Where in the world is Sanal Edamaruku? »« Back into the trenches

Comments

  1. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Ing wrote:

    The entire reoccurring SGBM is an asshole debate is entirely solved by 3 minutes and grease-monkey for both parties. Just saying.

    Or even the judicious use of the page down key/space bar.

  2. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    New page = no more italics? Damn, I’d have gone on a posting rampage if I’d known that.

  3. PatrickG says

    I’m with Wowbagger here… I have no idea what’s been discussed, because gratuitous use of blockquotes makes me just go SCROLL SCROLL SCROLL. :)

    Though grease and monkeys.. hrmm…

  4. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Ing :)

    I did. His perfectionism is incorrect, but rougly speaking his methods of arriving at objective meanings for “good” are worthwhile. I happened to be using similar methods when I had nothing else left to try, and it worked for me — seeing a pro do the same thing made me slightly more confident that I wasn’t being stupid.

  5. consciousness razor says

    (Note: I’m actually a bit more optimistic since that writing, since by comparing notes with Fincke I’ve decided I’m not off base to decide that “good” can have an objective meaning as the positively valenced affects.)

    Well, that’s something. In fact, that’s probably good. ;)

    I don’t really want to beat this dead horse again, but doesn’t Fincke say goods are basically goals (those which intrinsically embiggen a thing) rather than affects? If that’s accurate, would you care to explain how this comparing of notes helped anyway? (It’s perfectly okay if you don’t.)

  6. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    chigau wrote:

    What italics?

    I am not a web-designer, but I presume some kind of html bork set the default font for the page was italics. However, I think it was only affecting a certain version of a certain browser.

    Either way it’s gone now, and I am happy.

  7. Paul says

    Actually I had already been allowed back in TET at that time.

    My mistake. Thanks for the correction.

    You’re undermining your agenda, you know. You’re neither playing the oppression card nor making yourself important by defending others from oppression when you correct me on that. What’s your game, SG?

  8. strange gods before me ॐ says

    consciousness razor, my response to Ing should do double duty. It was seeing him do the investigation of what the word means. I’d done similarly but I wasn’t sure that doing so even makes sense. Fincke’s interest in embiggening reminds me of someone tweaking out over the digits of pi — I think he mistakes the excitement of achieving goals for the goal itself being intrinsically valuable, when all we can really say for sure is that people value the excitement (an affect).

    +++++
    Paul, let me pull the wool away — I’m just reinforcing my moral status as a person who cares about the truth.

    Not because honesty is good (see above; honesty is not, itself, an affect), but because accuracy is interesting.

  9. John Morales says

    ॐ:

    I’m just reinforcing my moral status as a person who cares about the truth.

    … as you understand it, and in a normative and imperative sense.

    (I finished your sentence for you)

  10. strange gods before me ॐ says

    … as you understand it,

    No, I care to continually understand the truth better than I already do.

    (Well-understood truth depreciates as it gets old.)

  11. says

    Ok if anyone wants to know why I’m ‘defeatist’ just look at the TSA thread. Atheist and skeptics have to accept that there is deep deep racism in their subculture. The reflex is to treat Mid Easterners as less than human.

  12. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Ing wrote:

    Ok if anyone wants to know why I’m ‘defeatist’ just look at the TSA thread. Atheist and skeptics have to accept that there is deep deep racism in their subculture. The reflex is to treat Mid Easterners as less than human.

    Gah. I hate myself for having been so naïve as to assume that atheists were, in general, far less stupid and bigoted than the religious. What a painful fucking wakeup call I’ve had over the past year or so.

    Though, in part, I blame Pharyngula; I didn’t realise this was quite as distinct an oasis of decency as it has turned out to be.

  13. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I overlooked something earlier:

    from talking to Fincke?

    Ah, whoops. Not from talking to him. Just from reading him and comparing what I’d already figured out.

  14. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It depends on the issue, and which religious group is being compared.

    Anyway, a good reason to insist that bigoted atheists are bad at being atheists: because it pisses them off.

    Though, in part, I blame Pharyngula; I didn’t realise this was quite as distinct an oasis of decency as it has turned out to be.

    The longstanding opposition to libertarianism was a good seed.

  15. Louis says

    SGBM (and sundry drivellers if you like),

    Don’t be fucking pathetic, I said “master manipulator” not “evil genius”, I don’t think you’re evil and I don’t think you’re a genius of any kind. No conspiracy exists. None needs to.

    I think John hit the nail on the head with “truth as you understand it, and in a normative and imperative sense.”. You’re no more committed to “truth” (whatever it might be) than any other fuckwit with a chip on their shoulder. (Which you so have!). I’ll emphasise the “as you understand it” part.

    Since you like rules and being the Mighty Enforcer of Truth, here are some rules:

    Discussion and polite disagreement are allowed, but you will respect all the commenters, damn you. No personal attacks allowed at all. If you’re feeling angry at someone in the thread, back off and leave: there is no shortage of rage threads on Pharyngula, but this one isn’t it. These threads will be heavily moderated…which means that if you break any of the rules, they will be promptly and strongly enforced.

    Let’s play rules games! Woot!

    All the commenters will be respected and no personal attacks allowed in subsequent sentences? Gosh that could look like any comment about another commenter that isn’t respectful is a personal attack! Wow! I wonder how THAT could be misused!?

    And ALL commenters? I cannot disrespect myself? Oy vey! Those are my very best jokes! I shall die a thousand deaths of self sacrifice because of this!

    But wait, with a different emphasis a different person might conclude that even though one sentence follows another they are separate and the “no personal attacks at all” is not just referring to commenters but anyone, better not say anything nasty about Ken Ham. Then there’s the sentence after that about being angry with someone in that thread and plenty of other space to rage…why that could be about either commenters or any other person. It most likely isn’t, but if we want to play silly buggers with literalistic interpretations and emphasis then we can make multiple meanings from a very simply stated rule.

    Oh and then there’s the sentence about swift and harsh enforcement. And yet none has been forthcoming (yet?). Oh dear what does this mean? What does this mean? Does it mean PZ agrees with me (doubtful)? Does it me PZ hasn’t noticed (likely)? Does it mean that the various people appointed on a temporary basis to monitor these things and point them out to PZ didn’t think what I said rose to the level of personal attack, even though it wasn’t complimentary (possibly but unlikely)? Does it mean I am benefiting from some evil, illogical, untruthful, hypocritical social currency which has been demonstrated incoherent to his satisfaction by SGBM on a thread on the internet somewhere thus SGBM must ride in on his charger of Truth to save the day (ZOMG THAT MUST BE IT!!!!!! Or not)? Perhaps it means that someone else got the joke, or saw what I did as so minor an infraction, if an infraction at all, that it fell within the spirit if not the letter of the law (no bloody idea to be honest)? Or is it something else (the janitor?)?

    THIS is all part of the point I have been making. You see, rules lawyering like you are doing it is beyond pathetic. You are seeing what you want to see and proceeding from there, like Chas’ asinine “that first ‘fuck off’ wasn’t funny”, what? Objectively not funny? Really? How many funnions were absorbed/emitted? Does Chas have a Guffawometer calibrated in Yuks? Please! Don’t give me “it’s all in your words Louis”, I know that game, it’s all in your interpretation of my words and your implications and assumptions about my intent. That’s why humour is relevant. That’s also why I utterly reject your criticism. If I believed it was done in the remotest bit of good faith, I might…just might…be interested in having a conversation about it. If you weren’t using this as a hobby horse to be a self appointed warrior for “protecting the weak” as you see it (and as I see it, a red herring used to grant you the veneer of moral justification), these recently added rules were a golden opportunity for you by the way, it’s no surprise that YOU are using them this way, as predicted, it might be worth discussing it sensibly. As it stands, it isn’t. It’s precisely why I don’t need to respond to your every word, because you’re proceeding from a place of convenient falsehood and interpretation. If your foundations are made from soft shit, I don’t need to look at the rest of the house to know it’s going to collapse.

    Oh and if arguments about defensiveness are not arguments about intent, then you need to go back to school and learn what those words mean.

    No one seems willing to answer the glaring and omnipresent question of why you seem to be at the heart of conflicts so often: hint: it isn’t because you are some brave knight of Truth standing up to Hypocritical Hordes of Social Currency. You are as selective as any creationist in insisting on one meaning for your carefully manipulated quotes and phrases. It’s everything to do with your disingenuous sanctimony and shoulder chip.

    Self policing by any community is a good thing, you’re not doing that, the fact that you don’t realise this and are sufficiently manipulative* to have fooled a couple of weak minded drivellers like Chas** into supporting you is not significant.

    Louis

    * Manipulative =/= mastermind =/= genius. You’re just sufficiently persistent and insistent on your interpretations that it pisses people off to the point of not wanting to engage with you seriously. It’s a tactic like any other. This fools some weak minded drivellers into being impressed by you. Interesting how, yet again, you benefit from social currency when it suits you too. Why, there’s a word for that isn’t there?

    ** Hey Chas, yes I am occasionally operating at levels of irony far beyond you, no there is no hope I could ever teach them to you, and yes as far as I am concerned you are beyond help. You are a sniping coward in my view, I’d believe you would act based on personal grudges before I believed it of SGBM, for instance.

    P.S. And Tkreacher, you’ve said two things I need to comment on: a) the added and comedy “fuck off” because you were posting in this thread in one of your posts was brilliant, I LOLed. b) Vin Diesel? Vin Diesel’s VOICE? Holy suffering fuck, I think I’m actually offended! Well, maybe…

  16. ChasCPeterson says

    You’re a piece of work, Louis.

    Objectively not funny? Really?

    Of course not. As always, and necessarily, that statement was one of opinion. Pace NoR, I have no peer-reviewed primary literature to cite in its support. But I will re-state it for you, Louis: It did not strike me as humorous in effect or intent.

    How many funnions were absorbed/emitted?

    We in the benighted States ‘cross the pond are still using the old-fashioned snackfood-based humor measurement system. Our unit is the Funyun (Fy).
    As reported above, in this case zero Fy were absorbed. I can only take your word that you emitted some.

    Does Chas have a Guffawometer calibrated in Yuks?

    Nope. Nips.

    I’d believe you would act based on personal grudges

    You make me feel all kettlish.

    if I only had da noive…

  17. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    cr, from yesterday

    And in case this comes up, doing more good is not a value I’m imposing so that I can sneak in my own ethical system. That’s just what any ethical system is concerned with demonstrating. If you’re not trying to do that, you’re not trying to do any kind of ethics.

    You are conflating ethics and rationality. One can be unethical and rational if one’s goals do not include doing good. The original claim that I questioned was that bigotry was inherently irrational. I would claim rather that bigotry is inherently malevolent. I won’t carry this point any further since it is purely academic, and kind of wanky. And some people hate that.

  18. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Funyuns!

    Louis: you should be gratified to know that SG may be the only one with the notochord to read your increasingly unhinged manifestos.

    I for one have no idea what you want here anymore.

  19. emburii says

    Replying here on some comments from the FTB rules thread…

    =8)-DX:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/05/10/why-my-initial-thoughts-on-the-obama-gay-marriage-announcement-are-wrong/

    The post itself is a little insensitive, but Jason’s defensiveness in the comments really hurt. It’s one thing to say ‘I don’t have a problem with this’ and another to tell people that they should be happy with a ‘state’s rights’ approach on pretty important parts of their very lives, as Josh SG had put it. It’s not hate by any means, but it is privileged to assume that such a limited scope should be enough for everyone.

  20. =8)-DX says

    emburii
    I hadn’t read the comments back then (nor this last time) so I just read up on most of that now:

    But then Jason didn’t even say that everyone should be happy with a state’s rights approach either. He said (and repeated) that he hated the state’s rights part. The argument there seems more like a lot of heated emotion at thge time (albeit perfectly valid) on Josh’s part

    Do not tell us how we should feel (I’ve had enough of that from straight “allies” the past 24 hours).

    , and a series of emotional reactions by both Jason and Josh as well as other insensitive comments.

    Personally for me this doesn’t signify a “bad” approach on any social rights/minorities issue – getting into emotional exchanges with the people involved (while trying to understand their position and modify/explain ours taking that into account) is pretty much everyday bread for dealing with these kinds of issues in society.

    More to the point – I myself would’ve probably still thought feminism “a little quaint” and held to many MRA standard lines had it not been for these kinds of heated online discussions (myself and between others).

    Back to the topic – seemed like me that Josh felt being condescended to, being told how to feel, what to think, what to complain about, while Jason’s very insensitivity stemmed from how personally he was taking the issue. Still don’t think this goes against FTB being an “atheism+social justice+science network”

  21. emburii says

    =8)-DX:

    I agree with you that it’s not a reflection on FTB as a whole, the only thing I can kind of point to is a certain amount of cliquishness and hypocrisy on some subjects among a certain subgroup. The hounding of Josh SG continued in other posts and comment sections by Greg Laden (so glad he’s gone) and Stephanie Zvan, specifically based on that post, but that doesn’t reflect on PZ, or Daniel Fincke, or Greta Christina, or anyone else on the network. But of that subgroup their straight privilege does rightfully engender some bitterness and (admittedly less convincing) questions on their commitment to SJ. I personally don’t think they’re terrible people, it’s privilege more than hate, but I’m not about to shout down those who are more affected by the issue than I am.
    I’m ‘straight-married’ (trauma-bonding that actually lasted) but mostly attracted to women. To know that if things had been different, and to know that people who are just as much in love with similarly awesome people cannot express it whereas my relationship is ‘legitimate’ only by a fluke…it makes Jason’s defensiveness and occasional smugness seem that much more aggravating to the people with lives, children, or legacies that are being stifled under a ‘good enough’ that isn’t even close.

  22. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Study: Declining Circumcision Rates Could Inflate Health Costs

    As circumcision rates decline, health costs will go up, warn researchers at Johns Hopkins University. A team of economists and epidemiologists estimated that each circumcision not performed will lead to significant increases in lifetime medical expenses to treat sexually transmitted diseases and related cancers. Findings were published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Circumcision rates have been falling nationwide for decades: In the 1970s and 80s, about 80 percent of baby boys were routinely circumcised, compared to fewer than 55 percent in 2010. One reason, experts speculate, is that many states have eliminated Medicaid coverage for the procedure. Research suggests numerous health benefits to circumcision, such as a reduced risk of contracting HIV, human papillomavirus and herpes simplex. “The state governments think we can save a few bucks, but it ends up costing them more in the long run,” study author Aaron Tobian, an assistant professor of epidemiology and pathology at Johns Hopkins, told Reuters. “The medical benefits of male circumcision are extremely clear.”

    Costs and Effectiveness of Neonatal Male Circumcision
    Seema Kacker, BS; Kevin D. Frick, PhD; Charlotte A. Gaydos, DrPH; Aaron A. R. Tobian, MD, PhD

    Objective To evaluate the expected change in the prevalence of male circumcision (MC)–reduced infections and resulting health care costs associated with continued decreases in MC rates. During the past 20 years, MC rates have declined from 79% to 55%, alongside reduced insurance coverage.

    Design We used Markov-based Monte Carlo simulations to track men and women throughout their lifetimes as they experienced MC procedure-related events and MC-reduced infections and accumulated associated costs. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were used to evaluate the impact of uncertainty.

    Setting United States.

    Participants Birth cohort of men and women.

    Intervention Decreased MC rates (10% reflects the MC rate in Europe, where insurance coverage is limited).

    Outcomes Measured Lifetime direct medical cost (2011 US$) and prevalence of MC-reduced infections.

    Results Reducing the MC rate to 10% will increase lifetime health care costs by $407 per male and $43 per female. Net expenditure per annual birth cohort (including procedure and complication costs) is expected to increase by $505 million, reflecting an increase of $313 per forgone MC. Over 10 annual cohorts, net present value of additional costs would exceed $4.4 billion. Lifetime prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus infection among males is expected to increase by 12.2% (4843 cases), high- and low-risk human papillomavirus by 29.1% (57 124 cases), herpes simplex virus type 2 by 19.8% (124 767 cases), and infant urinary tract infections by 211.8% (26 876 cases). Among females, lifetime prevalence of bacterial vaginosis is expected to increase by 51.2% (538 865 cases), trichomoniasis by 51.2% (64 585 cases), high-risk human papillomavirus by 18.3% (33 148 cases), and low-risk human papillomavirus by 12.9% (25 837 cases). Increased prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus infection among males represents 78.9% of increased expenses.

    Conclusion Continued decreases in MC rates are associated with increased infection prevalence, thereby increasing medical expenditures for men and women.

    thoughts

  23. Paul says

    thoughts

    Design We used Markov-based Monte Carlo simulations to track men and women throughout their lifetimes as they experienced MC procedure-related events and MC-reduced infections and accumulated associated costs.

    /yawn. GIGO. Just more trying to justify an unnecessary medical procedure as post-hoc validation of religious ritual disguised as science.

  24. emburii says

    @peterhearn

    It is not an assumption, it is a truthful observation that you are not assimilating facts. The idea that he would have been asked to leave just because he wanted to discuss harassment policies or community assumptions is not proven when, for instance, Chris Hallquist is still here after questioning FTB views on DJ Grothe. Yet Greg Laden, who talked up the SJ something fierce, is not.

  25. Beatrice says

    peterhearn,

    You are trying to make every thread you appear in about your favorite topic, regardless of what the actual topic of the thread is. Until you show some consideration, I will keep warning you about your mistake. In fact, I think I’ll make a hobby out of it. :)

  26. peterhearn says

    @beatrice

    I just say whats on my mind and I’m happy to leave it at that. If others want to comment on what I said I’ll reply to them.

    You’re right I’m not always on topic, but once a discussion starts I don’t think I need to shut up just because you don’t want to read what I’m saying.

  27. peterhearn says

    If the person I’m talking to wants to to take it to thunderdome I’m fine with that. But asking me to go there alone is silly. Tell both of us to take it to the thunderdome so we can continue the conversation without derailing.

  28. Beatrice says

    If it sounds like a troll and smells like a troll…

    peterhearn,

    You have this hobby horse which you jump on every chance you get, mainly in every thread that seems to offer some tentative connection that you can use to draw conversation to yourself. Of course people answer, this place is rife with people suffering from SIWOTI. And you are using that. Like a troll repeating the same old “but you keep answering me, I can’t stop”.

    You can stop. You can come here and argue about the same damn thing for however long you want (unless it gets too much even for Thunderdome and PZ chucks you out). You don’t have to make every other thread about yourself.

    That’s asshole, narcissistic behavior. It’s not all about you. Or Thunderfoot.

  29. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Still waiting for your evidence PH the fuckwitted and egotistical MRA, with nothing but NOISY AND INANE OPINION. We don’t have to agree with you. You are nothing but a self-appointed and stupid bully.

  30. peterhearn says

    Its my fault because those poor people are suffering from SIWOTI, and they just can’t help themselves? Thats their behavior problem. I’m not responsible for how they act.

    I really am just speaking my mind here most of the time. I know my opinions are going to piss people off but that shouldn’t stop me from saying them. Call it trolling if you want. Its not like I’m terrorizing the thread. But I always have a point to make and I’m seldom the one being aggressive and making personal attacks.

    I’m happy to respect PZ’s wishes on his own blog and leave the thread if he says so. I’ve never had a problem with that.

  31. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    /yawn. GIGO. Just more trying to justify an unnecessary medical procedure as post-hoc validation of religious ritual disguised as science.

    First not defending or attacking this study I’m just curious as I’m not as familiar with some of how it was done.

    what about the part you quote is GIGO?

    Are Markov-based Monte Carlo simulations crap?

  32. peterhearn says

    @nerd troll

    Just like I thought you aren’t willing to be skeptical. I rest my case. Keep raging all you want.

  33. Beatrice says

    So, I googled a bit and realized that I have already once decided to be peterhearn’s shadow. But then I went to sleep and later forgot about it. (attention span, what attention span?)

    See, there was this one thread about a woman’s experience at DefCon. You were stupid on that thread, but I think that by now we know to expect that from you.
    Anyway, I asked you a question then and you never answered it.

    The question was:

    Why should I believe your assumption about a con you have never been to over the experience of this woman?

    I’m waiting.

    this was the post in question

  34. Beatrice says

    You are welcome to share your opinions. Just have enough decency not to shit in every fucking room of the house.

  35. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just like I thought you aren’t willing to be skeptical.

    I am a skeptic, 25+ years, and know how to be one. Show me the evidence, not OPINION that you are right. Simple. I am skeptical of you and the MRAs, whereas the feminists backed up their assertions with EVIDENCE. The MRAs think their OPINION is evidence. It isn’t, and never will be.

  36. peterhearn says

    @nerd troll
    Apparently you don’t know how to be a skeptic at all. I said I was willing to admit I may be wrong. I didn’t say “meet my personal criteria and prove a negative that harrassment doesn’t happen”. I simply asked if you were willing to do the same as me and admit you could possibly be wrong. You’re not willing to admit you might be wrong, so quit calling yourself a skeptic. You’re just a bad troll.

  37. peterhearn says

    @beatrice

    way to change the topic. Ok so that was my first post if I recall. And what I said wasn’t bad at all. At least, not in my mind. It was a perfectly innocent post. What I got in return what over 100 replies from people twisting my words, trying to make me feel bad, making extreme assumptions, ect.

    Nobody really wanted to discuss it in a reasonable way. After all that, is there really anything I can do except be more skeptical? I feel like I have every reason to think most people on here are crazy.

    Anyways, to answer your question, no you should not believe me over anyone else. If you recall I said later in that thread that I could be wrong about everything. You shouldn’t take some other feminists anecdotal either, as shes probably biased and likely to look at everything through the lens of sexism. Like I was saying, the best way to find out for sure is to go to DefCon and see for yourself.

  38. Paul says

    First not defending or attacking this study I’m just curious as I’m not as familiar with some of how it was done.

    Understood. Wasn’t attacking you, just underwhelmed by the content that you provided.

    Are Markov-based Monte Carlo simulations crap?,

    I wouldn’t say that. They’re useful tools. I’m questioning the figures that they fed into the sims. Unfortunately I can’t read the full article, so I suppose I should maintain a slightly more reserved posture.

    To elaborate on my underwhelmedness, the vast majority of the financial effect they’re positing is that circumcision going down to 10% will result in an overall increase of 12.2% in HIV among males. I can’t read the article, but I am skeptical how they generated these figures. Most of the studies referenced by the CDC indicate 40-70% lower risk for circumcised populations in various African countries, but I have trouble seeing this translate so easily to the US with the large differences both in condom usage, in the proportion of the country already infected with HIV, and reduced(?) chance of HIV transmission when on HAART, that previous studies can support the assumptions fed into the model. I would be interested if anyone can shed more light.

  39. Beatrice says

    peterhearn,

    And yet, never being to DefCon yourself, you had no trouble convincing us that she’s lying and biased (biased?) and that you know what’s really going on there.

    You shouldn’t take some other feminists anecdotal either, as shes probably biased and likely to look at everything through the lens of sexism.

    It was her experience. A lot of other women agreed and recounted similar experiences. I have no reason to believe they are all lying.

    I love how you say feminist like it’s a dirty word.

    So you are denying that sexism exists? Trust me, I don’t want to see sexism. I would love it if I didn’t have to experience sexism. YOu are certainly not one of those people who are going to bring us any closer to that wonderful moment.

  40. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Apparently you don’t know how to be a skeptic at all.

    Funny how you define skeptic as someone who agrees with you, typial of egotistically driven MRA fuckwits. I know how to be a skeptic, but I also know evidence being a scientist in real life. I’m skeptical of you and your claims due to lack of evidence presented by you and your fellow slack-jawed evidence givers of OPINIONS, not what you want me to be skeptical of. There, I saw evidence, not just opinion, given. Who the fuck are you to define skepticism? Show me your authority to do so (hows that for being skeptical).

  41. joey says

    Antiochus:

    In short, reality (to me) seems too complex to provide prima facie evidence that bigotry is irrational, without being premised by commitment to goals that are far from universally held.

    ^This right here. I pretty much agree with everything you said throughout this interesting discussion, FWIW.

    ————–
    consciousness razor:

    I can see how one could come to the empirical conclusion that such a practice is contra the goal of preserving well-being, but then we have to take the desire to preserve well-being as axiomatic. -Antiochus

    I don’t think that’s an axiom. That’s just reality. We have that desire, because we evolved to live as social beings on a finite planet, where we need to cooperate for a limited amount of resources and where we’re only physically capable of doing so many things to make that happen.

    The “desire to preserve well-being” of what exactly? The individual self? The family or tribe? The nation? The entire human species? The standards of rationality depends on the particular “reality”.

    For example if the reality is to preserve the well-being of a nation and its people as a collective, then it can be considered “rational” for the Chinese to have its government force abortions on its citizens to prevent overpopulation. Likewise bigotry against the extreme elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, and/or any unproductive (to the well-being of the nation) citizen could be rationally defended.

  42. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Understood. Wasn’t attacking you, just underwhelmed by the content that you provided.

    Cool, I didn’t take it that way.

    Thanks for the answers

  43. peterhearn says

    @beatrice

    What is it with you guys and hyperbole? Lets at least to be objective here. I never said she was lying. I never said sexism doesn’t exist.

    I think the account she described really did happen, I just think that she was being very one-sided and leaving out a lot of the context. Its incredibly obvious from reading it. Do you really have guys come up to you and start licking your shoulder? You don’t question that shes being biased at all?

    Of course I think sexism exists. Not just in many subtle forms but at any convention or gather of large groups of people sexual harassment is bound to happen. Does that sound like denial? Just because I can tell someone is being biased doesn’t mean I’m denying sexism exists.

    I’m just trying to look at the real picture here and decide if its really as bad as its being presented here. Because my experience says otherwise and if I’m wrong I’d like to know. But when I question people who are obviously being biased and I get a whole group of people raging at me and making ridiculous assumptions, that just tells me that these people aren’t being skeptical and don’t want to be. They just want to reaffirm their biased beliefs and yell at anyone who says otherwise.

  44. peterhearn says

    @bad troll

    You fail at the dictionary definition.

    skepticism noun /ˈskeptəˌsizəm/ – 1. A skeptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something

    Whatever crazy way you want to define it, you’re a skeptic like I’m the Pope.

  45. Beatrice says

    Because my experience says otherwise and if I’m wrong I’d like to know.

    You’re wrong.

    They just want to reaffirm their biased beliefs and yell at anyone who says otherwise.

    Ha haha.

    Sorry, this is just precious.

    Ha ha

    *snort*

    (notice how you say you aren’t saying that she’s lying but then keep repeating that you want to look at the real picture (you did the same thing in the original thread too if my memory serves))

    Also, lol

  46. peterhearn says

    @beatrice

    You’re wrong.

    Well I guess you thats the best argument you can present. I’ll remain skeptical if you really want to discuss it further.

  47. Beatrice says

    Waste my time with you? No thanks. There was that whole thread about DefCOn, there were all the other threads I wasn’t participating in. You have been given enough education already, you just choose to ignore it all and waste everyone’s time with your whinging.

    Hint: Sometimes, it’s a good exercise to be skeptical of your own beliefs.

  48. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A skeptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something

    A workable definition. And when this is applied to you and your evidenceless assertions, you find it troubling how and why? Oh, that’s right, I don’t agree with your presuppositions, and have evidence that makes my null hypothesis that the feminists are right, and the MRA fuckwits like you are wrong.

    But, I’m willing to be swayed with real evidence, not bullying, which is what you are attempting to do by defining what is and isn’t a proper skeptic. I questioned the feminist theory, but the presented evidence won out. Now present your evidence, not OPINION AND ATTITUDE. To date, nothing but attitude from you. Do you even know what evidence is? I doubt it. But it isn’t your OPINION.

  49. peterhearn says

    @beatrice

    Hint: Sometimes, it’s a good exercise to be skeptical of your own beliefs.

    Thats actually what I’ve been saying all along. If you pay attention I’ve said over and over that I could be wrong. The question is can you and bad troll take your own advice?

  50. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    For example if the reality is to preserve the well-being of a nation and its people as a collective, then it can be considered “rational” for the Chinese to have its government force abortions on its citizens to prevent overpopulation. Likewise bigotry against the extreme elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, and/or any unproductive (to the well-being of the nation) citizen could be rationally defended.

    This is a common line of argument against utilitarianism that underwhelms me.
    Laws that guarantee freedom for everyone promote happiness and well-being more effectively than laws denying freedom to some, simply because, anyone may find themselves on the receiving end of such laws*. Freedom in such a system is necessarily insecure and, in application, ephemeral.
    For example, there may be a temporary benefit in denying reproductive rights to some citizens, but in the long run, a repeated pattern of discriminatory laws can only erode the security of any sense of autonomy that one may hold.

    I’m no psychologist, or social scientist, but I think most would agree that being secure in one’s autonomy is a necessary element of well-being.

    *And by necessity will in the case of discrimation against the elderly.

  51. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I said “master manipulator” not “evil genius”, I don’t think you’re evil and I don’t think you’re a genius of any kind.

    Mwahahaha!

    No conspiracy exists. None needs to.

    The Central Committee of Commenters on Pharyngula is pleased to hear this.

    I think John hit the nail on the head with “truth as you understand it, and in a normative and imperative sense.”

    I doubt you even understand what he was getting at with the latter clause.

    You’re no more committed to “truth” (whatever it might be) than any other fuckwit with a chip on their shoulder.

    Unevidenced assertion. And there is evidence against the assertion.

    I’ll emphasise the “as you understand it” part.

    You seem to think this is clever. It is only a deepity.

    If it is to mean that I believe to be true what I believe to be true, the same tautology applies to everyone.

    If it is to mean that I am not interested in changing my understanding of truth, it is evidently false.

    Since you like rules and being the Mighty Enforcer of Truth, here are some rules:

    Again, I do not like rules. It is not me who wanted the endless thread to become the lounge. I do like fairness. Fairness can exist in the absence of rules, but if rules exist as well then fairness requires interpersonally impartial application of those rules.

    Let’s play rules games! Woot!

    First, let’s remind you why I brought it up in the first place:

    I care about the fair treatment of people you don’t care about. Now, I dislike huntstoddard, and you’ve probably already noticed I consider him a self-obsessed fool.

    But I don’t want to see what’ll happen if he shows up in the Lounge and tries to argue with you because you dragged that argument in where it doesn’t belong. I know that’s a recipe for unfair treatment of huntstoddard, who I still want to see treated fairly even though I don’t like him personally.

    And it’s a recipe for a fight in the Lounge that no one else in the community wants, simply because it is a fight. So my request is to keep the Lounge the way the community wants it. You can ignore the community’s preferences, but be aware that’s what you’re doing.

    All the commenters will be respected and no personal attacks allowed in subsequent sentences? Gosh that could look like any comment about another commenter that isn’t respectful is a personal attack! Wow! I wonder how THAT could be misused!?</blockquote

    I'm actually not sure about how that could be misused. If the comment is disrespectful, then it's already breaching "you will respect all the commenters", and it wouldn't need to be interpreted as a personal attack. Personal attacks are evidently mentioned specifically because they are especially likely to cause a fight.

    Interpreting genuinely neutral comments, which do not communicate either respect or disrespect, as lacking respect and thereby breaching the rule, would be against the spirit of the rules, which is to prevent fights. People generally don't fight about genuinely neutral comments.

    And ALL commenters? I cannot disrespect myself? Oy vey! Those are my very best jokes! I shall die a thousand deaths of self sacrifice because of this!

    Interpreting self-disrespect as breaching the rule would be against the spirit of the rules, which is to prevent fights. People generally don’t fight about others’ self-disrespect.

    But wait, with a different emphasis a different person might conclude that even though one sentence follows another they are separate and the “no personal attacks at all” is not just referring to commenters but anyone, better not say anything nasty about Ken Ham. Then there’s the sentence after that about being angry with someone in that thread and plenty of other space to rage…why that could be about either commenters or any other person.

    It most likely isn’t, since we know the spirit of the rules was to prevent fights between Pharyngula commenters. (If Ken Ham showed up in the Lounge then it would be wise to take the fight with him here to Thunderdome.)

    It most likely isn’t, but if we want to play silly buggers with literalistic interpretations and emphasis then we can make multiple meanings from a very simply stated rule.

    Many such meaning would not make sense in light of the spirit of the rule, which is to prevent fights in the Lounge.

    It’s unfortunate that so far you’ve only shown an interest in how the rule might be broken, without any interest in why the rule exists. Considering that we do know the rule exists to prevent fights in the Lounge, there is a meaning of “no personal attacks allowed at all” which is consistent with the reason the rule exists — don’t bring fights from other threads into the Lounge, and don’t make personal attacks against other Pharyngula commenters in the Lounge.

    Oh and then there’s the sentence about swift and harsh enforcement. And yet none has been forthcoming (yet?). Oh dear what does this mean? What does this mean?

    Not much, since huntstoddard did not show up in the Lounge and thus no escalation occurred. We do know that PZ wants us to avoid fights in the Lounge — we know this because that’s why the rule was written, and we know this from PZ’s instruction to not escalate there with peterhearn.

    It’s unfortunate that so far you’ve only shown an interest in how the rule might be broken, without any interest in why the rule exists.

    You really seem to think that you can’t have been doing anything wrong because you aren’t being punished for it. And you really seem to think that I only want you to be punished for it. But Louis, I’ve been clear about this. I don’t want you punished, and I don’t want huntstoddard punished either if he were to show up to defend himself. So I don’t want instigations to occur in the Lounge which could lead to escalations.

    It doesn’t matter that you were expressing moderate frustration, not character assassination. “Self obsessed fool” is a personal attack even if it does not rise to the level of character assassination. There are no personal attacks against other Pharyngula commenters allowed in the Lounge. At all. That’s the rules — they actually say “at all.” There isn’t an exception for “no personal attacks unless you are expressing moderate frustration”.

    If huntstoddard reads this and wants to defend himself, where’s that argument going to happen? It’s going to happen in the Lounge, because you started it there.

    There is a place for you to express all the frustration you want. Please use it.

    And so I don’t want instigations to occur in the Lounge which could lead to escalations.

    THIS is all part of the point I have been making. You see, rules lawyering like you are doing it is beyond pathetic.

    Your refusal to consider why the rule exists, and your refusal to consider whether you should follow the rule regardless of whether you are punished, are actually pathetic.

    That’s why humour is relevant. That’s also why I utterly reject your criticism. If I believed it was done in the remotest bit of good faith, I might…just might…be interested in having a conversation about it.

    Again with the “humor makes a personal attack into not a personal attack” thing. It’s not true. Adding humor to a personal attack does not make it okay, and certainly does not have any demonstrable value of lessening the hurt. Often it makes it more hurtful.

    If you’re also asking me to tell you that your sense of humor makes you a good person, I really don’t see it. Sorry. I think you’re a pretty alright fellow in any case, but I don’t believe that humor is an important part of it. You’d be pretty alright if you evinced no sense of humor.

    You insist that I should see some value that you see in your humor, some moral worth, it seems, which is like so obvious to you that you can’t even understand you ought to explain it — and it’s telling of something if I don’t, though what it tells also isn’t obvious — yet at the same time you think it’s absurd for me to ask anyone to engage with my moral arguments. Just absurd on its face. Don’t you find that funny? I do.

    Anyway.

  52. strange gods before me ॐ says

    If you weren’t using this as a hobby horse to be a self appointed warrior for “protecting the weak” as you see it

    You had to put that part in quotes since it isn’t true. I would argue for you if I saw you being treated unfairly. In any case, I don’t think huntstoddard is weak.

    I do believe, like you believe, that huntstoddard is a self-obsessed fool.

    What I don’t want is unfair treatment of anyone here, and you know as well as I that if huntstoddard showed up in the Lounge to defend himself it would be huntstoddard who be blamed for disrupting the Lounge.

    I would be perfectly fine with huntstoddard coming here to Thunderdome to be abused by you or anyone. As you know, I have no love for huntstoddard.

    Also what I don’t want is for the Lounge to be full of fighting. When you enclosed your personal attack in a pre-emptive dismissal of criticism for making personal attacks, this stood out as a particularly bad precedent, which would be exceptionally likely to lead to fights.

    (and as I see it, a red herring used to grant you the veneer of moral justification), these recently added rules were a golden opportunity for you by the way, it’s no surprise that YOU are using them this way, as predicted, it might be worth discussing it sensibly. As it stands, it isn’t.

    Then maybe you could answer Paul, since I’m not the only one who sees the request to take personal attacks to the Thunderdome as reasonable. Leaving out the bits that will serve as a tangent for you to complain about me instead of taking Paul’s point seriously:

    “the problem that precipitated PZ’s recent strike [...] is, the lounge getting contaminated with fights because of insulting comments directed at people who didn’t normally participate in the lounge, which dragged the fights into the lounge itself (unsurprisingly, since that was where they were being started).

    [... I]f you value this space as a lounge you really should treat it as such. I don’t understand the hesitation to take insults and issues to the Thunderdome, treating the suggestion as an attack when it’s what our host has asked us to do.”

    It’s precisely why I don’t need to respond to your every word, because you’re proceeding from a place of convenient falsehood and interpretation.

    What are these convenient falsehoods?

    Dude, it is objectively true that calling someone a fool is a personal attack.

    If you’d said “huntstoddard is bothering me” then that would also be less than compliementary, but would not obviously be a personal attack.

    Calling anyone a “fool” of any kind is prima facie a personal attack. It is not simply less than complimentary. It’s calling them a fool, and that’s a personal attack. You cannot coherently deny this.

    You seem to think your intention makes it not a personal attack. That is a false assumption. Personal attacks are personal attacks regardless of intention — they are personal attacks because of their content.

    Oh and if arguments about defensiveness are not arguments about intent, then you need to go back to school and learn what those words mean.

    Dude, I retracted that already:

    «I’m not married to this matter, so I’ll be happy to drop it. There is something more important here. So:

    You’ve never been defensive, ever. [...]

    Louis, instead of getting personally defensive, please think about what I said. [The Lounge] isn’t the place for personally attacking other Pharyngula commenters, and there’s a reason for that — it tends to drag contentious arguments from other threads into [that] one.

    Dude, if this is what you’re fixated on, I’ll happily grant all of it to you. There you go. Your wonderful hilarious intent is teh humour. You have never been defensive, ever. »

    You keep going on about how I’m “making claims for which you have no evidence (claims of intent, claims of interest etc)”, when I’m not doing that. I’ve retracted the only claim you’ve specifically objected to. (I note that you show no self-awareness about all the unevidenced claims you make, claims you can never and will never have any evidence other than your gut for.)

    So anyway, what claims of intent am I making? And what claims of interest am I making?

    No one seems willing to answer the glaring and omnipresent question of why you seem to be at the heart of conflicts so often:

    No one seems willing? Why do you make this false claim? Actually we went over this a lot. But if “no one seems willing” but you, then you must be a Lone Visionary Truth Teller, eh?

    You are as selective as any creationist in insisting on one meaning for your carefully manipulated quotes and phrases.

    Since I’ve granted that you’re totally not being defensive at all, your only specific complaint is that I’m saying that calling someone a “self-obsessed fool” is a personal attack.

    Which it is, prima facie. You cannot rationally deny this.

    It’s everything to do with your disingenuous sanctimony and shoulder chip.

    That’s offensive to me. My santimony is not disingenous.

    Self policing by any community is a good thing, you’re not doing that,

    I am doing this.

    the fact that you don’t realise this

    Here, though, is apparently the claim that you recognize that I’m trying to encourage fairness — but — unbeknownst to me, I am not really trying to encourage fairness.

    That’s very interesting.

    and are sufficiently manipulative* to have fooled a couple of weak minded drivellers like Chas** into supporting you is not significant.

    Let’s note Chas is not “a couple”. Earlier you told tkreacher, “Pull the fucking wool from over your eyes, you’re being played.” I’ve never gotten the impression that either of them are weak-minded. Anyone else would you like to name, Louis?

    Interesting how, yet again, you benefit from social currency when it suits you too. Why, there’s a word for that isn’t there?

    The word you want is probably hypocrisy, which I’ve never claimed to be free from. I’ve actually acknowledged “my glaring, nearly obscene hypocrisies.”

    How, though, do I benefit from social currency when it suits me, and how exactly could I do otherwise? Please be explicit about what I’m doing which is allegedly hypocritical, and either quote or accurately paraphrase what I’ve said which it contradicts.

    You’ve asserted this now many times, and never clarified. Again, it would be amusing to hear what this is supposed to refer to.

    Finally, I’d like to ask you to answer consciousness razor’s question,

    I do think it serves an agenda he, in my opinion, has and he is not entirely up front about.

    What do you think that agenda is? And how exactly does telling people the rules of the lounge play into his nefarious plans, whatever they are?

    since the answer should also be amusing.

    Louis, instead of getting personally defensive, please think about what I said. [The Lounge] isn’t the place for personally attacking other Pharyngula commenters, and there’s a reason for that — it tends to drag contentious arguments from other threads into [that] one.

  53. joey says

    Antiochus:

    Laws that guarantee freedom for everyone promote happiness and well-being more effectively than laws denying freedom to some, simply because, anyone may find themselves on the receiving end of such laws*.

    But the well-being of everyone does not need to be the concern. The given axiom could be all about the well-being of only a particular people. Laws that guarantee freedom only to that people would effectively promote happiness and well-being for that people. The lack of freedom and well-being of other people does not have to factor in. (Simply look at the numerous cases of ethnic cleansing just this past century as examples.) As you mentioned, the (ir)rationality of attitudes/actions depends on premised goals that aren’t universally held.

    I’m no psychologist, or social scientist, but I think most would agree that being secure in one’s autonomy is a necessary element of well-being.

    Well-being for the individual self, I agree. But I don’t think it’s a necessary element of well-being for a larger community.

  54. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    But I don’t think it’s a necessary element of well-being for a larger community.

    I don’t think that concern for well-being (of anyone) is necessary for rationality. This is where (I think) we agree.

    I do believe that legal guarantees of individual autonomy for members of a society promotes the well-being of a society. This is where we disagree. My reasoning is simple enough. Slavery and servitude* decrease individual well-being much more than they increase individual well-being of those whom they serve. I don’t have a link to sufficer as evidence, but my experience tells me that this is empirically true. I will have to think of a way to be more convincing.

    *Poverty induces the most insidious kind of servitude, IMO…I regard freedom from poverty to be necessary element of individual autonomy. This may be helpful in explaining my particular mindset on this issue.

  55. insipidmoniker says

    Just popping in to make sure JJlatFtB knows this is, indeed, where discussions about manners are best handled on Pharyngula.

  56. Beatrice says

    Could you link it for her in the relevant thread? I’ve already been a thread cop once today, I should really share that duty. ;)

  57. cm's changeable moniker says

    [meta]

    Suggestion: Anyone “bringing it” from another thread; linky please?

    T’would help.

  58. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It may be worth noting, since these claims have been made,

    master manipulator to maintain a persecution complex

    he’ll plead persecution

    it may be worth noting that I’ve never claimed anyone here is persecuting me,

    and I don’t think anyone else here has claimed that I’m being persecuted either.

    +++++
    There have been some specific claims.

    No one who has made these claims has said that they amount to persecution.

    I know that exaggeration is easier than accuracy, but asserting that “persecution” is being claimed rather distracts from the substance of what is in fact being claimed.

  59. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It may be worthwhile to further note that I don’t think anyone here has a perfectly rosy view of me, and the assertion, that Chas or anyone else “supports” me, is rather too simplistic.

    Some people have noted particular, specific instances in which someone overreacts to something I’ve said, or distorts what I’ve said in a remarkable way.

    These same people go on to state that they don’t agree with everything I say. But apparently, simply noting that some such instances sometimes occur means … something. Something about patterns in wool.

  60. cm's changeable moniker says

    Heh.

    I am cm MacCleod of the clan MacCleod. I was born in … oh, no, wait. That was a film thing.

    Still: I have heritage! Curiously, via the wool mills of Lancashire.

    Geneaology, eh?

  61. David Marjanović says

    Once upon a time, in the most useless corner of eastern Hercegovina, there were two brothers, Marjan and Teša (short for Teodor, probably)… and in the next generation, the ancient patronymics were frozen to create surnames, leading to the families Marjanović and Tešić.

    Right now, “[i]n Ohio, where the stakes couldn’t be higher, the Republican Party isn’t even trying to hide its intentions. This past Sunday, one of Gov. John Kasich’s closest advisers declared that election officials like himself should not ‘accommodate the urban – read African American – voter-turnout machine,’ essentially admitting that their strategy is to limit African Americans’ ability to vote. On Friday, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted [white, duh] suspended and now may fire two election board members for the offense of – imagine this – seeking to expand access to the polls.” (People for the American Way)

    So, sign the petition to reinstate early voting. (Crossposted from the [Lounge].)

  62. joey says

    Antiochus:

    I don’t think that concern for well-being (of anyone) is necessary for rationality. This is where (I think) we agree.

    Yes, we agree on this.

    I do believe that legal guarantees of individual autonomy for members of a society promotes the well-being of a society. This is where we disagree.

    No, it’s not that I disagree with what you say here. It depends on exactly how much autonomy we’re talking about. The more autonomy guaranteed, the more libertarian the argument sounds. (I’m pretty confident that many here would balk at legal guarantees for completely autonomous firearms possession.)

    My reasoning is simple enough. Slavery and servitude* decrease individual well-being much more than they increase individual well-being of those whom they serve.

    That’s some serious handwaving. Is it not possible that the “slavery” of a few could increase the individual well-being of many more people, such that the overall well-being of society increases? Isn’t that the basis for utilitarianism?

  63. joey says

    “…legal guarantees for completely autonomous firearms possession.”

    ^Excuse the piss-poor wording. I meant “legal guarantees for complete autonomy of firearms possession.”

  64. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Is it not possible that the “slavery” of a few could increase the individual well-being of many more people, such that the overall well-being of society increases? Isn’t that the basis for utilitarianism?

    No to both questions.

  65. jonmilne says

    Hello, my fellow Pharyngulites, I require some help with a couple of emails. This is the first one.

    So I’m in correspondence with a guy called Chris who considers himself a “moderate Christian”. We’ve started a debate about the respective harm that “atheism” and “religion” brings to the world. I don’t need help on the “atheism” aspect because I believe I’ve debunked that quite handily. What I do need help on is the “religion” part. One thing I mentioned to Chris, paraphrasing Greta Christina from her infamous “Atheism and the Shut Up, That’s Why Arguments” post, I said:

    Tell me with a straight face that sex and science education in the U.S. public schools, as well as the violence and chaos in the Middle East, wouldn’t be in better states – not perfect mind you, but better – without the interference religion plays in those instances?

    He responded thusly:

    Chris

    Hold on, let me get my straight face on when I tell you that yes, the “interference” religion plays in those instances doesn’t and wouldn’t change anything. You bring up sex. Okay, let’s be clear here, you may not agree with what the bible says about sex, and that’s fine, but if you were to ask me, I’d say that if people listened to what it did say, there wouldn’t be a need for abortion and planned parenthood. What about you? I mean, if any of us had the self control to keep our dicks in our pants until we got married, how many of those programs would be needed? Unfortunately, everyone is fucking everyone and spreading disease along with over populating our country.

    Science education – Yea, religion “shits” on science I guess, but hey, all of the theories and scientific processes to prove things were all invented by men, who as we all know are fallable. The bible? Written by men, so the same concept applies. What makes your science so fucking right? Why is it so believable that we just “poofed” into fucking existence yet unbelievable that someone put us here?

    As for the Middle East, dude…here’s the deal. We didn’t ask the Middle East to be a bunch of crazy fuckwits, and yeah religion plays a role in their fuckwittery, but I ask you this…..if you believe in something, as passionate as you are, how far would you go to defend it? I’m not saying it makes killing right, but you know as well as I do that if there was no religion, we’d all find something else to kill each other over. You act like if there was no religion then everything would be just peachy, but that’s asinine, and to think otherwise is ignorant.

    So, yea, religion causes problems, I admit it, but you’d be hard pressed to convince me the world would be so much different without it. Personally, I don’t care what anyone believes because it’s their choice but to come out and act like you do about it is condescending and off-putting.

    So yeah, any help required on this would be awesome.

  66. John Morales says

    jonmilne, what’s the problem?

    Your friend expressly admits “religion causes problems”, in so many words.

    (Take religion away, it can’t cause those problems, can it?)

  67. =8)-DX says

    This:

    What makes your science so fucking right? Why is it so believable that we just “poofed” into fucking existence yet unbelievable that someone put us here?

    The science is fucking right because its testable and revisable and has been done so many, many times – unlike the bible. Scientific explainations tell us facts about humanity that it is damaging to withhold from young people. Not teaching our evolutionary and cosmic history is exactly what leads to moronic opinions which consider the whole of evolutionary biology and research into origins just some idea that humans “poof” into existence. Fuckhead.

  68. says

    We didn’t ask the Middle East USA to be a bunch of crazy fuckwits, and yeah religion plays a role in their fuckwittery, but I ask you this…..if you believe in something, as passionate as you are, how far would you go to defend it?

    Display of ethnocentrism and readiness to use sweeping generalizations like “Middle East”. Most likely a right-wing authoritarian follower. Boring.

  69. jonmilne says

    Now, here’s the second email.

    My other correspondence is with a woman called Jane, who is also a Christian. We’ve been largely talking about gay marriage, although we initially started out talking about the trend of secular organisations having a tendency to win against religious groups in court including cases like Jessica Ahlquist’s, and the debate’s been going on for a while. She is of the opinion that there is no indication that gay marriage can happen in the US. I’ve tried to point out that every little helps, with the following exchange after I linked her to several examples of where organisations like FFRF, Americans United, and American Atheists were having successes in court:

    Jane: The problem you still have is that trends from the circuits rarely effect the Supreme Court. The conservative members of the Supreme court are, on the whole, much younger than the liberal members so it is unlikely to see a change in trend for years to come.

    Me: Oh, I agree that change will be slow, I never denied that. But it will come. Like I said, every little helps. Just look at same sex marriage. A while back it wasn’t allowed at all, now seven states currently legalise it, while others are on the brink of doing so. It’ll take time for changes to occur, but they WILL happen.

    Jane: In the same period that 7 states have legal same sex marriage, 30 states have constitutional provisions restricting marriage to one man and one woman, while 11 others had laws that did so. Same Sex Marriage seems to be a northern coast phenomenon. Nineteen states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage and you say 7 States means America is trending towards civil marriage? The entire south just outlawed it by Constitutional amendment the most recent being May 8, 2012.

    Sure there are 12 states that offer homosexual unions some levels of protection in Civil unions but to call this a trend would be incorrect. You are drinking the kool aid man. Its gonna take a Supreme Court decision to get Homosexual Marriage in 50 states.

    Now, here’s where I need your help. In blockquotes are my responses, and in normal bold text is what Jane responded with, so it’s the bold you’d be responding to. Once again, help would be greatly appreciated here.

    I already said that CHANGE WILL BE SLOW. Do you honestly think that when I say these very words that I’m not implying that a good measure of resistance exists that will make the changes slow? Let me put this into perspective for you: we’ve gone from having NO same sex marriages or civil unions allowed in the United States up until the end of the 20th Century, to SEVEN states performing same sex marriages with TWELVE states performing same sex civil unions in the 21st Century. I don’t care if you wish to be deliberately obtuse, THAT IS STILL REMARKABLE PROGRESS. And the fact of the matter is this: much like all other minority groups who have fought for their rights before them, homosexuals and their allies collectively form a very large and very loud movement. And if the startling progress of black people especially after the Rosa Parks incident and of the Suffragettes after they got into full swing is any indication as well as those of atheists especially after “New Atheism” started and the subject became a more culturally popular talking point is any indication, then homosexuals too will also eventually see that they get all the equality of rights they rightfully deserve.

    Jane: You could call that a trend. In order to do so you would have to completely ignore that one of the most liberal states in the country voted eliminate the Rights of Same-Sex Couples to marry. You would have to ignore that the most recent votes have gone against Gay Marriage. You would have to Ignore that the gov. of New Jersey just VETOed gay marriage. When you look at the whole argument it doesn’t seem like there is definite trend. There doesn’t seem to be inevitability for gay marriage.

    If you look only at facts that support your point you could draw that conclusion but when you look at all the facts, you realize that the only way to successfully assure equal marriage rights to homosexuals is via the courts because at the end of the day, Hell, North Carolina just voted well over 60% of the electorate and 75% of the lawmakers voted for it in 2012.

    The only way this is going to be fixed is via the supreme court. It will have to be done by sound legal reasoning and not from activists judges.

    we’ve already seen what happens when a majority of people are persuaded to vote one particular way for bad reasons: it eventually gets overturned by the courts. Maybe you’re not so confident about the SC’s ability in a future gay marriage related case to end up legalising it across the entire nation, but personally I think that anything may be possible considering that this is a court that despite containing a number of conservatives still let freakin’ OBAMACARE pass.

    Jane: By conflating those two issues (healthcare and gay marriage) you prove that you do not understand the legal issues of both cases. The Healthcare Mandate was a conservative creation legislatively of Mitt Romney and philisophically the Heritage Foundation. It had a firm foundation in conservative legal reasoning, which was highlighted by Justice Roberts.

    Gay Marriage on the other hand is creating a right out of the penumbra of rights that has never existed in the history of the common law. The swing vote will probably be justice Kennedy (and certainly not Chief Justice Roberts) and he could easily come down on either side of the issue.

    I already made one point about how a whole load of smaller and equally sized court cases will end up impacting by pure influence on cases lower/equal sized/higher up the chain cases (eg: a succession of evolution and creationism related court cases throughout the US’s history starting with the Scopes Trial led to the utter humiliating spanking of Creationism/ID and excellent endorsement of Evolution that was Kitzmiller v Dover).

    Jane: I know I broke up a paragraph. Forgive me. Clearly thinking that the lower court decisions influence how the Supreme court acts is just plain wrong. The Supreme court is a top down institution and not bottom up.
    For example, in 1930s, the vast majority of circuit courts supported a state’s right to keep black people out of universities on the basis of race. That was until the Supreme Court came down in support of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada which opened the door to challenges to “Separate but Equal”.

    State courts are usually the avenue to challenge these issues. Unfortunately The California Supreme Court ruled in Strauss v. Horton that Prop 8 was valid because “Proposition 8 does not abrogate any of these state constitutional rights, but instead carves out a narrow exception applicable only to access to the designation of the term “marriage,” but not to any other of “the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage”.

    Another way how this works is the pure arguments themselves. When the anti-SSM side is asked to present its case in the higher courts, they will be asked “How does permitting SSM adversely affect the State’s procreative interest in marriage, and how does it harm opposite-sex couples?”. They’ll also undoubtedly get quizzed about the fact that eleven other countries (including most notably the Netherlands and Canada) currently legally recognise gay marriage, and they WILL be asked “Has the legalisation of same sex marriage in *Insert Country Here* been proven to be harmful and adverse to children and to opposite sex marriages?” The anti-SSM side still haven’t provided a satisfactory answer to that, and someone else I asked didn’t either, instead blaming the failure to answer that question on “Shitty lawyers”. But unless anyone on the anti-SSM side can actually provide an actual concrete answer to those questions, then believe me, they will get their arses handed to them in court, especially the Supreme Court, and the pro-SSM side WILL eventually win the right to have gay marriage legal in all 50 states.

    Jane: They wont be asked that question because it is not on the State to prove why a law is constitutional but instead the other side will be asked why prop 8 is constitutional when Proposition 8 does not abrogate any constitutional rights, but instead carves out a narrow exception applicable only to access to the designation of the term “marriage” without removing any of the benefits or privileges of married couples?

    This is the problem, they can easily argue that marriage has a definition supported in Federal Law and the state already has an interest in marriage . There is already a precedence at the supreme court for the state to be interested in the definition of marriage. In Reynolds v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that bigamy, polygamy, and plural marriage was illegal and thus supporting that marriage is a legitimate concern of government and that banning polygamy between consenting adults was legitimate because it went against the American concept of marriage.

    Why would other countries matter when being brought before the United States Supreme Court? They have completely separate laws and thus it really doesn’t matter what harm the law was created to prevent just what harm the law is actually creating that is unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court. Your agument makes no legal sense.

    One other thing you asked me in our discussions is “What is American Democracy supposed to be?” It’s supposed to be something that adjusts itself to the modern age and doesn’t constantly stick to ideals of an antiquated past no matter how ridiculous they are. Democracy does not mean “Allowing the people to vote on whatever they want no matter how damaging the end result will be”. It means allowing people to vote on topics that have been brought forth by governments FOR SECULAR MOTIVATED RATIONAL REALITY BASED REASONS. And guess what? All these cherished “voting by We The People” that you cherish so much on the issue of gay marriage especially? They weren’t grounded in reality, and did not have any remotely rational reasons for “votes” to happen nor did they have secular motives. By your very own logic, should there be nationwide votes on whether or not all people who “look Muslim” should be racially profiled and subject to security screenings? What about whether or atheists should be forced to say “Under God” in the POA and/or whether they should swear on a Bible during court proceedings?

    Jane: Wrong. American Democracy has never been totally secular. EVER. People do not vote on issues traditionally, instead they vote representatives. So you are really just spouting off how you think democracy should be.

    I mean you live in the UK right? Your head of State is the Queen? The Queen is head of the Church of England. Your head of state is a religious official. The fact is, the reality of a democracy is rule by the majority with limits placed by the Constitution. The US House and Senate is opened with prayers. Every President in the history of America has taken his oath on a bible.

    The separation of church and state does not separate the religion and the morality from it’s representatives. One does not strip the conscience founded in their religion from their leaders because that conscience is founded on their religious beliefs. Even JFK said in his famous separation of church and state that if the time should ever come when his office would require him to either violate his conscience or violate the national interest, then he would resign the office of President. This is because his conscience was equal to the national interest.

    You also mentioned that the Californian courts have stayed the decision on gay marriage. Yeah, and why is that? Is it because the anti-SSM side actually has good arguments in their arsenal that can explain why SSM shouldn’t be legal in California? Oh wait, no, it’s because they’re a bunch of frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics who got their arses handed to them in court and are desperately trying to draw out their campaign to keep gay marriage illegal. Any sensible person who looks at the case objectively sees the anti-SSM side doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And in future gay marriage cases, the anti-SSM side will continue to get thoroughly beaten down.

    Jane: Um, no? there is a stay because Gay Marriage is not settled law. The Anti- Same Sex Marriage side did not ask for the stay. The Stay was instituted by the Federal Judges. They did this because there is MUCH different opinions across the federal system, thus until the case is refused by the Supreme Court there is a stay. Remember there are cases like Jackson v. Abercrombie in Hawaii and Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning in Nebraska which support gay marriage banning amendments and that they do not violate the Constitution. This is what is called a conflict of law. These are usually sorted out by the Supreme Court.

    You ask again how the curve is bending towards gay marriage becoming legal. Gee, could it be because in the 1990s gay marriage and civil unions didn’t exist anywhere in the United States, and now SEVEN states legalise SSM and TWELVE legalise civil unions? There’s also the fact that numerous Gallup polls indicate that public opinion is shifting towards a Pro-SMM stance. Oh, and did I mention that Democrats have made SSM part of their party platform and that Obama has said that his administration will no longer defend DOMA in court? How can you say that progress isn’t happening towards SSM becoming fully legal?

    Jane: To echo what I said above, You could call that a trend. In order to do so you would have to completely ignore that even some of the most liberal states in the country voted to restrict or remove the Rights of Same-Sex Couples to marry and have it called marriage.
    See for me? These are trends.

    0% of states that have legalized same-sex marriag have done so by the vote of the people. Neither Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, or Vermont have redefined marriage by voting.

    100% of the 30 states that have asked their voters to define marriage in their state constitution have defined marriage as between only one man and one woman due to popular vote. Alabama voted at a popular vote of 81% to define marriage. You are never going to get a “trend” here to vote for gay marriage in your lifetime.

    This is why the Obama Election is SO important. It will define the makeup for the supreme court.

    So yeah, any help would be great. Cheers,

    Jon Milne

  70. says

    Okay, let’s be clear here, you may not agree with what the bible says about sex, and that’s fine, but if you were to ask me, I’d say that if people listened to what it did say, there wouldn’t be a need for abortion and planned parenthood. What about you? I mean, if any of us had the self control to keep our dicks in our pants until we got married, how many of those programs would be needed? Unfortunately, everyone is fucking everyone and spreading disease along with over populating our country.

    The demands religion makes on human sexuality are unreasonable. There has literally never been a human society on the face of the planet, no matter how thoroughly crushed under the thumb of theistic tyranny, where people actually consistently restricted themselves to monogamous marital sex. Even in our modern society, the evidence thoroughly shows that kids subjected to “abstinence only” brainwashing are not significantly different in their sexual behavior from kids given proper sex education, with the exception that the victims of “abstinence only” get more STIs and have more unwanted pregnancies. Given that your friend’s morality appears to be impossible to put into widespread practice, in a pragmatic society, we need to come up with humane ways of dealing with what happens when people deviate from that morality.

    Religion’s solutions to the supposed problem of non-sanctioned sex range between completely ineffective and massively inhumane, far out of proportion to any harm that a reasonable person would say could possibly be directly caused by a pair of adults having a little bit of consensual fun. In fact, the notion that two adults engaging in consensual sex has *any* intrinsic harm associated with it (as opposed to incidental harms like unwanted pregnancy) is *entirely* a religious notion. In a secular world, the only harms caused by non-marital sex are: disease transmission, unwanted pregnancy, and relationship conflicts. In a religious world, all of these harms still exist and *in addition* you have the harm caused by religiously-motivated punishment of the people who have sex deemed inappropriate, as well as the harm done by causing people to experience guilt and fear in regard to their sexual desires and interfering with their enjoyment of the positive good called sex.

    So, in a world with religion there is just straight-up more net harm. Score one for secularism.

    Science education – Yea, religion “shits” on science I guess, but hey, all of the theories and scientific processes to prove things were all invented by men, who as we all know are fallable. The bible? Written by men, so the same concept applies. What makes your science so fucking right? Why is it so believable that we just “poofed” into fucking existence yet unbelievable that someone put us here?

    The difference is that the scientific process intrinsically accounts for its own fallibility. Scientists (male and female — it’s not just “men” who invented all this stuff) recognize that we screw up, and so we keep checking ourselves and checking others to find and correct mistakes. In fact, this is what science is, this process of checking your work, looking for inconsistencies, proposing new ways to reconcile them, doing more tests to see if your new ideas are right, and on and on, over and over. The body of facts that constitutes scientific knowledge is just the most current understanding of the results of all this, but it’s perpetually being revised and improved. The Christian scriptures, on the other hand, were set in stone once, hundreds of years ago, and now we’re supposed to accept them as good for all time with no room for corrections, despite your friend’s admission that they are just as much the work of fallible humans as everything in science. It’s just straight-up irresponsible to weigh your understanding of the world down with unbreakable links to some musty old bit of rubbish that can’t ever be revised. If science worked like that we’d be stuck trying to derive particle physics by ever more cryptic extrapolation from the works of Aristotle, and consequently we wouldn’t have any of the knowledge we do today.

    Score two for secularism.

    As for the Middle East, dude…here’s the deal. We didn’t ask the Middle East to be a bunch of crazy fuckwits, and yeah religion plays a role in their fuckwittery, but I ask you this…..if you believe in something, as passionate as you are, how far would you go to defend it? I’m not saying it makes killing right, but you know as well as I do that if there was no religion, we’d all find something else to kill each other over. You act like if there was no religion then everything would be just peachy, but that’s asinine, and to think otherwise is ignorant.

    Your friend needs to read Hector Avalos’ book “Fighting Words”. Avalos makes an (IMO) pretty solid case that in fact religion *does* make this kind of shit worse, by creating imaginary but scarce resources that people are then forced to fight over. Consider, for example, the goddamn Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There is no way in hell that anybody other than archaeologists would give two shits about who owns that tiny little scrap of ground if it weren’t for religion, and yet Ariel Sharon was able to start a riot, and, eventually, a revolt, just by setting foot on the damned thing. There are other concepts beyond supernatural ones that can be similarly crazy-making for people (e.g. The Fatherland, The Proletariat), but throwing supernatural bullshit into the mix adds a whole ‘nother realm for people to be crazy in. Getting rid of religion means there’s one less thing for people to be crazy about, and that seems like a damn good idea to me.

    Score three for secularism, and that’s the game. Thanks for playing, Chris, and better luck next time.

  71. says

    As for Jane, I’d recommend having a look at the history of interracial marriage in the U.S. I’m pretty sure there are some good analogies to what we’re seeing with gay marriage now.

    Alternately, you can just wait a couple decades and let history itself teach her the lesson rather than wasting your time pounding it into her stubborn skull yourself. ;-)

  72. says

    I’d say that if people listened to what it did say, there wouldn’t be a need for abortion and planned parenthood. What about you? I mean, if any of us had the self control to keep our dicks in our pants until we got married, how many of those programs would be needed?

    I don’t have a dick, but I’m not planning on keeping my vulva locked up, either. aside from that, I fail to see how guys keeping their dicks in their pants would reduce the need for family planning, mammograms, cancer screening, etc.

    and sorry to burst your bubble, but many women who get abortions are married, with children.

  73. says

    erm. i notice this isn’t from anyone here, but from a conversation elsewhere. anyway, SIWOTI and all that:

    Unfortunately, everyone is fucking everyone and spreading disease along with over populating our country.

    married folks are the most responsible for overpopulating the world, not us single folks on BC.

    Nineteen states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage and you say 7 States means America is trending towards civil marriage?

    of course it is. you don’t outlaw something that you’re not worried might actually ever happen, or can’t imagine happening. and note that these are anti-marriage laws, where before there were anti-sodomy laws. that alone is evidence that things have progressed.

    Its gonna take a Supreme Court decision to get Homosexual Marriage in 50 states.

    well, that part is probably true

    There doesn’t seem to be inevitability for gay marriage.

    she’s got a point. there’s no inevitability of progress, the severely abused line about the long arc of history notwithstanding. but the trend is toward more gay rights, and given demographics, it’s likely that soon enough a very large majority of Americans either won’t care either way or will be supportive of gay marriage:http://andrewgelman.com/movabletype/mlm/marriagebyage.png

    It will have to be done by sound legal reasoning and not from activists judges.

    this of course is meaningless, since an “activist judge” is one making a decision you don’t like.

    Gay Marriage on the other hand is creating a right out of the penumbra of rights that has never existed in the history of the common law.

    she needs to read the arguments of the anti-miscegenation side in the Loving vs. Virginia case. They sound identical to anti-gay-marriage arguments.

    Every President in the history of America has taken his oath on a bible.

    not true: there’s no record for a bible being used for the first few presidents at all, and IIRC Hayes, Johnson, and Teddy Roosevelt are known to not have taken that oath on the bible.

  74. KG says

    I think the account she described really did happen, I just think that she was being very one-sided and leaving out a lot of the context. – peterhearn

    IOW, you think she was lying: intentionally presenting a false account of the incident. The fact that an account is false by omission rather than by a direct falsehood does not make it any the less lying. You’re lying when you claim not to be accusing her of lying.

  75. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You’re lying when you claim not to be accusing her of lying.

    And the lying liar wonders why we don’t take its word (OPINION) for anything other than bullshit? That’s why I need to see his third party academic evidence, to remove him from the equation.

  76. jonmilne says

    One other thing Jane asked me is what exactly the evidence of harm is from the anti-SSM laws that are being created, especially since apparently according to her SSM and civil unions seemingly offer all the same rights? Could you provide some help on that regard as well?

  77. jonmilne says

    #589 Rorschach:

    Naw man. Different Milne. I’ve seen his posts around here before though, so I’m honoured to be confused as him. :)

  78. says

    Jon, there are basically three problems that I’m aware of. One problem is that same-sex married couples are not entitled to any of the 1100 or so federal benefits granted to married couples, because their marriages (or even civil unions) are not federally recognized.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in_the_United_States

    The second problem is that even if a same-sex couple lives in a state where they are allowed to have a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage which grants some or all of the same benefits of opposite-sex marriage, they only have those benefits while they live in that state. If they have to move to a bigoted state due to work or family needs or other factors, they can end up losing all those benefits. They can even run into difficulties if they’re just temporarily visiting another state, for example if they’re on vacation and one partner falls ill and the other needs to visit them in the hospital or make their medical decisions but isn’t legally recognized as their next of kin. In addition, if they get divorced and one of the partners moves out of state there can be jurisdictional issues with things like child custody. There have been some pretty nasty and even tragic cases involving all of these issues.

    The third problem is that if their partnership is legally a “civil union” rather than a marriage, a lot of the time people they have to deal with don’t understand what legal rights a civil union legally entails and will discriminate against them as a result. There was a recent case like this in Nevada, where a couple with a domestic partnership, which was supposed to legally entitle them to the same state rights as marriage, was denied mutual hospital visitation by a hospital on the (legally incorrect) grounds that their domestic partnership didn’t count. Yes, that hospital just opened itself up to a massive lawsuit, but the couple still had a pretty nasty experience. At least some of that kind of thing would be prevented if gay couples could just get marriage licenses like everybody else, so that there was no ambiguity that their rights are the same.

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/08/20/713251/nevada-same-sex-couple-denied-hospital-visitation-despite-domestic-partnership/

  79. joey says

    Antiochus:

    Is it not possible that the “slavery” of a few could increase the individual well-being of many more people, such that the overall well-being of society increases? Isn’t that the basis for utilitarianism?

    No to both questions.

    Unfortunately I can’t open the link you provided here at work (firewall says the website is filed under the “political organization” category). I’ll have to wait until I get home to get my explanations.

  80. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Just google utilitarianism and slavery. The essay I linked is specifically in regard to JS Mill’s critique of slavey from a utilitarian viewpoint.

  81. joey says

    Antiochus:

    Just google utilitarianism and slavery. The essay I linked is specifically in regard to JS Mill’s critique of slavey from a utilitarian viewpoint.

    I just read the essay by A. Rawls, and I’m unconvinced. There is nothing about utilitarianism that can support such a sweeping generalization that it’s an impossibility that slavery (or any type of injustice) of a few could increase overall happiness.

    Rawls even admits…

    With the economic arguments stacked against slavery, the only way that slavery could be favored in a utilitarian calculation is if people are so enamored of slavery itself that this preference will more than offset the liabilities of slavery.

    But he then proceeds to handwave by arguing that such a scenario is an impossibility by invoking “the theory of ends”, which is essentially its own subjective system on how to value things for others. A person cannot truly be happy for owning a slave (even if he really is happy) because such a pleasure would be a “lower end”, and thus such happiness can’t really be considered as true happiness but rather negative happiness. How convenient.

    Sorry, but you cannot shoehorn in indefeasible rights into utilitarian philosophy. If you think you can, then you’re simply operating with a different definition of utilitarianism, or that of happiness. What exactly constitutes “happiness” for an individual is strictly determined by that individual. No one can determine what makes you happy except for yourself.

  82. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    joey: so you should be able to provide an empirical example easily enough. It’s not like people haven’t experimented with slavery. Which one of those societies was better off before slavery was eliminated?

  83. jonmilne says

    So I’ve received responses from Chris and Jane. The first post is the response from Chris. The helpful stuff I gained from you guys in blockquote, his in bold.

    victims of “abstinence only” get more STDs and have more unwanted pregnancies.

    Chris: Evidence of this please, otherwise I’m not going to believe that.

    Religion’s solutions to the supposed problem of non-sanctioned sex range between completely ineffective and massively inhumane

    Chris: How dare religion ask human beings to practice a little self-control. OH MY LANDS! THE HUMANITY! No wonder this society is all fucked up. Nobody has any self-control. It’s all a me-me world, isn’t it?

    The Christian scriptures, on the other hand, were set in stone once, hundreds of years ago, and now we’re supposed to accept them as good for all time with no room for corrections, despite your admission that they are just as much the work of fallible humans as everything in science

    Chris: I never said that everything in the bible was 100% accurate, nor did I say you had to accept them as good for all time. As a matter of fact, all I’ve done here is question the fact that we are supposed to believe that science trumps all when we know that the work of fallible men hangs over it as much as the works of the bible. So, if anything, I think they should both be questioned…and I do question them both. I don’t stand on one pedestal and proclaim my genius to the world. Part of the beauty of living on this planet is asking questions, and I think I can ask as many questions about how we got here as I want, considering there’s no evidence that yet tells me how we all came to be. Wait? Do you have evidence of how the universe got here? If you do….go get your Nobel Prize.

    Actually, religion DOES make this kind of shit worse, by creating imaginary but scarce resources

    Chris: Once again, do you have proof that it’s imaginary? Oh wait, it’s me with the burden of proof right? But I never said God existed. All you know about me is that I believe he does. Big difference.

    There is no way in hell that anybody other than archaeologists would give two shits about who owns that tiny little scrap of ground if it weren’t for religion, and yet Ariel Sharon was able to start a riot, and, eventually, a revolt, just by setting foot on the fucking thing.

    Chris: You’re reaching, buddy. You mean to tell me there is no way in hell, if it wasn’t for religion, that two groups of people might not care about a single piece of land? That’s a good point, especially considering nobody in the history of time has ever fought over land. You can’t make that statement, because you don’t have a clue what people would fight over, or why for that matter if there wasn’t religion. Come on dude…

    There are other concepts beyond supernatural ones that can be similarly crazy-making for people (e.g. The Fatherland, The Proletariat), but throwing supernatural crap into the mix adds a whole other realm for people to be crazy in. Not having religion religion around means there’s one less thing for people to be crazy about, and that seems like a damn good idea to me.

    Chris: You say there are other concepts…argue them. Get mad at them. Put your agenda towards those concepts. But you won’t, because you are only singling out religion. You can’t have it both ways. I’m not saying it’s true, but I almost feel like you think we could achieve world peace if we could just solve all the world’s problems huh? That’s true I guess, but it’s never going to happen. People have been fighting over things like religion, politics, and other social issues for millions of years (Yes, I said millions….stop the presses!) and that’s not going to change with or without religion. There’s nothing wrong with fighting over what you believe and care about. And until there is some substantial proof that God doesn’t exist, therefore cancelling out all forms of religion, then I believe they SHOULD be fighting over those things.

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t give a rip about social issues for this election. In my opinion, there are a lot bigger fish to fry right now than religion, gay marriage, and abortion. Fix the fucking economy and this job market, then let’s talk about all that other shit. I just had to call you out on your crap, because you spill quite a bit of it around here.

  84. jonmilne says

    Now for the email from Jane. Again, the feedback I used in blockquote, her reply in bold.

    if I remember correctly, Hayes, Johnson, and Teddy Roosevelt are known to not have taken that oath on the bible.

    Jane: I think you might be confused. Hayes did not swear his oath on the bible. That is because he affirmed his oath then read from the bible. Hayes read Psalm 118:11-13 for his inauguration: “They compassed me about, yea they compassed me about: but in the Name of the Lord, I will destroy them–Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.”

    Also Johnson took his oath on Jacqueline Kennedy’s Catholic Missal , which is a Gospel Book and texts from other parts of the New Testament, because he took it on Air Force 1 after the assassination of President Kennedy. Johnson used a bible on January 20, 1965, with his wife holding the bible.

    Roosevelt did use one on his public inauguration in March 4, 1905, He may or a may not have (depending on who’s eye witness account you believe) when he took the oath of office upon the assassination of President McKinley (do you see a pattern?)

    And saying there is no record of a bible being used for the first few presidents? We Physically have the George Washington Inaugural Bible. It has since been used in the inaugurations of Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

    The 3 Presidents you named CLEARLY used bibles when inaugurated at least once.

    Of course there is a trend. You don’t outlaw something that you’re not worried might actually ever happen, or can’t imagine happening. And note that these are anti-marriage laws, where before there were anti-sodomy laws. That alone is evidence that things are trending towards progress.

    Jane: First Same Sex Marriage happened in the 1971. The first laws against it didn’t happen until 1973. There were State Marriage laws before Anti-Sodomy laws were invalid. So your timeline is fucked up. You should probably take a look at that.

    This actually has got a point. There’s no inevitability of progress, the severely abused line about the long arc of history notwithstanding. But the trend IS towards more gay rights, and given demographics, it’s likely that soon enough a very large majority of Americans either won’t care either way or will be supportive of gay marriage

    Jane: Poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage to the point where it’s often the majority viewpoint. Yet in all 32 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, voters have rejected it. This is because people say one thing to a pollster and then do another when they are alone behind that curtain. This is a a fundamental problem with polling. It is the same thing with limiting gun rights and other cultural issues. People want to seem forward thinking until they get into that voting booth.

    an “activist judge” is basically someone who makes a decision that you and other anti-SSM people don’t like.

    Jane: Sigh. I didn’t think id have to explain this. An activist judge is a judge that bases philosophy of judicial decision-making their personal views about politics, public policy or morality instead of sound and well founded judicial practice and previously valid interpretations of the constitution.

    Justices are constrained to relying on the sources of law and issues strictly before them. This is why Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling was an activist ruling but judge Stephen Reinhardt was not even though they came to the same decision, it was the reasoning that made one an activist and one not.

    It has nothing to do with upholding or overturning but instead the contents of the legal opinion. Thomas Jefferson is said to have coined the term when talking about the “despotic behavior” of Justice John Marshall. John Marshall is probably the greatest supreme court justice of all time.

    (With regards to what she wrote about Obamacare supposedly being the brainchild of Mitt Romney) And yet a huge part of the Romney campaign has consisted of opposing Obamacare and having both him and Paul Ryan attack other countries for their “socialist” health care systems. Funny that, isn’t it?

    Jane: That’s why judges decide matters of law and constitutionality and not elected politicians.

    You seriously need to read the arguments of the anti-miscegenation side in the Loving vs. Virginia case. They sound identical to anti-gay-marriage arguments, and we all know what ended up happening to those guys, don’t we? They got humiliated in court. And didn’t Mr Cooper in the Perry vs Schwarzenegger case try and argue exactly the same thing, only for his arguments to get ripped apart?

    Jane: Have you read Loving v. Virginia? They cited Naim v. Naim. In Naim, the state court held the State’s legitimate purposes were “to preserve the racial integrity of its citizens,” and to prevent “the corruption of blood,” “a mongrel breed of citizens,” and “the obliteration of racial pride,”.

    The Supreme court answered thusly : “ There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy. We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.”

    So how do they sound identical to the arugments? They do not cite the same cases nor do they focus on “corruption of blood”.

    The only thing even close was the argument that marriage has traditionally been subject to state regulation without federal intervention, and, consequently, the regulation of marriage should be left to exclusive state control by the Tenth Amendment. This was actually later upheld in other supreme court dicta like in Baker V Nelson. The Supreme Court refused to hear this gay marriage case. They said “The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.” This means that Marriage (including Gay Marrige) is a state issue according to Supreme Court Dicta.

    (When challenging her on what the anti-SSM guys COULD say in court and her claim that certain questions wouldn’t be asked) Again, the Schwarzenegger/Brown side of Perry vs Brown tried to argue exactly the same thing, and got their asses handed to them. And I’m calling bullshit on these sorts of cutting questions and statements not getting issued at the highest level as well as cases equal to or lower than it. Indeed, during Kitzmiller v Dover, a lot of arguments were used that also appeared in other related cases be they also in the Supreme Court or lower down.

    Jane: Remember, when Judge Walker “handed them their asses” he was completely overruled. So the District court opinion is not valid law and is not what is on appeal to the supreme court. The reasoning was overturned by Judge Stephen Reinhardt. In fact, The only thing that Perry V Brown said was that Proposition 8 singles out same-sex couples for unequal treatment by removing from them alone the right to marry. Thus only because they already had the right to marry is Prop 8 Unconstitutional. It does not say that homosexuals not having the right to marry is Unconstitutional.

    (When she claimed that “it really doesn’t matter what harm the law was created to prevent just what harm the law is actually creating that is unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court”) That’s ridiculous. A lot of laws come into place because they try to prevent so-called negative things from happening. In the case of Prop 8, a VAST bulk of their “Yes On 8″ advertising had to do with apparently “negative consequences” of what would happen if gay marriage was legal in that area. The same also applies for other anti-SSM laws. Like I’ve said countless times before, it’s “Separate But Equal” all over again. There is no evidence that any negative effect would happen for straight marriages or for the welfare of children if gay marriage is made legal nationwide – indeed, it will probably add a boost to the economy of the marriage/weddings/divorces industries, not to mention the fact that having gay couples bring up children will actually probably be a good thing since a) gay couples are far more likely to make considered decisions about when to have children since they can’t get pregnant by natural means be it by having sex with each other or through one night stands so they’ll be more likely to actually consult each other when they want to get a child through genetic means like artificial insemination/birth surrogates/helpful guy friends or if they want to adopt, and b) having gay parents actually makes it more likely that children will learn about stuff like tolerance and diversity a LOT sooner.

    But yeah, all the fear-mongering about it would have on straight marriage is baseless as well. As if any members of a straight couple would be like: “Oh shit, they’re allowing those bloody GAYS to marry now?! Well, I can’t possibly marry now, even though I love my partner very very much, I can’t possibly marry now because polluted by the GHEY! What if that guy from Frasier and Graham Norton turn up?!” Please. No-one that isn’t a) psychotic, b) delusional and c) a Catholic/Mormon/other religious type that has some sort of irrational hatred for gay people is going to think like that. I would absolutely love it if you, who evidently thinks that allowing gay marriage will cause problems, could actually list all these social problems please.

    Jane: None of those are legal reasoning. None of those would hold up in court. This is the supreme court and not a political discussion. The point of the Supreme Court is not to decide if a LEGAL State Constitution (remember, the California Supreme Court said Prop 8 was legal) is fair but it is to say if it is Constitutional.

    Jane, there are three problems relating to the “evidence of harm that the law is creating” that I’m aware of. One problem is that same-sex married couples are not entitled to any of the 1100 or so federal benefits granted to married couples, because their marriages (or even civil unions) are not federally recognized.

    Jane: That’s a DOMA issue and not an issue covered under Perry V. Brown. Even if it is ruled by the Supreme Court that Same Sex Marriage is legal in California (and the Marriges currently passed in California and are valid in California) they would not have access to those rights. So it is not a germane reason for overturning the legal California Constitution.

    The second problem is that even if a gay couple lives in a state where they are allowed to have a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage which grants some or all of the same benefits of opposite-sex marriage, they only have those benefits while they live in that state. If they have to move to a bigoted state due to work or family needs or other factors, they can end up losing all those benefits. They can even run into difficulties if they’re just temporarily visiting another state, for example if they’re on vacation and one partner falls ill and the other needs to visit them in the hospital or make their medical decisions but isn’t legally recognized as their next of kin. In addition, if they get divorced and one of the partners moves out of state there can be jurisdictional issues with things like child custody. There have been some pretty nasty and even tragic cases involving all of these issues.

    Jane: This is a state issue. Even if the Supreme Court struck down the California Constitution, it would have no effect of the marriage laws of other states. Even if Califonia gave the title of marriage to a couple in California and they moved to Alabama, their marriage would not be recognized by Alabama. This is not the issue before the SCOTUS.

    The third problem is that if their partnership is legally a “civil union” rather than a marriage, a lot of the time people they have to deal with don’t understand what legal rights a civil union legally entails and will discriminate against them as a result. There was a recent case like this in Nevada, where a couple with a domestic partnership, which was supposed to legally entitle them to the same state rights as marriage, was denied mutual hospital visitation by a hospital on the (legally incorrect) grounds that their domestic partnership didn’t count. Yes, that hospital just opened itself up to a massive lawsuit, but the couple still had a pretty nasty experience. At least some of that kind of thing would be prevented if gay couples could just get marriage licenses like everybody else, so that there was no ambiguity that their rights are the same.

    Jane: Ignorantia juris non excusat . (Ewww I feel like an elitist every time I use the latin) Ignorance is no excuse of the law. This means the ignorance of the law is not a suitable excuse for changing it. It is a longstanding legal reasoning in the law and is an enshrined part of The Common Law. It was enshrined by the Supreme court in Fed. Crop Ins. Corp. v. Merrill (1947) .

    I personally feel that The Supreme Court decision will look more like Strauss v. Horton than Judge Walker’s opinion.

    This is what elections are about though. If you want more justices like Thomas or Scalia then vote for Ronmey. If you want them more like Elena Kagan then vote for Obama.

    Please provide any or indeed as much help as you can. :)

    Thanks,

    Jon Milne

  85. joey says

    Antiochus:

    joey: so you should be able to provide an empirical example easily enough. It’s not like people haven’t experimented with slavery. Which one of those societies was better off before slavery was eliminated?

    First of all, I haven’t been referring to slavery per se, but any form of injustice or lack of autonomy on individuals that could hypothetically improve the happiness or well-being of the larger society as a whole.

    An empirical example that I’ve already alluded to is China’s one-child policy. Through force, the Chinese government has significantly limited the bodily autonomy of its citizens by restricting the majority of its citizens to only one child. Through utilitarian thinking, can it not be argued that this policy is “just” for the greater well-being of the nation?

  86. joey says

    jonmilne:

    victims of “abstinence only” get more STDs and have more unwanted pregnancies.

    What is a “victim” of abstinence only? If by victim you mean someone who chooses not practice abstinence, then it is obvious he/she is much more likely to get STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

  87. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    joey: You are shifting the goal posts. This was your initial objection:

    But the well-being of everyone does not need to be the concern.

    This discussion has been about bigotry. A law applied fairly to a population limits autonomy but is not an instrument of bigotry. The reason that we are discussing slavery at all is that you brought it up as an injustice supported by utilitarianism. Certainly it isn’t supported. If you want to claim that unfairly denying rights to some in a society in a form less extreme than slavery can promote utilitarian ideals, go ahead and make that argument.

    But, I haven’t argued that utilitarianism = libertarianism. So quit beating that straw man.

  88. joey says

    Antioch:

    The reason that we are discussing slavery at all is that you brought it up as an injustice supported by utilitarianism.

    I wasn’t the one who brought up slavery specifically. What I did say is that it is possible that injustice/bigotry to some could be supported by utilitarianism.

    Certainly it isn’t supported.

    And I have given my arguments why I feel this not certain.

    If you want to claim that unfairly denying rights to some in a society in a form less extreme than slavery can promote utilitarian ideals, go ahead and make that argument.

    I already have. You were the one who injected the extremity of slavery into the discussion.

    And you have yet to respond to the one-child policy example. Don’t you think this is an example of unfairly denying rights to some (people who desire to have more than one child) in a society in a form less extreme than slavery to promote utilitarian ideals?

  89. says

    Jon, some resources on abstinence-only efficacy are listed on this page:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Teen-Sex-Ed.html

    under the heading “EFFECTIVENESS OF SEX EDUCATION PROGRAMS”.

    Chris’s whine about “self-control” is irrelevant, as having consensual adult sex is not intrinsically harmful to oneself or anyone else and so there’s no reason whatsoever that people should be expected to exercise self-control about whether or not to do it. And even if it were, the punishment should fit the crime, and religion’s punishments for having a little consensual fun with another adult are massively disproportionate to the so-called “crime”. In addition, Chris’s own attitude toward this matter seems rather “me-me-me” — ze has apparently never personally been hurt by these laws, so ze has no empathy for those who have been.

    As for the fallibility of the Christian scriptures, if we know they’re fallible, and if we’re not required to accept them as set in stone for all time, then what are they good for? The scientific knowledge we have, while fallible and subject to revision, is still based on a historical chain of evidence and reasoning. It has value because its origins are sound, even if it may change in light of new information. The Christian scriptures have no such foundation. I’ve got no reason to trust them to tell me true things about how the world works any more than I’d trust a Harry Potter novel. And in fact, I trust them less, because they were written by a bunch of ignorant and inhumane Bronze Age goatherds, and at least J.K. Rowling had the benefit of modern improvements in scientific understanding and ethics to help her construct a more realistic and humane fantasy world. The fact that the scientific method has not yet revealed all the truth about everything ever does not justify taking Harry Potter novels as an accurate rendition of how the world works.

    In regard to the question of whether religion’s scarce resources are imaginary or not, the burden of proof is always on the person proposing that these things exist, not on the person who does not yet believe that they exist. If Chris wants us to believe that the salvation offered by religion is real, and therefore is a thing worth crusading and genociding and blowing shit up over, then ze needs to explain how we can know it’s real. Otherwise, I’m sure ze won’t mind me declaring that hir home was built on the sacred birthplace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, getting a group of rioters to destroy it, and then browbeating the government into giving the land to me?

    The thing is, religion gives us all these extra bullshit issues that we have to fight over *in addition to* all the real issues that we already had. Getting rid of religion won’t get rid of all the problems that humans have, but it will at least reduce the number of them ever so slightly. Saying that we shouldn’t fight religion because there are plenty of other things that people go crazy over is like saying we shouldn’t lock the cash register at a convenience store because there are plenty of other ways people could steal.

    And, of course, religion (in the form of evidence-free supernatural belief systems) contributes to a lot of the real problems we have in the world today. Anti-contraceptive agendas contribute to overpopulation and the spread of HIV. People use their religious beliefs to justify refusing to take action on climate change (because their deity would never let that happen). Religion does contribute to the Israel/Palestine/rest-of-the-Arab-world fuckup, even though there are other issues in play too. Religion justified and mobilized Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers. Religion is what allowed Catholic officials to believe that they were doing the world a favor by concealing pedophiles in order to protect the moral authority of their church. Religion is what motivates Ugandan Christians and many Islamic nations to impose brutal death penalties on gay folks just for being gay. Religion drives the “witch child” persecutions in Africa. Religion motivates and justifies the abuses of Scientology. Religion caused that poor kid in the Dominican Republic to have her leukemia treatment delayed until a court ruled that her life was more important than the clump of cells occupying her uterus, which delay may well have contributed to her death. And on and on and on.

    Religion doesn’t cause *all* the problems, but it does cause real problems, and frankly, Chris is kind of an asshole if ze thinks that it’s okay to dismiss these problems as unimportant just because they aren’t hir personal priorities right this moment. Basically, ze’s demanding that society fix *hir* problems first, and fuck everybody else. It’s actually very, well, Christian of hir.

  90. says

    As for Jane…

    1) I know fuck-all about inaugural bibles. Ask Chris Rodda about this one.

    But it sort of doesn’t matter. The Constitution is pretty explicit about things like “no religious test” and “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. Inaugural bibles, by incorporating religion into the rites of the state, flirt with respecting an establishment of religion and requiring a religious test for an office or public trust under the United States.

    Anyway, I’m confused as to what this has to do with the gay marriage argument.

    2) I don’t even know what the hell her point is with the rest of her argument. That gay marriage shouldn’t happen? That gay marriage won’t happen? That it’s going to be a struggle to make gay marriage happen? That we should fight this out at the state level rather than the federal level? That nobody should care because the status quo is just fine and dandy? That prohibiting gay marriage isn’t against California’s constitution and so the law needs to be changed?

    She’s so all over the place with this stuff that it’s hard to know what to argue against, and I’m also really really not a legal expert. All I can say is, ask her what the hell the point is that she’s trying to make, and insist that she give you links to her sources so that you can evaluate them for yourself, because for all I can tell from what she’s sent she could be trying to Gish-gallop intimidate you into giving up your support for gay marriage, or she could just be a legal pedant.

    Oh, and “ignorance of the law is no excuse” has precisely fuck-all to do with whether we should write laws that are easy for people to understand and comply with. If the law is confusing to people, it’s a bad law and should be fixed. That doesn’t excuse people for not complying with it (unless the law is so badly written as to be thrown out), but the upholding of a confusing law also doesn’t excuse the legislators from their responsibility to write understandable laws. And it also doesn’t excuse citizens of good will from our responsibility to agitate for good laws.

  91. says

    jonmilne:

    victims of “abstinence only” get more STDs and have more unwanted pregnancies.

    What is a “victim” of abstinence only? If by victim you mean someone who chooses not practice abstinence, then it is obvious he/she is much more likely to get STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

    Joey, he’s quoting my phrasing there. A “victim” of abstinence-only teaching is a student who is subjected to that so-called education in lieu of actually being given useful education about sexuality and reproductive health.

  92. says

    Oh, also, for Jane’s stuff about legalities, I would mosey over to one of the reasonably sensible legal blogs to get advice on responding to her. Maybe Lawyers, Guns, and Money or Popehat?

  93. joey says

    Anne C. Hanna:

    A “victim” of abstinence-only teaching is a student who is subjected to that so-called education in lieu of actually being given useful education about sexuality and reproductive health.

    Your “victim” description is incomplete. You forgot to add …and does not practice abstinence.

    ————–
    consciousness razor from here:

    And if that’s what you think, then why should we support feminism, secular humanism, progressivism, liberalism, socialism, etc.?

    Good question. Why should atheists support any of those things? I already mentioned that I agree with Antiochus and others who feel that atheism (lack of belief in gods) does not necessarily lead to the support of any of those things. So, what actually is the underlying axiom(s) that forms the basis in supporting feminism, secular humanism, progressivism, etc. It certainly isn’t a disbelief in gods.

  94. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Yes joey, abstinence only “education” would be perfectly fine if those whores would just keep their legs closed.

  95. jonmilne says

    Well, Jane’s replied:

    Your whole stuff about the history inaugural Bibles doesn’t matter. The Constitution is pretty explicit about things like “no religious test” and “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. Inaugural bibles, by incorporating religion into the rites of the state, flirt with respecting an establishment of religion and requiring a religious test for an office or public trust under the United States.

    Jane: How does using a bible (a common item among many religions) create a religious test? How does using a bible create a law establishing a religion? You just cited an example of a President (LBJ) using a religious text (A Missal) to swear his oath of office that was from a religion (Catholic) that was not his own (Disciples of Christ Protestant). How can you even make an establishment argument when the 4 people running for president are 2 Catholics, a protestant and a Mormon?

    Hell we have had non-denominational presidents (Andrew Johnson for example) and even a President who wasn’t baptized til after he was president (Frankin Peirce) . We even had a Jew run on a major party ticket. If there is an established religion in America then it would be Protestant Christianity. If it IS protestant Christianity then how do you explain that there is not 1 protestant on the Supreme Court (an appointed body)? If it was an establishment issue then how do you explain that When Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated he used the King James version of the Bible used to swear in George Washington ? the King James Version was not the bible used by his Presbyterian Church used. So how is it the establishment of The Presbyterian Church?

    The Supreme court put it thusly in Salazar v. Buono (2010) “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”. They decide what is constitutional.

    I don’t even know what the hell your point is with the rest of your argument. That gay marriage shouldn’t happen? That gay marriage won’t happen? That it’s going to be a struggle to make gay marriage happen? That we should fight this out at the state level rather than the federal level? That nobody should care because the status quo is just fine and dandy? That prohibiting gay marriage isn’t against California’s constitution and so the law needs to be changed?

    Jane: The last one is a good start. I believe that the law in California should be the law in every state of the Union. I believe that Civil Unions should have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law. I believe that DOMA should be overturned. I believe that denying Homosexuals the right to Civil Unions that have the same rights and responsibilities of Marriage is inequality under the law. I believe the word marriage is not vital to assuring the rights and privileges under the law of Same Sex couples. I believe that the use of the word marriage only seeks to inflame and hinder the reasonable quest for legal equality by people trying to effect cultural and not legal change. I believe religions should be immune from Marriage discrimination because marriage is a ritual and not the same as the legal contract of marriage.

    I realize it’s a nuanced position and may be hard to understand for someone who sees everything in black and white.

    You’re so all over the place with this stuff that it’s hard to know what to argue against, and I’m also really really not a legal expert. All I can ask you is this: What the fuck is the point that you’re trying to make? I also insist that you give me links to your sources so that I can evaluate them for myself, because for all I can tell from what you’ve said, you could be trying to Gish-gallop (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop) and/or intimidate me into giving up my support for gay marriage, or you could just be a legal pedant.

    Jane: You aren’t a legal expert but you make points like you are. The point im trying to make is that the vast majority of your arguments are incorrect, ignorant, or just unfounded. Oh and in order to Gish-gallop you I would have to use lies, and straw-man arguments. Instead I use facts and cases.

    You may accuse me of spreading but that is because you use evidence that clearly is incorrect. You accuse me of not giving you my cites? I use a lot of my text books, LexisNexis and Jstor. Do you have subscriptions? I also draw a lot of my own conclusions. I am pretty well educated, I have a bachelors focused in this stuff and im more than halfway to my masters in it. Id recommend if you disagree with my facts then Google them. When using Supreme court cases I recommend reading the actual decisions. If you keep only using the opinions of others then you risk of soaking up their ulterior motives.

    You just accuse me of lying and spreading so lets look at some examples.

    So, lets look at the presidential oath thing. I use a completely correct example, you call me a liar, I then go into detail to prove I am correct and you accuse me of spreading the argument.

    Or how bout this. You say “you seriously need to read the arguments of the anti-miscegenation side in the Loving vs. Virginia case. They sound identical to anti-gay-marriage arguments, and we all know what ended up happening to those guys, don’t we?” So I say OK, I jump on Lexisnexis and I look up Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). I then snag my Constitutional Law text book from my masters class. Using those sources I discover that those arguments are completely different from the arguments in Horton and in Perry. So what I do is I cut and paste the relevant information into my next post and I wonder who you parroted because you couldn’t have read the same decision I just read and come to the conclusion you came to. You respond in calling me a liar and accusing me of using half truths? Which one of us are posting quotes from the decisions?

    I correct you because you are wrong. You are arguing and you speak like you are speaking from an authority of some kind so when you are wrong I feel like someone should correct you. Sometimes ive been wrong in other debates and others have corrected me (and im glad they have). It’s the equivalent of me saying something like Chris Hitchens was a religious jew and that’s why he attacked the catholic church. I would point out that his mother was jewish, that Hitch was married by a rabbi and that he attended synagogues across the world. You would correct me, as you should. When you are wrong, I will correct you.

    The statement “ignorance of the law is no excuse” has precisely fuck-all to do with whether we should write laws that are easy for people to understand and comply with. If the law is confusing to people, it’s a bad law and should be fixed. That doesn’t excuse people for not complying with it (unless the law is so badly written as to be thrown out), but the upholding of a confusing law also doesn’t excuse the legislators from their responsibility to write understandable laws. And it also doesn’t excuse citizens of good will from our responsibility to agitate for good laws.

    Jane: It is not the place of the COURT to make laws understandable. The fact that the law is complicated is no reason to change a law. Law is complex. Badly written law should be done away with but complex issues need complex laws. A law is not bad because it is complex and law should not be dumbed down for the most ignorant in our society. Also it is not the Supreme court’s job to decide if a law is easy and approachable for the unwashed masses. That is the job of the legislature. The Supreme Court has been known to define and clarify statutes in their decisions but that is in their decisions and it does not change the wording of the law. The Supreme court’s job is to interpret the Constitution and ensure it is still right. 

    If you can provide any help and/or as much help as you can here I’d be really grateful. I’ve also emailed both these legal blogs you mentioned Anne. :)

    Thanks,

    Jon Milne

  96. says

    So what I do is I cut and paste the relevant information into my next post and I wonder who you parroted because you couldn’t have read the same decision I just read and come to the conclusion you came to.

    Busted.

    1. Jane is kicking your ass.
    2. I’m really turned off by what seems to be you asking for points here and them passing them off as your own.
    3. Are you researching the counter-points being suggested or are you literally just parroting them without any effort to parse the information yourself?
    4. I say all of this not being sure exactly what position everyone is supposed to be arguing against, since these emails seem wildly context-free (In Jane’s case, at least. Chris just seems like your typical religidiot.). Is Jane’s point that she wants gay people and their supporters to battle – and win -to procure equivalent legal rights before taking on the larger issue of bigotry itself? Is she pro-gay rights but would prefer to give up the term “marriage” simply to speed up the process of legal equality for gay couples?

    All of this is pretty unclear to me at this point.

  97. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Public service announcement.

    joey is a godbot.

    I don’t recommend interacting with him unless you enjoy banging your head against the wall.

    (Of course, if you really do enjoy that sort of thing, bang away.)

    +++++
    Hey joey, what flavor of theist are you, anyway?

    I’ve been guessing Christian. Am I right?

  98. John Morales says

    Joey’s no wall, but a pile of rubble.

    (Basically, a slightly upmarket txpiper)

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Basically, a slightly upmarket txpiper

    In other words, smarter than a worm, say at insect level?

  100. says

    Joey,

    Your “victim” description is incomplete. You forgot to add …and does not practice abstinence.

    What dysomniak said. Also, miseducating kids harms them, regardless of whether they actually do the thing you tried to miseducate them into doing. Kids have a right to accurate information about how their bodies work and what their choices are, so that they can make informed decisions, rather than having their options and capabilities artificially limited by their parents’ fears.

    ———

    Jon,

    Seeing myself quoted verbatim in your arguments to Jane is freaking me out a little, and I’m not sure it’s terribly effective either. I appreciate the compliment, but I don’t know this woman or the context of the argument, so it might be wise if you do a little research on your own and then argue with her in your own words instead of just repurposing mine. I’m just trying to give you advice on things to look into to argue back to her, not to argue with her myself.

    Anyway, as for her arguments, the establishment clause does not prohibit religion from entering into the public square, it prohibits religion from becoming entangled with the *government*. Using religious texts in governmental swearing-in ceremonies implies that religion is an important part of swearing in our elected officials, which it should not be, even if those officials want to be. They are welcome to hold private religious celebrations on their own time, but not on the public’s time, and their swearing-in ceremonies are definitely the public’s time. By swearing in on a copy of a religious text and saying “so help me God,” they turn a secular ceremony which is supposed to represent all Americans into a religious one which represents only some of us, and this is not acceptable behavior for our elected officials.

    Moreover, in every single case, the religious text that was used in these swearing-in ceremonies was a Christian text. It may not have been the text of one particular sect of Christianity, but it was nevertheless a privileging of Christianity over other religions. Does Jane seriously think that the majority of Americans would accept Mitt Romney swearing in on a Book of Mormon, or a Muslim president swearing in on a Koran, or a Scientologist president swearing in on a copy of Dianetics? And this whole thing of swearing our presidents in on their sacred texts still leaves us atheists completely out in the cold. Why should the presidents not be sworn in on a copy of the Constitution, which is the only document their job description actually requires them to obey and defend, and which is a document which should unify them with all Americans rather than creating sectarian divisiveness? If they’re elected to a religious office, they can swear in on their holy books to their heart’s content. For a secular office, they should swear in on their honor, or on a secular document relevant to their role.

    Finally, “we had a Jew run for office on a major party ticket, therefore inaugural bibles aren’t an establishment violation” is about as substantive as, “we have a black president therefore racism is gone”, or “we’ve had female presidential candidates therefore sexism is gone”. It doesn’t follow logically (sad that a lawyer-in-training needs that explained to her), and it’s also completely fucking false. Non-Christians (and non-whites, and women) are still massively disproportionately underrepresented in political office, and our public policy still contains a lot of Christian bias (as well as racism and sexism). Pointing out a few exceptional cases does not mean that the problems are solved.

    Also, I can’t help noticing that she didn’t answer what this has to do with *anything*. Is this supposed to be a separate argument from the gay marriage thing? How did this even come up?

    As for her gay marriage stuff, um, you *really* shouldn’t have quoted the Gish Gallop thing to her directly unless you were sure you could refute her arguments, because all you did was gave her an opportunity to act offended. I’m sorry if I misled you into thinking that that was a good idea; I just meant it as a heads-up to you about what might be going on. Thing is, if you’re going to accuse somebody of a Gish Gallop, you need to be *sure* that they’re wrong about pretty much everything in detail, and you need to pick one of their Gish lies and deconstruct it carefully to show exactly how wrong it is, in order to demonstrate that you can indeed take them apart. Because you didn’t do that, she’s now constructed this pretty little argument from authority, which looks pretty solid to her given that you’ve implicitly let her know that you have no countervailing authority or specific rebuttals to challenge her with. At this point I would tell her, “Sorry, but you need to cite your sources more specifically than that. If you don’t clarify the details of where you’re getting these claims from, then you have not given me enough information to check them and understand them for myself, and this is nothing more than an argument from your personal authority.” Ask her for the title of her con law textbook and some page references. If you don’t have Lexis-Nexis, ask her to email you a copy of the article she’s referencing, or, if you do have it, insist that she give you a link.

    Because, here’s the thing — for all I know, she’s actually completely right about all the case law she cites. As I said, I’m not a lawyer, and it sounds like you’re not either, while she at least has some legal training. So by trying to make legal arguments, you’ve basically become a clueless n00b challenging her on her home turf, and it’s not terribly surprising that she’s able to at the very least pile up a bunch of impressive-looking stuff that makes her look right and you look wrong. And, quite frankly, only another lawyer is going to be able to help you with that.

    But the gay marriage issue isn’t really about which court made what decision in what specific case, it’s about the basic human decency of accepting that everybody’s families deserve equal recognition and equal protection, and about recognizing that “separate but equal” is definitely separate, but never equal. She might be able to argue that this is what the law is, but the question of hers that you originally came here with was about what the law *should* be — does “separate but [un]equal” marriage law harm gay couples? And she still hasn’t actually rebutted any of the points that I gave you about how it does.

    In fact, she still hasn’t actually explained (or you haven’t passed on her explanation of) what she’s trying to prove to you. She’s cited a lot of supposed case law, and she’s made your arguments on some irrelevant points look weak, but what is her actual claim here, other than that you’ve said some stuff off to the side that wasn’t true? Is she opposed to marriage equality? Is she for marriage equality but just thinks you’re arguing for it badly or proposing a bad way to attain it? What is her positive claim? Unless you (and possibly also those of us here) know what her point is, you’re just going to be trying to nail jello to the wall, and she’s going to run rings around you citing obscure court cases that are way beyond your legal expertise to analyze. Ask her what exactly she thinks should be happening in re gay marriage, and how she justifies that ethically (not legally; I really don’t give a fuck about what the law is — the gay marriage debate is about what the law *should* be, not what it is, which is a point that it’s often hard for lawyers, especially law students, to grasp, since the whole point of their training is for them to learn how to deal with the law as it is).

    Related to this last point, I don’t understand what the fuck the Supreme Court’s job has to do with the question of whether laws against gay marriage, or laws establishing civil unions/domestic partnerships as a “separate but [un]equal” version of marriage, are good laws. So what if it’s not the Supreme Court’s job to clarify these laws? It *is* our job as citizens, and our legislators’ job as the ones who actually make these laws, to write good laws and to work to fix bad laws. The question of whether or not the Supreme Court ought to help clarify bad laws is completely irrelevant to the question of whether letting gay marriage be called “marriage” and not recognizing it federally are okay.

  101. says

    Oh, sorry, Jon, I just went and re-examined the original post you pasted here from Jane. I’d forgotten that that original had a lot more stuff in it that I didn’t read in detail because it just looked like a horrible mess that I didn’t want to deal with. So, um, that erases a lot of what I said above, I guess.

    The thing it doesn’t erase is that I still, even after re-reading the first post, have no clue what she’s trying to convince you of, exactly, or why it’s important to her to convince you of whatever that is. As far as I’m concerned, what matters in the gay marriage debate is that not treating gay couples as equal to straight couples hurts real people f’realz, so we should stop doing that right quick, using whatever ethical means we have at our disposal. Everything else seems like pointless chaff to me.

    I’d recommend backing up and trying to figure out what exactly the point of your conversation with her is, and just focusing on that. Admit that your enthusiasm for the cause allowed you to be diverted into making arguments that exceeded your expertise on some side points, refocus on what you actually care about, and don’t make any more arguments that you can’t personally back up with citations and expertise.

  102. says

    Anne, you’re impressing the hell out of me.

    (So that’s something)

    Give me some time, I’m sure I’ll say something offensive or stupid eventually, if I haven’t already. :P

  103. Amphiox says

    Your “victim” description is incomplete. You forgot to add …and does not practice abstinence.

    No it was not incomplete. Whether or not that student actually practices abstinence is irrelevant to the fact that said student is a victim of not actually being given useful education about sexuality and reproductive health.

    What, you think the ONLY goal of sex education is to prevent teen pregnancies?

    And that a student who chooses to practice abstinence will want to practice abstinence forever?

    Oh wait, I forgot. This is gooey the tyrant slavemaster we’re talking about here, who considers women to be nothing more than baby making machines so dangerous and powerful that what goes in and out of their uteruses must be regulated, by the full coercive power of the state, even more stringently and forcefully that what goes in and out of the barrels of guns.

    Basically, a slightly upmarket txpiper

    In other words, smarter than a worm, say at insect level?

    Do insects lie?

  104. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    jonmilne! (since your’e so fond of bold text): Could you please NOT paste a 17-screener comment in here? Thank you.

  105. Amphiox says

    Why should atheists support any of those things?

    Not surprising, considering the source’s prior record of cognitive blindspots, but this is exactly backwards.

    It is feminism, secular humanism, progressivism, liberalism, and socialism that leads to the support of atheism.

    The atheism is the minor, and frankly, if push comes to shove, wholly dispensible, part of the equation.

  106. Amphiox says

    Through utilitarian thinking, can it not be argued that this policy is “just” for the greater well-being of the nation?

    Sure it can be so argued.

    If you want to lose the argument.

    Absolutely EVERY policy of EVERY government of EVERY description in the history of governments can be argued to be “just” for the greater well-being of the nation.

    So that question is irrelevant.

    The question that matters is, IS it REALLY for the greater well-being of the nation? And if the intent really is for the greater well-being of the nation, does it actually, in practice, result in greater well-being for the nation?

    And while you’re at it, define “greater well-being for the nation” as something distinct from the “greater well-being for all its citizens”.

  107. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    [slavery]

    We do actually have a massive, multi-year, empirical “experiment” in this regard. The historian Fernand Braudel looked into why there was “a stagnation of technology throughout all the centuries of the Roman period”.

    His verdict:

    “Spartacus Revenge” … Every technological revolution has always been undermined by the existence of slavery, a scourge which spread throughout the ancient world.

    [China's one-child policy] Through utilitarian thinking, can it not be argued that this policy is “just” for the greater well-being of the nation?

    Yes. But here is the rub: The policy is intended to provide a stable population on everyone’s behalf. And makes equal demands on everybody. This is not the iniquity of slavery, which is perversely imbalanced in its application.

    (Notes: It is equal in principle, but not quite so in practice- there is actually a relaxation in this policy wrt minorities. There is a lot of real understanding of the policy locally – we are not talking about the fucking Duggars to begin with.)

  108. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ chigau

    I, too, recall longingly the bucolic days of the Pax Tardigrada.

  109. says

    Fuck Daniel Fincke.

    That is all, thank you.

    Can you elaborate?

    rorschach, I think dysomniak was talking about this.

    I’m a little annoyed with Daniel too at the moment, for reasons which you will discover if you read the comments. I thought I was trying to play nice and somehow got slapped into moderation instead, and I am unable to come up with a charitable explanation for why. I have therefore apologized for any unintended offense I gave and asked, as nicely as I am currently capable of doing (which, IMO, is surprisingly nicely given that I am clenching my teeth in frustration and anger), how I could have worded my comments in a more acceptable way. I am not going to pass judgment on Daniel until I see how he responds, but it is *really* *really* hard not to right now. I hope this was just a misunderstanding and that when I wake up tomorrow this will all be cleared up.

  110. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I recently recommended a reading of Nietzsche and a supplement that mentions his devotion to aristocracy (this devotion is well recognized even by those who don’t recognize him as a protofascist).

    Reading this from Fincke I see a thread of Nietzsche’s virtue ethics in particular (this is not some great insight on my part, since Fincke explicitly invokes dear old Fred).

    And when we think we are in the moral right, we are oh so tempted to start venting all the darkest, nastiest, and cruelest parts of ourselves with a good conscience. And this is why moralistic people are scary. Because too often the only thing separating them from their enemies is their drug like feeling of being the righteous ones. Their hatred can be just as strong. And if they stop being restrained by deference to abstract forms of justice that keep them in check, their actions can be just as harmful to those they hate.

    It doesn’t hold up to consequentialist critique, since a minority group is actually not capable of inflicting just as much harm as their oppressors do. The minority group doesn’t hold the institutional power necessary to do so. (This difference would be one of those very fucking big things separating us, so big it’s sometimes hard to see the forest.)

    This virtue ethics seems functional for suppressing any democratic, anti-aristocratic movement though. I feel like I’m reading The Catholic Worker. So long as oppressed classes are convinced they’d be morally corrupted by feeling like they deserve to actually fight back against those who oppress them, the status quo is effectively perpetuated.

    One of these days, we’re going to be so virtuous that no one will want to hurt us ever again. And then we’ll eat pie with Jesus.

  111. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Can you elaborate?

    And the ivory-tower high-horse he rode in on.

  112. says

    The thing is, when I insult people, it’s not because I want them to be harmed, it’s because I want them to go away and leave me alone. I have absolutely zero desire to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants. I just want the tyrants to stop being tyrants.

    I couldn’t even really bring myself to hate GWB. I actually kind of felt sorry for him — he just looked to me like a little kid wearing his dad’s suit, lost in the folds of the jacket and tripping over the rolled-up pant legs, trying futilely to convince himself and everyone else around him that he’s a big boy now. Hell, I even feel sorry for white supremacists, because, really, how sad has your life gotta be that the only thing you can find to be proud of is the skin color you were born with? I don’t want *any* of them hurt, I just want them to stop hurting other people. But sometimes hurting them right back is the only way to make them stop.

    I’m an academic myself, and I respect the need for truth-finding discourse to be dispassionate and de-personalized. But this isn’t just about truth-finding, it’s also about taking power from the powerful and giving it to the powerless, and that kind of thing just doesn’t happen without the powerful putting up a fight to keep what they’ve got. In this kind of fight, there’s a role for nice, and there’s a role for dispassionate, and there’s a role for patiently and empathetically working towards mutual understanding, but there’s also a role for intellectual street-brawling. I’ve got no objection to Dan making the case for reason and social justice however he wants, or establishing whatever rules he wants for the discourse on his own blog. It just seems like he’s having a lot of trouble walking the line between justifying his own way of doing things and criticizing people who, for perfectly legitimate reasons of their own, are fighting a different part of the fight.

  113. Beatrice says

    Well. Reading Fincke’s post did nothing good for my anger levels.
    Note that I say anger, not hate. I can see a difference between the two, even if he has some troubles with that.

    Also, seconding dysomniak. Except where he insults the poor horse. That’s a step too far.

  114. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Hate really is okay. Most people who hate don’t become Sith lords. If some people can fight without hating, that’s fine for them. I hate some people and that’s fine too.

  115. Beatrice says

    True.
    I admit to having a childish view on hate. Like it’s a terrible extreme I should never ever feel about anyone. I’m working on that. (I have long held some strange views on both love and hate, which made me think I was incapable of feeling either. I’ve realized I have been wrong, but the love part was the one I worked on first, since it was more important for my relationships with family and friends.)

  116. says

    If some people can fight without hating, that’s fine for them.

    Hate is hard, like love. I can insult people on the internet if I think their contribution is beyond contempt. But that’s exactly it, beyond contempt, most often I can’t bring myself to engage enough to hate them.
    I hate Ratzinger, and Romney and Ryan. Hoggle or elevatorguy? Not so much.

  117. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Beatrice, you’re right about the horse. As an animal rights advocate and a vegan it was poor form for me to drag an innocent metaphorical animal into this.

    SG, I’m totally with you on hate. Sometimes it is the appropriate and healthy response. People like Dan, who believe outrage and emotion are automatically bad things, have eternally been the tools of the status quo (however well meaning).

    Since I don’t expect my response over there to get out of moderation I guess I might as well post it here:

    Actually your moderation policy is very much part of the conversation here. Your OP is yet another defense of it. And of course even when I phrase my criticism as politely as I can you still interpret it as a “personal attack”, and characterize everyone who disagrees with you as being angry and unreasonable. Thanks for proving my point.

    It was of course a reply to Dan’s comment here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers/2012/08/24/no-hate/comment-page-1/#comment-378584

  118. John Morales says

    Odd how some people just don’t seem to get Prof. Fincke.

    Anne:

    In this kind of fight, there’s a role for nice, and there’s a role for dispassionate, and there’s a role for patiently and empathetically working towards mutual understanding, but there’s also a role for intellectual street-brawling.

    Intellectual street-brawling is perfectly possible within his commenting rules if one is not intellectually timid or incompetent.

  119. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Intellectual street-brawling is perfectly possible within his commenting rules if one is not intellectually timid honest or incompetent passionate.

  120. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Of course I should really know better than to take Morales’ bait…

  121. John Morales says

    dysomniak:

    People like Dan, who believe outrage and emotion are automatically bad things, have eternally been the tools of the status quo (however well meaning).

    He’s actually explicitly stated the exact opposite of this claim that you impute to him, and has done so consistently.

  122. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I give no shits about Dan’s claims when his actions contradict them.

  123. John Morales says

    Beatrice, if you look at the thread in question you will find that Dan links to the threads where it is not out of topic in @1.7 — that’s but two comments above the one to which you linked @1.9.

    (You thought it was an open thread?

    If so, look at the category tags to disabuse yourself of that notion)

  124. John Morales says

    dysomniak: “I give no shits about Dan’s claims when his actions contradict them.”

    But you imagine others should give a shit about your unsubstantiated assertion?

    (heh)

  125. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    What’s really funny is that you think I give a shit about whether you give a shit that I give a shit.

  126. says

    Odd how some people just don’t seem to get Prof. Fincke.

    Oh good, now I’ve said something stupid/offensive and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. :P

    Anyway, I think I get what he’s *trying* to do in his own space, and I’d be perfectly happy to see him succeed. It’s just, he’s having a *really* hard time getting the message across about what he wants to do without seeming to go after people who really don’t deserve to be gone after.

    And my own personal experience tonight leads me to ask if it’s even entirely possible to do what he wants to do. I tried in good faith to follow his rules and got hit with hard moderation in a way that seemed (to me) to come out of the blue, and after that it was *really* *really* hard to come up with any way to address him that might be likely to have a productive effect. And I don’t just mean that it was hard not to rage at him. It was also hard to figure out how to respond in a way that (a) wasn’t groveling, (b) didn’t involve conceding the points I made, which I still feel were legitimate, and (c) wasn’t likely to be *seen* as raging, whether I meant it to be or not.

    And, here’s the thing… I like to think that I’m a reasonably articulate person and perfectly capable of responding to calm intellectual critique with calm intellectual rebuttal and so forth, and it still probably took me a good ftwenty or thirty minutes of sincere effort to figure out how to write a response that didn’t either tell Dan to go fuck himself or even sound like I was trying tell him to go fuck himself in different words. If *I* had this much trouble, I am really not convinced that he’s going to find a wide group of people who can manage to both consistently disagree with him and each other about all these issues that have such deep personal significance *and* consistently follow his comment rules, especially given that my initial two (I thought fairly mild) comments were apparently such a serious violation as to drop me into moderation.

    So, as I said, I’d like to see him succeed, but I think there may still be some kinks in both presentation and implementation that need to be worked out. I’m not going to pass judgment until I see how he responds tomorrow, but I’m certainly kinda grumpy right now.

  127. John Morales says

    dysomniak, so, you wrote a comment expressing frustration and claimed “Since I don’t expect my response over there to get out of moderation I guess I might as well post it here”, but now you claim you don’t give a shit whether others give a shit about your comment.

    (You have a plausibility problem)

  128. KG says

    Do insects lie? – Amphiox

    Well some of them practice mimicry. Joey’s certainly tried that – he pretended to be pro-choice for the length of more than one abortion thread – but he didn’t fool anyone. He also tried mimicing psychopathy in a long argument with me, but finally admitted that he wouldn’t have his children tortured even if he was certain he would benefit (including having his memory of agreeing to their torture wiped).

  129. Beatrice says

    Yes, John, I’ve seen that. In this latest thread he is making much broader claims and I see Ann taking issue with those.

  130. jonmilne says

    Okay, this time I don’t require feedback on what Jane has to say, but rather on a proposed response I intend to make. Here is the finished draft of my response email, and since I quite frankly love any ability there is to engage in some self-correcting amongst some other great secularists, rationalists, and humanists like yourselves, I’d appreciate any suggested alterations you could make.

    My intro basically asks that she emails me a copy of her article, as well as also promising to do research on the legal aspects that have puzzled me throughout the debate. Here’s where the “debate” part of my email. If there’s unwitting fallacies or mistakes I’ve made, please feel free to point them out. :)

    I’d like to back-track here, because from the moment I started talking about this topic, it’s never been about what the legalities of trying to have gay marriage at a nationwide level anywhere are. It’s about the ethical nature of it, and I see no reason why ethically, looking at things from a secularist, rationalist perspective, why gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to have exactly the same marriage rights as everyone else. You know what? Maybe I have been guilty of making some (albeit entirely unintentionally) crap arguments when it comes to trying to make debates outside of my comfort zone, but if there is ONE thing I can say beyond reasonable doubt that I have been consistent on, it’s that no good secular reasons exist for gay marriage being illegal exist, and no, the fact that a number of courts have ruled against gay marriage is NOT one of them, nor of course is the fact that people have voted against gay marriage proposals in their respective states. I could use a spectacularly easy line about how courts/voters have previously enforced racist/sexist laws or how courts/voters have struck down laws that would have given racial/gender equality, and I believe I would quite easily be able to run with those and use the point I’m about to make to give you some much needed perspective, but I’ll use a more challenging but certainly pretty damned effective argument: euthanasia.

    Over here in the UK, we’ve just had a High Court of Justice case where Tony Nicklinson, a guy who suffered a stroke leaving him with Locked-In-Syndrome, has just lost a battle where he could have had his carer help him voluntarily take his own life. Ethically, just like same sex marriage, I consider this one a no-brainer in terms of what should be happening: the people who are suffering as a result of this being illegal should be allowed this right. The case of Nicklinson, as well as others like Diane Pretty, has provoked much empathy and compassion for their respective plights, and there has been calls for years that the laws get reformed. Indeed, much like same sex marriage, the majority of people who are polled in the country support the right of paralysed people to have euthanasia is what they so wish. But predictably, the Churches of England and Scotland and other religious groups are among those who highly oppose such measures, because much like with abortion and with same sex marriage, it’s all about to them preserving a “sanctity” of their existing system of morals, no matter how fucked up their beliefs are. By the way, Nicklinson did eventually get to die, albeit after having to suffer through even more pain (pneumonia) in order to do so. Is that dignified, Sara? Is that ethical he wasn’t allowed the right to die much earlier so that his pain could have been relieved? Or do you still subscribe to your ridiculous worship of lawyers in robes and believe that it’s only their opinion that actually matters?

    This is the problem that makes my point and defining question to you: do you actually think that gay people should have the right to marry, based on pure ethics? Don’t answer me with another legal answer, because the key point here is that courts do not necessarily always have it right. There has historically always been a chain where secularist/rational scientific thinking is more or less ALWAYS the first to revolutionise the way it thinks about any given topic, and right now secularist/rational scientific thinking finds absolutely no reason to treat gay couples as any different morally and lawfully to straight couples. Politics/Law eventually follows suit, and then of course religion, assuming that it ever changes its mind about a subject at all. A classic example of this of course is Evolution. The scientific method confirmed evolution to be true, but it took many years for politics and law to change its position. Again, back before the Scopes Trial, without using hindsight of later court events, would you consider it to have been rational for the teaching of evolution to be an illegal practice in the United States? Or (gasp!) was it maybe the case that clearly the law got it WRONG?

    This is the key difference between the two of us: I believe wholeheartedly that gay people should be entirely equal in both marriage and the ability to raise children to straight couples. From the best abilities from what I’m able to discern from your ethical position, there’s endorsement of Strauss v Horton (which held Prop 8 to be constitutional, something that would be clearly a big conflict between the two of us, since I prefer Perry v Brown, and your chastising of Judge Walker is not necessarily ethically correct) and that you think civil unions are ok but the marriage label is somehow off-limits because you essentially think that those who seek that label are purely trouble-makers, if “I believe that the use of the word marriage only seeks to inflame and hinder the reasonable quest for legal equality by people trying to effect cultural and not legal change” is anything to go by. Maybe I am guilty of seeing things in black and white, and I’ll hold my hands up to that, but excuse me for thinking that maybe, just maybe, I don’t see anything wrong with advocating complete equality for the sorts of people who I’ve argued it for in the past, namely women, gay people, atheists, and other non-Christians. I don’t see what productive end it serves to have existing legislation that doesn’t remotely stack up when subjected to secular and rational analysis.

    Just look at my reply to you from the 23rd of August, starting from “That’s ridiculous, a lot of laws come into place because they try to prevent so-called negative things from happening” where from there I highlighted all the fallacies about the anti-SSM side’s positions about the ethical nature of what allowing gay marriage in California would entail, and then look at the three problems I highlighted about how the laws preventing gay marriage would harm gay couples. Your responses to them contained not one ounce of actually indicating whether those laws were actually right or not. Do you think it’s ethically right that married gay couples aren’t entitled to the many federal benefits that straight married couples receive? Do you think it’s ethically right that gay couples who have some sort of legal union in one state don’t have it if they go to another state be it temporarily or permanently? Do you think it’s ethically right that the legal rights of any gay couple in a civil union still remain unclear resulting in them getting discriminated against?

    Again, I’ll admit, when trying to go outside my comfort zone, I didn’t do so well. But the core of our debate, and what we started with, was whether gay marriage should be legal across the entire country, on purely moral grounds. I don’t necessarily have any objections to you using legal reasoning in your response, but ideally I would hope that you focus your response on this particular aspect, because while I will admit that when it comes to all the legal shit you are far better than I ever will be on this topic, I will stay say that when it comes to actual secular, rational, and scientific analysis of the moral ethics of allowing gay marriage to be legal, which is what our debate is actually centred on, I’d still say I have the edge here, because while I can justify the benefits of having gay marriage be legal nationwide, you can’t say the same thing when it comes to justifying how it would be harmful.

    Thanks,

    Jon Milne

  131. KG says

    So, as I said, I’d like to see him succeed, but I think there may still be some kinks in both presentation and implementation that need to be worked out. – Anne C. Hanna

    I find Fincke tiresome, so I don’t go there any more, but the problem may be that he’s less dispassionate than he thinks he is (most of us are), and so can’t in practice apply his rules impartially.

  132. John Morales says

    Anne, I too make you to be more than intelligent and articulate enough to comfortably manage there, but I can see how you’re finding it problematic right now.

    As I see it, your problem there was to make personal charges without sufficient warrant and to not employ the principle of charity.

    (FWIW, he does read moderated comments and often approves them)

  133. jonmilne says

    Sorry, that should read “Is that dignified, Jane?”. Sara’s another one I’m debating with, but her arguments are easier since they’re about the so-called “evils of atheism”. Just got my wires crossed with names there.

  134. says

    John,

    As I see it, your problem there was to make personal charges without sufficient warrant and to not employ the principle of charity.

    I agree that that’s what Dan seemed to *think* that my problem was, but I don’t agree that that’s what my problem was. I tried to go *way* out of my way to repeatedly say that I understood that the way Caias’ comments sounded to me might not be what he meant, and to make it clear that this was about how his comments *sounded to me*, rather than about him or his intentions.

    I was actually trying to help Dan out, by nipping in the bud something that would tend to give fodder to people’s anger with him about the way he sometimes *seems to them* to be going after those who are the victims in this whole fiasco. But instead all I got was pushback about how there was nothing wrong with what Caias said, and therefore recounting my *own personal experience* of reading what Caias wrote constituted a personal attack on Caias. And then when I responded by trying to make specific links between my concerns and Caias’ original comment, all the while noting that this was about how he sounded and not what he meant, suddenly I was in moderation. It really did not make me want to aspire to the position of being in Dan’s good graces, but I’m trying anyway on accounta I *do* employ the principle of charity and I’m willing to believe for now that this was just a miscommunication.

    I get that Dan is sensitive about anything that sounds like a challenge to his comment policy, because of the difficulty he’s had over this, and I appreciate that I probably inadvertently tweaked that sensitivity. But if that’s actually what this is about, I just wish he would’ve just *said* that rather than going off in this other (to me very weird) direction. If that’s not what this is about, and your interpretation is correct, then it is hard for me to understand how one is supposed to, within the rules, explain to a person that they said something that sounds hurtful to others, even if they may not have meant it that way.

  135. John Morales says

    You make a good case there, Anne.

    (It would be good if Dan could see this comment of yours)

  136. says

    Jon:

    1) I think you did a really good job in the first and last sections where you walk back your mistakes and call for a return to the central topic of the ethics of the issue.

    2) While I share your views on the euthanasia issue (a) a Christian isn’t going to, so it’s probably not useful for convincing her and (b) there *are* some secular arguments against the right to die. They’re crap, but they exist, and you really don’t want to wander down that rat hole with her, because it’s a distraction.

    3) Skip the question of historical chains of events and analogies and inevitability. She will find some dumb nitpick about why it’s not exactly the same, and then you’ll be stuck wasting your time arguing about that.

    4) Skip all sarcastic gasping and dramatic caps, satisfying though they are. She’ll just turn around and do the same to you and nobody will be enlightened.

    5) Don’t waste your time talking about Strauss v. Horton or Judge Walker or anything like that at all. She will seize on anything you say about those issues as an excuse to divert into more irrelevant legalistic babble.

    6) Stick to the question of the harms caused by banning gay marriage, only allowing separate-but-unequal gay marriage, or settling the problem at the state level, and challenge her to make it clear where she stands on the ethics, and to justify that stance.

    7) Really really solidly research the harms, and bury her under a giant pile of examples and research studies. There are tons of sad stories about bad stuff happening to gay couples because their legal rights were not properly protected. I don’t have a good link library on this myself, but there are plenty of bloggers who do gay rights stuff and who will probably have good material in their archives. Just make sure you check the sources and look for any followup (wikipedia may be a good source for the followup), so that you can be sure that Jane can’t nitpick the story out from under you.

    8) Again, the way you structure your walking-back is really good. It puts you in a fairly decent “reasonable-person” position to make the ethics argument from, but that ethics argument now needs to be *rock solid*, because everything depends on it.

  137. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    But instead all I got was pushback about how there was nothing wrong with what Caias said, and therefore recounting my *own personal experience* of reading what Caias wrote constituted a personal attack on Caias

    That’s what I saw, and that’s why I felt the need to point out that he was undermining the case for his own moderation policy (in the initial comment thread on his policy he insisted he would be able to identify and deal with polite assholes who followed the letter of the law). I could have been “nicer”, but honestly anything less would have felt like groveling. I did not call him an asshole, or a moron even though I would have liked to.

    Bah. I’m stoned enough not to want to pursue this anymore, but drunk enough hit submit anyways. grumblegrumblestrawvulcangrumble

  138. says

    You make a good case there, Anne.

    (It would be good if Dan could see this comment of yours)

    Well. I have a couple comments waiting in moderation over at his place where I tried to say something like this, only with more humility and apologies for inadvertent offense (and hopefully without the sound of my teeth grinding as an implied soundtrack). So, I’ll see what he thinks of those in the morning. :/

  139. says

    Also, I feel like it’s worth noting that Caias seemed to take my comments to him far better than Dan did. I really *was* trying to not be a jerk to him. I just wanted him to walk back the implications that some people (given the penumbra of mess around tone issues) might draw from his comments. And he did that, to some extent, which I thought was good. I only found out about the moderation thing when I tried to post my next comment continuing what I thought was a fairly civil conversation with him. :/

  140. jonmilne says

    Anne, the only reason I referenced Strauss v Horton in the draft email was that it was the best resource from our last email from which I could perhaps see what her ethical positions were, and from the looks of things, it seems to be a 99% percent probability that since she agrees with the ruling, she agrees with Prop 8 and doesn’t think that “marriages” for gay people should be legal anywhere in the United States. I took the time to point out though in addition that since I believe that she’d almost certainly my nit-pick my preference for Perry vs Brown against her preference, I told her to focus on the main point we were discussing and that I had no interest in any dishonest arguing for legal supremacy she may use, since the law is not always right and in the case of gay marriage it most certainly from a secular and rational and scientific persective absolutely not right.