The libs who cried wolf: a cautionary tail

Unreasonable libs: “Wolf!”

Reasonable centrist: “Yeah, you’re right. He’s definitely a wolf. But he hasn’t even been inaugurated yet. Give it time”

“Wolf!”

“Yeah, you’re right. He’s definitely a wolf, but he ran on being an outsider and disclosing code-word intelligence to the Russians and hiring a literal, actual foreign agent as National Security Advisor, well, that’s pretty outsider-stuff. No insider would do that. But it’s still the first 100 days, give him a chance to become presidential.”

“Wolf!”

“Yeah, you’re right. He’s definitely a wolf. And it is bad for the country and bad for democracy when he calls innocent people traitors, labels the press “enemies of the people” and makes himself synonymous with the country and, by extension, his personal interests synonymous with the country’s interests. But he told us he’s not the usual politician, so he’s just being true to his nature. No need to get worked up.”

“Wolf!”

“Yeah, you’re right. He’s definitely a wolf. He’s racked up a history of dishonesty unparalleled in US political history. But with that canine brain I don’t think he even actually understands that he’s lying. He just says he’s grandma to get a better chance to eat you, or because his wolf-nature doesn’t understand normal human communication and social reality. We can’t hold that against him, can we? It’s not like he’s maliciously lying.”

“Wolf!”

“Yeah, you’re right. He’s definitely a wolf. He’s definitely abused his office and committed offenses that are surely comparable to those that sparked Nixon’s impeachment, but I got to tell you, you never learned the lesson of that story, ‘The boy who cried wolf’ did you? We would have been able to remove him from office if you hadn’t gone and sacrificed your credibility crying ‘Wolf!’ repeatedly for three years.”

 

 

Travis Pangburn: Chickenhawk

Travis Pangburn, as PZ has brought to local attention, is interested in orchestrating a “war of ideas”. Yet, like the numerous “chickenhawks” of the USA right-wing who constantly advocate the nation commits acts of war while avoiding ever serving in the military, Pangburn seems to flee from those wars when they might involve him fighting on the front lines. One interesting manifestation of this is the strong possibility (examine the evidence for yourself) that Pangburn uses sock puppets to stick up for him, rather than arguing his case himself. But really, the entire thread over on Pharyngula about Pangburn’s latest project is at least as illuminating.

[Read more…]

All-North America Summarize Proust Competition

My entry:

Mmm, madeleines. These force me to remember how they flavour the tea, but the tea also flavours the madeleines, and, oh! isn’t it tragic that in all this talk of madeleines and tea, now that they’ve been scalded and discarded, no one remembers the linden flowers that made this moment possible without a conscious effort few will make?

How about yours?

Yes, It’s about Heritage

More and more I’m wanting the left to engage in rhetorical judo. There are so many times when watching clips from the impeachment hearings that I just want the witnesses to verbally hip-throw the dishonest and untenable premises of the questions that they are asked.

Likewise, we’re talking again about the confederate flag and “heritage”. PZ quotes officials from the town of Wake Forest, NC (via a Washington Post article) saying

“We recognize that for some the flag represents racism, hatred and bigotry, while others see it as a representation of Southern heritage protected as a matter of freedom of speech/freedom of expression.”

Why are these officials able to frame this as a dichotomy. Don’t we have any competent journalists here? The correct response should be:

These views are not at odds. The confederate flag represents racism, hatred, and bigotry. It further and even more intensely represents violence: the violence committed against US troops simply doing their jobs, protecting the nation, who were violently attacked by traitors as well as the many civilians who were beaten and killed during slavery and Jim Crow to prevent kidnappers from being held accountable or simply to control captives.

This is a mater of history, and as our heritage is the sum of history’s effects on our present, this racism, hatred, bigotry and violence are a part of that heritage. And yes, flying a flag, any flag, is a protected act of speech in almost any circumstance you could imagine. But we, today, criticize that act with speech of our own, because as much as racism, hatred, bigotry and violence are indeed our heritage, passed down from the generations who came before, we are not satisfied passing it down again.

Absolutely this is our heritage, and that is a tragedy. We live and work for the day when these things cease being heritage and pass instead into history.

 

 

On the anniversary of École Polytechnique: Speaking of things that do not surprise

So I just wrote about the roots of École Polytechnique and how responsibility for such a crime is widely shared. But I thought I would tack on a few stories that I noticed today that I feel are particularly noticeable on this day of all days. I only have two in mind right now, but I’ll add to the list over the course of the day as I notice other stories.

[Read more…]

A little too on the nose: It doesn’t start with École Polytechnique

I’ve written in Pharyngula comments before about something called the Pseudocommando shooter type. These are the folks who get big rifles with rapid fire capability and carry multiple weapons and huge number of rounds of ammunition to a target location and then shoot as many people as they can. The psychological research on the type shows that serious mental illness is uncommon in such shooters, though they do show an above average rate of mild to moderate depression and a couple of other of the most common mental illnesses. Some of the research that initially characterized the type found even these mental illnesses affected only about 40% of such shooters.

[Read more…]

Yes, the Right to Vote

Over on Pharyngula, PZ has a post up unequivocally supporting trans* persons equality with any other human where rights are concerned. As PZ and many, many others have put it: Trans rights are human rights.

In the thread, helpfully titled, “Arguments are closed, I’m not going to argue with anyone about trans rights”, someone showed up who wanted to argue about trans rights. You’ve really got to hand it to some folks, y’know? And on the one hand, this person (so far) doesn’t seem remotely as bad as some others who have commented on Pharyngula opposing trans* persons human rights. On the other, did they even read the post title?

I mean, seriously.

[Read more…]

Criminalizing fighting in sport

So… there’s been quite a bit of discussion in the wild about why a recent fight between NFL players of the Cleveland Browns and players of the rival squad the Pittsburgh Steelers did not result in criminal assault charges. The fight was broadcast to at least hundreds of thousands, I would imagine, very possibly millions. There were tens of thousands physically present at the scene and able to observe what happened and testify to it. Why, then, aren’t the participants being brought up on charges? Why were they not immediately arrested by sworn police officers present at the time?

Today this discussion was referenced by Mano Singham. And while I agree that there are reasons why we as a society might choose to prosecute the participants in these assaults, there are also reasons why we might not. One of those reasons is racism.

[Read more…]