tend to believe that success in life depends more on luck than on effort, support more government redistribution, but are less confident in public institutions.  Moreover, we find that recessions have a long-lasting effect on individuals’ beliefs.

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3 Responses to Chutes, Ladders, & Progressivism

  • Good point, John. I suppose the other influencing factor might be how quick and what kind of a recovery we see in the years to come.

  • After this administration I expect the political pendulum to swing strongly against anything smacking of government redistribution of wealth for a good long while. In this administration I think we will see a New Deal that is a flat failure. (It is arguable that the first New Deal was also a flat failure but such was not the opinion of a solid voting majority of the American public.)

  • I was more thinking of the different ways that economic downturns seem to have affected people. My dad’s parents were both 19 in 1929, so they had a very, very depression era mentality. Nothing was ever thrown away which might be useful, a huge emphasis on savings and paying off debt, always working extra hard and squirreling things away for the expected next crash.

    Compare that to people who weathered the 1980/1982 recession, or like me who came out of college in the post 9/11 slow-down. Maybe my co-workers and I are way a-typical, but aside from a tendency to brag back and forth over beer about layoffs that we’ve seen or experienced, seeing a couple years of rough employment doesn’t seem to have slowed anyone down much or changed their habits.

    I think the big determining factor will be: in 2015 or 2020, will people remember long years of uncertainty and hard times, and feel like they need to save all the time and avoid debt in order to be prepared for the next one, or will they talk about how they worked up from the bottom and had it as hard as everyone, but from the vantage point of having basically “caught up” within 2-3 years?

Changed My Mind: Three Strikes Laws

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

I’ve been challenged on a few occasions, as one tends to be if one is a fairly strong adherent of one end of the political spectrum or another, as to whether I’ve ever changed my mind on anything to a position contrary to the standard conservative one. And so, an example:

When a three strikes law was put on the ballot in California (where I lived at the time) I was a strong supporter. California was one of the first states to pass a three strikes law, and there was huge support for it because California was suffering badly from the 90s crime wave. The case for it seemed simple: If you’ve committed three felonies, you’re clearly not learning your lesson, and 25-life will take you off the streets and prevent you from continuing to be a danger to society. Support for the bill was heavily fueled by frustration with a justice system which seemed to act far too much like a revolving door, with rapists and murderers often being back on the streets within 5-8 years, and proceeding to commit similar crimes again. With the judiciary and prison system seemingly unwilling to do their job in keeping criminals off the streets, the case seemed strong for citizens to pass legislation forcing them to, and the three strikes law seemed like an obvious way to do it.

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28 Responses to Changed My Mind: Three Strikes Laws

  • In a similar vein, mandatory minimum sentencing was also a bad, albeit quite understandable, idea.

  • Good post Darwin, and I agree.

    This is an example of democracy gone sour. People cannot be made to suffer to appease the frustrations of the electorate. People should be able to choose from among just and rational options – not to impose mob mentality through the ballot box.

  • “This is an example of democracy gone sour. People cannot be made to suffer to appease the frustrations of the electorate. People should be able to choose from among just and rational options – not to impose mob mentality through the ballot box”.

    The idea seems on the face of it to be rational. What arguments have you against it?

    And a reminder. GKC said that there is nothing infallible about democracy. What will you substitute – rule by “experts”?

  • What about the victims? Who looks out for them?

    I don’t know if 3-strikes or mandatory minimums is the right approach, but stiffer sentences (longer or harder time) is absolutely necessary. Maybe throwing judges out of office who’s sentences do not meet with public demands for protection. How about just “honesty” in sentencing? 10 years = 10 years, instead of out in 2 with good behavior or whatever the ratio is. This is especially problematic in plea bargain cases. Think of a guy who commits a crime with a 10 year sentence, but the prosecutor justifiably pleas it to a 5 year and the offender is out in 2 or so…

  • This post raises a long-standing discussion in criminal law, which is the question of why and how we ought to punish criminals. Specifically, some of the interesting questions involved are:

    What factors play (or should play) into sentencing:

    1. Prior bad actions?
    2. Prior convictions?
    3. Nature of the crime at hand and prior crimes (bad in and of itself (murder) versus bad because of law (felon possessing a weapon)).

    Why do we punish?

    1. Reform the criminal.
    2. Retribution.
    3. Safety of society.
    4. Deter others from committing the crime.

    How long and what type of punishment ought to be given for which crimes?

    The last question is what seems to be most relevant here. Most people in the general public favor a fairly tight relation between crime committed and punishment given. Obviously, the three-strikes law is a departure, sometimes significantly in practice, from that idea.

    The interesting questions is, why does it seem unjust to us that these laws should work as they do? Taking a easier case, if a person has committed three felonies, and is fully aware that his third felony will result in a lengthy prison stay, why would it follow that it is unjust if he is fully aware of the consequences of his actions? On one hand, we could posit some sort of idea that it is not just knowledge of the punishment, but also the justice of the punishment in and of itself that is in question. Therefore, without congruence between punishment and crime, the law itself is unjust.

    On the other hand, knowledge of and ability to knowingly avoid committing a crime is a large part of justice. From whence can we derive the idea that, if a felon knew of the law, and knew how to avoid it, and knew the punishment for committing it, the length of time itself is unjust?

  • Matt,

    I’m very much in favor of strict sentencing and sticking to those sentences. It’s just that I’ve come around to thinking that three strikes laws are a pretty poor way of achieving that — although motivated by legitimate indignation at failure to enforce the law.

    The big problem, as I see it, is that felonies have come to be a very wide range of crimes in most states. Stealing and expensive set of golf clubs, or being caught with a few ounces of pot, while both activities that I heartily disapprove of, don’t strike me as things meriting a 25-life sentence — even if the same person had done similar things twice in the past. It’s that kind of lack of precision that is the problem, in my mind.

    Jonathan,

    Good points all round. I’d say we punish criminals for all four of the reasons you cite — though primarily for 2-4, 1 is more up to the criminal than the state in many cases.

    I do think it’s often legit to take frequency of offense into consideration in sentencing — I just think that the three strikes law proved to be too broad brush and thus resulted in a lot of poor results. The last thing I want is to see a first time offender for armed robbery or rape given a lighter sentence because the prison system is clogged up with a bunch of petty shoplifters and druggies who have been locked up by three strikes.

  • DC,

    If you have not read it, here’s an interesting essay by C.S. Lewis on punishment – http://www.angelfire.com/pro/lewiscs/humanitarian.html.

    May I also recommend this – http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/legal-punishment/?

    Forgive me – I am not sure how much study you have done of punishment theory…

  • “The idea seems on the face of it to be rational. What arguments have you against it?”

    Well, I did say rational AND just… I suppose if one’s goal is to be as vindictive and unmerciful as possible, establishing a law that could send a person to prison for decades because they stole a pair of socks is rational in the instrumental sense. It gets the job done.

    My argument against it is Darwin’s argument. We are in agreement. I know someone whose father may be going to prison for shoplifting for life, because 20 years ago they were in a gang and had two previous felonies. That is an injustice.

    “And a reminder. GKC said that there is nothing infallible about democracy. What will you substitute – rule by “experts”?”

    I don’t object to citizens being able to choose from among rational and just policies. I do object to the notion that the fury of the mob can be represented by laws.

  • California has clearly suffered from too much democracy.

    I think sex offender laws are even more unjust. Constituents want ever harsher sex offender laws and there is absolutely no impetus to scale them back. That California case of the sex offender who managed to kidnap and rape a girl in his backyard for 18 years should demonstrate that many sex offender laws are just feel-good laws that don’t actually work. Unfortunately, the public will probably get the idea that the laws aren’t harsh enough.

  • My argument against it:
    sentence folks properly the first time— doesn’t it basically boil down to “you guys in charge of keeping bad guys in jail aren’t doing your job, so we’ll force you to do it”?

    If the folks in charge of that can’t manage their jobs, we might need ta replace ’em….

    RR-
    I know a guy who is…well, very dumb. There’s no nice way to put it. Not a bad person, just very very very low IQ and lacking in reasoning skills.

    He and a friend were accused by a 15 year old daughter of the friend’s girlfriend of rape. The other guy hired a lawyer; this guy went with public council, who told him to just say he was guilty and he’d be able to get out on bail. So he did.

    Girl admitted during the other guy’s trial that it was all a lie to hurt her mom, who wouldn’t do something or other the 15 year old wanted. So the other guy got off.

    The dumb guy is listed as a sex offender, is still under supervision and spent six months in jail, on an accusation that is known false.

    Sex offender laws *do* need some work….

  • Yes, I agree there are serious problems with “three strikes” and some sex offender laws.

    The main problem, I think, is that the general public and to some degree politicians equate “felony” with “violent crime,” and “sex offender” with “mad degenerate lurking in the bushes waiting to attack someone.”

    However, many non-violent offenses are felonies, and not all sex offenses involve violence or coercion. Felonies can include everything from murder to calling in a false fire alarm or shoplifiting an item worth more than $300 (or whatever the cutoff point for felony theft is in your state).

    Sex offenses, meanwhile, can include anything from rape and child molestation to a teenage boy grabbing a girl’s breasts as a prank — again, depending on how the laws of one’s state read. Sex offenders in some states may be required to register with law enforcement and severe restrictions placed on where they can live, regardless of the nature of their offense. Restricting people who have repeatedly molested children or raped women on the street is one thing; doing so to an 18-year-old guy who went too far with his 15-year-old girlfriend is another thing entirely.

  • I don’t think anecdotal cases of false convictions due to stupid confessions are evidence for a need to reform the sex offender system.

    Having said that, their is a serious problem when true sexual predators are not distinguished from teenage Lothario’s and pranksters, there is also a serious problem when you converge multiple attempts to curb crime (3 strikes and low thresholds for felonies).

    I would say that, on the whole, a proper reform of our justice system would generally enhance punishment, not diminish it.

  • I would say that, on the whole, a proper reform of our justice system would generally enhance punishment, not diminish it.

    /agree

    Create a new area of sex crimes, too– false accusations.

  • foxfier,

    Create a new area of sex crimes, too– false accusations.

    i don’t think so, if the person is innocent then they should not confess or be convicted, don’t add a new problem to fix another problem.

    There certainly is an issue with excessive pressure on defendants to confess even if they’re innocent. This has nothing to do with sex offender laws but with the structure of the judicial system.

  • i don’t think so, if the person is innocent then they should not confess or be convicted, don’t add a new problem to fix another problem.

    Perhaps they should raise the level of proof needed for conviction, then, because the rape laws are a joke right now. It’s entirely possible to be convicted of rape on week-old say-so of a woman, without so much as proof you were at the same party.

    Filing false reports of arson, murder or assault has consequences– why is rape different?

  • foxfier,

    Perhaps they should raise the level of proof needed for conviction, then, because the rape laws are a joke right now. It’s entirely possible to be convicted of rape on week-old say-so of a woman, without so much as proof you were at the same party.

    The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt for any crime, but at the same time I believe that in many places the laws limit the defense’s options for cross-examination in ways which MIGHT actually skew the result.

    Without any physical evidence of rape I would be hard pressed to convict beyond reasonable doubt. There would have to be something beyond the he said/she said.

    Filing false reports of arson, murder or assault has consequences– why is rape different?

    they shouldn’t be… are they???

  • False accusations/filing a false police report– yes they’re illegal! Or they’re supposed to be, though the recent woman who claimed to have been gang raped by four or five men up until one of them produced a cellphone video that showed she was stone-cold sober and utterly willing is the only case I’ve ever heard of the law even *considering* prosecuting false claims of rape.

    Remember that stripper that accused the lacrosse team of raping her? Turned out she makes this accusation a LOT, with no harm to her should it be shown to be a lie?

    It’s a disgusting abuse of the protections set in place for people who truly are victimized by scum– it turns them on their head to victimize someone else. A rape conviction can ruin your life faster than one for murder, for crying out loud….

  • foxfier,

    agreed.

    I think this problem should be solved by throwing the bums out of office, not some new legislation to layer on the existing ones.

  • The problem, IMO, is that three strikes laws are crude measures which have the ad man’s virtue of being reducible to slogans. A layman’s suggestions for replacements:

    –End indeterminate sentencing.

    –End judicial discretion over sentancing. Have the sentance or sentancing formulae dependent upon circumstance specified in the statute.

    –Have the sentance reduced by a statutorily specified percentage should the defendant plead guilty.

    –Track an individuals convictions over time and ‘award’ points for each based on the severity of the statutorily specified penalty. Establish a formula in law by which the statutorily specified sentance is to be enhanced given the number of points a defendant has accumulated.

    –Follow the same fact-finding procedures for juvenile crime as for adult crime. Have a separate and more lenient schedule of penalties and a separate set of prisons.

    –Limit the use of fines the most minor offenses and to corporate defendants.

    –Scrap probation, conditional discharge, and unconditional discharge.

    –Make use of restitution for property crimes in addition to incarceration.

    –Scrap prison furloughs.

    –Require a convict to serve at least half of his pronounced prison sentance before parole review is undertaken. Base parole review strictly on reported adherence to prison rules and avoidance of criminal conduct in prison.

    –Construct prisons so as to give each convict a small individual cell. Limit the amount of time out of the cell to a few hours a day, at most. Have simple and monotonous meals served in the cell. Eliminate prison amenites beyond electricity, heat, bedding, uniforms, and food.

    –Make statutory sentances short, but be sure they are served. A sentance longer than six years should be rare.

    –When you have finished your parole, you may be prohibited from receipt of certain public trusts (jury service, positions in law enforcement &c., pistol licenses). However, you are a free man, entititled to live where you please.

  • Art Deco,

    great post, let’s get down to details:

    –End indeterminate sentencing.

    –End judicial discretion over sentancing. Have the sentance or sentancing formulae dependent upon circumstance specified in the statute.

    I don’t think this would work, we still need a judge to sentence based on the circumstance and sometimes deviate from the expected sentence (up or down). Perhaps some sort of review board with citizen representation for all cases which deviate from the fixed sentence, or something like that.

    –Have the sentance reduced by a statutorily specified percentage should the defendant plead guilty.

    I like that, no getting off scot-free or pleading to some lesser offense, concealling the reality of the actual crime.

    –Track an individuals convictions over time and ‘award’ points for each based on the severity of the statutorily specified penalty. Establish a formula in law by which the statutorily specified sentance is to be enhanced given the number of points a defendant has accumulated.

    A little to complicated, though I like the intent. THere really should be a substantial escalation of penalties for repeat offenders, but I don’t think this would work.

    –Follow the same fact-finding procedures for juvenile crime as for adult crime. Have a separate and more lenient schedule of penalties and a separate set of prisons.

    that’s not how it works?

    –Limit the use of fines the most minor offenses and to corporate defendants.

    that’s not how it works?

    –Scrap probation, conditional discharge, and unconditional discharge.

    for minor first offenses this really does make sense.

    –Make use of restitution for property crimes in addition to incarceration.

    absolutely.

    –Scrap prison furloughs.

    absolutely.

    –Require a convict to serve at least half of his pronounced prison sentance before parole review is undertaken. Base parole review strictly on reported adherence to prison rules and avoidance of criminal conduct in prison.

    absolutely.

    –Construct prisons so as to give each convict a small individual cell. Limit the amount of time out of the cell to a few hours a day, at most. Have simple and monotonous meals served in the cell. Eliminate prison amenites beyond electricity, heat, bedding, uniforms, and food.

    I think it would be better to expand prison work, make it hard work that would help fund the prison, good behavior and effort would lead to increased comforts and privileges as well as better work and even job training. One of the most successful programs is a commercial diver training program in California, it has an incredibly low recidivism rate because it instills disciple and is a lot of hard physical work. The graduates make good money and are closely watched for drug use due to the nature of the work, they’re actually in high demand by employers.

    ps. no exposure to the public! None of these call centers that have been setup in places, it’s absurd.

    –Make statutory sentances short, but be sure they are served. A sentance longer than six years should be rare.

    no way. 6 is only sufficient for moderate property crimes, or very minor assaults. Robbery, aggravated assault, etc. should be twice that, with at least 6 years before parole.

    –When you have finished your parole, you may be prohibited from receipt of certain public trusts (jury service, positions in law enforcement &c., pistol licenses). However, you are a free man, entititled to live where you please.

    Additional conditions on a case by case basis, true sexual offenders need mandatory conditions and possibly lifetime ones beyond the original sentence.

  • Art,

    Many of these present problems. The ones which seem the most problematic, and which raise other questions, are:

    1. “End judicial discretion over sentancing.” – This is precisely the problem with the three-strikes laws. They are crude because judges have no discretion to hone sentencing finely.

    2. “Have the sentance reduced by a statutorily specified percentage should the defendant plead guilty.” This bothers me. There is too much potential for this to result in defendants who are innocent, but who think they will be steamrolled in court, to plead guilty. This is the same thing that happens in plea-bargaining.

    3. “Track an individuals convictions over time and ‘award’ points for each based on the severity of the statutorily specified penalty.” This could be construed as penalizing someone multiple times for the same offense.

    4. Why would you limit the use of fines, especially if the crime is not a violent one and / or is more white collar?

    5. Why should a sentence longer than six years be rare?

    6.

  • 3. “Track an individuals convictions over time and ‘award’ points for each based on the severity of the statutorily specified penalty.” This could be construed as penalizing someone multiple times for the same offense.

    I think it’s already established that subsequent offenses can involve escalating sentences, am I wrong here?

  • I think the sticking point would be formalizing it– right now, it’s something the Judge can take into account; if it’s added automatically, especially if we start doing so retroactively, they might successfully challenge it on the double-jeopardy basis.

  • I don’t think this would work, we still need a judge to sentence based on the circumstance and sometimes deviate from the expected sentence (up or down). Perhaps some sort of review board with citizen representation for all cases which deviate from the fixed sentence, or something like that.

    You can incorporate some circumstances into the provisions that specify the sentance, e.g. having sentances on drug charges computed by a formula dependent upon the units of contraband involved (one unit being so-and-so many ounces of marijuana, so and so many grams of cocaine, &c.) and incorporating a constant set at 1 for possession and 1+x for sale. One other thing one might attempt is devolving the function of executive clemency on county executives.

    Question: do we, by allowing judicial discretion, approach or recede from justice in the application of punishment. That depends on how reliable we regard the judgment of judges as a class of people. Mr. McClarey or Mr. Price might educate us here. My own understanding is that judges are knowledgeable about questions of law and serve their function by ruling on them and providing for regularized procedures, and are more practiced at explicit reasoning. I am not persuaded that judges have a more reliable moral sense than ordinary men, or that their comparative judgments in this realm will be better. We have three strikes laws because the conjoined judgments of prosecutors, judges, and parole boards generate decisions that are mad.

    that’s not how it works?

    The last time I studied the Penal Law of New York (some 20 years ago), the discretion to make use of alternatives to incarceration was broad but not unlimited. I think felony convictions mandated some prison time, but the exceptions and qualifications written into the sentancing rules were so rococo I am not sure I understood them. As of 1985, we had 35,000 people incarcerated here and 250,000 convictions per year, which is to say that convicts served a mean of about 52 days; about 73% of those convicted in New York’s courts served no time whatsoever. (I recall at that time that 38% of those initially charged in New York courts were hit with at least one felony count). When I say the most minor offense, I mean traffic tickets and sub-misdemeanor ‘violations’. If you plead guilty to disorderly conduct, you get three days in jail and a $120 fine.

    I think it would be better to expand prison work, make it hard work that would help fund the prison, good behavior and effort would lead to increased comforts and privileges as well as better work and even job training. One of the most successful programs is a commercial diver training program in California, it has an incredibly low recidivism rate because it instills disciple and is a lot of hard physical work. The graduates make good money and are closely watched for drug use due to the nature of the work, they’re actually in high demand by employers.

    I have several objections. One is that prison factories are a source of weapons. Another is that a penal system should be about punishment, not therapy. Allocate the task of straightening people out to philanthropies like the Church and the Salvation Army, who can get to work when the convicts are released. A third is Charles Murray’s objection that successful social work and education programs are often so because of factors peculiar to their founders, and difficult to standardize and replicate. I also think that guards allocating privileges to specified convicts is likely to have an unsalutary effect on prison society.

    no way. 6 is only sufficient for moderate property crimes, or very minor assaults. Robbery, aggravated assault, etc. should be twice that, with at least 6 years before parole.

    I think you can, within and between societies, garner considerable agreement on a rank ordering of offenses according to their severity. (One exception would be sex offenses). The thing is, it is difficult to have any sort of fruitful discussion of precise quanta of punishment for particular offenses. We might agree that robbery merits more than burglary, but could not on the precise number of years accorded to each. We are going to have to agree to disagree. Several points…

    –I am proposing a penal system quite different and much more austere than that which currently prevails. A convict sits in his cell 21 hours a day, lives on bulgar wheat and lard, and does not interact socially with anyone other than a weekly (non-conjugal) visitor, his lawyer, the guards, and the chaplains.

    –It is a commonplace (and I imagine substantiated somewhere) that the surety of punishment is a more powerful vector than the severity of punishment in deterring bad behavior. One needs to consider an optimal balance of resources between law enforcement and all other claims and between the various components of law enforcement (police patrols v. prison space). You start locking up burglars for six year sentances, it is going to get mighty expensive.

    –I am not persuaded that the procedures of the court system are all that accurate. Short determinate sentances are a hedge.

  • Art-
    look to Japan’s jails. Shoot, look at the whole system Japan came up with in something like the 50s to deal with their high crime numbers.

  • 1. “End judicial discretion over sentancing.” – This is precisely the problem with the three-strikes laws. They are crude because judges have no discretion to hone sentencing finely.

    That might be your problem with ‘three-strikes’ laws. It is not mine. “Three strikes” laws prescribe a life sentance for an offense in the nominal category ‘felony’ without regard without regard to what the crime is or how severe the previous felonies were. The sentances prescribed are cockeyed, not the procedures by which they are imposed. I am suggesting that sentances be specified in the statute or that formulae to compute them be so specified. If you commit a robbery, you get 24 months. If you commit a second robbery, you get 29 months. If you commit a third, you get 38 months, not 25 years to Life.

    This bothers me. There is too much potential for this to result in defendants who are innocent, but who think they will be steamrolled in court, to plead guilty. This is the same thing that happens in plea-bargaining.

    Defendants already face these dilemmas. Remissions specified in the statute make the consequences of particular courses of action more apparent to defendants. This particular suggestion does not provide for disposing of plea bargaining, it merely alters one of the parameters which influence negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys. It is my understanding that certain states have disposed of plea bargaining with success and that is something I would like to see.

    This could be construed as penalizing someone multiple times for the same offense.

    There were in 1989 provisions in the Penal Law of New York for modified sentencing schedules for people classified as ‘persistent felony offenders’ and the like. As far as I know, these have not been adjudged to violate constitutional provisions proscribing double jeopardy, so I think they are in accord with positive law. If you think they are unjust in spite of that you are suggesting that deterrence can play no proper role in penology or that escalation of punishments is inherently unjust, no?

    Why would you limit the use of fines, especially if the crime is not a violent one and / or is more white collar?

    I am more concerned to dispose of alternatives to incarceration. The utility of incarceration is that it robs people of time and freedom, and these are goods most equally distributed in the population at large. I do not understand the principle which finds that violent offenses merit prison time and property crimes do not (as opposed to less prison time), or that the local thug who took ninety dollars off you gets prison and the broker who embezzled the savings you accumulated over twenty years does not.

    Why should a sentence longer than six years be rare?

    See above. Consider that in New York, you had six classes of felonies. The most serious are Class A-I felonies, and of these there are only five: first and second degree murder, first degree kidnapping, first degree arson, and trafficking in large quanta of narcotics. IIRC, the only Class A-II felonies were certain drug charges. Back when I made it my business to study the crime statistics, you had 250,000 convictions in New York. The sum of murders and aggressive manslaughters was, IIRC, under 2,000. I think about 40% of these went unsolved, so the ratio of resolved homicides (many of which are class B felonies due to circumstances or plea bargaining) to total convictions would be about 0.35%. It seems to me that kidnapping for ransom and blowing up buildings are quite unusual, so I do not think convictions for 1st degree kidnapping and 1st degree arson are going to add much to that. Drug charges might. The most serious crimes are just not that common.

  • ” I am not persuaded that judges have a more reliable moral sense than ordinary men, or that their comparative judgments in this realm will be better.”

    You can bank on that! All you can say about judges as a group is that they will usually have a firm grasp of the law and court room procedures. Their grasp of morality is about the same as any group of individuals who have not been convicted of serious crime. Judges should have some discretion within a range of possible sentences, but given too much discretion and sentences for serious felonies will vary wildly from judge to judge. I believe a large amount of judicial discretion makes sense for first time offenders, misdemeanors and lesser or nonviolent felonies. Serious felonies involving violence however need a uniformity of sentencing to deter others from these acts and to ensure punishment for heinous crimes.

  • Art,

    I am proposing a penal system quite different and much more austere than that which currently prevails. A convict sits in his cell 21 hours a day, lives on bulgar wheat and lard, and does not interact socially with anyone other than a weekly (non-conjugal) visitor, his lawyer, the guards, and the chaplains.

    I’m surprised that nobody has come out and labelled your proposal to be torture… Honestly, I have no problem with this treatment for convicted criminals, I just think hard labor is going to be more effective at preventing recividism, which is important.

    You start locking up burglars for six year sentances, it is going to get mighty expensive.

    I’m not so sure, but 6 years with parole in 3 sounds fine to me for committing a serious property crime which potentially would have escalated to assault or murder if the premise had been occupied. I would probably settle for a 4/2 for burglary of an UNOCCUPIED residence.

    If you commit a robbery, you get 24 months. If you commit a second robbery, you get 29 months. If you commit a third, you get 38 months, not 25 years to Life.

    that’s absurd. 2 year sentence, serve only 1 year for robbery???? 38 months, serving only 19 for the THIRD offense? Robbery is not a property crime (ie. burglary or theft) it is by definition violent, and it is against a person, generally a vulnerable one. Sorry, this has to be 6 year/3 year parole on first offense, escalating on subsequent, and is completely justified for life in prison on the 3rd. I’m speaking here of 3 separate convictions, not so much a case where a man is simultaneously convicted of multiple offenses. To qualify for escalation, it would have to be offenses subsequent to the original conviction.

    Keep in mind also, that we’re talking about convictions, it’s entirely likely that these guys have committed many other similar or worse crimes that they got off on or were never even picked up. Most guys convicted on 3 separate occaisions would have been known to have committed many other offenses to which conviction didn’t seem likely.

    While we’re at it, we need to look at reducing the amount of concurrent sentencing. I don’t know if they should be completely consecutive, but each additional offense MUST result in at least a portion of additional punishment.

    Remember the “justice” in justice system refers to justice for the victim and society who have been harmed, and the punishment must reflect the severity of the offense upon the victim.

    Donald,

    I agree with you on discretion for first time offenders, and less discretion for subsequent ones. I still believe though, that in the current environment a citizens committee should have prior review on judicial sentences outside of a standard (except perhaps for jury sentences).

Are You A Racist?

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

obamaflowchart21

Hattip to Powerline.  Jimmy Carter, incredibly enough one time President of the United States, believes a good portion of the opposition to Obama is racist.  Hmmm.  With Mr. Carter’s record on race, one could suspect that he might have a passing familiarity with racism.  The Obama administration quickly indicated that President Obama does not agree with his predecessor.  However, moogrogue at Missourah.com thoughtfully put together the above chart so that we may determine if we are racists according to the view enunciated by President 39.  Too bad Billy Carter is deceased and can’t be questioned about his elder brother’s statement.  I am sure it would be quotable and colorful as was this observation about his family: 
“My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.”

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101 Responses to Are You A Racist?

  • Methinks thou doth protest too much.

  • Ithinks thou hast no comprehension.

  • Well, if you have to rant that you aren’t a racist, it probably means you are. It’s like not trusting the guy that has to say trust me. If he has to plead to be trusted that says it all doesn’t it??

    You probably think Fox news is ‘fair and balanced’ too right??

  • Joe,

    Yeah, there’s nothing like declaring innocence that proves guilt, right? Give me a break.

  • You never took a logic course did you Joe? I posted this to hold up ex-pres Jimmuh to public ridicule.

    As to Fox, it is the network, judging from the ratings, that people are watching if they wish to have to have a clue about what is going on in the nation. Most of the rest of the media is too busy playing defense for Obama to have any interest in reporting on something as mundane as the news.

  • Well, if you declare your innocence when directly questioned, then yes, you are right. But if you offer a defense to something WITHOUT being accused, that says something.

    And yes many times declaring innocence is a way to hide the truth.

    “i did not have sexual relations with that women”

    “saddam hussein has a stockpile of WMD.”

  • One million wrong people don’t make it right.

    Does that mean islam is the #1 religion because there are more of them than any other religion??

  • Methinks Joe is entitled to a refund on that “formal education” he was bragging about earlier.

    Did he really get “formally educated”?? I’m starting to think he isn’t “formally educated”, or at least with a “formal education” I wouldn’t pay for.

    /paraphrase

  • Joe,

    You can add to your list “Abortion will not be covered in the Health Care bill.”

  • Unbelievable.

    Are you guys going to let this troll hijack every discussion?

    As for myself, following the chart above, I made it all the way to the very last “RACIST!”

  • Hoe (the troll, not Hargrave):

    When did you stop beating your wife?

  • The troll amuses me for the moment Joe H. When he ceases to amuse me I will show him the ban door.

  • It’s scary that they only reason all of you don’t murder and rape people is because of the spaghetti monster in the sky. Enlightened people don’t need to be threatened to know how to behave morally.

    It’s also deliciously ironic to get you guys to act very unchristian towards me.

    Your jesus must be proud.

    Go ahead and ban me. Censorship. That’s how religion deals with differing opinions so I suspect nothing less.

  • Joe,

    We’ve heard all this trope before. It’s old hat. At least be original if you’re going to come onto someone else’s blog and make an ass of yourself.

  • Well now, there’s an intelligent argument. You must have seen “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” this weekend.

  • I knew it was only a matter of time before Joe misapplied our own standards against us. Standards, I might add, to which he refuses to hold himself.

    LOL!

    Only slightly arrogant, I suppose, to think that you get to set such terms of debate for yourself.

  • Christians, like all humans, only have standards when it suits them.

    That’s what ‘sinning’ is. Dropping your standards momentarily for personal gain or survival, and NO ONE on this blog can honestly say they’ve never done that.

  • “It’s scary that they only reason all of you don’t murder and rape people is because of the spaghetti monster in the sky.”

    It’s actually more sad to me, than it is scary to you, that you have absolutely no rational basis for any good thing you do.

    I presume that you typically only believe in things that have evidence to support them.

    There is no scientific evidence for good or evil. You have belief without scientific evidence. You have faith.

    The only difference between us is that we acknowledge it and embrace it within a logically consistent framework, whereas you deny it. You live in a contradiction. One day, if you are honest with yourself, if you are humble enough to admit that you don’t know all there is to know, you will realize that.

    Philosophy 101, my fellow Joe – you can’t derive an “ought” from an “is”. In a random universe, rape and murder are just rape and murder. That we find such an idea appalling and unbearable suggests that we are designed/evolved to strive for moral truth, which cannot exist without God. God is the logical conclusion of all of the striving, hopes, and desires of humanity.

  • Folks,

    Look, I agree our visiting atheist here is just spouting off, but either ignore it or take the time to be substantive on it. Responding at the low level that he’s taking just takes up space and does little to actually answer the objections of unbelievers. (I don’t think you’re required to take up lots of time answering him, because I doubt he’s really inquiring at the moment, but there’s not much point in just sniping back.)

    JoeFromQC,

    Enlightened people don’t need to be threatened to know how to behave morally.

    No one needs to be threatened in order to behave morally, and I think any serious reading of the moral theology of Christianity will show you that this is not what Christian moral thinking consists of. However, it is actually rather difficult to come up with any clear understanding of what is “moral” without admitting the existence of any sort of absolute. Behavioralists come up with various “we instinctually see certain actions as good because they’re good for the species” but these don’t actually provide us with morality in the sense that humans naturally desire it in that they don’t provide absolute guidance. It’s easy to explain biologically why we can’t have people consistently killing and raping their neighbors, but it’s actually advantageous to do so occasionally and in certain circumstances from a biological point of view. However, as humans we have a fairly innate sense that moral laws ought to be absolute — that rape is actually _wrong_, not just a bad idea most of the time.

    And that’s before you even get into where it’s even possible to assert free will from a materialist point of view. If you hold that we are no more than our physical selves, then it’s hard to say whether people actually have any more responsibility for their actions then other animals do. In which case talking about doing “wrong” is rather fuzzy.

    So before lashing out at religious people as if they are fools when it comes to addressing moral questions, it might be a good idea to sit down and consider the internal tensions of your own professed position. They’re certainly not less.

  • >>>It’s actually more sad to me, than it is scary to you, that you have absolutely no rational basis for any good thing you do.

    No, you have it wrong. I do good things FOR rational reasons. I like the people I’m helping, I want my neighborhood to be nice, etc.. Those are RATIONAL reasons to do good.

    Believing you’re going to be eternally punished by an unconditionally loving god for not being good is IRRATIONAL.

    >>>I presume that you typically only believe in things that have evidence to support them.

    Presuming is like ASSuming buddy. That’s the problem. Belief and evidence are contradictory statements. To have faith or believe in something means you hold truth to be counter to the evidence provided.

    >>>There is no scientific evidence for good or evil. You have belief without scientific evidence. You have faith.

    That is just not true. There is no FAITH that convinces me Mr.Garrido is evil. If you need ‘faith’ to tell you that kidnapping an 11 year old and fathering 2 children with her is evil, you have serious problems you should go seek help for.

    >>>One day, if you are honest with yourself, if you are humble enough to admit that you don’t know all there is to know, you will realize that.

    HA!!! Well once you quit playing high and mighty maybe YOU will see the truth. I’ve never stated that I know all there is to know. That’s your team that does that.

    >>>Philosophy 101, my fellow Joe – you can’t derive an “ought” from an “is”. In a random universe, rape and murder are just rape and murder. That we find such an idea appalling and unbearable suggests that we are designed/evolved to strive for moral truth, which cannot exist without God. God is the logical conclusion of all of the striving, hopes, and desires of humanity.

    No, what makes us feel those emotions is OUR EVOLVED BRAIN. There are still tribes of people who have NEVER heard a word of the bible and have all those human qualities. Get over yourselves.

  • This post reminds me of last year’s round of remarkable logic (or, rather, reprehensible fallacy):

    If you don’t vote Obama, you’re racist!

  • Where to begin. Let’s start with faith. Faith is believing in what is revealed to us by another but not seen by myself directly. The Church would certainly agree with you that if there is empirical evidence then faith cannot contradict that.

    What you would seem to be referring to would be faith in God as you yourself have faith in may things – science for one. But belief in God is something that is apparent from reason alone and does not need faith. For example Aristotle held that there was the unmoved mover (God) apart from any religious claims. See his argument here:

    http:[email protected]/ontological/aristotleontological.htm

    Now this argument again is from pure reason. Thus for Aristotle the existence of God was given from reason.

    Now as for the personal God of faith and of Jesus, that becomes an argument from Revelation and the reliability of witnesses to Jesus’ life and resurrection. This does require a level of belief as I did not see him rise personally from the dead. Much as you take as articles of faith a number of scientific propositions as you did not prove them yourself.

  • Not voting for Obama doesn’t make you racist.

    But needing to repeat your non racism ad nauseum makes people wonder.

    If I went to the corner with a sign that said ‘I am not a sexual offender’ every day, pretty soon SOMEONE would rightfully get worried and check my background.

    The more you rail against something the more you are trying to hide something about yourself.

  • “No, what makes us feel those emotions is OUR EVOLVED BRAIN. There are still tribes of people who have NEVER heard a word of the bible and have all those human qualities. Get over yourselves.”

    Actually Joe we had a lab experiment running in the last century in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Mao’s China as to what would happen when people forsook morality based upon God and embraced morality based upon human precepts. The results were not pretty to say the least. Without God morality is merely a matter of opinon and superior force to impose those opinions.

  • No, you have it wrong. I do good things FOR rational reasons. I like the people I’m helping, I want my neighborhood to be nice, etc.. Those are RATIONAL reasons to do good.

    How is helping people you like, wanting your neighborhood to be “nice”, etc., all “rational” reasons to do good?

    Sorry, but your rather conspicuous petitio principii leaves all wanting.

    Believing you’re going to be eternally punished by an unconditionally loving god for not being good is IRRATIONAL.

    Eternally punished by an unconditionally loving god for not being good is irrational?

    If you’re going to use our religion against us, you might as well get it right: it is not our “GOD” who punishes us; it is we who deliberately choose against Him and, thus, by choice we opt for an eternal life absent of Him.

    No, what makes us feel those emotions is OUR EVOLVED BRAIN.

    I’m certain that its complex neuronal architecture is surely evidence that no such God exists and that everything man does is merely the result of haphazard neuronal firing having no actual teleological end whatsoever.

  • Phillip – Do you see how you have to bend over backwards to defend your position? Science is NOT an absolute belief. Science is adaptable. What is scientific truth today, may turn out to be something more or less depending on what we uncover in the future. Religion is the opposite. You HAVE to believe things AS THEY ARE. No matter how much is discovered you must still believe. Lemmings I tell you. Lemmings.

  • “But needing to repeat your non racism ad nauseum makes people wonder.”

    Joe you completely overlook the fact that this is post is a response to the trope on the left mouthed by the peanut farmer from Plains and others that opposition to Obama is largely based on racism. It is a ridiculous assertion and the chart accompanying this post demonstrates how ridiculous it is.

  • But needing to repeat your non racism ad nauseum makes people wonder.

    Repeating non racism?

    It’s “repeating non racism” to simply point out the logical flaw in the liberal’s libel: “If you don’t vote Obama, you’re racist”?

    Clearly, you are the epitome of illogic; I’ll grant you that.

  • Science is NOT an absolute belief. Science is adaptable. What is scientific truth today, may turn out to be something more or less depending on what we uncover in the future. Religion is the opposite. You HAVE to believe things AS THEY ARE. No matter how much is discovered you must still believe. Lemmings I tell you. Lemmings.

    Are you actually saying that Science does not require the same “belief” and “faith” as does religion?

    Kindly produce for me a quanta so that I need not have simply “belief” or even “faith” in its existence; then, I shall have proof that what you say here is true!

    My, oh my, you are worse than a lemming, as your lurid imbecility in these series of comments demonstrates.

  • >>>Actually Joe we had a lab experiment running in the last century in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Mao’s China as to what would happen when people forsook morality based upon God and embraced morality based upon human precepts. The results were not pretty to say the least. Without God morality is merely a matter of opinon and superior force to impose those opinions.

    Well, if things like burning heretics at the stake, and the spanish inquisition, and the church allowing the holocaust to happen weren’t in the church’s past, you’d have a point. But…….

    Not to mention you’re wrong about hitler. He fought against the ‘godless communism’ and considered himself religious, and believed ‘god’ was an active deity that supported the Aryan race.

  • Joe,

    No. Again, it is rational to know that God exists. You can read Aristotle’s argument if you wish.

  • Aww, isn’t that precious. E thinks he’s smart… LOL

    No one has said all of it is based on racism. But things like a poster that says Obama 08 with a picture of curious george on it. That is racist. You are fools if you think none of this is based on race.

  • It is never rational to believe in something that there is zero evidence for.

  • Oh Joe.

    “Belief and evidence are contradictory statements. To have faith or believe in something means you hold truth to be counter to the evidence provided.”

    Belief is just another way of saying “hold to be true”. You are splitting hairs.

    Also, why can’t faith or belief be held in the absence of empirical evidence? When you say “contrary to the evidence”, you are asserting that we’ve looked at evidence and rejected it. But the Christian faith has done no such thing; there is no material process or phenomenon that is not fully incorporated into a Christian worldview.

    Rather, it is those aspects of life that materialism and the scientific method alone cannot explain – starting with the conditions for the existence of good and evil as objective categories independent of the human mind – that are completely rejected by the militant atheist.

    But let us get to the very important thing.

    I said:

    “There is no scientific evidence for good or evil. You have belief without scientific evidence. You have faith.”

    You replied:

    “That is just not true. There is no FAITH that convinces me Mr.Garrido is evil.”

    Then, what, I ask, does convince you? Personal feelings? Subjective experience? Why, these sound like the sort of things that believers have used to justify their belief in God for centuries. Not a very rigorous application of the scientific method there, is it? And yet there is a truth there all the same.

    You’re trying to take the hard things in life – evils such as rape and murder, and our response to them as humans – and place them in a box that is “off limits” to rational inquiry and objective analysis. You declare that anyone who wants to explore them is sick and warped.

    That’s not very scientific. It sounds like a nervous evasion.

    “If you need ‘faith’ to tell you that kidnapping an 11 year old and fathering 2 children with her is evil, you have serious problems you should go seek help for.”

    This is the ad homoniem that many atheists resort to when they cannot come up with a rational explanation for their beliefs.

    You believe our default mode of existence is to accept and believe things without any scientific evidence to support them. I would say that that is exactly what religious people have always believed about man. Your faith stops with your morality; ours stops with the only possible condition for the existence of good and evil outside of our minds.

    You declare this act to evil on the basis of no evidence. You have faith that it is evil.

  • The belief in the empirical is an act of faith. That’s part of your Scientism.

  • That should read “the belief in the empirical only…”

  • Apparently, a guy who thinks “If you vote Obama, you’re racist” is logical and possess such eloquence as to employ “LOL” is clearly clever.

    Too bad it speaks more as concerning his incorrigible stupidity than anything else.

  • >>>Then, what, I ask, does convince you? Personal feelings? Subjective experience? Why, these sound like the sort of things that believers have used to justify their belief in God for centuries. Not a very rigorous application of the scientific method there, is it? And yet there is a truth there all the same.

    No there isn’t. You saying something is true does not make it so. What convinces me that it is wrong?

    Morality. You do not need faith to have morality.

    If you need faith to tell you a middle age man kidnapping and fathering children with an underage girl is wrong, you need serious help. Like right now. Call a doctor.. Oh wait, just ask ‘god’ to heal you.. LOL

  • >>>Apparently, a guy who thinks “If you vote Obama, you’re racist” is logical and possess such eloquence as to employ “LOL” is clearly clever.

    I never said those things. Typical. I can’t debate what he’s talking about so I’ll make stuff up.

    >>>Too bad it speaks more as concerning his incorrigible stupidity than anything else.

    Aww, how christian of you. Not really loving your enemy are you??

  • It is never rational to believe in something that there is zero evidence for.

    Really, Joe?

    Then, there goes most of the scientific theories that we simply take for granted.

  • “Morality. You do not need faith to have morality.”

    Please provide proof that ‘morality’ is necessary or that it is even ‘rational’.

    (Not that I deem you capable of even performing such a feat or that you are sufficiently intelligent to detect exactly the point of the inquiry.)

  • No, that’s not true. There is no scientific theory that hasn’t been tested. Newton didn’t just write “there is a law of gravity” He studied it, and found out the rate, and realized it was CONSTANT.

    Religion says take this as truth but don’t question or test it.

  • >>(Not that I deem you capable of even performing such a feat or that you are sufficiently intelligent to detect exactly the point of the inquiry.)

    Spoken like a true christian. Kudos to you sir.

  • JoeQC said: “Well, if things like burning heretics at the stake, and the spanish inquisition, and the church allowing the holocaust to happen weren’t in the church’s past, you’d have a point. But…….”

    This is really, really digging back into the past though, if one is talking about the Inquisition or Salem Witch Trials. To stand back, talking of things 500 years ago really seems to dilute the point.

    JoeQC sadly, must have been let down with his concept of the divine or religion. That is what I think.

  • “I never said those things. Typical. I can’t debate what he’s talking about so I’ll make stuff up.”

    And we never posted up any such Obama poster with Curious George on it. So, perhaps it is you who should quit “making stuff up”.

    “Awww, how Christian of you.”

    I can’t help it if you’re yet another stupid modern-day Galatian incapable of grasping logic.

  • In regard to Hitler here are some of his diatribes against the Church contained in his “Table Talk” compiled following the war from notes taken at the time he spoke:

    ‘The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life’s final task will be to solve the religious problem. Only then Will the life of the German native be guaranteed once and for all.”

    “The evil that’s gnawing our vitals is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for, but it will cost them nothing to wait. It’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them, and I’ll go straight to the point.”

    “I don’t know which should be considered the more dangerous: the minister of religion who play-acts at patriotism, or the man who openly opposes the State. The fact remains that it’s their maneuvers that have led me to my decision. They’ve only got to keep at it, they’ll hear from me, all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered by juridical scruples. Only necessity has legal force. In less than ten years from now, things will have quite another look, I can promise them.”

    “We shan’t be able to go on evading the religious problem much longer. If anyone thinks it’s really essential to build the life of human society on a foundation of lies, well, in my estimation, such a society is not worth preserving. If’ on the other hand, one believes that truth is the indispensable foundation, then conscience bids one intervene in the name of truth, and exterminate the lie.”

    “Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.”

    “The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like the Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing. And, if he does not succeed in getting himself transferred in the meanwhile to the Collegium Germanium in Rome, he may rest assured that in the balancing of our accounts, no “T” will remain uncrossed, no “I” undotted!”

    At Nuremburg after the war the Prosecution noted the Nazi hostitility to Christianity:

    “We come now to deal with the responsibility of the defendant Bormann with respect to the persecution of the Church. The defendant Bormann authorised, directed and participated in measures involving the persecution of the Christian Church. The Tribunal, of course, has heard much in this proceeding concerning the acts of the conspiracy involving the persecution of the Church. We have no desire now to rehash that evidence. We are interested in one thing alone, and that is nailing on the defendant Bormann his responsibility, his personal, individual responsibility, for that persecution.

    I shall now present the proofs showing the responsibility of Bormann with respect to such persecution of the Christian Churches.

    Bormann was among the most relentless enemies of the Christian Church and Christian Clergy in Germany and in German-occupied Europe. I refer the Tribunal, without quoting therefrom, to Document D-75, previously introduced in evidence as Exhibit USA 348, which contains a copy of the secret Bormann decree of 6th June, 1941, entitled “The Relationship of National Socialism to Christianity.” In this decree, as the Tribunal will well recall, Bormann bluntly declared that National Socialism and Christianity were incompatible, and he indicated that the ultimate aim of the conspirators was to assure the elimination of Christianity itself.

    I next refer the Tribunal, without quotation, to Document 098-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 350. This is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 22nd February, 1940, in which Bormann reaffirms the incompatibility of Christianity and National Socialism.

    Now, in furtherance of the conspirators’ aim to undermine the Christian Churches, Bormann took measures to eliminate the influence of the Christian Church from within the Nazi Party and its formations. I now offer in evidence Document 113-PS, as Exhibit USA 683. This is an order of the defendant Bormann, dated 27th July, 1938, issued as Chief of Staff to the Deputy of the

    [Page 300]

    Fuehrer, Hess, which prohibits clergymen, from holding Party offices. I shall not take the time of the Tribunal to put this quotation upon the, record. The point of it is, as indicated, that Bormann issued an order-forbidding the appointment of clergymen to Party positions.
    THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps this would be a good time to break off for ten minutes.

    (A recess was taken.)

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: May it please the Tribunal, we are dealing with the efforts of the defendant Bormann to expel and eliminate from the Party all Church and religious influence.

    I offer in evidence Document 838-PS, as Exhibit USA 684. I shall not burden the record with extensive quotation from this exhibit, but merely point out that this is a copy of a Bormann decree dated 3rd June, 1939, which laid it down that followers of Christian Science should be excluded from the Party.

    The attention of the Tribunal is next invited to Document 840-PS, previously introduced in evidence as Exhibit USA 355. The Tribunal will recall that this, was a Bormann decree of 14th July, 1939, referring with approval to an earlier Bormann decree of 9th February, 1937, in which he had ruled, that in the future all Party members who entered the clergy or who undertook the study of theology were to be expelled from the Party.

    I next offer in evidence Document 107-PS, Exhibit USA 3M. This is a circular directive of the defendant Bormann dated 17th June, 1938, addressed to all Reichsleiters and Gauleiters, top leaders of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, transmitting a copy of directions relating. to the non-participation of the Reich Labour Service in religious celebrations. The Reich Labour Service, the Tribunal will recall, compulsorily incorporated all Germans within its organisation.

    DR. BERGOLD (Counsel for defendant Bormann): The member of the prosecution has just submitted a number of documents, in which he proves that, on the suggestion of Bormann, members of the Christian religion were to be excluded from the Party, or from certain organisations. I beg the High Tribunal to allow the member of the prosecution to explain to me how and why Bormann’s activity, that is, the exclusion of Christians from the Party, can be a War Crime. I cannot gather this evidence from the trial brief. The Party is described as a criminal conspiracy. Is it a crime to exclude certain people from membership in a criminal conspiracy? Is that considered a crime? How and why is the exclusion of certain members from the Party a crime?

    THE PRESIDENT: Counsel will answer you.

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: If the Tribunal will willingly accommodate argument at this stage, we find that the question –

    THE PRESIDENT: Only short argument.

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: Yes, Sir – admits of a short, and, as it seems to us, easy answer.

    The point we are now trying to prove – and evidence is abounding on it – is that Bormann had a hatred and an enmity and took oppositional measures towards the Christian Church. The Party was the repository of political power in Germany. To have power one had to be in the Party or subject to its favour. By his efforts, concerted, continuing and consistent, to exclude clergymen, theological students or any persons sympathetic to the Christian, religion, Bormann could not have chosen a clearer method of showing and demonstrating his, hatred and his distrust of the Christian religion and those who supported it.

    THE PRESIDENT: Counsel for Bormann can present his argument upon this subject at a later stage. The documents appear to the Tribunal to be relevant.

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: With the Tribunal’s permission, I had just put in Document 107-PS and pointed out that it transmitted directions relating to the

    [Page 301]

    non-participation of the Reich Labour Service in religious celebrations. I quote merely the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Page 1 of the English translation of Document 107-PS, which reads as follows:
    “Every religious discussion is forbidden in the Reich Labour Service because it disturbs the comrade-like harmony of all working men and women.
    For this reason also, every participation of the Reich Labour Service in Church, i.e., religious, arrangements and celebrations is not possible.”

    The attention of the Tribunal is next invited to Document 070-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 349. The Tribunal will recall that this was a letter from Bormann’s office to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 25th April, 1941, in which Bormann declared that he had achieved progressive success in reducing and abolishing religious services in schools, and in replacing Christian prayers with National Socialist mottoes and rituals. In this letter, Bormann also proposed a Nazified morning service in the schools, in place of the existing confession and morning service.
    In his concerted efforts to undermine and subvert the Christian churches, Bormann authorised, directed and participated in measures leading to the closing, reduction and suppression of theological schools, faculties and institutions. The attention of the Tribunal is invited to Document 116-PS, Exhibit USA 685, which I offer in evidence. This is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 24th January, 1939, enclosing, for Rosenberg’s cognisance, a copy of Bormann’s letter to the Reich Minister for Science, Training and Public Education. In the enclosed letter, Bormann informs the Minister as to the Party’s position in favour of restricting and suppressing theological faculties. Bormann states that, owing to war conditions, it had become necessary to reorganise the German high schools, and in view of this situation, he requested the Minister to restrict and suppress certain theological faculties.

    I now quote from the first paragraph on Page 3 of the English translation of Document 116-PS, which reads as follows:

    “I, therefore, would like to see you put the theological faculties under appreciable limitations in so far as, according to the above statements, they cannot be entirely eliminated. This will concern not only the theological faculties at universities, but also the various State institutions which, as seminaries having no affiliation with any university, still exist in many places. I request you not to give any express explanations to churches or other institutions and to avoid public announcement of these measures. Complaints and the like, if they are to be answered at all, must be countered with this explanation, that these measures are carried out in the course of planned economy, and that the same is being done to other, faculties. I would be glad, if the professorial chairs thus made vacant could then be turned over to the fields of research newly created in recent years, such as racial research and archaeology.
    “Martin Bormann.”

    In our submission, what this document comes to is a request from Bormann to this effect: “Please close down the religious faculties and substitute in their place Nazi faculties and university chairs, with the mission of investigating racialism, cultism, Nazi archaeology.” This sort of thing was done in the Hohe Schule, as was so clearly demonstrated in the prosecution’s case against the plundering activities of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg.
    The attention of the Tribunal is next invited to Document 122-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 362. The Tribunal will recall that 122-PS is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 17th April, 1939, transmitting to Rosenberg a photostatic copy of the plan of the Reich

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    Minister of Science, Training and Public Education for the combining and dissolving of certain specified theological faculties. In his letter of transmittal, Bormann requested Rosenberg “to take cognizance and prompt action” with respect to the proposed suppression of religious institutions.
    I next offer in evidence Document 123-PS, Exhibit USA 686. This is a confidential letter from the defendant Bormann to the Minister of Education, dated 23rd June, 1939, in which Bormann sets forth the Party’s decision to order the suppression of numerous theological faculties and religious institutions. The Tribunal will note that the letter lists 19 separate religious institutions with respect to which Bormann ordered dissolution or restriction.

    After directing the action to be taken by the Minister in connection with the various theological faculties, Bormann stated as follows, and I quote from the next to last paragraph of Page 3 of the English translation of Document 123-PS:

    “In the above I have informed you of the Party’s wishes, after thorough, investigation of the matter with all Party offices. I would be grateful if you would initiate the necessary measures as quickly as possible. With regard to the great political significance which every single case of such a combination will have for the Gau concerned, I ask you to take these measures, and particularly to fix dates for them always in agreement with me.”
    I next offer in evidence, without quotation, Document 131- PS, as Exhibit USA 687. In summary, without quotation therefrom, this is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 12th December, 1939, relating to the suppression of seven professorships in the near-by University of Munich.
    Now, I deal briefly with the responsibility of Bormann for the confiscation of religious property and cultural property. Bormann used his paramount power and position to cause the confiscation of religious property and to subject the Christian churches and clergy to a discriminatory legal regime.

    I offer in evidence Document 099-PS, Exhibit USA 688. This is a copy of a letter from Bormann to the Reich Minister for Finance, dated 19th January, 1940, in which Bormann demanded a great increase in the special war tax imposed on the churches. I quote from the first two paragraphs of Page 2 of the English translation of this document, which reads as follows:

    “As it has been reported to me, the war contribution of the churches has been specified from 1st November, 1939 on, at first, for a period of three months, at R.M. 1,800,000 per month, of which R.M. 1,000,000 are to be paid by the Protestant church, and R.M. 800,000 by the Catholic church per month. The establishment of such a low amount has surprised me. I see from numerous reports that the political communities have to raise such a large war contribution, that the execution of their tasks, partially very important – for example, in the field of public welfare – is, endangered. In consideration of that, a larger quota from the churches appears to be absolutely appropriate.”
    The question may arise: Of what criminal effect is it to demand larger taxes from church institutions? As to this demand of Bormann’s taken by itself, the prosecution would not suggest that it had a criminal effect, but when viewed within the larger frame of Bormann’s demonstrated hostility to the Christian Church, and his efforts, not merely to circumscribe but to eliminate it, we suggest that this document has probative value in showing Bormann’s hostility and his concrete measures to effectuate that hostility against the Christian churches and clergy.”

  • >>>I can’t help it if you’re yet another stupid modern-day Galatian incapable of grasping logic.

    You serve your master well.

  • “You serve your master well.”

    Thank you — so did St. Paul who said something similar!

  • >>This is really, really digging back into the past though, if one is talking about the Inquisition or Salem Witch Trials. To stand back, talking of things 500 years ago really seems to dilute the point.

    So let me get this straight. The horrors of the past that secularism caused is list able, but the 1000’s of years of church oppression aren’t. Check.

    >>>JoeQC sadly, must have been let down with his concept of the divine or religion. That is what I think.

    You hit it on the head.. When I developed rational thought I said ‘You mean the people I trust have been feeding me LIES all these years??? It’s pretty disheartening until you realize they’ve been brainwashed and don’t realize they’re lying to you.

  • Oh, and I’m still waiting for you to provide demonstrative proof that ‘Morality’ is indeed *rational”… again, not that you’re actually capable of doing thus but, hey, here’s some charity on my part!

  • So Paul’s word’s are more important than jesus’ who said to love your enemies?

    Typical bible thumper, only heeds what is good for them.

    Onward christian soldier, onwards.

  • Also can you provide a refutaion of Aristotle’s argument for the existence of God.

  • My ‘proof’ that morality is rational is that the code of law predates the 10 commandments.

    All of the civilizations prior to monotheism still believed in right and wrong.

    All mythologies are defined by a battle between good and evil.

  • I am “loving” my enemies but granting you an audience, however hopelessly stupid you have demonstrated yourself to be.

  • 15 Minutes later… no demonstrative proof provided concerning ‘Morality’ as actually being *rational*… nothing but typical evasions by the clearly cognitively deficient.

  • >>Also can you provide a refutaion of Aristotle’s argument for the existence of God.

    You are the one selling a good (religion). The burden of proof is on you. It’s impossible to prove that god doesn’t exist. Just like it’s impossible to prove that Unicorns, leprechauns, and superman don’t exist.

    If I went around say EXACTLY the same things you were, but I said Superman visited me instead of ‘god’. I’d be ridiculed. Just as you should be.

  • So since its impossible to prove that God doesn’t exist you’re taking it on faith?

  • My ‘proof’ that morality is rational is that the code of law predates the 10 commandments.

    All of the civilizations prior to monotheism still believed in right and wrong.

    All mythologies are defined by a battle between good and evil.

    So your ‘proof’ is based on nothing more than that primitive peoples espoused morality?

    If anything, it only proves that morality, as such, is merely the remnant of a primitive and even superstitious culture!

    So much for your *scientific* proof!

    Although, I find it quite telling that rather than provide something *scientifically-based*, you resorted to such flawed (and even self-refuting) reasoning as that (though, no surprise there)!

  • Not at all. Whereas I can’t ‘prove’ there is no god, all evidence points in that direction.

    There is real tangible evidence that the judeo-christian god is a figment of man’s imagination.

  • No, my scientific proof is the evolved human brain.

    I was merely stating that your little religion didn’t ‘invent’ morality.

  • My ‘proof’ that morality is rational is that the code of law predates the 10 commandments.

    All of the civilizations prior to monotheism still believed in right and wrong.

    All mythologies are defined by a battle between good and evil.

    How is that a proof that morality is rational? All cultures also believed in spells, curses, ghosts and gods. Do you believe in all of those and well and consider them to be rational?

    Also, your analysis is a bit off. Not all mythologies are defined by a battle between good and evil. Ancient Sumerian and Egyptian and Greek and Roman mythology were not. Norse mythology was to an extent. Dualism is certainly a common theme in ancient mythologies, but it’s not universal.

    Further, the question is not so much whether various pre-Christian and non-Christian societies believed in right and wrong, but how exactly as an atheist (and I would assume thus materialist?) can achieve a rational explanation of what makes some actions right and others wrong. Do you think that there is some objective standard of “the good” which we all have an innate understanding of? And if so, why?

  • It doesn’t matter. You guys are so afraid of a dissenting opinion I’m finding that my posts are dissappearing. You guys must think your god is pretty impotent if you’re scared of my little words.

  • JoefromQCA, hey! You forgot to mention the Crusades!

  • There are more atrocities committed by the church than I can list.

  • “Scared of [your] little words.”?

    Really?

    You quite foolishly attempted to prove to me that morality is *rational* simply because primitive people believed in it.

    To be intimidated by somebody whose intelligence quotient is no doubt less than that of a reptile is ludicrous.

  • Joe,

    Just answer the question, since you cannot show that God does not exist you take it as an article of faith.

  • It IS rational. Just because you needed to be taught what comes naturally to most doesn’t make it untrue.

    I must have hit a nerve to make you act so christianly towards me. I guess I should be glad it’s this century and all you have is words instead of weapons.

  • Just because you didn’t like the answer doesn’t mean I didn’t answer it… Oh wait, it was one that was deleted.. Hold on…

    It may be impossible to prove god doesn’t exist, but all evidence points in that direction. It’s impossible to prove that unicorns don’t exist. Do you believe in them??

  • Joe: Just answer the question, since you cannot show that God does not exist you take it as an article of faith.

    Well, since Joe argued that morality is indeed *rational* since primitive people happened to believe in it ever since; similarly, based on the same premise that Joe himself provided, believing in a Divine Providence is likewise *rational* since primitive people happened to believe in it ever since as well.

  • I never said ancient people believed in religion because it was rational, I stated that morality and laws were invented before your little invisible best friend was.

  • “It IS rational. Just because you needed to be taught what comes naturally to most doesn’t make it untrue.”

    Primitive people believed in ‘Morality’; therefore, it is *rational*.

    Primitive people believed in ‘Divine Providence’; therefore, it is *rational*.

    Just because you needed to be taught what comes naturally to most doesn’t make it untrue, Joe!

  • I suppose you probably don’t realize how incoherent that is.

    >>>Primitive people believed in ‘Morality’; therefore, it is *rational*.

    Once again, I never SAID that. I stated that morality existed before your jesus myths were invented.

  • Therefore the theory that morality exists because of ‘god’ are false.

  • ‘Morality’ existed before Jesus; therefore, it is *rational*?

    Well, sorry to say, but ‘Divine Providence’ existed even before Jesus; therefore, it too is *rational*!

  • Hearing Mr. Carter’s words, I could not but recall Mr. Reagan’s words: “There you go again”.

    Without God, without the Bible, there would be no science. Read Stanley Jaki’s works.

    “Morality is helping I like, living in a good neighborhood”. What about people you don’t like?

  • That’s the problem. You guys speak as if you hold the copyright to what is true.

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Something predating something doesn’t instantly make it rational.

    Okay let’s go a different route.

    Do you believe that 2 great pillars hold up the earth? Do you believe if you go to the tallest mountain on earth you can see the entire planet?

  • JoeFromQCA,

    Given that Christians assert that God is eternal, and that as the creator of the world God gave humanity a certain natural moral sense (an ability to perceive natural moral law) the fact that morality was envisioned prior to Jewish and Christian revelation is hardly a critique of the Abrahamic religious tradition.

    Seriously, if you’re going to critique a religious understanding of morality, you need to understand what the religious understanding of morality is first, and your antics here don’t really suggest that this is the case.

    If you want to engage in something resembling serious discussion, that’s great. Always up for a good argument when there’s the time. But this kind of hit and run spouting off has already got tired — which is probably why you’re finding yourself in and out of moderation.

  • Joe,

    If it hasn’t dawn on you, the extent of your inherent stupidity is becoming embarrassingly apparent in your rather egregiously flawed syllogisms.

    To the point, if I were you, I’d save myself from further embarrassment.

  • No, I have stated things you don’t want to hear. I’m trying to have a discussion, but all your side can say to anything is “Nuh-uh!! LALALALALA!!! How DARE you question my beliefs!!!! I’m right and you’re wrong and someday you’ll learn!!!”. Real serious open minds you have here.

  • “It may be impossible to prove that God doesn’t exist though all the evidence points in that direction.” Good you changed the wording since the previous wording hangs you. Though since the evidence points in such a direction only and does not “prove” again you are taking it on faith.

    Can I prove that a non-contingent being such as God exists? Yes, again read Aristotle’s argument. It seems you can’t do that. Why?

  • Hey look at that!! E can use big words!! Good boy!! Here’s a biscuit.

    Once again your attitude must make jesus proud. You are a boon to your religion…..

  • >>Good you changed the wording since the previous wording hangs you. Though since the evidence points in such a direction only and does not “prove” again you are taking it on faith.

    WRONG!!! I never changed my wording. I’ve never said that I could prove god doesn’t exist. No wonder you guys can’t debate anything, you make stuff up. No, ‘faith’ means that you accept something as truth although all evidence says it’s not.

    >>Can I prove that a non-contingent being such as God exists? Yes, again read Aristotle’s argument. It seems you can’t do that. Why?

  • But this kind of hit and run spouting off has already got tired —

    What I want to know is why would ‘Morality’ be considered *rational* simply because primitive people (who were actually themselves infamously *irrational*, often given to rampant & vile superstitions, some of whom even made human sacrifices in order to appease the gods) believed in it?

    In like manner, one can argue based on the same premise that ‘Divine Providence’ itself should likewise be considered *rational* since primitive people believe in it, too.

  • >>>>Can I prove that a non-contingent being such as God exists? Yes, again read Aristotle’s argument. It seems you can’t do that. Why?

    No buddy. Aristotle’s argument proves nothing. He also believed the Earth stay still while the stars and sun rotated around us. I wouldn’t be using him as your argument. I’ve noticed that you can’t point to any science that isn’t 2000 years old to prove your points…..

  • I never said that it is rational because ancient peoples believed in it. GET OFF THAT TRACK.

    I said that morality predates the judeo-christian myths, that’s it. I never said it was therefore rational thought that led to that.

  • I’m trying to have a discussion, but all your side can say to anything is “Nuh-uh!! LALALALALA!!! How DARE you question my beliefs!!!! I’m right and you’re wrong and someday you’ll learn!!!”. Real serious open minds you have here.

    Yeah, your compelling argument that *morality* must be accepted as *rational* because primitive people believed in it was quite overwhelming!

    Too bad it was nothing more than a childish troll shouting: “LALALALALA!!! How DARE you question my beliefs!!!! I’m right and you’re wrong and someday you’ll learn!!!”

  • >>Yeah, your compelling argument that *morality* must be accepted as *rational* because primitive people believed in it was quite overwhelming!

    Again, I never said that. Are you dense?? I stated that morality existed before the judeo-christian myths were invented. So the statemnt that you can’t have morality with out religion is patently false.

    >>Too bad it was nothing more than a childish troll shouting: “LALALALALA!!! How DARE you question my beliefs!!!! I’m right and you’re wrong and someday you’ll learn!!!”

    Oh no!?!?!? A troll????? Oh the humanity!! The mean ol’ christian called me a troll.

  • Let’s see. Your 12;53 post is:

    “It is impossible to prove that god doesn’t exist.”

    Your 1:13 post is:

    “It may be impossible to prove that god doesn’t exist…”

    From an unconditional to a conditional statement. Both your words. Your changes. The conclusions you draw from both require faith.

  • One example of JoeFromQCA’s remarkable logic —

    In one instance, the fool says:

    My ‘proof’ that morality is rational is that the code of law predates the 10 commandments.

    All of the civilizations prior to monotheism still believed in right and wrong.

    All mythologies are defined by a battle between good and evil.

    Then, he says in a follow-up post:

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Something predating something doesn’t instantly make it rational.

    Do we really require further evidence on just how hopelessly abysmal this individual’s intelligence happens to be?

  • DO you not understand that since I don’t talk about rationality in the first statement. Therefore my 2nd statement doesn’t contradict my first. No matter how badly you wanna ‘get me’.

    You must think of yourself as a dim bulb to keep attacking my intelligence.

  • Hey, Joe, you said:

    “My ‘proof’ that morality is rational is that the code of law predates the 10 commandments.”

    Well, I say:

    “You have no idea what you are talking about. Something predating something doesn’t instantly make it rational.”!

    Oh, and thank-you for refuting your own faulty logic!

  • ‘It is impossible’ ‘It may be impossible’ are not different statements. Just slightly different wording used in different contexts. By my saying may be, I am doing nothing more than speculating.

    Your lack of debating the issue and instead attack me says a lot about your beliefs.

  • JoeFromQCA pretty clearly has an inability to engage in rational debate. Rather than prolonging this, I for one am going to leave things where they stand and stop releasing his comments from moderation.

    If someone else sees value to doing so, feel free.

  • Poor JoeFromQCA isn’t even capable of grasping how woefully stupid he happens to appear.

    Let me try to explain with “JoeFromQCA for DUMMIES”:

    Joe, you said:

    “My ‘proof’ that morality is rational is that the CODE OF LAW predates the 10 COMMANDMENTS.”

    Then, you said:

    “Something predating something doesn’t instantly make it rational.”

    I happen to agree with the latter statement!

    “Something [CODE OF LAW] predating something [10 COMMANDMENTS] doesn’t instantly make it *rational*.”

  • Joe – you keep saying “faith” means believing in something against all the evidence. I don’t know where you got that definition of faith. Faith means believing in something which you may not be able to observe directly. For example, if you believe the witness when she says Mr. X committed the crime, you are putting faith in certain evidence – her testimony. Likewise, when you “believe” a black hole exists near some particular quadrant of space, you are putting faith in the statement of some scientist who himself is putting faith in his observation that irregular light and orbital patterns of some distant blurr means a gravitational field is acting upon it, and that field is a black hole. He’s never been there, and neither have you. That is a lot of faith.

  • c matt,

    You’ve said it better than I have. I hope Joe gets it.

  • God existed before Christianity existed as a religion, before anything or anyone ever existed.

    Morality is not about “behavior”, which can be explained deterministically. It is about choice, which cannot.

    JoeQC, you have belief without evidence – you have faith. And you insult, belittle, and question the sanity of all those who dare to question your faith.

    Even if it were true that I needed to see a doctor, it is equally true that you need to read a book about philosophy.

    You sound like a Christian fundamentalist. Maybe you should try a Baptist blog next time.

  • Joe

    There are many different definitions (or use) of the word faith, and all you are doing is equivocating, saying they are all the same. Here, you will see only one of many is “belief in which there is no proof.”

    Of course, we must also not confuse “no proof” as being “no evidence.” When people say “there is no proof” they think that means “no evidence.” Yet, faith relies upon evidence.

    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
    3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
    4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
    5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
    6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
    7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
    8. Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

  • Joe,

    That is one definition. Another is as c matt notes. As per the definition you cite, your denial of the existence of God is still a matter of faith.

  • This has been an exercise in giving a troll free reign in a thread, and the entirely predictable results that ensue. I also confess that I did this for my own amusement. Joe is obviously here only for purposes of emotional venting rather than to engage in a fruitful discussion. The resulting chaos has a sort of Three Stooges screwball comedy element, but ultimately is a waste of time. I am closing comments on this thread. Joe, you are banned from my threads on this blog. My colleagues have you in moderation, and they can decide whether or not to ban you in regard to their threads.

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Irving Kristol, 1920-2009

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

And so we lose another giant. A self-identified liberal “mugged by reality”, Irving Kristol, commonly heralded as the godfather of ‘neo’-conservatism, has died. Hillel Italie gives an account of his life for RealClearPolitics.com:

A Trotskyist in the 1930s, Kristol would soon sour on socialism, break from liberalism after the rise of the New Left in the 1960s and in the 1970s commit the unthinkable — support the Republican Party, once as “foreign to me as attending a Catholic Mass.”

He was a New York intellectual who left home, first politically, then physically, moving to Washington in 1988. … his turn to the right joined by countless others, including such future GOP Cabinet officials as Jeane Kirkpatrick and William Bennett and another neoconservative founder, Norman Podhoretz.

“The influence of Irving Kristol’s ideas has been one of the most important factors in reshaping the American climate of opinion over the past 40 years,” Podhoretz said.

Among the host of publications he is credited as founding and/or editing was Commentary magazine (from 1947 to 1952); The Public Interest (from 1965 to 2002) and The National Interest from 1985 to 2002.

Kristol’s life, along with that of his fellow “New York intellectuals” Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, and Nathan Glazer, was the subject of the 1998 documentary, Arguing the World. In July 2002 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

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Weapons of Mass Destruction

Sunday, September 20, AD 2009

MassDestruction

Happy 25th Sunday of the year!

Ahhh, the fruits from the spirit in the sky of Vatican II!

Give us your opinion as to what has caused the celebration of the Mass to deteriorate since the Second Ecumenical Council (using Vatican II as a starting point, but not the cause).

You can only vote once, but you can choose more than one answer (on your first and only vote), so be careful!  Voting will end on Friday, September 25, 2009 AD.

Key:

Ad Populum = The priest showing his back to God while staring at the people.  Instead of facing God with the people (Ad Orientem).

Vernacular Liturgy = The liturgy of the Mass is celebrated in only the local language of the people instead of both the vernacular and Latin language.

(Biretta Tip: Catholic Cartoon Blog)

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69 Responses to Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • I am curious about the inclusion of Altar Girls in the list.

    Altar girls in our parish has more than doubled the number of children involved in the Mass and it seems to me that they are more careful to observe the rubrics than most of the boys were.

  • This seems to make light of things of which you shouldn’t make light.

  • Evidence has shown that having altar girls has reduced the number of vocations to the priesthood for each parish that allows this practice.

    For example, the Diocese of Lincoln has the largest seminary classes in the country and the highest ratio of priests to parishioners in the world and they are the only diocese in America that does not allow altar girls to serve.

  • I wanted to vote for hippies!

    Nuns in pants is a close second 🙂

  • I sincerely apologize for bringing down the Catholic Church. I just wanted to serve and be a part of the liturgy. I love my faith and think it’s ridiculous that you believe that my existence is destroying the church.

    Who was the first person to proclaim the good news of the resurrection? Mary Magdalene

    Who said yes to God and Gabriel and brought Jesus into the world? Mary

    Who said “Do as he tells you?” Mary

    Why was there only one man at the foot of the cross as Jesus was dying?

    I was an altar girl. You told me I did a fantastic job chairing Cafe Catholica. I am SO sorry my willingness to participate in the liturgy is bringing destruction to the Catholic Church.

    I think you need to add one more item to your list – “Closed-minded people who point fingers at simple things that don’t really matter”

  • Praise God for the allowance of altar girls!

    And your comments abouts nuns are mean-spirited, however much you cloak them in “dry-humor”.

  • Ah, the Catholic Left, always having more than their fair share of the humor impaired.

  • A joke is never just a joke, as the Viennese master used to say.

  • I am sure the late Bob Hope would disagree and I think he would be a better authority, although Freud could be unintentionally funny as he was in his laugh riot Moses and Monotheism.

  • I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other on female altar servers. But if it could be proven that their existence had a significant negative impact on vocations to the priesthood, that would be a fairly negative thing.

    But I’m not necessarily convinced that correlation equals causation in a diocese like Lincoln. My guess is that the dioceses that limit serving at the altar to boys are also doing OTHER things that are having a positive impact on vocations.

  • Actually, the most destructive, in my opinion, would be the extreme lack of spiritually and academically grounded catechesis based on the Teaching Magisterium of the Church.

  • Kristan,

    What has chairing Cafe Catholica have to do with being an altar girl?

    I said the word generally.

    I did not say always and directly.

    Mark DeFrancisis,

    I love you man.

  • Jay,

    That is why I said “generally”.

    I do think it “generally” represents how orthodox the parish is in relation to other good things that they are doing.

    Mr. Iafrate,

    I love you man.

  • Kristan,

    Kristan – an altar girl Says:
    Sunday, September 20, 2009 A.D. at 10:34 am

    I sincerely apologize for bringing down the Catholic Church. I just wanted to serve and be a part of the liturgy. I love my faith and think it’s ridiculous that you believe that my existence is destroying the church.

    Who was the first person to proclaim the good news of the resurrection? Mary Magdalene

    Who said yes to God and Gabriel and brought Jesus into the world? Mary

    Who said “Do as he tells you?” Mary

    Why was there only one man at the foot of the cross as Jesus was dying?

    I was an altar girl. You told me I did a fantastic job chairing Cafe Catholica. I am SO sorry my willingness to participate in the liturgy is bringing destruction to the Catholic Church.

    I think you need to add one more item to your list – “Closed-minded people who point fingers at simple things that don’t really matter”

    I think if you were to look at the history and theology of the practice of a male only priesthood with an OPEN mind you would probably have a better understanding of why the custom of male alter service is important.

    Altar service is not a reward for doing good, your appeal to the absence of men at the foot of the altar illustrates your misunderstanding.

    Your understanding of liturgical participation would also benefit from a study of the writings of the Holy Father on the matter. Participation is not about who gets to be on the altar, or who gets to run around with the Precious Blood.

  • G-veg.

    I am curious about the inclusion of Altar Girls in the list.

    Altar girls in our parish has more than doubled the number of children involved in the Mass and it seems to me that they are more careful to observe the rubrics than most of the boys were.

    There’s no doubt that young girls do very well at serving on the altar, but does it do them a service or a harm? Serving at the altar has long been a path to the priesthood, do you not see how having altar girls gives false expectations and cuts off the valid path for boys? Do you not see how the boys have tended to shun the service now?

    Also, look into the history of altar girls, it was introduced as a liturgical abuse and was finally allowed? The same is the case for communion in the hand.

  • Tito,
    By asking “what has caused the celebration of the Mass to deteriorate?” and including “altar girls” as an option implies that the altar girls themselves contribute to what you believe to be the deterioration of the Mass. As a former altar girl, I am offended. Yes, I realize that you labeled this post as “dry humor” but I find nothing funny about it. So, what I’m saying is that you were very vocal about your praise for this summer’s Café Catholica. So, apparently this former altar girl is still able to serve in the local church without bringing about the deterioration of the liturgy.

    Maybe I’m taking this too far … but I think you have, too. And I don’t appreciate it.

  • Matt,

    Surprise, we agree again.

    The next logical step after altar girls is women priests. You know, they just love the liturgy and they just want to serve the Church, so why can’t they do that?

    “Participation is not about who gets to be on the altar, or who gets to run around with the Precious Blood.”

    This is absolutely right. The Mass is not entertainment, it is not a show during which the priest is the lead role and the servers are is co-leads.

    I reject anything that is demanded in the spirit of “I want”. It isn’t about you, whoever you are, male or female. Men and women are not interchangeable biological organisms, they are unique and different for purposes determined by God.

    Another thing that bothers me – the notion that these things, these traditions, ancient and sacred, “don’t really matter”. Why not have altar girls, why not have anything we damn well please?

    It is not for us to decide “what matters”.

    And of course I realize that our modern Church allows these sort of things to take place. I find it terribly unfortunate that the generation of hippies – aging and thankfully on their way out – decided to push the traditions of the Church into the background in an effort to appease the modern secular world, the Protestants, and everyone else but the faithful Catholics who didn’t ask for or require innovative gimmicks to stay within the Church.

    I look forward to the day when the younger and decidedly more conservative generation reverses the bulk of this sappy, feel-good nonsense. And I am grateful that our Pope has reaffirmed the right of Catholics to establish and attend a traditional Tridentine Mass in their parishes, where these sort of things simply do not take place.

  • >>I think if you were to look at the history and theology of the practice of a male only priesthood with an OPEN mind you would probably have a better understanding of why the custom of male alter service is important.

    Well, hello again Matt. I completely support the male only priesthood (something you would know if you actually took the time to get to know me instead of criticizing my beliefs and my involvement in the church over blogs and emails). I understand that altar service is historically a precursor to the priesthood. It is a precursor – not a prerequisite. Many of the theology classes that are prerequisites to ordination are also attended by women who are pursuing a Masters in Theology with the intent to teach … should they be banned from taking these classes?

    Altar servers do not administer sacraments. They assist in the celebration of the Eucharist – carrying the crucifix, preparing the altar for the liturgy of the Eucharist.

    >>Altar service is not a reward for doing good, your appeal to the absence of men at the foot of the altar illustrates your misunderstanding.

    I never said it was a reward for doing good – it is an opportunity for our youth to participate in the Mass and serve their community. The list of “weapons of Mass destruction” explicitly list women in two of the “weapons” – nuns wearing pants and altar girls. Women have historically played a strong role in the Church – I agree that the Sacrament of Holy Orders is for men just as bearing life is for women. Give the women a chance to serve in the role that the USCCB allows them to do so and stop blaming us.

    >>Your understanding of liturgical participation would also benefit from a study of the writings of the Holy Father on the matter. Participation is not about who gets to be on the altar, or who gets to run around with the Precious Blood.

    Please show me the writings of the Holy Father that allows anyone to “run around” with the Precious Blood. In my years as serving as an altar server as well as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion we have been taught to handle and share the Body and Blood of Christ with utmost reverence, which does not include running.

  • Joe,

    I concur.

    Kristan,
    apparently this former altar girl is still able to serve in the local church without bringing about the deterioration of the liturgy.

    I don’t think Tito was accusing you (or any other former altar girl) of personally causing harm to the liturgy, or that a former altar girl can’t do some good. The point is that THE PRACTICE of having altar girls contributes to a serious problem with the liturgy. I’m sure nobody here thinks you did anything morally wrong by being an altar girl, surely you didn’t know better at the time, and meant only to do good.

  • Correlation without causation is a favorite form of “evidence” used by the V2 haters. Never mind that Mass attendance began to decline BEFORE any of these reforms. Never mind that mainstream Protestant denominations have also been in decline. Never mind that the most church-going conservative crazy-about-their-faith Christians go to the innovative and thoroughly modern evangelical churches.

    I’d say that greatest cause of Mass destruction is the inability to recognize that small-t tradition is for the benefit of man, not the other way around.

    Having said all that, I’d like to see a return to altar rails and Communion on the tongue and I think parishes should ban felt banners on purely aesthetic grounds.

  • Kristan,

    I completely support the male only priesthood

    I never questioned your support of a male only priesthood, I’m merely pointing out the incongruety of your position with this doctrine. In Italy, altart boys are referred to as “chierichetto”, literally little clerics.

    I understand that altar service is historically a precursor to the priesthood. It is a precursor – not a prerequisite.

    in case you haven’t noticed, there is a deep shortage of priests… do you think it’s a good idea to cut off this customary path to the priesthood?

    Many of the theology classes that are prerequisites to ordination are also attended by women who are pursuing a Masters in Theology with the intent to teach … should they be banned from taking these classes?

    Of course not, that’s a completely different situation. I have no objection to women learning anything or teaching anything that they have the ability to do.

    it is an opportunity for our youth to participate in the Mass and serve their community.

    As I said, it is incorrect to believe that a youth participates any less fully and really from the pews than she does on the altar, in fact the opposite could be argued. There is no shortage of ways to serve the community which more correctly orient young girls to their proper roles in the Church and without alienating the young boys from theirs.

    The list of “weapons of Mass destruction” explicitly list women in two of the “weapons” – nuns wearing pants and altar girls. Women have historically played a strong role in the Church – I agree that the Sacrament of Holy Orders is for men just as bearing life is for women. Give the women a chance to serve in the role that the USCCB allows them to do so and stop blaming us.

    nobody is blaming YOU, please, this is not about YOU. We don’t blame the women for being altar girls, we blame the priests and bishops who encourage or allowed the illicit practice in the first place, and we blame the pope for conceding to it.

    As to the nuns in pants, I guess that blame falls on the nuns, but also to the priests and bishops.

    restrainedradical,

    i don’t know where you get your material from, but none of the things listed are called for by Vatican II.

  • Here is one priest’s take on the issue of boys vs. girls serving on the altar:
    http://www.st-thomascamas.org/moretreasures/altarboys.htm

  • Two points.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with Mass in the vernacular. The oldest liturgies of the Church were celebrated in the language that the people actually spoke.

    The Bible itself and the liturgy shifted into Latin because the New Testament, as we know, was written in Greek and the majority of educated minds spoke Greek — but Latin was the common tongue of the poor, who would obviously have expressed difficulty in any real meaningful participation or understanding of what it is they are entering into.

    The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Latin because it was the language of the people. There is nothing wrong per se about a vernacular liturgy. I think the point of frustration has to do with the quality of biblical translations, not the language the liturgy is celebrated in.

    There is evidence that communion was distributed on the hand in some places, notably Jerusalem, in the early church. Addressing the issue in “The Living Liturgy” the Pope reminds us that it was permitted and there is nothing in Tradition that absolutely forbids this — “I wouldn’t want to be fussy about that. It was done in the early Church. A reverent manner of receiving Communion in the hand is in itself a perfectly reasonable way to receive Communion.”

    Are there differences between the two? Definitely. Are there problems with some of the mentalities and ideas that are used to justify some of these liturgical changes? Yes. But this does not violate the validity of receiving communion in the hand.

    For example, in the Eastern tradition, which is just as rich (if not at times, theologically and liturgically richer), Catholics remain standing for the majority of the liturgy, receive communion standing, and usually do not kneel.

    If you think about the Jewish mentality that influenced the West (i.e. Diaspora Jews, particularly those in Rome), there is a strong top-down mentality. In Matthew, Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount — God is looking down on us. There is strong emphasis on the prophecy of Isaiah that all shall kneel before Christ in adoration due to the one God of Israel. This influenced liturgical thinking in the West, in terms of things that traditionally varied beyond those things fundamentally essential to the liturgy itself.

    But in the East, with greater Greek influence, the focus is on the process of “theosis”. The whole spirituality really in the East focuses on becoming “partakers of the divine nature,” which is the fulfillment of the kergyma of salvific recapitulation described by St. Paul in Gal 4:4-7. In this way, we are being incorporated into the very life of God — to share in the ‘Sonship’ of the Son of God. If you read the Gospel of Luke, I think there are traces of this spirituality in the Sermon on the Plain — the equal grounding, of God coming down from heaven and “clothing” Himself in our human nature. So in that spirit, the Christian East (which is now being mimicked in the West — without the proper understanding, unfortunately) we stand in reverence of Christ, like we stand in honor of a King or someone of respectable nobility in our presence (and also because the Divine Liturgy and the canonical hours of the East are so incredibly long in their celebration, when not cut short, if you weren’t forced to stand, you would literally go to sleep). This understanding is not without merit.

    So in defense of what I think in many ways are legitimate and superior understandings of the Roman-rite, we must not use language to absolutize them as irrevocably essential to the liturgy itself to the point that all else is absolutely invalid (and notice I am being vague and not pointing to specific things here) because the great number of Christian liturgies might contradict you. So, I would be careful in that regard.

    I would rather we maintain both of these understandings and I’m not convinced we began to stand in the West for the reasons that Eastern Catholics do — if anything, I’m not sure what the reasoning was because I have never looked into it.

    Just a few thoughts.

  • >> in case you haven’t noticed, there is a deep shortage of priests… do you think it’s a good idea to cut off this customary path to the priesthood?

    Okay, now you’re the one putting words into my mouth … I did not suggest “cutting off this customary path to the priesthood”. I just clarified that being an altar server does not directly lead to priestly formation.

    >> As I said, it is incorrect to believe that a youth participates any less fully and really from the pews than she does on the altar, in fact the opposite could be argued. There is no shortage of ways to serve the community which more correctly orient young girls to their proper roles in the Church and without alienating the young boys from theirs.

    Okay, finally – we agree on something. Participation in the Mass in the pews is definitely important. How does allowing girls to be altar servers alienate young men from becoming altar servers?

  • Eric,

    good points. I think that it’s possible to take each of these issues in isolation and say that alone destroyed the liturgy, the point, as I think you alluded to, is the intention of each step and their affect as a whole. One practice that at it’s core can be blamed is the “versus populum”, that posture fundamentally changes the people’s perspective of the priest and worship, and so it must also change the priest. He no longer stands leading us to worship, but instead, we turn towards each other, and he appears as a showman on the stage.

  • (forgive me – I hit submit comment on accident before I was done)

    >> As I said, it is incorrect to believe that a youth participates any less fully and really from the pews than she does on the altar, in fact the opposite could be argued. There is no shortage of ways to serve the community which more correctly orient young girls to their proper roles in the Church and without alienating the young boys from theirs.

    Okay, finally – we agree on something. Participation in the Mass in the pews is definitely important.

    When I was an altar server, I was very immature in my faith. The liturgy hadn’t begun to “click” for me. I have been an EMHC for 12 years and my faith has grown tremendously during that time. Literally giving someone the body and blood of Christ has deepened my appreciation for the liturgy. The youth at my parish who are altar servers are also in formation classes I have lead. They are growing and developing a love for the Mass that is beautiful and inspiring. I hope that being an altar server has had a role in that as serving as an EMHC does for me.

    By the way … how does allowing girls to be altar servers alienate young men from becoming altar servers?

    >> nobody is blaming YOU, please, this is not about YOU. We don’t blame the women for being altar girls, we blame the priests and bishops who encourage or allowed the illicit practice in the first place, and we blame the pope for conceding to it.

    Then I think Tito should re-word the blog entry and the selection to be “The Bishops allowing women to be altar servers”, “The Bishops allowing communicants to receive the Eucharist on the hand” and so on. The wording as it stands appears lays blame on the young girls, the musicians, etc.

    If you are so determined to find blame then be clear on whom you are blaming.

    As I said before, there is one option I think has been left off the list “Closed-minded people who point fingers at simple things that don’t really matter”. I am supportive of correct liturgical practices as defined in the GIRM. But let’s get the focus where it belongs – on being the hands and feet of Christ and loving our brothers and sisters as He loves us.

  • It is noteworthy that the age-span and number of the altar servers is greater in our parish in the four years that we have had altar servers.

    Not so long ago, it seemed as though, due to forgetfulness or valid excuse, the earlier and later masses were often served by only one altar boy. Most of the altar boys were 14 or younger and there were no altar servers at the weekday masses at all.

    Now there are altar servers as young as 10 or 11 and there are ALWAYS at least 2 and usually 3 altar servers on Sunday masses and those on Holy Days.

    From a purely practical point of view, this seems to be an improvement.

    I am also not terribly impressed with the argument that restricting altar servers to boys preserves a path to the priesthood.

    I suspect that God calls many more men and women to His service than follow his path. With an average of 2.6 children per Catholic family, I suspect that the smaller families tend to deter acceptance of vocations. Fewer priests, brothers, sisters, and nuns make the religious life less visible and further subordinates the position of that vocational choice for young people.

    It is important, I think to note that vocal dissenters at American Catholic universities can’t be helping and various scandals within our Church has to have taken a toll.

    My point is simply that the gender of altar servers has to be pretty low on the list of reasons for the decline in acceptance of vocations.

    Finally, from a practical point of view, having older teens of both genders in the sacristy presents a unique opportunity to reassure the Catholic laity that the American Church has learned its lesson with regards to protecting children from abuse.

    (I hate to bring up that specter since I think the Voices of the Faithful crew were little more than tools of Satan but part of the Church’s duties must include systemic changes to affirm its commitment to child protection.)

    Do we truly believe that altar girls are in any way either to blame for or a symptom of the problems in the Church?

  • Matt,

    I would mostly concur. I think many changes are not absolutely invalid in and of themselves, but I think we should be very thoughtful in our analysis of how things change our perspectives of things — even if we might not realize it.

    I am just making the point there is no absolute rubric of what is and is not liturgically permissible per se, in that, I mean, something can have great theological and liturgical validity insofar as that it does not contradict what the liturgy in fact is — literally the marriage feast of the lamb described in Revelation and more so, Heaven, in our midst. The great honor and penitence we ought to feel is, for example, undermined by attempts to use contemporary Christian music, or even, instruments. I don’t think the Divine Liturgy, heaven on earth, really ought to remind us of anything outside — which is why I really favor chanting.

    But on a different note, the liturgy in the first century particularly was seen by the first Christians as a continuation of the Jewish Todah feast — and the Eucharist really is a Todah feast and remains one.

    The “versus populum” is not in and of itself invalid. We cannot say with historical certainty (or claim that it was universal) that the person presiding over a Eucharistic banquet, which in the first century was not divorced entirely yet from the meal and was done in house-churches really had that format. So we must be careful in our language about that — and I think we have been, but I am always careful in this issue to draw lines.

    But, the theology of the High Priest entering the Holy of holies for the people and offering a sacrifice on their behalf, of leading the people, and entering where they cannot — this is really the case of the priest standing In Persona Christi — is really and profoundly lost in the “versus populum” perspective. It becomes too often and falsely a “celebratory” meal that involves no penitential sentiment or physical, sacramental gestures that convey this deeply rich theological understanding that the priest facing “Ad Orientem” can. And it is for that reason I think the priest ought to face that direction, toward the East, toward the Sun where the Garden was, where the Tree of Life is, where the Divine Liturgy of the Book of Revelation tells us that all who celebrate and participate in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb will be led. This all is essentially lost and it is very disappointing.

  • I also missed the memo that “vernacular liturgy” was being purely defined as totally one language to the exclusion of Latin in even some of the prayers or “Mass parts.” So be ware of that in my previous comments.

  • By the way … how does allowing girls to be altar servers alienate young men from becoming altar servers?

    I guess if you had ever been a small boy, or raised one you would understand, but I’ll do my best to explain. Little boys like to play with other little boys, they like to emulate the older boys. They like playing in the mud, and don’t like anything that is perceived to be “girly”. When you introduce altar girls you create an atmosphere that is just not appealing to them.

    As I said before, there is one option I think has been left off the list “Closed-minded people who point fingers at simple things that don’t really matter”. I am supportive of correct liturgical practices as defined in the GIRM. But let’s get the focus where it belongs – on being the hands and feet of Christ and loving our brothers and sisters as He loves us.

    So you think that of the Holy Fathers who for centuries considered such practices to be significant enough to forbid them officially and publicly?

  • Tito, shame on you for leaving off one of the most significant abuses. The blurring of lines between the priest and the faithful caused by the ordinary use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion:

    Redemptionis Sacramentum
    [158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.[259] This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.

  • To be consistent, since I often call people on “double standards” or “uncharitable language”…

    (1) To assume that people who disagree with you and do not think these changes are true “progress” and would undermine the Church in her mission to evangelize the world are “close-minded” is really actually a mark of intolerance. Perhaps, that is closed-minded?

    Moreover, it is a deep and far-reaching implication to assume that the most subtle things within the liturgy, or anything in the liturgy “don’t really matter.” That is quite a presumption, which, if it is the edifice of your argument, can easily undermine all your other points.

    Also to call something “correct” liturgical practices, presupposes an infallibility of that code — and as we might all note, there have been legitimate and illegitimate reforms to the liturgy, with changes occurring based on issues that arise.

    So, I would advise straying away from making presumptions that are debatable the crux of your argument without first defending them. It might help our dialogue here progress further beyond disagreement of fundamentals.

  • Eric,

    I don’t think we disagree at all. I’m not at all suggesting that any of these practices are “invalid”, only that their practice, as a whole led to a degeneration of the Sacred Liturgy. As you said, we are not discussing questions of infallibility but ones which are prudential, and within the authority of the Holy See, or in some cases deferred to the local ordinary.

    It seems to me, that the “versus populum” changes the perspective of all participants in a way that would allow all these other problems to occur without objection. If it’s just a “show” why can’t we have girls up there, why can’t all the people distribute communion, why should we kneel?

  • Matt,

    I must say it is striking — and the case seems to be similar with Joe and yourself — that on a political column, we quickly diverge. I think it is quite a grace that, as far as I can remember, when the issue is theological or liturgical, we don’t disagree very much. In fact, I am theologically and liturgically quite “conservative,” e.g. I actually believe the Gospel of John was actually written by the Apostle (which to biblical scholars is just pure heresy).

    I’m glad to know we aren’t always butting heads.

  • Eric,

    it is a refreshing change of pace. I have long and often noted that there is a divergence doctrinal liberals and political ones. I think that there are a very many people who are doctrinally very conservative and yet have a more “leftish” view of politics. The converse of course is true (O’Relly and Hannity come to mind).

  • er… “divergence between doctrinal liberals and political ones”

  • Matt. You have issues with Hannity (well, he supports contraception, left the Church I think, and attacked a priest on the air for calling him out on his dissent) and O’Reilly?

    We have made more progress than Catholics and Orthodox have in a thousand years. I’m being hypoerbolic…I hope.

    Those two actually, in union with Glen Beck, make me very angry. But then again…Olbermann, Maddows, Matthews.

    I actually like Gretta and Morning Joe. But I absolutely love and admire Pat Buchanan.

    We have gotten off topic…

  • Well, I voted for Communion in the hand.

    John Zmirak once made the point that belief in the Real Presence has taken a downward dive since VII. If people had to kneel down for movie tickets, he said, they would develop the notion that movie tickets are special,perhaps even sacred things.

    Well, the reverse has happened. Now we hand out the Body of Christ as if it is a movie ticket – and people have come to believe that Communion is no big deal.

  • Kristan

    By the way … how does allowing girls to be altar servers alienate young men from becoming altar servers?

    Growing up with a predominately boy neighborhood and with 3 brothers, I know that girls have cooties until they are in middle/high school (in which they become cute or hot and dating material).

    Little boys want nothing to do with with little girls until they get rid of their cooties.

  • Matt – Yeah thanks for pointing out the problem of blurring the distinction between the priest and the laity due to the use of EME’s. Sometimes when I go to Mass I get up and try to give a crappy homily! We really need to fix this!

  • My vote goes to something not even on the ballot — displacing the tabernacle from its position of honor, on the dubious grounds that it would “confuse” or “distract” parishioners from the action of the liturgy. This, I believe, reduced the sense of the Real Prescence and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, though not perhaps intentionally.

    I don’t know that liturgical dance was really widespread enough to have caused “Mass destruction” on a global or nationwide scale.

    As for altar girls I think it’s too soon to tell what the long-term effect will be. You see, they’ve only been permitted by the Holy See for the past 15 years. I don’t think the negative effect (if any) would be as pronounced in parishes and dioceses that WAITED until the practice was authorized (thereby showing obedience to the pope) to start it, as in those parishes that started doing it when it was clearly not allowed.

    I have absolutely no beef with a male-only priesthood, I never had any desire to be a priest myself nor did I ever have a desire to be an altar girl. So what follows is not intended as a raging feminist rant but simply to point out a flaw in one of the arguments against female altar servers.

    If, as some argue, allowing girls to serve Mass turns altar service into a “girly” thing, makes it less attractive to boys and young men, and deludes girls into thinking they can grow up to be priests, thereby undermining priestly vocations, then why not extend that logic even farther and say that allowing females ANYWHERE in the sanctuary, or anywhere inside a church at all, has the same effect?

    For that matter why not ban women from coming anywhere within 20 feet of the sanctuary, or from attending Mass at all if that’s the case? Why not set up separate chapels strictly for women to attend or divide every church into a men’s and women’s side with a screen like some Orthodox Jews do in their synagogues?

  • “If, as some argue, allowing girls to serve Mass turns altar service into a “girly” thing, makes it less attractive to boys and young men, and deludes girls into thinking they can grow up to be priests, thereby undermining priestly vocations, then why not extend that logic even farther and say that allowing females ANYWHERE in the sanctuary, or anywhere inside a church at all, has the same effect?”

    Because the Church did ban women from acting as altar servers until just a minute ago in historical terms. The burden of proof rests on those making the innovation, not upon those carrying out a tradition sanctioned by Catholic belief for two millenia. The Church did that while cherishing the role of women within the Church as the devotion to Mary, Queen of Heaven, amply demonstrates.

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/09/20/weapons-of-mass-destruction/#comments

    Elaine Krewer,

    My vote goes to something not even on the ballot — displacing the tabernacle from its position of honor, on the dubious grounds that it would “confuse” or “distract” parishioners from the action of the liturgy. This, I believe, reduced the sense of the Real Prescence and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, though not perhaps intentionally.

    Another great item!

    I don’t know that liturgical dance was really widespread enough to have caused “Mass destruction” on a global or nationwide scale.

    It’s really not that widespread I think, but it is completely devastating to True Worship that it bears mentioning.

    As for altar girls I think it’s too soon to tell what the long-term effect will be. You see, they’ve only been permitted by the Holy See for the past 15 years. I don’t think the negative effect (if any) would be as pronounced in parishes and dioceses that WAITED until the practice was authorized (thereby showing obedience to the pope) to start it, as in those parishes that started doing it when it was clearly not allowed.

    Because the salvation of souls depends on a strong and plentiful supply of priests, it’s just not a place for gender “bending” which will lead to at least some, if not many souls lost.

    I have absolutely no beef with a male-only priesthood, I never had any desire to be a priest myself nor did I ever have a desire to be an altar girl. So what follows is not intended as a raging feminist rant but simply to point out a flaw in one of the arguments against female altar servers.

    If, as some argue, allowing girls to serve Mass turns altar service into a “girly” thing, makes it less attractive to boys and young men, and deludes girls into thinking they can grow up to be priests, thereby undermining priestly vocations, then why not extend that logic even farther and say that allowing females ANYWHERE in the sanctuary, or anywhere inside a church at all, has the same effect?

    For that matter why not ban women from coming anywhere within 20 feet of the sanctuary, or from attending Mass at all if that’s the case? Why not set up separate chapels strictly for women to attend or divide every church into a men’s and women’s side with a screen like some Orthodox Jews do in their synagogues?

    Why? Because every Catholic man or woman has a right to the sacraments, an obligation to attend, and an important role to play at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Nobody has a “right” to be in the sanctuary, or fulfill any role not proper to their station. Those roles are strictly for the good of the Church.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum:
    [40.] Nevertheless, from the fact that the liturgical celebration obviously entails activity, it does not follow that everyone must necessarily have something concrete to do beyond the actions and gestures, as if a certain specific liturgical ministry must necessarily be given to the individuals to be carried out by them. Instead, catechetical instruction should strive diligently to correct those widespread superficial notions and practices often seen in recent years in this regard, and ever to instill anew in all of Christ’s faithful that sense of deep wonder before the greatness of the mystery of faith that is the Eucharist, in whose celebration the Church is forever passing from what is obsolete into newness of life: “in novitatem a vetustate”.

    Frankly it would be best if the bishops implemented the canonical status of lector, and acolyte sufficient to perform their rightful functions in the sanctuary, and expand the permanent diaconate for similar reasons. Why do you think the Church treats these minor orders as steps along the path to the priesthood, and reserves them to men?

    No, I don’t think women should be specifically banned from the sanctuary, I believe all lay people who have not been canonically instituted to the proper function should not perform those functions absent TRULY extraordinary circumstances. That is what the rubrics actually call for.

  • Donald,

    The Church did that while cherishing the role of women within the Church as the devotion to Mary, Queen of Heaven, amply demonstrates.

    An excellent point, would that it would be sufficient to quell the false notion of misogyny seen by those opposed to the specifically male roles in the liturgy.

  • “I believe all lay people who have not been canonically instituted to the proper function should not perform those functions absent TRULY extraordinary circumstances. That is what the rubrics actually call for.”

    Ok, THAT argument makes more sense to me than the notion that allowing females to do something thereby automatically makes it less attractive to males.

    Although, if your recommendation that the minor orders of lector and acolyte be restored or attached to the permanent diaconate, and that no lay person who hasn’t been formally installed in those ministries be allowed to perform them except in emergencies, wouldn’t that in effect ban women from the sanctuary altogether, as they would not only be forbidden from serving but from giving any of the readings?

  • I agree with you Elaine. It seems that some churches think they can just place the tabernacle anywhere they want. Often times the parishioners are kneeling to the altar and the tabernacle is off to the side somewhere. Most people don’t realize that they are not kneeling to Christ.

    However, the altar girl issue may not appear to be a problem..but if you really think about it you can see the problems. The 12 Apostles were not girls.

  • Elaine Krewer,

    allowing females to do something thereby automatically makes it less attractive to males.

    that argument was specifically addressed to the question of altar boys, because, even if it’s not very mature, do think little of “girly” activities, and so if you, as I do, believe we are in dire need of more manly, and Holy priests, should not want to see them discouraged at a young age from heading down such a fruitful path to the priesthood.

    Although, if your recommendation that the minor orders of lector and acolyte be restored or attached to the permanent diaconate, and that no lay person who hasn’t been formally installed in those ministries be allowed to perform them except in emergencies, wouldn’t that in effect ban women from the sanctuary altogether, as they would not only be forbidden from serving but from giving any of the readings?

    yes.

  • The last post was from Matt. He borrowed my computer.

  • Jenn, it’s true the 12 Apostles — from whom we derive the “apostolic succession” that all priests and bishops share in — were all male, and this does argue strongly in favor of an all male priesthood.

    I’m not sure, however, how one extends that argument beyond the ordained ministries of the episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate* to argue against girls and women being allowed to do ANYTHING even remotely resembling what the priest does (serving, reading/lectoring, distributing Communion) and not appear to be motivated at least in part by misogyny, or the sentiment referred to above — that allowing girls or women to do something automatically means men and boys will think it beneath them and won’t want to do it anymore.

    In other words I don’t know how you put this particular genie back into the bottle at this point. I personally still think the problem lies NOT in the actual concept of female altar servers, as in the fact that so many parishes and dioceses disobediently instituted “altar girls” long before the Vatican allowed it. These parishes/dioceses were more likely than not to have been disobedient or less than orthodox in other ways which contributed to the “Mass destruction” we are discussing in this thread.

    I think a much bigger factor in the decline of vocations is simply the fact that young Catholics are not as acquainted with priests and Religious as they used to be (due to there being fewer priests and nuns in parishes, schools, hospitals, etc), and don’t understand what exactly their vocations involve. Perhaps the exposure that EWTN has provided to Mother Angelica, Fr. Pacwa and other clerical/religious personalities has compensated for the loss of vocations somewhat, but certainly not entirely.

    I agree that “active participation” in the Mass is certainly NOT limited to performing actual liturgical functions, and that one does not have to be “doing something” at every moment in order to be participating. The wrongheaded notion of “active participation” that arose after Vatican II (not necessarily because of it) did play a role in “Mass destruction” also.

    * There is some debate as to whether the “deaconesses” of the early Church shared in an ordained ministry comparable to that of present day deacons; I tend to believe they did not.

  • If we carry the “boys won’t do anything they perceive as ‘girly'” argument to its logical conclusion, then women should never be allowed to enlist in ANY branch of the military (not simply kept out of front line combat, which is an entirely different matter), nor should women be allowed to enter law enforcement, firefighting, construction work, or any profession which “manly men” can generally perform better than they, and which would suffer if it did become predominantly female.

    I realize that this is getting off topic here and is an entirely different matter from the nature of the priesthood; I’m just saying that there has to be a better argument against female altar servers, lectors, etc. than simply “If girls do it, it will drive away boys and they won’t become priests.” Is there any actual evidence of this in parishes that adopted female servers AFTER the Vatican allowed it? And aren’t there other dioceses besides Lincoln that have thriving vocation programs AND female altar servers as well?

  • Elaine Krewer,

    appear to be motivated at least in part by misogyny

    that’s exactly how the world sees an all male priesthood… you need to look below the surface.

    or the sentiment referred to above — that allowing girls or women to do something automatically means men and boys will think it beneath them and won’t want to do it anymore.

    Interesting how you expand the point to include men and not just young boys, when nobody made such an extension, and furthermore you insert the word “beneath”. You’re creating, probably unintentionally, a little misogynistic strawman. Not one person opposing altar girls has proposed that it is beneath men to share a role with women, or that it is somehow “above” a woman’s station to serve at the altar. In fact it is only women supporting altar girls who have made such a false proposition. A sad sign of the insidious Bouvoirian feminism that has seeped into the Church in the years since Vatican II.

    In other words I don’t know how you put this particular genie back into the bottle at this point. I personally still think the problem lies NOT in the actual concept of female altar servers, as in the fact that so many parishes and dioceses disobediently instituted “altar girls” long before the Vatican allowed it. These parishes/dioceses were more likely than not to have been disobedient or less than orthodox in other ways which contributed to the “Mass destruction” we are discussing in this thread.

    Obviously, disobedience is much worse, but the very reason the Holy See ultimately indulged the practice is because it had become so widespread. The very reason the Holy See opposed altar girls for so long is the exact reason that it was illicitly introduced. The fact that the Holy See caved does not change the opposition’s problematic view of gender roles.

    As to putting the genie back in the bottle, you’re correct that the damage has been done and it will be painful. If it is handled gradually and delicately by those empowered to do so (parish priests and local ordinaries, and hopefully the Holy Father) most unnecessary hardship can be avoided. I know of parishes where there was a gradual process of shifting girls out over time, as well as introducing female specific ministries to replace the altar.

    I think a much bigger factor in the decline of vocations is simply the fact that young Catholics are not as acquainted with priests and Religious as they used to be (due to there being fewer priests and nuns in parishes, schools, hospitals, etc), and don’t understand what exactly their vocations involve. Perhaps the exposure that EWTN has provided to Mother Angelica, Fr. Pacwa and other clerical/religious personalities has compensated for the loss of vocations somewhat, but certainly not entirely.

    So… a shortage of priests was a big factor in the shortage of priests? Well, it’s true, but there has to be other factors, or the shortage would never have occurred in the first place.

    I agree that “active participation” in the Mass is certainly NOT limited to performing actual liturgical functions, and that one does not have to be “doing something” at every moment in order to be participating. The wrongheaded notion of “active participation” that arose after Vatican II (not necessarily because of it) did play a role in “Mass destruction” also.

    Absolutely, and it manifested itself in multiple ways, including the practice of altar girls, and the ordinary use of extraordinary ministers.

    * There is some debate as to whether the “deaconesses” of the early Church shared in an ordained ministry comparable to that of present day deacons; I tend to believe they did not.

    The debate is mostly among the pro-women’s ordination crowd, and is really irrelevant, as the Church has made clear that the diaconate is strictly open to men.

    If we carry the “boys won’t do anything they perceive as ‘girly’” argument to its logical conclusion, then women should never be allowed to enlist in ANY branch of the military (not simply kept out of front line combat, which is an entirely different matter), nor should women be allowed to enter law enforcement, firefighting, construction work, or any profession which “manly men” can generally perform better than they, and which would suffer if it did become predominantly female.

    It’s irrelevant because we’re talking strictly boys… but I’ll bite. I actually tend to agree that for critical services (military, police, fire) which women perform poorly at a substantial portion of the functional requirements should be restricted to male applicants. Non-critical services are free to make their own hiring practices, but should not be subject to any sort of quota forcing them into hiring women who perform less effectively than their male counterparts. Of course, the converse should apply to fields which women generally perform better at than men.

    I realize that this is getting off topic here and is an entirely different matter from the nature of the priesthood; I’m just saying that there has to be a better argument against female altar servers, lectors, etc. than simply “If girls do it, it will drive away boys and they won’t become priests.”

    Are you denying the fact that where there are female altar servers present, the boys are driven away? Honestly? Or are you just saying you don’t care about those misogynistic little boys getting on a path to the priesthood?

    Is there any actual evidence of this in parishes that adopted female servers AFTER the Vatican allowed it?

    And aren’t there other dioceses besides Lincoln that have thriving vocation programs AND female altar servers as well?

    Virginia I believe has strong vocations, they started allowing altar girls 2 years ago, so we’ll see soon enough the fruits of it.

    There’s a broader point at issue here. Since I’ve breached PC and most of the feminist leaning women here consider me misogynistic anyway… The whole Church has leaned deeply towards a more feminine perspective, as a result, male participation IN ALL AREAS has dropped drastically and disproportionately to women. What many don’t realize is the ENORMOUS effect that this will have on the following generations. As the Church has long taught and is discussed particularly by St. Paul (a misogynist after my own heart), men are to be the spiritual leaders. Apparently, children are much wiser than feminists and recognize this. Statistics clearly show that the greatest influence on a person’s mass attendance is their FATHER’s mass attendance. So, congratulations pro-altar girl crowd, you have gained not equality but superiority in a barren and sterile Church…. destined to be emptied..

  • “As the Church has long taught and is discussed particularly by St. Paul (a misogynist after my own heart), men are to be the spiritual leaders. Apparently, children are much wiser than feminists and recognize this. Statistics clearly show that the greatest influence on a person’s mass attendance is their FATHER’s mass attendance.”

    That is quite true, however, I think lots of men abdicated their responsibilities in this regard and treated church attendance, morality, and religion in general as strictly “womanly” concerns long before Vatican II. The notion of the mother as the keeper of religion and morals in the home (the de facto spiritual head) actually goes back to the Victorian era if not earlier.

  • Kristan,

    Been out and about with Mass, and other spiritual activities.

    Just want you to know that I love you as a brother.

    And what Matt and Jenn said. 😉

  • Kristan said “Maybe I’m taking this too far …”

    Yep, I think you finally hit the nail on the head!

    Pete

  • How come molesting little boys isn’t on the list?

    I believe that is hurting the church’s credibility more than anything else.

  • I voted “ad populum”. The other stuff is annoying, but not as universal and ubiquitous. E.g., Guitar masses are fairly easy to avoid, nuns in pants look like angry old men, barely anyone I know has ever seen liturgical dancing and felt banners are easily confiscated and disposed of by…. unknown parishioners…..

  • Matt, Jenn –
    Regarding your comments that boys would not participate in activities with girls, what about co-ed sports teams for children? Would that dissuade boys from playing high school soccer because they played with girls growing up? I posed your theory to a priest friend last night. He was an altar server alongside girls and just celebrated his 3rd anniversary of ordination. The presence of female altar servers had no impact on him.

    And I don’t think I’ve heard the word “cooties” from a child singer i was one.

    Regarding the writings of the church leiders who supported thee liturgical practices, I doubt they wereld written with such disdain and anger.

  • Mostly because the decline has been evident long before the molesting made the headlines, and also because the topic is deterioration of celebration of the Mass, not the Church’s credibility in general.

  • Most boys that would play soccer end up playing something else (football/baseball) precisely because soccer in this country is seen as a “girly” sport. Other countries, where it is more popular, think co-ed soccer is crazy.

    There is a reason that softball and baseball are what they are. I also don’t see many co-ed basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse or other sports at the middle school or higher level, at least not competitively. I am not saying it is right, I am just relating the observations.

  • Kristan,

    Kristan Says:
    Monday, September 21, 2009 A.D. at 10:01 am

    Regarding your comments that boys would not participate in activities with girls, what about co-ed sports teams for children? Would that dissuade boys from playing high school soccer because they played with girls growing up?

    yes. But our salvation doesn’t depend on soccer.

    I posed your theory to a priest friend last night. He was an altar server alongside girls and just celebrated his 3rd anniversary of ordination. The presence of female altar servers had no impact on him.

    Bully for him. He is among a class that is 60-70% smaller than it should be, do you think it’s possible that SOME of the boys were not so magnanimous at a young age and so missed there vocation? I suspect your young priest friend could do well to study the behavior of more typical young boys if he is to fulfill his role of drawing men to the priesthood… or does he subscribe to the teddy bear approach?

    And I don’t think I’ve heard the word “cooties” from a child singer i was one.

    Precisely. We’re discussing the reaction young boys have to co-ed activities, so I’m glad you can confirm that it is an actual phenomenon.

    Regarding the writings of the church leiders who supported thee liturgical practices, I doubt they wereld written with such disdain and anger.

    The only disdain and anger is coming from you, do you want me to post the text message you sent me??? Including the snide remark about a grammatical error? In any event, I’m glad you recognize the Church’s longstanding position on this.

    c matt,

    good points.

    Another point I want to raise which makes the situation even worse with regard to co-ed altar service (aside from the fact that salvation is at stake), is that girls actually do extremely well because of their greater maturity at that age, and their greater attention to detail. The girls soon take over, which further alienates the boys.

    Honestly, if people would set aside their deep-seated feminist ideology, they would recognize the fundamentally obvious facts. Girls and boys are DIFFERENT. It’s not only absurd to suggest that we are interchangeable, it is a violation of the TRUE dignity of womanhood.

  • I have no strong feelings about girl altar servers, but on balance I sort of disfavor the idea precisely for the prudential reasons proffered by others. Young boys often first discover their calling when serving Mass, but young boys are often not interested in doing anything perceived as girly. Boyish girls are considered endearing tom-boys, so are usually not shy about trying to mix it up with boys if they share their interests. But girlish boys are not considered so endearing, and boys will go out of their way to avoid doing anything that is considered less than masculine. None of this is theological; it is solely prudential.
    Finally, I think Elain is spot on right about men abdicating their role, in some cultures more than others. I just see no reason to aggravate that sad phenomenon.

  • I don’t hear or see of many co-ed sports until college. Even YMCA sports have a youth girls and a youth boys basketball team, not a girl-boy co-ed team.

  • Matt – You are a pig.

  • You go girl.

  • because soccer in this country is seen as a “girly” sport.

    Them’s fightin’ words. 😉

  • I said removal of altar rails because I think they are pretty.

  • I assume Tito is away from his computer. I am closing comments on this thread pending his decision on what to do regarding this thread. The personal attacks contained in this thread cross way over the lines established by blog policy.

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Quote of the Day: Irving Kristol

Saturday, September 19, AD 2009

Symbolic Politics and Liberal Reform, Dec. 15, 1972

“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,” wrote Oscar Wilde, and I would like to suggest that the same can be said for bad politics. . . .

It seems to me that the politics of liberal reform, in recent years, shows many of the same characteristics as amateur poetry. It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves. Indeed, the outstanding characteristic of what we call “the New Politics” is precisely its insistence on the overwhelming importance of revealing, in the public realm, one’s intense feelings—we must “care,” we must “be concerned,” we must be “committed.” Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.

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11 Responses to Quote of the Day: Irving Kristol

  • Would this characterize the ad hominem attacks on Americans from Pelosi and Reid?

    With their characterization of tea party protesters as Nazi’s, un-American, and violent?

  • And this would not characterize the “symbolic action” of a Republican legislators who successfully might get unborn children covered in the SCHIP program in their state legislatures and celebrate it as a hard-fought pro-life victory (which it is), but then they somehow neglect to mention they might have later voted to cut the budget of the program, which limits the number of recipients in the program, thus the number of pregnant women assisted, and thus the number of unborn children assisted in their great tribulation against abortion-minded forces?

    I’m not so sure if this problem is, the present concerns of health care aside, uniquely a “liberal
    problem. So while I would agree, I think it is unfair to assign this characteristic to one side of the political spectrum and not the other.

    Because of the issue is health care, I haven’t seen major analysis of a deep and abiding problem by the GOP or any real grass roots conservative movement to reform the health care system with market-based solutions in the 12 years the GOP was in majority.

    Would I assign this lack of action indifference? Perhaps not–at least not immediately. Therefore, I would not characterize the Democrats as “immensely indifferent” to the consequences of the actual proposal of health care legislation unless we knew for certain that all parties were actually in agreement about said-negative consequences.

    So I’m not sure if it’s a fair assessment, though I can sympathize with the sentiments.

    Additionally, I think there is no justification of ad hominem attacks across the board — period. So, yes, it might characterize Pelosi and Read — but I can’t see how this is applicable only to them.

    Moreover, to Pelosi’s defense, as I read it her comments about “un-American” protesters were not directed at the protesters. In its context, if I’m not mistaken–because I remember rolling my eyes at FOX when I was looking at the actual script–she said “drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.”

    This is not necessarily an ad hominem against the person. And I’m not saying Pelosi is non-partisan. But all the screaming and yelling is really nonsense and really kills the actual debate — and opposing the reform discussion itself is what I think is what was being called un-American.

    So, I’m giving Pelosi the benefit of the doubt. I think her words were taken out of context and of course, as seen in most of this blog, sentiments toward her really don’t give leeway for benefit of the doubt or a second glance.

    Basically — a problem? Yes. Liberal only? Not in the slightest.

  • Tito,

    No, I think Pelosi’s remarks might represent a tendency to assume that no one would oppose one’s current agenda item except through ill will, but I don’t think it’s an example of what Kristol was talking about here.

  • Eric,

    Actually, I think the example you highlight with SCHIP serves to underline a major change in the “conservative” side of the political spectrum since Kristol wrote this in ’72. Conservatism at that point was pretty tiny, and consisted mainly of a great skepticism about the idea of progress and the possibility of achieving it through government programs — especially social programs. So for instance, Kristol may have been thinking about things like the War On Poverty — which many conservatives at the time predicted would have roughly the same consequences that the Gingrich/Clinton welfare reform sought to rectify.

    However, conservatives have since fallen prey to their own bouts of symbolic actions. Some anti-illegal-immigrant measures spring to mind — ones which send a message without actually doing much about immigration. So do some of the more pointless fights in the gun control area. And so do some pro-life bills.

    I guess I’d tend to think of this as being a case of “conservatism” becoming an ideology in a way that it wasn’t back in the 60s and early 70s — at a time when it was pretty nearly a mindset without a party. Some of that may be good. Straight up hesitation to change is not always the answer (the civil rights movement comes to mind — where MLK’s Letter From Birmingham Jail is basically an argument against taking a conservative “wait it out and don’t make waves” approach.)

    But it certainly means that there are quite a few in the “conservative movement” who would also be subject to Kristol’s critique here.

  • Tito,

    In person, I often speak in hyperbole as well. Understandable.

  • “Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.”

    I’d say that pretty well sums up the Welfare State.

  • I think this observation, accepting that I concur with the view that persons of many political and social persuasions behave thus, ties in nicely with my observation that specific examples of injustice do not carry the argument.

    Increasingly, I see people hold up particular injustices as a rallying cry for the change proposed. When objections to those changes are raised, other examples of the injustice are put forth without addressing the objections. And so the “discussion” goes – with no headway being made.

  • Have any of you read the book American Fascists by Chris Hedges?

  • Have any of you read the book American Fascists by Chris Hedges?

    I have not. And I must confess, the summary does not exactly entice me:

    From Publishers Weekly
    Starred Review. The f-word crops up in the most respectable quarters these days. Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning)—sounds an alarm, the former New York Times foreign correspondent takes care to employ his terms precisely and decisively. As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, his investigation of the Christian Right agenda is even more alarming given its lucidity. Citing the psychology and sociology of fascism and cults, including the work of German historian Fritz Stern, Hedges draws striking parallels between 20th-century totalitarian movements and the highly organized, well-funded “dominionist movement,” an influential theocratic sect within the country’s huge evangelical population. Rooted in a radical Calvinism, and wrapping its apocalyptic, vehemently militant, sexist and homophobic vision in patriotic and religious rhetoric, dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. Hedges’s reportage profiles both former members and true believers, evoking the particular characteristics of this American variant of fascism. His argument against what he sees as a democratic society’s suicidal tolerance for intolerant movements has its own paradoxes. But this urgent book forcefully illuminates what many across the political spectrum will recognize as a serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society. (Jan. 9)

    Among your recent reading? Did you find it enlightening?

    Personally, I’m rather down on that, “And I’ve just discovered that my enemies are even worse than I imagined!!!” style of book, whether written by the left or the right.

  • But just for kicks I went and read the opening. Underwhelming is perhaps putting it a little kindly.