Friday, March 31, 2006
Saturday, March 25, 2006
There Are Many Paths
Sunday, March 12, 2006
If Not Now, When?
As a general rule, though, bad faith and worse policy should be subject to political remedy, not criminal prosecution, unless there have been crimes so unambiguous and momentous that no political remedy is suitable.Uhuh, right. The man used his position to violate the sovereignity of another country without cause. How much less ambiguous does it have to get? Give me an act that you would consider a "provable high crime", and then explain to me how its worse that what we already know. As for the political pragmatists who are arguing that the impeachment process would be either a) too distracting or b) infeasible, let me ask you a question as well. Are you so caught up in your party's political future that you can't step back and see the trainwreck that American has become? We can't hold a "no confidence" vote; absent impeachment we've got two more years of this guy. How much more damage can this man do in the time he has left in office? How it this stance any less an abdication of responsibility than the circus we've been shackled with since 2000? If you believe that the powers that be are criminal and are ruining the country isn't is incumbent upon you to do whatever is in your power to fix the issue? Sorry for so many rhetorical questions, but the idea that we should hold on for another two years when there are alternatives is just beyond the pale.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
History Repeating Itself
So I finally got a chance to read through the backlog of Economist issues which I've built up. I found this in the letters section in regards to the recent publication of caricatures of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper:
SIR - The fact is that those newspapers which chose to publish satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad crossed the line that separates civil society from barbarism. By all means let us have debates on religion, but let's do so without insulting each others' beliefs.Gah... I find myself wishing for a pithy Dickensian quote about pap or pablum or some such. "We can all have a good discussion as long as everyone agrees to play nice"... right. The problem with this view is that, when it comes to religion, no one can agree as to what constitutes an "insult"; one person's insult is another person's valid criticism.
AC Capital Strategic Public Relations
Frankly, this whole sordid tale about the cartoons and their aftermath reminds me of nothing so much as the battles over heresy, blasphemy, etc. that went on in merry old England in times past. Y'all should check out Blasphemy by Leonard W. Levy, which recounts those goings-on in great detail. The long and the short is that, over the ages, people have repeatedly been accused of blasphemy for discussing religion in a manner which other people have found objectionable. Those who objected have gone so far as to pass laws protecting various sects/denominations/what-have-you from insult or criticism.
Now, the people who passed these laws were often accused of stifling dissent, restricting academic inquiry, etc. To which they replied that no, they had no intention of doing any such thing, they merely wished to prevent people from insulting other peoples' religions. How this worked out in practice was that as long as you confined yourself to the academic small-press you weren't in any danger. Any criticism which reached the greater public, however, was deemed to be insulting, regardless of style, content, validity, etc.
So you see the parallels here to those who call for us to have discussions "without insulting each others' beliefs". History would seem to indicate that such a stance is both theoretically and pragmatically untenable.
Hey, Mr. Nicholas, I've got a question for you, can you explain to me your rubric for what makes something "insulting"? How can I be critical (in an analytic sense) of someone's deeply held beliefs without running the risk that they'll be insulted? Uhuh... I thought so.
1 From the Feb 25th issue
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Is It All Just Epistemology?
- As revealed by authority
- Deduction via pure reason
- Observation of external reality
We Need A New Word
- "atheism" and "agnosticism" are often conflated in popular discourse. The word "agnostic" is tainted by associated.
- Calling evolution "agnostic" doesn't really address the primary charge leveled at the theory.
- Theories which require the existence of God for correct operation ("theistic" theories).
- Theories which require the non-existence of God for correct operation ("atheistic" theories2).
- Theories which operate independently of the existence of God ("???" theories).
1 As a side note this seems to be a good argument to use when people say that evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Point out that the 2nd Law is totally mechanistic and doesn't allow for the existence of God either. Presumably its against the ground rules to use a godless law to disprove another godless law, since both must be false to begin with. 2 Strictly speaking this is inaccurate, since atheism encompasses both those who believe there isn't a God and those who are simply "not theists". Again, though, the common understanding of the word as describing solely "those who believe there is no God" is what I'm concerned with. And anyway, why the hell are were still using one word for two markedly different ideas?
Greetings From New York
Thursday, March 02, 2006
My, That's A Lovely Two-Edged Sword You Got There
1 Assuming they're making a "sanctity of life" argument, which seems to be the case.