Re: Exciting results from the moral theory lab

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In the middle ages, priests started popping the Eucharist into peoples mouths' because peasants would steal them for their magical powers. In the 1980s, they started putting the Eucharist into peoples' hands again. Look what happens when you ignore the wisdom of the middle ages.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 1:56 PM
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For once, a link to a post about how McMegan is an annoying twit rather than a respectful link to McMegan herself. This blog is improving. Totally makes up for the Insty link.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 1:59 PM
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I was surprised by that SameFacts post, since I thought Pharyngula had stopped blogging about two years ago.

It's interesting how certain blogs/sites become fads, such that eventually people just get tired linking to them through no fault of their own. But in blogworld, having a certain number of loyal allies means that instead of just doing the same thing you've always done, you often get more and more extreme in your views, which then looks sort of pathetic when it happens after most people have stopped reading your things.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 1:59 PM
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I've been disliking Retardo (now html Mencken) since 2003 when I was lurking at Baseball Primer and he was acting like a dick there.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:00 PM
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Actually probably earlier than that, maybe even '01.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:01 PM
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Since when is it OK to mock people for their religious beliefs? The intertubes have made what would be a private joke into a public spectacle, and by changing the scale, change the dynamic. While not reaching the level of hate crime- it does reveal a certain amount of bigotry.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:05 PM
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4: I was going to say, hey, he's a dick, too! It's like a transitive property of dicks, stopped, blessedly, at the gates of unfogged by Labs's mighty loins.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:05 PM
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6: I dunno, I do it all the time. Haha, stupid Xenu. Haha, stupid pro-lifers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:06 PM
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Odd; Labs's loins are rarely, if ever, used for stopping dicks.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:07 PM
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9: well, it's similar to how sand stops a bullet; by burying it deep within it's warm, brown recesses.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:09 PM
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Holy crap the Catholics planted an apostrophe in my comment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:09 PM
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Agree with 8, or more generally in our culture, stupid vegans, stupid pacificsts.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:09 PM
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Sifu, you are legendary in your dickishness. Are there not great phallic objects raised in your worship? Oh yes, there are.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:10 PM
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I think the Sadly, No guys can be dicks, and they're sort of overlooking how much of a dick Myers is being, but they're right that Myers and that Catholic League dick are in totally different leagues. And Sifu, you know I can be a dick, but it's nice of you to pretend.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:10 PM
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Myers is being a dick, but he's baiting dickery. I guess the part I find laughable (as I was raised Protestant) is the "he has kidnapped the Body of Christ!!!" stuff. It's not just a Catholic thing, for sure, and definitely not just a Christian thing, but what is revealed to me here is how incredibly weak people think their own god is, that he's so easily overcome by the forces of mere carelessness.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:15 PM
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14: most of the Sadly guys don't bother me at all. It's Retardo "Duuuuuuuude if I don't get to say 'latte sipping elitists then I'm going to sit on my populism and not plaaaaaay with yooooouuuu" Chomsky McNader Montalban that bugs me. He's like McManus without the avuncular reasonability.

Brad and Gavin are really nice, actually.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:15 PM
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You know, guys, thing is, it actually is just a cracker.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:17 PM
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Since when is it OK to mock people for their religious beliefs?

Since always?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:19 PM
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Or rather, it's always OK, if you don't mind being a dick.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:20 PM
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Sure, but symbols can be important to people. 'Degrees of dickishness' are important, though, and the world'd be better off without Donahue in it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:20 PM
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19: Is it dickish to crack a Xenu joke when Tom Cruise comes up in conversation? Absurd beliefs are still absurd, and there's nothing dickish about mocking absurdity.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:22 PM
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what is revealed to me here is how incredibly weak people think their own god is, that he's so easily overcome by the forces of mere carelessness.

As you know, in ancient times, stealing a representation (a statue, say) of a god was tantamount to the capture of that god.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:22 PM
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Absurd beliefs are still absurd, and there's nothing dickish about mocking absurdity

Agree with a part A. Part B strongly depends on who's doing the mocking, and how.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:23 PM
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Absurd beliefs are still absurd, and there's nothing dickish about mocking absurdity

Agree with part A. Part B strongly depends on who's doing the mocking, and how.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:24 PM
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Some Irish author has a hilarious but also touching description of a kid throwing up First Communion in the backyard and the resulting family crisis about whether it's ok to wash it away with regular water or does it have to be holy water. This episode brings that to mind, both because I find the transubstantiation to be pretty out there and because it illustrates that people take it seriously.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:24 PM
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Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. It's a really great scene, especially the priest's bemused reaction.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:25 PM
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Since when is it OK to mock people for their religious beliefs?

Since forever. Much fairer game than inborn characteristics, since you can pick up and discard beliefs at will.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:25 PM
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17: I'm going to have to go with Brother Stras here.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:26 PM
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Stras, you've never lost your temper about something trivial, but it's important to remember that other people do.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:26 PM
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The only problem I have with the original wafer-stealing kid - and really, how exactly do you "steal" something that someone else puts in your mouth? - is that he should've done it with a bit more flair. He should've released a ransom video on Youtube with the cracker tied up to a tiny chair, dressed in a tiny white robe and wearing a tiny beard while he ssaid stuff like "Nyah, where's your Jesus now!"


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:27 PM
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For Protestants, it is basically just a cracker. It's symbolic, but not actually little pieces of a body.

I've told this story before, but when I was a kid, my dad was serving the communion grape juice and, afterward, invited me to the church kitchen to drink off the little cups that were left over. It was a holiday, and lots of people were gone, so there were like 100 tiny cups of grape juice. I kept thinking about the verse that says "Drink ye all of it" and thought I was being asked to finish off everything because we couldn't, like, pour something symbolic of the blood of Christ down the drain. So I chugged shot after shot of grape juice until I was starting to get really sick, and asked my dad to help me. He was puzzled and asked me why I kept drinking if I had had enough. I told him, you know, blood of Christ or whatever, and he laughed, picked up the tray, and dumped it into the sink. "I just thought you might like some grape juice. It's expensive and we never buy it."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:27 PM
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since you can pick up and discard beliefs at will.

A contentious claim.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:28 PM
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30: Apparently it's even more innocuous than that. The kid had a friend with him who wasn't Catholic, and his friend was curious about the host, so he decided to smuggle it out so his friend could get a better look.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:28 PM
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how incredibly weak people think their own god is, that he's so easily overcome by the forces of mere carelessness.

Religions have always understood at some deep level that people create gods. That's why they're so invested in demanding obeisance from others, so solicitous of the divinity's reputation. They have to prevent Him from ending up like Wotan or Zeus, who have stopped getting any press coverage or interview requests at all.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:29 PM
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Now you're really being a dick, Sifu. As in, dishonest. Your hostility started long before then, and we both know what about.


Posted by: HTML Mencken | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:30 PM
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31: Catholic priests actually have to chug the wine after Mass. (I don't think it's called 'chugging the wine', but sometimes the Eucharistic ministers get to help.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:30 PM
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You know, guys, thing is, it actually is just a cracker.

Meyers' antics remind me of a (self-referential) quip by Tom Lehrer:

"I don't think this kind of thing has an impact on the unconverted, frankly. It's not even preaching to the converted; it's titillating the converted."


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:30 PM
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Yeah, seriously, apo, doxastic voluntarism is false. I hope it's false because of what a belief is, not just because of psychological contingency.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:30 PM
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The proper constitution of the host can be rather fraught.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:30 PM
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31: Ha. My dad used to do that, too. Mr. Pragmatic didn't like seeing good grape juice (the Welch's kind!) go to waste.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:30 PM
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It's time to quote my favorite Hilzoy post again, " Just because something is true doesn't mean that it's OK to say it in a given situation. For instance: suppose you decide to play blind man's buff on a fifth-floor balcony, and end up falling over the railing onto the sidewalk below, and, as luck would have it, I am standing nearby. And suppose that instead of calling an ambulance, or yelling for a doctor, or tending to your wounds myself, I say: that was really stupid of you, or: I just finished cleaning this sidewalk, and now you've gotten blood all over it. Both of these statements might be perfectly true. It was stupid. I did just finish cleaning the sidewalk. You did get blood all over it."


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:31 PM
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29: FL, like all other human beings, I've lost my temper over trivial things before. Unlike crazy religious people, however, I no longer lose my temper over completely harmless arbitrary things done by random strangers that do not actually hurt anyone else in the slightest.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:31 PM
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I no longer lose my temper over completely harmless arbitrary things done by random strangers that do not actually hurt anyone else in the slightest.

I dunno, I've seen you lose your temper over blog comments about politics.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:32 PM
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40: Heh. I remember one time the deacons had watered down the juice and bought the cheap communion wafers and I couldn't decide if it was cool to complain. I did, and my whole family was like, "OMG, I *know*. The host was sooo disgusting today!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:33 PM
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41: I think that's right. And I think this holds even if 'it's just a symbol' is true (most Catholics couldn't explain transsubstantiation), or if it's just a book, or just a piece of cloth, or whatever.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:34 PM
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Stras, you've never lost your temper about something trivial, but it's important to remember that other people do.

As far as I know, stras has rarely, if ever, launched a global attack on some stupid kid who did something he didn't like. Unless by "global attack" you mean "ranting," by "stupid kid," you mean "Dick Cheney," and "by something he didn't like" you mean "subverting the Constitution."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:34 PM
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Semi-pwned by stras himself.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:35 PM
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I'm generally in favor of mocking religion, provided the mocker keeps in mind the two overriding goals of mocking religion: (1) making it easier for people to give up religion, and (2) my amusement.

Taking the mocking so far as to really piss people off to the point of death threats is probably counterproductive to goal 1. Goal 2 is served just as well by simply making fun of transubstantiation as by threatening to desecrate the host, so goal 2 does not provide justification for PZ's post.

Therefore, PZ is being a dick. This of course, does not detract from the dickitude of anyone else in any way.

It's rather surprising to me, though, to see how seriously transubstantiation is taken in some quarters. It makes happy that in least at least this one respect, the Baptist tradition I was raised in is not completely crazy.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:36 PM
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35: well that didn't take long. My hostility started when you were an ass to my co-blogger for thoroughly self-congratulatory reasons, and continued when you spent all your time in pointless, woolly-headed purity battles with lefty bloggers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:36 PM
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Sadly No gets an eternal pass on dickishness for that awesome post they did on Yglesias, Klein and McArdle.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:36 PM
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You know, until this dust-up, I had no idea that this was something you could get people upset about. Sometimes I relish the neurons that are free of knowledge of religious dogma and are free to do other things (probably remember useless advertising jingles, unfortunately), but other times I worry that it's going to get me in trouble. I mean, if I found myself in a Catholic church service some day, would I know what I shouldn't do?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:36 PM
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I don't think Donohue is really of the opinion that abducting the host is somehow a threat to God or that God needs the help of the US government to punish the abductors. He's just trying to get people to respond reflexively to some sort of vague thing that seems like a threat, and can do so pretty easily because the people involved really do hate Catholicism and have scorn for everyone who believes in it.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:37 PM
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45: I think that their is a danger in that when people are saying "Now is not a good time to mention the truth." They are saying "There is never a good time to mention the truth." As in, in general I don't go around telling catholics that the host isn't really the body of Chirst, but when a bunch of them are on a tear of sending death threats over it, it might be a good time to bring it up.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:38 PM
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50: hey, I like Sadly, No! fine. The parts of it where they continued to mock brain-damaged wingers way after everybody else gave it up as about as rewarding as boxing a cobra: those parts are great.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:39 PM
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My hostility started when you were an ass to my co-blogger for thoroughly self-congratulatory reasons

Well that was thoroughly anti-climactic. I was expecting something more along the lines of the Xeni Jardin/Violet Blue love triangle speculation.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:39 PM
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55: you maybe are not picturing the people involved as clearly as you ought to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:40 PM
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How big a percentage of American Catholics actually think the host literally transforms into the body of Christ? I have a ton of Catholic relatives but I don't press them on that sort of thing because that really would be dickish - they're the nice relatives - but I've always gotten the vibe from them that believing in every single nut and bolt of orthodox Catholocism wasn't quite as important as the spirit of the thing.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:42 PM
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Baiting Bill Donohue by any means at hand is a pure and honorable thing to do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:44 PM
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For some reason 34 makes me think of Mark Salter writing indignant letters to the press about how UNFAIR they are to Wotan.

Yes, the host thing is completely dickish even it's just a cracker. Yes, I make fun of Scientology. Is that subjective, based on my preference for my grandparents & other relatives over Tom Cruise and Chartres, various Renaissance masterpieces, etc. over Dianetics, and familiarity with Catholic religious observance? Maybe. Probably, even. (Though the equivalent would be vowing to desecrate a venerated Scientologist religious object, whatever that might be, not telling a Xenu joke). And yet, still dick-ish.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:44 PM
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53: I just don't think that it isn't literally true matters a whole lot in terms of politeness and I think it matters that he's not just mocking the beliefs, but threatening to desecrate them.

Plus, many people who aren't on board with Donahue, who never would have said a death threat to a kid, probably believe the same things. "we're doing this because of death threats" seems to lump a lot of people together when most of them are harmless.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:45 PM
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51: I have to admit that, as recently as this summer, I had no idea that Catholics still believed in transubstatiation. I brought it up in a lecture and called it "something Catholics used to believe--oh wait--do they? oh man, I dunno..." and a friendly front-row Catholic helped me out. Luckily, no one threatened to set fire to my apartment or anything.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:45 PM
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57 may be irrelevant. The point of whatever Donohue is doing is to send the message to Catholics that they are being disrespected by smug assholes, and that smug assholes are doing this with total impunity, and therefore they should vote for the Republican party.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:45 PM
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Sadly No gets an eternal pass on dickishness for that awesome post they did on Yglesias, Klein and McArdle.

Link?

55: did that shit ever come to light? After reading the million-comment metafilter thread, I lost the will to pursue it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:46 PM
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most Catholics couldn't explain transsubstantiation

Transubstantiation is easy to understand. God just switches the platonic form of the wafer without changing the physical object itself. Where the wafer used to be associated with the platonic form of "wafer"-ness it is now associated with the platonic form of "body of Jesus christ"-ness. Since god is the one maintaining the correspondence of physical objects with their platonic forms, this is easy for him to do.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:48 PM
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If you read German, check out this story (more here) from last year about a man who (apparently innocently) stuck a half-eaten wafer in his pocket, whereupon he was allegedly physically assaulted by fellow churchgoers.

One of the commenters gets it right:

Ist doch klar: Hostien dürfen nur vor Ort verzehrt werden, wegen des unterschiedlichen Mehrwertsteuersatzes ("D'uh! Hosts may only be consumed on the premises, because otherwise a different VAT rate applies.")


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:49 PM
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63: I think the reason was because somebody was a dick. Or at least, I inspired the same combination of boredom and irritation in you that reading the half-assed denouement inspired in me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:49 PM
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My case for the dickishness of PZ Myers in this particular instance would lean heavily on the fact his glee is unseemly in anyone older than about 17. Ok, we get it, you think it's a cracker.

I have to say that last guy-- let me tell you how you can placate me-- is pretty much off the dickish charts.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:50 PM
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60: I'm not defending Meyers either, and the mock/desecrate distincintion is probably important. On the other hand I'm don't put a very high priority on politeness, and that's what I think it is, when pointing out that people are commiting crimes based on false premises. It's nice that not everyone who believes the false thing is sending death threats, but thier feelings arn't really a priority in the issue at hand.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:51 PM
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64: Sure, and how many Catholics take philosophy classes?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:52 PM
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most Catholics couldn't explain transsubstantiation

That's not the same as saying that it's just a symbol, though, not even to them.

In any case, I think that the Sadly, No! guys are right: Myers is uncivil (as far as religion is concerned) but thoroughly decent. It's possible I'm just saying this because I've met him, and a nicer, more mild-mannered person you can't imagine, but I think it's more because, having read his blog off and on for a while, it's clear to me that (1) he, personally, thinks religion is stupid; (2) this comes out most clearly when some religious person or group does something really offensive; (3) generally, however, he's willing to live and let live, and can actually be civil about religion when religious people aren't acting like dicks.

If I only knew him from that blog post, I would think that the truth lay halfway between Labs's claim that Myers is a dick and the Sadly, No! guys's claim that Myers is "uncivil but thoroughly decent." But I think Labs is seeing Myers as more dickish than is quite fair: Myers is, after all, reacting to the dickishness of Donohue's dickish reaction to the kid who "stole" the communion wafer and the Catholics who assaulted said kid. He (Myers) is being uncivil/dickish *in response to* actual dickishness.

You know, the "they started it" defense.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:52 PM
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"My case for the dickishness of PZ Myers in this particular instance would lean heavily on the fact his glee is unseemly in anyone older than about 17. Ok, we get it, you think it's a cracker."

Yeah, very obnoxious-atheists-in-my-college-seminars-sniggering-about-every Christian writer.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:52 PM
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64 is not correct.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:53 PM
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My hostility...continued when you spent all your time in pointless, woolly-headed purity battles

I'll take a lot from you, Sifu, but I won't sit here and let you insult everything the Unfogged community stands for.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:54 PM
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68: I think their feelings are, mostly because it's likely they'll be just as offended. Maybe not on 'the literal body!' level, but on the 'this is an object important to my tradition' level.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:55 PM
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Yes, the host thing is completely dickish even it's just a cracker. Yes, I make fun of Scientology. Is that subjective

Of course it's subjective. The alien space ghosts we need to expunge with an e-meter? Preposterous! A two-thousand-year-old dead guy regularly transforming himself into a cracker so I can eat him as part of a centuries-old ritual designed to preserve my invisible, undetectable, undefinable essence after my death? Perfectly sensible and worthy of respect!

(Though the equivalent would be vowing to desecrate a venerated Scientologist religious object, whatever that might be, not telling a Xenu joke)

What does "desecrate" even mean in this context? The guy took a cracker that was given to him and placed in his mouth, and instead of swallowing it he took it out of the building to show to a friend? That we're using the term "desecrate" to describe this act presumes some sacred property that already attaches to the cracker in question. It's a cracker! Come on! A cracker isn't divine! A cracker doesn't have mystical significance! We're all adults with functioning brains, and it's okay to say this out loud!


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:56 PM
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64 is exactly what they teach in Catholic high schools, at least.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:57 PM
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I inspired the same combination of boredom and irritation in you

Goddam right you did.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:57 PM
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Sweet christ I agree with B.

73: ah, no, we rarely get that stupid, believe it or not. Cf. Retardo vs. LGM.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:57 PM
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pointless, woolly-headed purity battles with lefty bloggers

Wait, there are lefty bloggers? Where?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:57 PM
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72: Substance, accident, but close enough for government work. Or clerical work.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:57 PM
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Hard to argue with #67. That said, his job shouldn't be under attack. Or, it can be under attack, but there shouldn't be any concern that the attack would work.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:58 PM
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Come on! A cracker isn't divine! A cracker doesn't have mystical significance!

Once you've swallowed the whole concepts of "divine" and "mystical", the cracker is just a small extra step. Religion is pretty all or nothing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:59 PM
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still not Catholic, stras, already acknowledged subjectivity, and you're STILL a fucking asshole. but I guess we knew that already.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 2:59 PM
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Clerical work. Heh.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:00 PM
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My case for the dickishness of PZ Myers in this particular instance would lean heavily on the fact his glee is unseemly in anyone older than about 17.

Says the guy whose internet identity is based entirely on gay jokes.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:00 PM
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if I found myself in a Catholic church service some day, would I know what I shouldn't do?

Possibly not; a friend of mine went to mass with me and another Catholic friend once in college, and she was offended that he took communion. She didn't say anything to him about it, though, and I thought she was being a bit of a priss: how was he to know, one, and two, God can probably deal with etiquette lapses.

the people involved really do hate Catholicism and have scorn for everyone who believes in it.

Who, PZ? As a Catholic who has met him on multiple occasions, I feel certain that neither of those things is true.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:00 PM
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64: If God were merely swapping out the form with which the matter was ... um ... had whatever relationship it is matter has to form, it would be "metamorphosis". But it's not. It's "metousiosis". See?


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:01 PM
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Says the guy whose internet identity is based entirely on gay jokes.

Not entirely. We've all taken some shots at Iranians, too.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:02 PM
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Gayness is a sacrament of my faith, Stras, and that remark was highly offensive.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:02 PM
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but close enough for Halliburton government work


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:02 PM
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still not Catholic, stras

And where did I say you were?

and you're STILL a fucking asshole

Aren't I supposed to be the irrationally touchy one here?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:03 PM
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who has met him on multiple occasions

B, isn't this just the "personal civility uber alles" inside-the-beltway mentality that has lead our nation so far astray?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:04 PM
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85 is so gay.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:04 PM
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That we're using the term "desecrate" to describe this act presumes some sacred property that already attaches to the cracker in question.

Um, that's what desecrate *means*. If you're going to insist on being purely rational, then there's no such thing as sacred at all, and therefore objecting to the presumption that a sacred property attaches to a cracker is stupid, and you end right up back in "it's a cracker/no it isn't" territory, which is to say, failing to acknowledge in any way that people's feelings about religious objects are significant.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:05 PM
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still not Catholic

Don't really see what this has to do with anything.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:05 PM
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94 is related to what I was getting at in 82.

In my personal opinion religion *is* wack, but I don't see how the cracker makes it any more so. It's max wack already.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:07 PM
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then there's no such thing as sacred at all

I'm 100% down with this and believe the world will steadily improve the more that belief spreads.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:08 PM
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92: Oh hell yeah: PZ famous athiest, and I, famous whorish bad Catholic, would both be burned as witches if our nation were on the true and moral course.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:09 PM
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Sure, and how many Catholics take philosophy classes?

I loved the headline last week: "Pope Benedict speaks out against moral relativism." Just like some of the undergrads in my discussion sections when I was in grad school!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:10 PM
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Once you've swallowed the whole concepts of "divine" and "mystical", the cracker is just a small extra step. Religion is pretty all or nothing.

Yeah, but really, the Holy Cracker of Christ thing really is kind of a reductio ad absurdum for religious belief. It's kind of like that scene in Life Of Brian where they're holding up his shoe, only even that doesn't do it justice. I can see why Myers spends so much time saying "It's a cracker!" because, really, living in a world where that's considered a mainstream belief is kind of surreal. We're talking about extending reverence towards a foodstuff, and not even an especially impressive foodstuff.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:10 PM
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97: Right, but there's a difference between not-believing-in-sacredness and not-believing-that-the-concept-exists.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:10 PM
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I'm willing to believe PZ is a nice person, but nice people can do dickish things, and this is pretty dickish, because what makes it dickish isn't that it is a sacred object, but because people believe it is and he's demonstrating his contempt for them by doing that. 'It's just a cracker' or 'it's just a rock' or 'it's just a book' really is besides the point.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:11 PM
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Look, B, I'm sure he's great in person. (You know who else was really nice in person? That's right, Hitler.) But PZ did promise to do a tremendously lousy thing for no good reason without manifesting any understanding of why it's lousy.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:12 PM
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We're talking about extending reverence towards a foodstuff, and not even an especially impressive foodstuff.

If it were the Holy Bacon of Christ, it would an entirely different matter. You might even get apo to join up.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:12 PM
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not even an especially impressive foodstuff

Now, if this were a graham cracker, ooh -- or a cinnamon graham cracker, it'd be a whole different thing.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:12 PM
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That we're using the term "desecrate" to describe this act presumes some sacred property that already attaches to the cracker in question. It's a cracker! Come on! A cracker isn't divine! A cracker doesn't have mystical significance! We're all adults with functioning brains, and it's okay to say this out loud!

This looks like it's written by someone who thinks the concept of "desecration" is ridiculous no matter what is being desecrated. Which is the only rational way to look at things, of course. But then you lose the right to say that it's silly to get upset about desecrating a cracker, compared to getting upset about desecrating anything else.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:13 PM
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You know who else was really nice in person? That's right, Hitler.

Not actually true. Surprisingly emotionally needy.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:13 PM
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I had heard about PZ Myers threatening to steal a communion wafer, but the context changes it totally. I think Myers is a little nutty on this whole atheism thing, so I chalked it up to that.

Dude, some guy accidentally took a communion wafer, and he's getting death threats. Donahue, who hates America and all it stands for, declared it worse than a hate crime. How does Myers even merit a mention in this story?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:13 PM
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Remember!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:13 PM
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extending reverence towards a foodstuff, and not even an especially impressive foodstuff.

This from the man who gets all wound up about global warming? Surely actual reverence towards food--impressive food or no--would actually be rather a good thing, from the environmentalist point of view. (Hence the whole slow food, locovore, etc. thing.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:14 PM
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I wish to attach my endorsement to 102 and 103, whereupon I will return to making wisecracks and tangential asides.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:14 PM
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But PZ did promise to do a tremendously lousy thing for no good reason

No, he promised to do it for an excellent reason: to piss off people who deserve to be pissed off.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:14 PM
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Stras, you understand the difference between substance and accidents means that pointing out the cracker's phenomenal qualities doesn't show anything either way, right?

Fine, Cala pwned me, but I mentioned Hitler.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:14 PM
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the communion grape juice

I'm pretty sure it has to be wine in the Catholic church, so tossing it out is an abomination, even if it's just crappy Madeira or somesuch.

PZM's reaction is dickish, but it's hard for me to get worked up about it given that Donohue is a monumental asshole who gives Catholics a bad name.

Also: Jesus is magic blahblahblah whatever. It's still fair to acknowledge a tradition including, say, Aquinas and Francis of Assisi as inherently superior to one based on the work of L. Ron Hubbard.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:15 PM
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ALL HAIL THE GREAT TWINKIE OF REBIRTH!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:15 PM
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"Don't really see what this has to do with anything."

Meaning, I wasn't arguing from the rational defensibility of the belief. It's just: I know , or knew--they're mainly dead now--smart Catholics who would've found this stuff very offensive, and I would consider anyone yelling "duh, it's just a cracker stoopid!!!" at them to be acting like a fucking asshole. (Are people really denying this? I recall everyone around here understanding it readily enough during the Danish cartoon mumbo jumbo--people were perfectly capable of thinking it was a juvenile stunt & the reaction was batshit at the same time). I suppose if I knew some non-ridiculous Scientologists I might become prickly about Xenu jokes, but I don't, and Scientology jokes are usually somewhat better executed.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:15 PM
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Donahue is a professional outrage-o-tron. It's impossible to take Myers off the hook by pointing to him.

Also, religion and 'the sacred' is largely a red herring. It's about gratuitous disrespect. Consider: some asshole pissing on MLK's grave, followed by defense of same by pointing out that it was all somehow to spite Al Sharpton. No sale.

On review, what Cala said.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:16 PM
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113: I understand that the three semesters' worth I took of metaphysics was bullshit.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:16 PM
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114: the Scientologists have Beck in their camp, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:16 PM
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Also, the Scientologists have killed a lot less Jews. I dunno, seems like kind of a toss-up to me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:17 PM
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119: Beck is forgiven all his body thetans because his new album kicks ass.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:17 PM
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We're talking about extending reverence towards a foodstuff, and not even an especially impressive foodstuff.

Yes, but I think the difference is, while I don't think God lives in crackers, no matter what abracadabra anyone says while looking at them, I don't seek out abracadabrized crackers and pee on them, or whatever Myers has planned, and I don't see the rhetorical efficacy of doing so. For the person who does believe in divine crackers, it's just infuriating. It wouldn't give them the moral right to threaten my life, but it also doesn't convince them that they're crazy for believing there's God in their crackers.

What it does do, and I think this is Myers's intention, is make people do really horribly reprehensible things and claim they're rational ways of responding, given the severity of the insult. And that is supposed to convince people that religion is madness. But it also widens the divide between us, so that there is less and less hope of sharing any conception of reality between atheists and religious people, and I think that does both groups no good.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:17 PM
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Chocolate Jesus


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:17 PM
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112: I thought you were opposed to collateral damage, Stras.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:18 PM
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110: Surely actual reverence towards food--impressive food or no--would actually be rather a good thing, from the environmentalist point of view.

That's just a ridiculous reponse. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:18 PM
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How would you feel about Christian developers deliberately building things on Native American burial grounds for spite, Sir Kraab?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:20 PM
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I've always found the doctrine of transubstantiation absurd -- one of many reasons I could never be a practising Christian -- but I'm amazed that it would come as news to anybody that Catholics take the eucharist seriously. That this guy should have received death threats and harassment over his prank is to be deplored, but his is otherwise not a sympathetic cause. No matter how absurd someone's beliefs may appear to be, deliberately monkeying around with them is extremely stupid.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:20 PM
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the Scientologists have killed a lot less Jews

A lot fewer Jews, anti-Semite.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:20 PM
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I propose that articles using the term 'locavore' be rounded up and burned.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:20 PM
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I thought you were opposed to collateral damage, Stras.

"Collateral damage"? I'm sorry, could you speak in English instead of in Oblique Arbitrarily-Angry Person?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:21 PM
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It's about gratuitous disrespect.

Exactly.

I had a fascinating conversation with several Catholics I know who were pissed off about the new movement of the church towards the conservative side. The phrase "our Nazi pope" was used more than once. Not all Catholics believe the same things.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:21 PM
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126: I wasn't endorsing what stras said, though I do agree with him to some extent, I was just pointing out the b's response was silly.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:22 PM
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How would you feel about Christian developers deliberately building things on lands considered sacred by a local Native American group for spite, Sir Kraab?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:22 PM
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Becks is into Scientology?!?! I blame Armsmasher.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:22 PM
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103, 102: Like I said, in isolation his post looks dickish. In the overall context of stuff he's said about religion, the kinds of things that lead him to say dickish things about religion, and the fact that he has *also* said (and demonstrated, on the blog, even) civility towards religious people who are not also assholes, though--plus the idea that getting someone to steal post-liturgy communion wafers and then doing Horrible Things to them while videotaping it and posting said videotape to youtube is a ridiculous threat--strongly suggest that PZ's over-the-topness in that post was more along the lines of "you want to bully someone, bully me" than "I have contempt for Catholics."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:22 PM
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I would like to express my gigantic irritation that the apartment I'm showing today is currently inhabited by a young woman who has a big blackboard with a dumb caricature of Jesus saying "I'M SO GAYYYYYY!" Thanks, dear, you're making it really easy for all of us to rent out your stupid apartment. You could also take down some percentage of the 10,000 photos of your own face you have as wallpaper.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:22 PM
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133 crossed with 132.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:23 PM
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what the hell? sorry for the double post.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:23 PM
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the Scientologists have killed a lot [fewer]Jews

Shouldn't this be normalized for time and number of adherents? This kind of crude benchmarking comparison is patently unfair to the Scientologists, who I am sure are making their best efforts to kill Jews under mostly inauspicious circumstances.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:23 PM
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BTW, B's "nice guy" defense works equally well on the other side. I have "nice guy" friends who are Catholics and would be offended by this and I also have "nice guy" friends who would actually do something like this. Just because they're nice guys doesn't make them not dicks sometimes.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:24 PM
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Donahue is a professional outrage-a-thon who gets on TV. I genuinely think Myers is an embarrasment to atheism, but Jesus God, this poor kid is getting death threats over a fucking cracker. The President of his University is threatening to expel him. I don't go out of my way to be disrespctful to the religious, but "Motherfucker, it's a fucking cracker" is the only intelligent response.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:25 PM
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130: Stras, when you said
to piss off people who deserve to be pissed off.

I assumed you meant Donahue and the Sisters of Perpetual Outrage deserve to be pissed off. But PZ's threatened thingie offends more people who don't deserve it than people who do. Hence collateral damage.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:25 PM
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122 is fine and cogent. AWB has been on an interesting comment roll lately.

As someone raised by old-time freethinker types, I have some native sympathy with Stras' point, especially since theists apparently get to insult atheists whenever they want. But in the end I must regretfully conclude that's not the way to behave in a pluralist society.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:26 PM
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126: I don't find this a compelling example. Building on a Native American burial ground would be permanent desecration of a unique spot of earth. Misusing one cracker out of an endless supply of them doesn't compare.

Besides, the problem I would have with the developer is exactly the same as if it were building on any cemetery. It just happens that it's more likely to be a Native American one because of dislocation and genocide.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:26 PM
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Christian love prevents me from saying that Scientologists are morons whose institution should be stripped of its tax-exempt status (plus, mote in your brother's eye and all, I'd have to say the same about legions of my co-religionists).

A lot fewer Jews, anti-Semite.

Unless he meant "lesser Jews", in which case his Jew-ranking definitely marks him as an anti-Semite.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:27 PM
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But PZ's threatened thingie offends more people who don't deserve it than people who do. Hence collateral damage.

But they're Catholics, so stras can invoke the Doctrine of Double Effect


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:27 PM
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129: I don't like the term either, but it's concise.

125: Sure they do. The idea of sacredness in food is common in both a lot of mainstream religions (hence grace before meals, etc.) and in a lot of secular environmentalist beliefs (eat locally, avoid factory farming and battery eggs, etc.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:28 PM
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You could also take down some percentage of the 10,000 photos of your own face you have as wallpaper.

God, so horrible. Like something out of an earnest college theatre production about the nature of hell. What kind of person would regard that as pleasant or even tolerable?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:29 PM
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I don't find this a compelling example. Building on a Native American burial ground would be permanent desecration of a unique spot of earth. Misusing one cracker out of an endless supply of them doesn't compare.

It's not about the loss of the cracker; it's about lacking empathy.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:30 PM
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144: But the thing is, it wouldn't be a convincing argument if I shrieked 'they're just a bunch of decayed tissue' any more than it is 'there are more hosts where that came from.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:30 PM
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140, see 135.

Like I said, maybe I'm just "defending" PZ because I, personally, like him, but I do happen to think that I'm capable of telling people I like that they're being dicks when they are. And I think that in this case, PZ is being rude, but that's not the same thing as being a dick.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:31 PM
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You know, the kid could've just asked his priest for an unconsecrated wafer. They come in big plastic bags, like cheap tortilla chips (but less tasty).

This:

his prank is to be deplored, but his is otherwise not a sympathetic cause. No matter how absurd someone's beliefs may appear to be, deliberately monkeying around with them is extremely stupid.

seems incorrect in its characterization. If it's true* that he simply took the wafer outside to show his buddy, then there's no "prank," no "deliberate monkeying around." I'd chalk it up to a reasonably earnest mistake, on the order of fucking around in chem class - sure, when you accidentally break or burn something, it was foolish and disrespectful and foreseeably stupid, but it's not malicious.

What PZ is saying is malicious, but he's responding to malice in a way that is clearly not in the same category of dickishness. He probably went too far, but, as has been said, until he threatens someone's life or livelihood, it's not in the same category.

* And I haven't read enough to know whether anything further came of his actions - if he and his buddy played mini-frisbee with the host on the church lawn, then just ignore this part of my comment entirely.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:31 PM
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148: Since this blog has introduced to my mind the existence of "ego walls," I think that's what she's going for.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:31 PM
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the 10,000 photos of your own face you have as wallpaper.

You're showing foolishmortal's apartment? Anyway, I thought he was a he.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:32 PM
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148: And she isn't even being edgy about it.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:32 PM
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Okay, that was like the most painful pwnage ever.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:33 PM
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No matter how absurd someone's beliefs may appear to be, deliberately monkeying around with them is extremely stupid.

This is silly. Our default attitude towards weird ideas should be healthy skepticism, not reverence. And it wasn't exactly like this kid was "monkeying around" by picking on the Jain kid in his class, or sticking ham in halal food or something. He was "stealing" a communion wafer from the Roman Catholic Church, one of the richest and most powerful institutions in the history of the Western world. I mean, give me a break. This is a classic case of a massive freak-out by a three-hundred-pound bully, and the classic liberal response is to tut-tut everyone because they've all done a little something wrong, now haven't they?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:33 PM
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I meant mine. But Fatman's had to smart too.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:34 PM
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152 is exactly right.

(Except that maybe the kid didn't think of asking, or didn't know that the consecreation thingie would make a big difference--as Cala says, most Catholics haven't had formal instruction in this stuff, and even those that have often don't feel particularly hung up on it.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:34 PM
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147.2: "Reverence" toward food as in "let's grow tomatoes that taste good and try not to wreck the earth in the process" has nothing to do with the instant case.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:35 PM
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They come in big plastic bags, like cheap tortilla chips (but less tasty).

If they tasted better, I would totally serve them at parties. To piss off Catholics!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:36 PM
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157 is making a lot of factual errors. The offense isn't the material value of the communion wafer; therefore the wealth of the Church doesn't matter. And if I'm not mistaken, the Church isn't freaking out over this at all. Donohue and some of his ilk are.

It would be nice if people could remember that no matter how much the Donohues of the world grab media face time, they really *aren't* the official voice of the Church. (This is one of the nice things about Catholicism, actually: the official voice of the Church is pretty clear, and so therefore when it says something dickish, you know it.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:38 PM
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142: The only ones who're really going to be offended are the Donohue types, who deserve to be offended. I assume most healthy, sane Catholics would go "what's that idiot doing to a church wafer?" and move on with their lives.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:38 PM
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The guy took a cracker that was given to him

It's not as if they were handing out communion on the street corner. He went to a Catholic Mass. This seems like a relevant detail.


Posted by: 56 and sunny | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:39 PM
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And it wasn't exactly like this kid was "monkeying around" by picking on the Jain kid in his class, or sticking ham in halal food or something.

It's just ham! It's pig! It's nutritious and the other white meat! How stupid to believe that God banned bacon!

161: My sister-in-law has some table decoration, Pottery Barn chintz, that consist of little papery wafers in that sit in a bowl on the table. They look kinda like hosts. Number of times people have tried to eat her decor: non-zero.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:40 PM
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161: Somewhere in one of PZ's threads someone linked to someplace that sells it as diet food. Unconsecreated, of course.

160: Mm, okay. I think that there's a certain element of irrationalism in a lot of foodie/environmentalist thinking. I don't have any problem with that, and engage in it myself, but then I also don't really have a problem with a lot of the irrationalism of the Catholic church, and I don't think that being rational is the ne plus ultra of human achievement. Food, in particular, is as much about feeling and emotion as it is about nutrition and environmental impact, surely? Otherwise we'd all just eat protein powder and vitamins and chew that Wonka gum that tastes just like a three-course dinner, right?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:42 PM
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162: It's not merely the wealth of the Catholic Church, it's the power and the cultural capital. People only care about Donohue because people care about the Roman Catholic Church. Compare the Catholic League to CAIR, for instance.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:42 PM
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But the thing is, it wouldn't be a convincing argument if I shrieked 'they're just a bunch of decayed tissue' any more than it is 'there are more hosts where that came from.'

Surely there is a difference between unique human beings/remains and hosts. I understand that people think both are desecration, but not of the same magnitude.

To put it another way, wouldn't your average transubstantiation-believing Catholic rather throw out a year's supply of hosts before seeing a cemetery plowed over?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:42 PM
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The only ones who're really going to be offended are the Donohue types, who deserve to be offended.

I don't think that's right; I don't think it's only Muslim extremist who were offended by the cartoons or the flushing of the Koran. And I don't see why it would be different here, particularly if one just hears 'liberal prof peeing on the host.' (Donahue is not someone I ever heard of until I started reading liberal blogs.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:42 PM
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It does seem extremely odd to have an object to which the only response that does not constitute desecration is to eat it. What is this, dinner at my mother-in-law's house? The Church gets offended if I choose to just look at the food instead of eat it? I'm sorry, but I can't eat another bite.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:44 PM
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Labs, isn't the problem with the collateral damage argument that being rude is *always* going to involve collateral damage? I'm wondering if you think gratuitous rudeness = dickishness, or if there's something special in this case (rudeness about religion, specifically?)?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:45 PM
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I don't think it's only Muslim extremist who were offended by the cartoons or the flushing of the Koran.

Ayup.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:45 PM
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People only care about Donohue because people care about the Roman Catholic Church

This is not true.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:46 PM
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I don't think that's right; I don't think it's only Muslim extremist who were offended by the cartoons or the flushing of the Koran. And I don't see why it would be different here, particularly if one just hears 'liberal prof peeing on the host.' (Donahue is not someone I ever heard of until I started reading liberal blogs.)

In this case as well as the cartoons case, the people are actually offended not by the "offensive" act itself, but by hearing about it filtered through the biased and alarmist sources where they get their news.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:46 PM
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It's just ham! It's pig! It's nutritious and the other white meat! How stupid to believe that God banned bacon!

It is stupid to believe that God banned bacon (although environmentally convenient - if everyone in America converted to Hinduism overnight, we'd massively reduce our GHG emissions). And I approve of mocking dietary laws, too. But even within the realm of knocking religious belief, which is laudable, this guy picked Christianity, which is even more laudable, because it runs the goddamn show.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:47 PM
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This is not true.

Sure it is. They don't care about him because of his stellar personality.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:48 PM
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most Catholics haven't had formal instruction in this stuff, and even those that have often don't feel particularly hung up on it

Ain't it the truth. Back in college, a Buddhist friend came home with me for Christmas break and we did Christmas mass. When it came time for communion, I just explained that the priest would say "body of Christ" and she should say "amen" and he's give her the host and she should eat it. I mean, I knew that a Catholic shouldn't take communion without having gone through First Communion and all that. But I figured she wasn't Catholic so it wasn't going to be a big sin for who, so what's the big deal. At least she wouldn't feel excluded. I also had no idea about transsubstantiation until a recently converted Catholic classmate explained it to me the following semester. The years of Catholic grade school all for naught.


Posted by: Mary Magdalene | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:48 PM
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174: It's possible, you know, that *some* people really are offended by the act itself.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:48 PM
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168: I don't know which is considered the greater desecration, but that's not really the point of the comparison, is it?

Insisting 'it's just a cracker' does as much to disabuse the person of their religious belief as 'you know, when the body decays and plants grow out of it, the cemetery gardener weedwhacks bits of Grandma' convinces them that paving it over for a Buy'n'Lots isn't desecrating it. We're talking about the belief, not how many people share it.

Understand, I'm not supporting death threats, but saying 'but there's more crackers' is like saying 'but they only flushed a copy of the Koran!'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:49 PM
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150: Well, no, but the inherent racism in that, especially in historical context, kind of undermines any point 126 was trying to make. The analogy doesn't work because which party has the actual real world power in these situations is different; it just doesn't work, especially because it means that there are reasons to comdemn that kind of treatment of NA sacreds that have fuck all to do with extending reverence to their beliefs. The Catholic church: pretty much the exact opposite of peoples whose religious beliefs were nearly destroyed by colonialism and are habitually shit on by the status quo.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:49 PM
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People only care about Donohue because people care about the Roman Catholic Church. Compare the Catholic League to CAIR, for instance.

There's no way of understanding why some people are constantly given attention by the media, and others aren't. Why are we constantly seeing stories about what PETA does? How many people care about PETA? They have some way of transforming their press releases into news copy that hundreds of more deserving organizations on our side have not managed to figure out.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:49 PM
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Our default attitude towards weird ideas should be healthy skepticism, not reverence.

"Respect" =! "reverence," your confusion of the two is tendentious. Unless people are actively harming someone in the practice of their beliefs, our default attitude toward their "weird ideas" of their private religious practice should be [i]respect[/i]. I don't really give a shit what size of church they belong to.

And sorry, but "it's just a cracker" just seems like a really silly response to this. We all know something about the eucharist, right? And what the people involved believe it to be? "Don't make death threats over this" is the right thing to say, "it's just a cracker" is a stupid way to say it. I don't care what you think about the doctrine of the eucharist, you're not going to have any impact on how believers regard it by repeating "it's just a cracker."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:49 PM
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When did this blog come out against rudeness? When did this blog begin to suck?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:50 PM
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174: No, they're offended by the cartoons, too. Trust me on this.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:50 PM
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It's possible, you know, that *some* people really are offended by the act itself.

Of course, but they didn't witness the act itself. There are a lot of borderline cases whose response is determined by how they hear about the act, not the content of the act.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:52 PM
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176: Who are "they"? I personally think that the people who care what Donohue thinks do so because (1) like him, they are reactionary conservatives who happen to identify their reactionary conservatism with (their understanding of) Catholicism or (2) they're politicians who feel they can't afford to ignore the people in (1).

Neither of those is the same as caring about the Catholic church. I mean, go ahead and hate the church because it's powerful and you hate power, and feel free to believe that the "real truth" behind Catholic faith is power-worship; but you should at least recognize that there really are Catholics who sincerely believe that their faith is rooted in other things. Some of which, ironically, they share with a lot of non-Catholic progressives, as I've been trying to point out with the foodie analogy.

I'm not saying this just because I'm a crappy Catholic myself, either. I'm saying it because I think it's central to Labs's point, which is that there is a difference between sincere belief in *anything* (powerful or not) and power-worship for its own sake.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:55 PM
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|| totally irrelevant factual aside:

number of single-family houses sold nationally in May, 2008: 512,000

Last month in which 512,000 or fewer single-family homes were sold in the U.S.: July, 1991

Number of months of housing inventory available for sale, at current sales rates, first quarter average 2008: 10.3

Last quarter in which 10.3 or more months of housing inventory were available for sale in the U.S.: never

|| >


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:55 PM
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"Don't make death threats over this" is the right thing to say, "it's just a cracker" is a stupid way to say it.

If you actually literally believed it to be a piece of God, you might actually think it was worth killing over. My guess, though, is that the overwhelming majority of Catholics don't actually believe this. I'm guessing they believe that it is, in fact, a cracker, regardless of what their priest says or what the pope says, because in my experience most Catholics aren't completely and totally batshit insane, and value the ritual and the community it provides more than they value the dogma of Catholicism itself.

In any event, PZ Myers wasn't exactly addressing die-hard devout Catholics when he was writing "It's just a cracker," was he? Die-hard devout Catholics are hardly the readership of Pharyngula, and Myers should hardly have to write his blog as though they are.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:56 PM
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People only care about Donohue because he's a (rightwing, anti-Semitic) provocateur whose business is creating controversy.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:56 PM
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186: a lot of them are also cable news bookers who put him on TV for the same reasons they book Ann Coulter and give a show to Glenn Beck. The CAIR people aren't media whores in the same way.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 3:57 PM
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Besides, the problem I would have with the developer is exactly the same as if it were building on any cemetery. It just happens that it's more likely to be a Native American one because of dislocation and genocide.

Interestingly, the situation arose in about 1850, IIRC, in connection with the widening of Beeker Street, in NYC. The court decided that indeed the street could be widened, and the graves moved, if the heirs (if any) of those interred there were given notice and an opportunity to move the interments. The case was called, I believe, In The Matter Of The Widening Of Beeker Street. Or maybe it was Beekman street.

It's not necessarily, or even mostly, genocide and dislocation. Many Native grave sites weren't marked, or were were marked in transitory ways, and all indication and memory disappeared five hundred or a thousand years ago (or longer). I was very peripherally involved in those discussions three decades ago, and I lost that argument.

The crucial line, to me, is when someone says 'you must abridge your freedom because of my religious belief'. That's where I, and (I think) PZ would draw the line. Its the line that says the piss crucifix and the elephant dung madonna can be exhibited, and people have a fundamental right to eat ham and cheese sandwiches.

PS wasn't being gratuitous. He was affirming his absolute right to *not* believe in the sanctity of that cracker.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:02 PM
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188: My guess would be that many Catholics believe it's only symbolic of a piece of God. Or maybe many of them believe contradictory things about it simultaneously or in different contexts, which isn't uncommon. They don't need to literally believe it's the actual flesh of Jesus to find shenanigans around it offensive and unsympathetic and thence to be unimpressed by the "it's just a cracker" defense. If any of PZ's regular readership is taken by the thought that that is or could be an interesting defense or contribution to dialogue, he is therefore doing them a disservice.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:03 PM
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Oops. Only the truly maginally illiterate get their Z's backwards and mistakenly write S.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:04 PM
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37 to 188.2.

"PS wasn't being gratuitous. He was affirming his absolute right to *not* believe in the sanctity of that cracker."

By being gratuitous.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:04 PM
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No one's forcing PZ to believe in the sanctity of the cracker by asking him not to desecrate it. I am not desecrating any number of holy objects right now, and do not believe in any of them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:08 PM
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@188

You just don't get it. Your argument seems to be that you're only pissing off the people who deserve to be pissed off, which is either totally untrue, or a tautology.

People have complicated belief systems that are often self-contradictory. I know brilliant scientists who are Catholics (and simultaneously believe in evolution). I know people who get offended by all sorts of silly things. I would have no friends if I went out of my way to mock every irrational behavior that they have.

You (and PZ) are either a case of Penny Arcade's "Greater Internet Fuckwad" theory or you must be awfully unpopular in real life.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:08 PM
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35: well that didn't take long.

Is this sorta like, No Tag Backs? Sorry break etiquette, but then this post sorta linked to me so I don't think I'm being unreasonable in responding to B.S. about me in its comments. I'm sure YMMV.

My hostility started when you were an ass to my co-blogger for thoroughly self-congratulatory reasons, and continued when you spent all your time in pointless, woolly-headed purity battles with lefty bloggers.

Actually, it was before then, when you thoughtfully called me Jonah Goldberg for basically nothing. But OK, yes I was an ass to Andrew after he was an ass to people who got Iraq right (when he didn't), bitterly snarking at the modes of though that led them to get Iraq right. I suggested he can it; in response he echoed Jeff Goldstein in calling me a self-educated yokel. At no time did I ever criticize you, yet you can't resist pissing and moaning in any thread (yes, I saw you at LGM) where I'm brought up. So to bring this full circle, I think I should be the one sneering that it didn't take *you* long.

PS - At least get the "latte-sipping elitists" thing right. I never said that *I* use the phrase, only that a) I agree it can be used in good faith and the sentiments behind it can be noble and b)it's a huge disservice to everyone not a wingnut hack to further expand the definitions of anti-Semitism.


Posted by: HTML Mencken | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:12 PM
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Am I wrong in thinking that gratuitous means something like unnecessary, superfluous, exceedingly? If so, I still disagree.

Right now, today, in this country, we're continuing to fight a many hundred year long battle about the extent to which one person's religious beliefs, or the majority's religious belief, can be written into legislation to limit everyone's freedom.

That's the gay rights argument, the abortion argument, the evolution in schools argument. Years ago it was the aid to parochial schools argument, and the evolution argument, and the school prayer argument.

It's a vital argument. In every sense.

You can say his rhetoric wasn't effective, or stylish, but you can't say that the topic is so trivial that his speech wen't too far. It offends people. Yes. That's the nature of this whole argument: it's all about whose beliefs we're free to offend.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:12 PM
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198

If you are saying that pissing on a Eucharist meaningfully advances the cause of separation of church and state, I think I'd like to see some evidence.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:15 PM
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198 gets it right.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:15 PM
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Nun: Hello, children. I'm Sister Anne. And I'll be teaching you so that you can all receive your First Communion.
Stan: [quite afraid] Are we gonna go to hell?
Sister Anne: Well, hopefully not. That's why you're gonna need to receive Communion.
Cartman: A- And as long as we get this Communion thing, we're safe?
Stan: What if we haven't really done anything that horribly bad in our lives.
Cartman: Yeah, what if we haven't?
Sister Anne: It doesn't matter, because we are all born with Original Sin. Now, let me explain how Communion works. [brings out a golden dish with round wafers on it] The priest will give you this round cracker, [lifts up and displays a wafer] and he will say, "The Body of Christ," and then you eat it. [silence]
Cartman: Jesus was made of crackers?
Sister Anne: No.
Stan: But crackers are his... body.
Sister Anne: Yes.
Kenny: [thinks a while, then] (What?!)
Sister Anne: In the Book of Mark, Jesus distributed bread and said, "eat this, for it is my body."
Cartman: So we won't go to hell as long as we eat crackers.
Sister Anne: Nononono!
Butters: Uh well, uh what are we eatin' then?
Sister Anne: The Body of Christ! [confused faces all around]
Stan: Nonono, I get it. Jesus wanted us to eat him, but he didn't want us to be cannibals, so he turned himself into crackers, and then told people to eat him.
Sister Anne: No!
Stan: No??
Butters: Huh-I can't whistle if I eat too many crackers.
Sister Anne: Look, all you have to know is that when the priest gives you the cracker, you eat it! Okay?!
Kenny, Stan, Cartman: Ooo-kay.
Sister Anne: And then, you will drink a very small amount of wine, for that, is the Blood of Christ.
Cartman: Aw, come on now, this is just getting silly!
Sister Anne: Eric, do you wanna go to hell?!
Cartman: No!
Sister Anne: Then stop questioning me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:16 PM
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Also, I fully defend PZ's right to say what he did, but it doesn't mean he's not a dick.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:16 PM
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198: You can say that the topic is important enough for indulgence in provocation for its own sake to be counter-productive, ridiculous and yes... gratuitous.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:17 PM
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No one's forcing PZ to believe in the sanctity of the cracker by asking him not to desecrate it.

People are saying that he should limit his freedom of action to acomodate the religious beliefs of someone else. True, that doesn't require him to actually believe any particular thing. But it requires him to conform his conduct to a code based on someone else's religion. It deprives him of his own freedom to practice Arrogant Atheism.

f you are saying that pissing on a Eucharist meaningfully advances the cause of separation of church and state, I think I'd like to see some evidence.

Wrong standard. The standard cannot be "you're free to say anything for which you have good evidence that it advances the separation ... ." The standard must be "you're free to say anything you damn well please, unless there's good evidence it'll cause a fire in a crowded theater"


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:17 PM
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We're really going to pretend we don't know the difference between outlawing something/reacting violently to it & calling it dick-ish now?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:19 PM
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Does this thread confirm my oracular mutterings of comment 58 in the Karadzic thread?

Gee, how will we get the suburbanites to move to the concrete jungle? Kerosene? Too expensive. Their own riding mowers might work. Herd them like sheep.

If I knew enough German, I could do a clever variant on Arbeit Macht Frei


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:19 PM
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204: People are saying that he should limit his freedom of action to acomodate the religious beliefs of someone else.

Yes, people should indeed limit their freedom of action in order to demonstrate some basic respect for belief systems not their own. Talk the biggest game you want to talk about peeing on as many communion wafers as you can find, but for the love, don't expect a fucking cookie for it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:20 PM
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most Catholics haven't had formal instruction in this stuff

My wife and I, raised Jewish and Protestant respectively, were surprised to learn this when she was teaching poetry to Catholic students at a Catholic university and found they had to have Transubtantiation explained to them, and that it was the Catholic belief. Many thought the reverse.

I think we were surprised because beliefs, particularly those invoked in sacrements and likely to be referred to in liturgy, had been part of our religious schooling, and we assumed the corresponding beliefs would be part of a Catholic education. In fact, I remember learning about Transubstantiation in my own Presbyterian education, to explain the significance of our not believing it.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:21 PM
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Clearly PZ is being a bit of a provocative ass. But is it really a big deal? I'm with stras to the extent that I find it hard to believe anyone other than the lunatic fringe could be deeply offended by this. But maybe I'm ignorant; most of the Catholics I know are scientists, and probably unrepresentative of mainstream Catholicism. Certainly most of the Protestants I grew up with would have been at most mildly offended by something like this. I understand that Catholic doctrine is different, but as far as I'm aware I don't personally know anyone who would claim to believe in transubstantiation. How many such people are there who might encounter this story? Maybe it's a large number. But I can easily believe that PZ, like me, doesn't know such people and expects that he is only offending people like Donohue. Which, if he is offending many more people, means he is doing so out of ignorance, not out of malice.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:21 PM
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206: In this thread, bob, people won't react to you unless you threaten their daintiness.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:21 PM
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People are saying that he should limit his freedom of action to acomodate the religious beliefs of someone else. True, that doesn't require him to actually believe any particular thing. But it requires him to conform his conduct to a code based on someone else's religion. It deprives him of his own freedom to practice Arrogant Atheism.

Well, yes, he would be deprived of the right to be a dick. But that's an awfully loose meaning of 'conform conduct to a code based on someone else's religion' Because the religious significance of the host is only important insofar as it's a way to piss people off.

Besides, freedom of speech protections apply to government censorship, not to whether a private citizen can think someone else is a dick.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:23 PM
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I think we were surprised because beliefs, particularly those invoked in sacrements and likely to be referred to in liturgy, had been part of our religious schooling, and we assumed the corresponding beliefs would be part of a Catholic education. In fact, I remember learning about Transubstantiation in my own Presbyterian education, to explain the significance of our not believing it.

It depends on the church. I spent about 8 years in Sunday School at a Presbyterian church and never learned anything about what made us different from any other church.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:23 PM
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That's the nature of this whole argument: it's all about whose beliefs we're free to offend.

I need time to fully develop the vicious nastiness of my vision of Green Totalitarianism.

I'll be on a mower, of course, breaking the stained-glass windows and drive-thru MacDonalds with my victim's 3-iron.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:25 PM
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We're free to offend everyone's belief. Theoretically, actually offending someone's belief could advance the cause of free speech if it became a test case that went to the court, or it could set back the cause of free speech if it contributed to firing up free speech's opponents to the extent that outlawing certain speech acts became more likely.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:27 PM
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Wrong standard.

Well, it would be if I were advocating censorship. But I'm not. I'm merely judging his actions. If I could sit down with him and talk about it, I'd explain that he's probably not helping his cause too much, but I'm not going to have him arrested, cause that would be stupid.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:27 PM
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I think this has come up before, but we were taught about consubstantiation and transubstantiation in 10th grade European Civilization at my public high school in order to better understand one aspect of what was being disputed in various wars of religion.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:28 PM
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It depends on the church

Yes, probably true of all religious instruction, at least in this country. Some kids get a fairly sophisticated and humanistic sense of what their denomination is doing and where it fits among the others, and some don't.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:29 PM
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Well, yes, he would be deprived of the right to be a dick

No one has sufficiently explained to me in what way PZ Myers has been a dick.

Meanwhile, while there's been much talk of PZ Myers pissing on a cracker, nothing in his actual post actually talks about pissing on a cracker, although I do, of course, support pissing on sacred things in general and wouldn't object if PZ actually expressed such a desire (watch out! clicking on that link may expose you to artistic dickishness!).


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:30 PM
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although I do, of course, support pissing on sacred things in general and wouldn't object if PZ actually expressed such a desire

In that case, he would not be being a dick to you, but he would be being a dick to people who do not support pissing on sacred things, if he pissed on sacred things with the knowledge that there are people in the world who consider pissing on sacred things to be dickish behavior and would be aware that he had done so.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:31 PM
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You know, it's funny that you mention South Park. Both stras and meth-y mcmanus make me think instead of Ed, Edd, and Eddie, one of a handful of cartoons I forbid to my kid because the characters are such spiteful little shits.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:31 PM
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207

"Yes, people should indeed limit their freedom of action in order to demonstrate some basic respect for belief systems not their own. ..."

So does this apply to gay pride parades and the like?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:32 PM
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201 & 37: [Tom Lehrer mention]

From "The Vatican Rag"

Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional,
There, the guy who's got religion'll
Tell you if your sin's original.
If it is, try playin' it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
Two, four, six, eight,
Time to transubstantiate!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:34 PM
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205:We're really going to pretend we don't know the difference between outlawing something/reacting violently to it & calling it dick-ish now?

Of course we are. Of course we will. When we need to destroy it we will call it inhuman. Since reason, science, liberalism are what is universally human, and cultures, religions, ideologies are irrational local social constructs, the next step won't be so hard.

I mean hell, we have been becoming more & more human from Scipio to Heydrich. Every day in every way, progress is our most important product.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:36 PM
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221: Yes, James, people should refrain from jeering and showing disrespect at gay pride parades.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:40 PM
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It occurs to me that, high school history class aside, I really have no idea what transubstantiation means. It's not a belief that the bread and wine are physically transformed; it's not a belief that they're figuratively transformed; it's... what? A belief that every object in the universe comes with a little invisible "hello, my substance is..." sticker attached, which is relabeled at the moment of consecration?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:42 PM
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224: No, they can jeer and show disrespect all they like, as long as that's all they do.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:42 PM
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Surely 224 and 226 are not in disagreement? They can, but they should not?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:44 PM
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I'm 100% down with [nothing sacred] and believe the world will steadily improve the more that belief spreads.

Nihilsm fucking roolz, dude. The "improve" part is so oldschool, tho.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:46 PM
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Eh, it's highly debatable. At any rate, though, I'd like to know what the fuck Shearer is on about, since events like Pride, DykeFest, Mich, Folsom, etc, get protested all the goddamn time. Have you ever even been to (a) Pride, Shearer?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:46 PM
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228 is very clever.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:49 PM
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¡Lunar Rockette!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:50 PM
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I learned about transubstantiation from The Vatican Rag. (Actually, I think they taught it before first communion, but I somehow interpreted it as symbolic for a while--I may just have learned the the word "transubstantiation" from the Vatican Rag.)

Myers is, quite obviously, trolling: he is deliberately provoking the Donohues of the world to act like assholes to demonstrate that the Donohues of the world are assholes. His commenters are contemptuous of religious people generally--I would assume Myers was too but will take b's word for it that he's not really. Donohue does a perfectly good job proving himself to be an asshole on his own, so poking him with a stick is mainly just annoying, & the fact that this is likely to offend some decent Catholics too (though probably not that many or that badly given the audience) makes it more so. On the other hand, since he is obviously trolling, I'd guess he's not actually going to pee on any communion wafers.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:52 PM
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229: I believe that what Shearer actually meant to suggest was that people should refrain from having gay pride parades because other people might be offended. I made a joke, though, by taking advantage of the ambiguity inherent in his question and pretending to think he meant the opposite of what I believed he was trying to say.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:52 PM
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Oh sorry, 233 was for Standpipe's blog.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:53 PM
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233: Ah. I bow to your superior skills in deciphering the Shearer-nese, then.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:53 PM
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229: I'm guessing, though it's not clear what he's on about, that Shearer is implying that a gay pride parade is inherently showing a lack of respect for the belief systems of right-wing assholes? Which I suppose is true, and suggests that "people should indeed limit their freedom of action in order to demonstrate some basic respect for belief systems not their own" must come with a clause that you only have to demonstrate respect for other belief systems if those other belief systems are harmless. Beliefs of homophobes, like racist beliefs or sexist beliefs, are not deserving of respect.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:53 PM
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The etiquette of earthquakes, the haberdashery of hurricanes, the tea-parties of tornados.

The compassion of catastrophe. The generosity of genocide.

Nothing embrace us, for we can't name what we are. Science undefined us.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:54 PM
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Pwnage.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:54 PM
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229

Isn't it a point of these events (gay pride marches) to offend people who think homosexuality is immoral?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:54 PM
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This is Standpipe's blog. Freaky, isn't it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:54 PM
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This is Standpipe's blog. Freaky, isn't it?

Is it? I'm starting to think that was just a cruel tease. More Standpipe!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:59 PM
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239: That is, in fact, why the largest and most vibrant Gay Pride parades are run in small Bible Belt towns, which for one week a year are drenched in LGBT activists making it clear that no place in America is safe for bigots. Having them in gay friendly locales like Greenwich Village and San Francisco would be pointless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 4:59 PM
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239: No, Shearer, the point of Pride is to create a public space where gay folk don't have to constantly be bowing and scraping to the social constraints imposed by people who think homosexuality is immoral. Not all things, as the man said, are about you.

Also, part of the point is to have a big party.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:00 PM
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239: Vindication!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:00 PM
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He said "a point", not "the point".

I definitely see people there whose goal is to freak out the squares.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:04 PM
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Also, the recent history of the gay rights movement and the jerks who protest same are as good an argument as any that hand-wringing over public displays of dickishness are a mug's game. Let them be dicks!, I say. Preferably in public view. Fred Phelps really is doing God's work.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:05 PM
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Is no one going to bring up the famous instance where a gay protestor from Act Up desecrated a communion wafer at St. Patricks? An act which occasioned fierce arguments even within the gay community about whether he went "too far"? Come on, people, it's the next step for this thread.

As is often the case, Shearer in his clumsy, direct way has connected to the proper challenging point.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:05 PM
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What does "desecrate" even mean in this context?

It means different things to the one that believes the item is sacred to someone who does not believe the item is sacred. I would just say that I wouldn't try this sort of monkey business with a Koran in certain parts of the world, like Europe.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:07 PM
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Here we go -- a 1989 editorial by Randy Shilts about the Act Up church protests.

A more interesting case morally than Myers because Act Up really was an effective protest group exerting pressure on a genuinely serious issue.

Damn, too much procrastination even for me. I'm out.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:14 PM
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Okay, I took a walk, and maybe I can be clearer and less inflamed. I think I'm turning into one of those crazy old men who scared me as a child. It's probably the same force that turned this into Standpipe's blog.

I'm old enough that if I'd been paying attention I'd remember when Griswold was decided. I also have mentioned before attending an official Demecratic party event, in an official capacity, and being told from the podium to stand, bow my head, and pray in the name of Jesus.

So I don't regard this as academic, or harmless, or merely about private behavior and not about writing religion into law. In other words. this slippery slope argument really is different from all other slippery slope arguments. I also just read Linda Greenhouse's piece in the NYT about what would have happened had we gotten Bork nstead of Kennedy, and I'm feeling that my religious freedom is at risk.

I guess I'm also a believer in symbolic action to demonstrate an idea.What PZ was doing was using action, in a symbolic way, to say something about another symbol; to enact his point about his liberty to not respect other peoples' symbols.

I'd give him a cookie for that, because exposing the depths of ignorance and malice in the fundamentalist christian rhetoric is good. You must remember that as an evolutionary biologist, defending the teaching of evolution and standing against the teaching of creationism, he's on the battle lines. I believe he's fighting the good fight. I'll cut him a lot of slack when I think he's not making the point in the best possible way.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:14 PM
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We should also drag the neoNazi march in Skokie into this discussion. I abhor their beliefs and their tactics, but I'm totally with the ACLU in defending their liberty to have their say, even in the most patently offensive way they could imagine.

Whew. We have finally reached the ne plus ultra of offensive overheatedness.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:19 PM
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But what if the NeoNazis in Skokie had deployed urine as one of their argumentative weapons?


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:21 PM
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251: Whew. We have finally reached the ne plus ultra of offensive overheatedness.

Maybe I've been on the internets too long, but to me, that just sounds like "I dare you".


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:23 PM
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252:Just last night I watched the history of the Bund. Kuhn, Rockwell, Collins.

I liked the Jewish veterans with baseball bats.

Both sides all gone.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:27 PM
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But what if the NeoNazis in Skokie had deployed urine as one of their argumentative weapons?

That raises the familiar koan: if you see a US flag burning, and the only way you can put out the fire is to pee on it, should you?

I think it was uncertainty about this that stymied the flag burning constitutional amendment.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:32 PM
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225:Transubstantiation

It is not as if there aren't resources online. It is critical to my current reading about the Early Enlightenment. Is there one Substance, or is there two?

"Substance" just about was Western Civilization, and to some extent Islam, for a couple thousand years. All things flowed...

Now we are substantially insubstantial.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:37 PM
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"Substance" here means what something is in itself. (For more on the philosophical concept, see Substance theory.) A hat's shape is not the hat itself, nor is its colour the hat, nor is its size, nor its softness to the touch, nor anything else about it perceptible to the senses. The hat itself (the "substance") has the shape, the colour, the size, the softness and the other appearances, but is distinct from them. While the appearances, which are referred to by the philosophical term accidents, are perceptible to the senses, the substance is not.
...Wiki

This should not be incomprehensible, I think both analytic & continental philos are working around it, we have just changed language too much. By making it about language. Whatever "it" is.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:42 PM
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Religion is offensive to me. It's disgusting and abhorrent that free people would consciously yoke themselves to such a dangerous and dismal illusion. What ever happened to the good old days, when every forward-thinking person took it for granted that atheism was not only useful, but obviously correct? We've been sinking further and further back down the muddy slope of superstition and bigotry for years now, and it has to stop. Priest and rabbi, brahmin and shaman -- every one of those people is trying to ensnare us with a grievous, crushing mythos that succeeds all too well at its primary task of upholding the social order of hierarchy and domination. Jesse Ventura was only half right when he called religion a "crutch for the weak-minded", its true, venomous aspect is as the club for the strong-fisted.

Having said that, believe whatever nonsense about gods and monsters gets you through the night. Religion is horrific, but belief in the authority of the state and capital is a thousand times worse.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:49 PM
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From: Substance Theory

Criticisms of the concept of substance

Friedrich Nietzsche and, after him, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze rejected the notion of "substance", and in the same movement the concept of subject. For this reason, Althusser's "anti-humanism" and Foucault's statements were criticized, by Jürgen Habermas and others, for misunderstanding that this led to a fatalist conception of social determinism. For Habermas, only a subjective form of liberty could be conceived, to the contrary of Deleuze who talks about "a life", as an impersonal and immanent form of liberty.

For Heidegger, Descartes means by "substance" that by which "we can understand nothing else than an entity which is in such a way that it need no other entity in order to be." Therefore, only God is a substance as ens perfectissimus (most perfect being). Heidegger showed the inextricable relationship between the concept of substance and of subject, which explains why, instead of talking about "man" or "humankind", he speaks about the Dasein, which is not a simple subject, nor a substance. [1]

Don't get that transubstantiation mumbo-jumbo? We are into deep shit without it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:50 PM
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258: I would that the last king were strangled with the guts of the last priest.


Posted by: Jean Meslier | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:54 PM
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258: Priest and rabbi, brahmin and shaman

Quick, Minneapolitan! To the Large Hadron Collider Cave! There's reckless speculation about the nature of reality by the unqualified afoot!

The shaman, too, has his atom, bitches. The shaman, too, has his atom.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:56 PM
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I already covered this shit. At my URL.

Call Kotsko if you want further confusion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 5:58 PM
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This is fun, especially from someone who doesn't know his asshole from his elbow about philosophy. But, fuck it, I don't need to argue, I just drop names with absurd oversimplifications.

One "Substance" pretty much = No useful "substance = Spinoza (and postmoderns) = determinism, fatalism, and pretty weak ethics

Kant (Habermas) wanted him some free will & morality, so tried to bring back two substances, one of which was all transcendental, whatever that means.

Hume, the empiricists, the analytics? Shopkeepers.
Don't know, don't care. No offense to their reps among us.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:06 PM
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Fuck I have kilt another thread. Next thing I'll be jacking to sacred & profane, raw & cooked & shit. Instead I'll go get groceries.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:10 PM
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242: Is it really the case that there are Pride parades in small bible belt towns that are bigger than what we get here in San Francisco? I'm trying to imagine tens of thousands of people descending on Greensboro or something and having trouble doing so...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:12 PM
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What?


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:12 PM
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Is it really the case that there are Pride parades in small bible belt towns that are bigger than what we get here in San Francisco?

I think you may have damaged your sarcasm detector.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:14 PM
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265: Sorry. That was a joke.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:15 PM
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OT-

LB- say it ain't so

http://www.nationalenquirer.com/sen_john_edwards_caught_with_mistress_and_love_child_in_la_hotel/celebrity/65193

Questionable source, yes. But they get these things right, too.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:16 PM
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269: Mickey Kaus just came in his shorts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:17 PM
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265: LB was being sarcastic, which I have to say is always a bit of a danger where Shearer is involved. Not that there aren't Pride events in areas you wouldn't expect as a LSCE.

263: Hume, the empiricists, the analytics? Shopkeepers. Don't know, don't care. No offense to their reps among us.

None taken. Damn right, we're shopkeepers. Stuff, bitches! We have it.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:18 PM
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London School of Computer Education?
Luhdorff & Scalmanini, Consulting Engineers?
Loyola Society for Civic Engagement?
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environneme?
Liquid Single Crystal Elastomer?
Legislation in the member States of the Council of Europe?

Those are the only possibilities I can find.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:22 PM
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Latte-Sipping Coastal Elite.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:23 PM
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267/268: Ah. Duh. I was a bit surprised because there is certainly a disproportionately vocal minority that takes pride in freaking out the squares, and I can clearly imagine people on both sides of the issue who would want the "big Pride parades in Bible Belt towns" to be true.

i.e. 247.2


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:27 PM
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Admittedly, Shearer probably isn't all wrong if you read it as "a point" rather than as an important or primary point. The answer really is that there's nothing wrong with offending people where the beliefs you're offending against are harmful in themselves.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:29 PM
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250: Two of the major threats to freedom in the US especially come from a) (mostly Christian) fundamentalist theocracy and b) widespread nativist fear-mongering about another religion, namely Islam. The best antidote to the former is not to alienate the progressive Christians along with the crazies, whereas the mindset that's preoccupied with the taunting of religion in general is highly susceptible to the latter. (This isn't a theoretical point; Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens are both good examples of it. Myers himself was easily fooled, at least at first, by Dutch nativist politician Geert Wilders' hit piece on Islam.) If there was a time when progressivism could afford sloppiness and vulgarity on this front, we're certainly not living in it.

258: Speaking as an atheist, this sort of thing is tiresome. Eagleton on The God Delusion does a good job of breaking down the reasons why.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:29 PM
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I submit that, in a world where squarishness is normativized, often through the force of law or violence, "freaking out the squares" and "behaving as you would if you were not required to bow to the wishes of squares" cannot ever be conclusively distinguished. Also, who cares.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:33 PM
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256/257: Thanks, bob, but I've read all that, and I find it utterly incomprehensible. Near as I can tell, belief in transubstantiation requires believing that every object is tagged with some so-called "substance" that tells us what it really is, independent of what it physically is or what cognitive category we assign it to. This "substance" is supposed to exist, but there's no way to ascertain what it is, because two objects can be physically identical but have different substance. Somehow this strikes me as far more bizarre than normal religious belief, since it seems intentionally obscure and mysterious.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:34 PM
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269: That article says Edwards was confronted by "several reporters," but runs no photos. That's a bit odd to me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:35 PM
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276: Speaking as an atheist, this sort of thing is tiresome.

Pretty damn tiresome as an (ex-)physicist and general rah-rah yay science! type, too. At least when the xkcd guy does it, he's trying to be funny.

Hands up if you've ever derived meaning or a basis for your ethical behavior from something other than purely empirically derived scientific data!


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:36 PM
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279. And one would hope they could find a more flattering picture of her. If true, I am disappointed, and not for the last time. Couldn't he at least wait until his current wife is actually gone?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:40 PM
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I'm firmly agnostic on the Edwards story. Could be true -- I don't know the man personally, and the Enquirer gets things right occasionally -- but barring some kind of credible confirmation from another source, I'm not relying on it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:48 PM
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Edwards' rumored paramour has a really cute "what-the-fuck?" expression in that picture. I bet she's just plum adorable.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:48 PM
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276.1 is very good. I sign on!

There is a part of me that applauds dickishness, indeed suspects that the tree of liberty must be peed upon with it, but mostly that part is not the one that understands coalition-building and hegemony.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 6:54 PM
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The trouble with the American public sphere is that even the atheists are tempted to be evangelists. The civic-minded humanism that Myers presumably espouses demands a higher standard of behavior from him than this "Fuck you and your fucking cracker!" stuff. Let the know-nothing, poo-flinging gobshites be know-nothing poo-flinging gobshites.

This sort of thing would have brought on one of Darwin's vomiting fits. (Though this is not a very high bar.)


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 7:21 PM
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276.1: I reluctantly agree. I think too often we confuse what we have the right to do with what is actually productive.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 7:50 PM
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You guys do realize that Myers is a *biologist*, yes? And that his anger about religion has an awful lot to do with the ongoing "intelligent design" assholishness? And the way that oh, say, people like the president of the US use religion--apparently quite sincerely--to justify oppressive policies?

I mean, I get DS's point that being virulently pissed off about that stuff isn't *effective*, politically. But PZ isn't running for office. He's writing a blog and teaching biology. And the fundies that he rails against are generally quite happy to attack his profession, and the knowledge that depends on his profession (e.g., things like how pregnancy happens).

It's not like he's being an asshole just for the sake of being an asshole, in other words.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:04 PM
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(IOW, the flip side is that too often we confuse the "that's not productive" argument with the "that offends my moral sensibility" (against being an asshole) argument.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:06 PM
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My moral sensibility is not offended. Indeed, it's tickled.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:07 PM
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You guys do realize that Myers is a *biologist*, yes? And that his anger about religion has an awful lot to do with the ongoing "intelligent design" assholishness? And the way that oh, say, people like the president of the US use religion--apparently quite sincerely--to justify oppressive policies?

Two wrongs don't make a right, etc. Yeah, I get his anger at certain elements of the religious community. But, you know, his post aimed offense at alot of religious folk who aren't responsible for that crap.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:12 PM
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258 makes me sad.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:15 PM
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Really? Huh. I found 258 kind of funny. You can't take minneapolitan completely seriously all the time; you'd be punching cops left and right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:18 PM
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287: As a member of a profession that's under perpetual political assault by the fundamentalist Republican base, it sort of seems to me like Myers ought to be concerned about the bigger picture and what's politically effective, running for office or not. He also ought to be concerned about having an intellectual bent that could potentially make him a tool in the hands of the selfsame nativism that bolsters the political fortunes of the forces hostile to his profession. What was well and good for dealing with trolls in flamewars on the old talk.origins board isn't necessarily well and good for the present.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:19 PM
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Cripes, now bloggers have to be useful? I'm so fucked.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:23 PM
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It's not like he's being an asshole just for the sake of being an asshole, in other words.

Sure, I'll agree with that, but I thought the argument was whether or not he was, in fact, an asshole.

Or a dick. Whatever.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:25 PM
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290, 293: Eh, I've had people say the same thing to me in re. feminism. "Your anger offends a lot of men who are on your side, you should be nicer, how are you going to convince people that feminists aren't all ball-busting bitches, etc." PZ's entitled to get pissed off in public, the more so as he isn't claiming to represent the views of anyone but himself.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:27 PM
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265: My moral intuition tells me that intention and context are part of what I take into account when passing judgments of assholishness, dickishness, etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:31 PM
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I'm confused about something. PZ didn't actually do it, right? He just talked about it, on his blog, right?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:36 PM
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291's sadness at 258 makes me sad! Also a dick.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:37 PM
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296: Eh, I've had people say the same thing to me in re. feminism.

And you've been prone to saying things like the "screw you people and your silly cracker" post? Not that I've noticed. We've all been concern-trolled at one time or another, but that doesn't mean we can't all be wrong from time to time, PZ included.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:38 PM
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Eh, I've had people say the same thing to me in re. feminism.

Well, PZ Meyers' blog isn't assholephd.scienceblogs.com, and I'm not aware of you giving NPR interviews. But I think the right has shown the value of having people in the "Sure, they're a huge asshole, but they kind of have a point" role.

ps: Realtor's time exists to be wasted. I'm sure they'd rather you back out now and make an offer you can happily follow through on later, than make this offer and back out with some excuse about pest inspections (i.e. cold feet) in two weeks.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:41 PM
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298: Right.
300: Everyone can be wrong sure; I just think that in this case, PZ isn't being a dick. I was a little taken aback, offended even, when I first read that post, but once I'd followed the links to the original "eucharist-stealing" offense and thought for a second or two, I realized that I was being offended more by PZ's tone than by anything substantive he was saying. Which, you know, losing one's temper doesn't in my mind make one a dick.

I'm not aware of you giving NPR interviews

I have done, though! Just not very often, alas. People care more about teh Science Wars and professors with actual jobs and tenure and shit than they do about mommies with PhDs. Because people are SEXIST.

Thanks about the house. We're holding firm on our initial offer; I don't think the owners are *really* going to refuse to sell because they absolutely must have that extra $7000. And (having done the math), their $7000 now is worth almost $17,000 to us over the life of the loan, so if they are going to refuse to sell over it, they can go get stuffed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:48 PM
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I'm confused again, too. It's becoming a chronic condition.

I had thought that the alleged dickishness inhered in the offensiveness of the action (or comment, or whatever). That is, that the bare fact that it offended certain groups (e.g. moderate christians) made it dickish.

Now I'm thinking that I misunderstood, and that it's the political countrproductiveness arising from the offensiveness that's the nub of the dickishness.

Am I conflating different positions taken by different people again?


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:48 PM
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299: Oh, I didn't mean to suggest Minne was a dick. Just that I find the comment sad. I should try to explain that more, but I'm not sure I can.

296: Bzzzt! Analogy ban! But... Yeah, we all get pissed off and there's nothing wrong with expressing our anger. And sometimes we all get a little carried away when we're angry and don't realize that we are affecting people who had nothing to do with why we're angry. It's understandable, maybe. But it's not okay.

But now I feel like I'm drifting into lecturing mommy mode, and that's kind of dickish, too. So I'll leave it at that.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:49 PM
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298: A cursory searching of various followup posts on his blog would suggest that, no, he did no such thing.

People appear to be confusing 'lame' and 'dickish'.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:50 PM
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So something fantastically offensive happens, PZ gets mad, and spouts off on his blog. This is dickish? If he did it, I could see a point. People get worked up and spout off on the internet 24-7. I don't see how PZ's post is any more worthy of note than any other. (But I don't see how Glenn Reynolds' posts are worthy of note either, so maybe this is idiosyncratic of me.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:53 PM
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I'm not really interested in the Questions of PZ's Greater Dickishness. Was that particular post dickish and stupid? Sure. Is that sort of general approach dickish and stupid? Absolutely. The sort of thing a person ought to be called on? Definitely. Is PZ in general a dick? I'm sure I can think of worse.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:55 PM
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304: I didn't think you were! Not that I would have thought it made you dickish, because I think minne kind of is a dick. Just sort of assumed you meant it in a sentimentally pro-religion/patronizing-towards-the-unbelievers way, which was of course a dick move on my point. Anyway! My point is: endlessly engaged in meta-parsing of people's dickishness is itself pretty dickish.

Still think that 'lame' and 'dickish' are different things, and Labs' initial post and much of the ensuing discussion was full of FAIL due to not making this distinction.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:56 PM
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I realized that I was being offended more by PZ's tone than by anything substantive he was saying. Which, you know, losing one's temper doesn't in my mind make one a dick.

Hmm... isn't one of the prime aspects of dickishness saying arguably substantively correct things in a tone that pisses people off?

they can go get stuffed.

There ya go. It's not like their house is going to be worth more in a month. You've done all the public records searches to find out how much they owe on it to see if you can beat them up with the threat of foreclosure and stuff, right?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 8:59 PM
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Just sort of assumed you meant it in a sentimentally pro-religion/patronizing-towards-the-unbelievers way.

Eh, probably half true. Or a quarter. Half true on the sentimentally pro religion thing. No patronizing intended. I guess what makes me sad is the expression of hostility to something meaningful and comforting and fulfilling in a thousand different ways to millions of people. I mean, you don't have to buy into it, but why begrudge people who do?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:04 PM
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The answer really is that there's nothing wrong with offending people where the beliefs you're offending against are harmful in themselves.

Are you saying that being offended by public displays of homosexuality is "harmful in itself", that it's simply and transparently morally wrong in a way that, say, being a believing Catholic is not? I don't buy it. The negative effects of religion have been many times more intense than the kind of mild homophobia that might cause people to dislike gay pride parades. And of course the two are quite related -- and religion is a trigger for much more intense homophobia than being disturbed by a parade.

It's just that as a tactical matter the left has been able to define any kind of homophobia as beyond the pale, while religion is too big and too central to take on directly. As I see it, an argument in this thread is whether stepping back from a frontal assault on religion is hypocritical or not.

I found 277 to be a better answer -- it gets at the central issue, which is that our lives and lifestyles are never fully private to us, they always affect others. So J.S. Mill-type notions of freedom-so-long-as-you-don't-harm-others are always fraught and trickier than they seem at first.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:04 PM
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I am beginning to wonder if I should be offended by the terms "dickish" and "dickishness" and wish Daniel would come along as he is the only male really allowed to use the other gender equivalent.

I feel oppressed.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:12 PM
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||
No more masturbating to Estelle Getty.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:15 PM
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I mean, you don't have to buy into it, but why begrudge people who do?

Griswold v Connecticut. 1965.
Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell. George Bush.
Abortion, evolution, school prayer. Contraception. Decency standards for television. Faith based initiatives. School vouchers, and other taxpayer aid to religion. Scientology. Religious wars and religiously motivated attempts at genocide. Equal employment rights for medical care providers and pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives. Terry Schiavo.

I mean, some of my best friends are religious, but when they try to push their christianist agenda in my face, I don't like it. They should hve the decency to stay in the closet.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:16 PM
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313: Already noted today in one of these here threads, don't remember which one.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:17 PM
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314: No, those are reasons to begrudge the specific political movements responsible for those ills.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:18 PM
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Wait, Labs wrote this and started with the "dick = bad" thing? Well, that explains everything.

I am at least half-kidding here & 312, but the kidding half is the patriarchal condescension half.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:19 PM
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I mean, you don't have to buy into it, but why begrudge people who do?

Why do homosexuals tend to begrudge people who think homosexuality is sinful? Because we all occupy one social sphere together, beliefs are contagious, and beliefs eventually affect behavior.

Live and let live liberalism is tricky.

I'm playing devils advocate here -- I actually agree with 'live and let live', I think we can draw a line around physical assault and intimidation, and then define a sphere of freedom of speech/belief where everyone to put up with the coexistence of different and in some ways incompatible views in the public sphere. But it's not simple.

I found the link in 249 interesting because it was about a debate within the gay community at a time of great physical threat (due to AIDS) about the respect they owed (peaceful) homophobes with whom they shared public space. Fascinating case example.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:19 PM
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pwned by 314.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:23 PM
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Religion comforts people. I think Mineeapolitan is opposed to it from the Marxist point of view that it stops people from realizing that their situation is 100% hopeless unless they choose to unite and revolt. But it's a basic human compulsion, and people have finite lifespans and don't know how long such a revolt would take.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:26 PM
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I'd be a lot more sympathetic to Stras' argument if this were taking place in Poland, done by someone raised in the Catholic tradition, just like I tend to be less annoyed by hyperbolic anti-Muslim stuff by Muslims from Muslim countries. But here, PZ's just being a more assholish version of teenage me.


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:27 PM
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This whole affair is also just another iteration of the divide between those non-believers who seem annoyed by religion because it is not the Truth, and those of us who find religion's insistence that it is the Truth and therefore we must all believe and follow its rules dangerous and annoying. The former is close enough to the latter to rub me the wrong way.


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:31 PM
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310: I agree with your sentiments 100%! It's just hard not to read that kind of thing as patronizing given basically my entire extended family (minus my secular parents) and the general way in which non-believers are treated in society at large.

311 can seriously kiss so goddamn much of my ass. Religion is not a monolith, its effect and expressions are not monolithic or universal, while demanding one's homophobia be catered to is universally oppressive (and often dehumanizing) to queers. How is that one even close to difficult to figure out?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:31 PM
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"Everyone is a dick" is, in its way, actually a very Christian view.

I'm now a pretty regular (non-catholic, "liberal") churchgoer. To my mind, "it's a cracker" is a lame argument and pretty juvenile and ignorant, but totally understandable given that PZM spends his time doing battle with fraudsters and creationists. The fake "outrage" is way worse. With that said, it's sad that the forces of what could be attractive about religion are now so weak in this country that half the people on this thread seem to think that christianity equals Jerry Falwell.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:35 PM
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No, those are reasons to begrudge the specific political movements responsible for those ills.

Yes and no. I'm cool with lots of religions - Buddhism, Baha'i, Jainism, and others.

However, the association between christianity and those political movements mentioned above is long and deep, and not coincidental. They themselves consistently portray their authority as deriving directly from their belief in Jesus.

To which the best answer I know is "Your belief in your particular god is entitled to precisely zero weight and zero respect in the political discourse of this nation".

the general way in which non-believers are treated in society at large.

This is another important point I keep forgetting. I personally, and my relatives and ancestors, have suffered a variety of mistreatments because of religion. In our case, all of it from christians. This does color my attitudes.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:41 PM
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325: However, the association between christianity and those political movements mentioned above is long and deep, and not coincidental.

The association between certain demoninations and branches of protestant Christianity (even certain lay and ecclesiastic movements within Catholicism) and political movements for liberal and progressive causes is also long and deep, and also "not coincidental". I'd also argue that the progressive denominations of Christianity also have a very long and consistent history of being that way, whereas which wingnut denominations are politically active for the right has mostly been fairly random throughout history.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:49 PM
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Err, by which I mean in 326: It's not that the wingnut denominations veer from pole to pole on the political spectrum (for the most part), it's just that they have long periods of being relatively chill politically, or even hostile to political engagement. Whereas, say, most of the denominations descended from the Wesleyans have done the progressive political thing basically throughout their existance. The SBC hierarchy is for the most part a force for political evil right now, yeah, but the UMC has been a much more consistent force on the side of good.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:57 PM
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326: possibly true.

But I'd say the argument 'we should eliminate slavery because god told us to love our fellow man' is precisely as illegitimate as the argument 'we should not suffer homosexuals to live among us because god said whatever it was he or she said'. In other words, I'm objecting to the imposition of religiously based standrards on non-believers, irrespective of the substance of the belief.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 9:57 PM
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311 can seriously kiss so goddamn much of my ass. Religion is not a monolith, its effect and expressions are not monolithic or universal, while demanding one's homophobia be catered to is universally oppressive (and often dehumanizing) to queers. How is that one even close to difficult to figure out?

I wasn't saying that all religion is monolithically homophobic. But some religions -- such as orthodox Catholicism -- definitely are, and that's as much a part of the religion as anything else. Demanding that Catholics stop disapproving of homosexuality in the name of your views on oppression is just as much of an assault on the religion as desecrating a communion wafer.

Now you can claim the moral justification behind the insistence on tolerance or approval of homosexuality. Some shared values with Catholicism will get you partway there -- it's totally legit within the Christian tradition to insist on kind and loving treatment even of sinners whose behavior is disapproved of, we're all sinners, etc. In that sense, I agree you can appeal to shared values to prevent really vicious/violent homophobia.

But at core, liberals believe in the primacy of the individual's freedom to pursue their own needs and desires, while orthodox Catholicism believes in the primacy of the individual's obedience to the desires of God as interpreted through the church hierarchy. Those are different beliefs, conflicting religions. Catholics don't believe it's oppressive or dehumanizing to ask homosexuals to obey the will of God and choose not to indulge their romantic desires. At some level respecting orthodox Catholicism means respecting that belief.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 10:00 PM
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328: But I'd say the argument 'we should eliminate slavery because god told us to love our fellow man' is precisely as illegitimate as the argument 'we should not suffer homosexuals to live among us because god said whatever it was he or she said'.

Speaking as a queer with a non-white lover whose background is in part Afro-carribean, I sure I'm glad we have you to speak up for us, so we can maintain ideological purity in the fight for our rights!

329: But some religions -- such as orthodox Catholicism -- definitely are

I guess it depends on how you're defining "orthodox", but believing Catholics, even very devout and conservative ones, whose beliefs are strictly pure with regard to church orthodoxy, are actually a pretty rare breed. At least in the US, anyway.

Demanding that Catholics stop disapproving of homosexuality in the name of your views on oppression is just as much of an assault on the religion as desecrating a communion wafer.

There's a difference between demanding that people stop believing things, or even expressing disapproval, and forcefully rejecting the notion that they have a right to demand not to be exposed to things they don't like in public, or should be in any way taken seriously when they do.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 10:15 PM
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The real point here is that Labs is a dick. I think we can all agree on that one.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 10:25 PM
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To which the best answer I know is "Your belief in your particular god is entitled to precisely zero weight and zero respect in the political discourse of this nation".

I am 100% behind prohibiting religious tests for office, but anyone who thinks they are going to tell me what I can and cannot consider when deciding whom to vote for (which is how I interpret "entitled to precisely zero weight ... in the political discourse of this nation") can take a hike.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 10:31 PM
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"But I'd say the argument 'we should eliminate slavery because god told us to love our fellow man' is precisely as illegitimate as the argument 'we should not suffer homosexuals to live among us because god said whatever it was he or she said'. In other words, I'm objecting to the imposition of religiously based standrards on non-believers, irrespective of the substance of the belief."

You would be wrong. The fact that you're arguing for the illegitimacy & oppressiveness of the abolitionist & civil rights movements should be a blinking red clue here, but I guess not. Leaving aside the subtance of the beliefs (which one shouldn't)--"because god said whatever" is a pure appeal to authority. Whereas delete "because god told us to" from "because God told us to love our fellow man" & you still have a pretty powerful moral argument. And religious people have as much right as anyone else to make moral arguments--they don't get special deference for adding on "God says....", & that can't be the only justification or it's an unconstititional establishment, but excluding all "God says..." arguments is as much a free exercise/religious test problem as deferring to them is an establishment problem.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 10:33 PM
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I'd also argue that the progressive denominations of Christianity also have a very long and consistent history of being that way, whereas which wingnut denominations are politically active for the right has mostly been fairly random throughout history.

I think that the Catholic hierarchy has been anti-semitic, religiously oppressive, and reactionary for about as long as it has existed give or take a half century here or there.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-22-08 11:34 PM
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Once the goddamned Catholic Curch stops sheltering kiddie fiddlers and starts obeying the same equal employement laws the rest of us do, then they might have grounds to be outraged about a guy who took out one of their special crackers to show to his friend.

"But PZ Myers was really mean to all true catholics"

NO.

He was tweaking assholes who make death threats, not to mention attempting to shield the poor kid who got them for taking one bloody wafer out of church to show to his buddy.

Quite a difference.

And any true, genuinely nice Catholics who are outraged about this, but not about their Church's ongoing discrimination of homosexuals and women can fuck right off.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 12:22 AM
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335.4: See, actually, you don't get to pick and choose whom you insult by doing things like offering to wipe your arse with the Torah or flush the Koran down a toilet or piss on the Eucharist. To think that you do, whatever your motives, really is just rank, straightforward, unadulterated stupidity. As means of trying to "shield" some "poor kid" from religious ire it's especially stupid.

And any true, genuinely nice Catholics who are outraged about this, but not about their Church's ongoing discrimination of [sic] homosexuals and women

Wow, there's an awfully convenient formulation that ought to really take care of the zero people on this thread who've been defending Bill Donohue. But how about Catholics who are opposed to their Church's official discriminatory practices and not impressed by stuff like this?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:24 AM
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(Those last couple of posts there also put me in mind of this oldie-but-goodie Ken Macleod bit.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:27 AM
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326, 327: Yes, precisely. Well said.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 5:20 AM
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Haven't read the whole thread, but one thing often missed is that religionists routinely condemn and insult atheists as well as opposing religionists, and they broadcast their condemnations to audiences that can reach millions. Hagee thinks that both Islam and Catholicism are Satanic, and winger Christianity features apocalyptic fantasies of painful death and hellfire for the unsaved -- they'll tell you right to your face. But seculars, atheists, and civilized Christians do not harass the fanatics, no matter how obnoxious the fanatics get. We're used to it.

At the national level, though, the various religionists unite to protest secular or atheistic profanation of religious symbols, even though they're happy to profane each other's symbols. It would be interesting to see how Christians who think Islam is Satanic would react if an atheist ex-Muslim started publicly profaning Muslim symbols in an atheist kind of way. My guess is that "respect for religion as such" would trump hatred of Islam.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:09 AM
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Actually, the kid who got dumped on wasn't even originally planning to take the Communion wafer out of church - he was taking it back to the pew to show his buddy, after which (originally) he planned to eat it.

Then some church dick grabbed him and ordered him to eat the wafer NOW or GIVE IT BACK, and that was when he left the church - both physically and metaphysically, I would imagine.

Various other groups and PZ and Donahue and his army of bigots have all got involved since, but the first wrong was the dick who jumped the kid because he decided not to eat the wafer at the altar.

Christians, eh?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:13 AM
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OT: "What I think can change is the ability of a United States government and a United States president to be actively engaged in the peace process," part of which is to "recognize the legitimate difficulties that the Palestinian people are experiencing right now," something he [Obama] said would be "also in the interest of the Israeli people."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:18 AM
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Link. I blamed Ogged and the Bass Playing Librarian.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:19 AM
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335: You know, I'm really surprised that it took this long for the catholics-are-kiddie-fuckers-teehee-so-I-don't-have-to-bother-making-sense argument would pop up, but I note that other formulations don't tend to work (ever-since-9/11-I-piss-on-Korans) and that given that one of the largest groups protesting the Church's treatment of the sex scandal is other Catholics, maybe we can drop the stupidity.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:19 AM
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Although someone sent PZ a Koran so he's going to desecrate that, too. The reaction of his commenters is pretty funny.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:46 AM
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I am not sure if the kiddie-fucking came from the Council of Trent or is a Papal Bull. I'd piss on my copy of Koran but that would fry my harddrive.

Religions are superstructure x 2. Like painting or poetry, politics or sports, just art forms for entertaining study with little relation to real human behavior. Jordanians don't do honor killings cause the Koran tells them to; Nazis didn't commit the holocaust because they were atheists.

I find the enthusiasts & fanatics boring as hardcore gamers or health food freaks. PZ Myers has never been on my blogroll. Since I don't understand what evolution means to me, I demand the little children be taught turtles all the way down.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 8:08 AM
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No such thing as superstructure. "Superstructure" is a magic word people use to win areguments.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 8:09 AM
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OT: More Obama suck-uppy goodness:

Mr Obama's schedule of meetings today also speaks volumes about the straitjacket of policy positions he has slipped into for the duration of this visit. After breakfast with the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, who has burnished his hawkish credentials as a tough and unyielding defence minister, Mr Obama went on to meet another strong contender for the premiership - the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. ...

In between these two sections of Mr Obama's itinerary, he meets the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in his office in the Muqata in Ramallah. In other words, of the 36 hours Mr Obama has devoted to this visit, he will spend around 45 minutes talking to Palestinian spokesmen. ...


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 8:20 AM
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In Amman today, though, he suggested again that the fault in the region is not the Palestinians' alone, something you'll rarely hear from Republicans. "It's difficult for either side to make the bold move that would bring about peace," he said, noting (generously) that the weak, scandal-tarred, deeply unpopular Israeli government is "unsettled," while the Palestinians are "divided." "There's a tendency for each side to focus on the faults of the other rather than look in the mirror," he said....And he stressed the role the desperate Palestinian economic situation plays in continuing the conflict. "What I think can change is the ability of a United States government and a United States president to be actively engaged in the peace process," part of which is to "recognize the legitimate difficulties that the Palestinian people are experiencing right now," something he said would be "also in the interest of the Israeli people."

As far as I know, that's as good an Israel-Palestine statement as an American presidential candidate has madefor several decades.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 8:37 AM
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Is it dickish to crack a Xenu joke when Tom Cruise comes up in conversation?

It would be dickish not to. Especially if he was right there in front of you, prehistoric clam brain and all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:23 AM
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347-48: Obama is predictably within the span of permissible yet vaguely progressive opinion on Israel, he has no other choice and it doesn't bother me. I agree with Emerson on that.

What does worry me is how tightly he is tying himself to escalating the war / occupation in Afghanistan. I'm not sure this will end well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:23 AM
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As far as I know, that's as good an Israel-Palestine statement as an American presidential candidate has madefor several decades.

That seems likely.

More important to me, you describe an extremely relevant standard by which this sort of statement should be judged. Another relevant standard: How does this compare to McCain's position ?

I was appalled at Obama's "undivided Jerusalem" comments, and relieved to see him walk that back the next day. I can imagine him having a very positive influence on the Middle East.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:25 AM
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346:You're attacking my religion.

Would you prefer "bullshit?"

What word would you recommend for someone to use who believes psychoanalysis and sociology, Buddhism & Scientology are all constructs that have as little knowable relation to whatever they attempt to describe, justify, or explain as the picture theory of language.

Help me. As a nihilist, I don't know what it is I don't believe.

In any case, the important point is stop listening to people's explanations and justifications for their behavior. Or attacking such constructs as if they were significant. I never paid attention to "WMD's" or "democracy promotion" any of the other justifications Bush used for the war, and think MY gains nothing by discrediting bad ideas and failed ideologies. Classical economics does not put food on the table or make the rich richer. The world doesn't really work that way.

Nominalism sacrifices the comforting abstractions along with those bad stereoypes.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:27 AM
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348: Dude, George W. Bush has frequently said nice things about how tough it is to be Palestinian. It's the easiest thing in the world for a U.S. president to scrinch up his face into some semblance of empathy, talk about how sad it is that the little brown people are so poor, and shake his head at why we all just can't get along, right before cutting another check to the Israelis for F-16s and cluster bombs. It's even easier to do when he's talking in Amman. Wake me when he starts talking about tearing down Israeli settlements at his next AIPAC fundraiser.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:30 AM
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What does worry me is how tightly he is tying himself to escalating the war / occupation in Afghanistan. I'm not sure this will end well.

I have read the explanation that the pipelines from the 'Stans to an Iranian port will show more immediate profit. Iraq can wait.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:31 AM
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Another relevant standard: How does this compare to McCain's position ?

Why the fuck should I care about McCain's position? John McCain isn't going to be president.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:32 AM
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Religions are superstructure x 2. Like painting or poetry, politics or sports, just art forms for entertaining study with little relation to real human behavior.

Are you kidding me? Religion is one of the most subtle and effective psychological technologies ever devised. An effective religion allows believers to combine all the benefits of raging egotism and total selflessness. Those who lead believers can get those benefits multiplied a hundred thousand fold, by turning the total selflessness to their benefits.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:35 AM
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Stras, when was the last time a presidential contender from either party said that the two sides should each look at themselves? My guess is it that was George H.W. Bush, almost the only good thing he ever did, and it was a big part of the reason he wasn't re-elected.

In terms of actual American politics, anything other than absolute support for Israel is progress. My guess is that his 45 minutes with the Palestinians is 45 more than they can expect from McCain.

Figuring out Obama is looking for signs, and the Amman speech was a good sign. Time will tell. I compare him to past and expected future American Presidents, not to Norwegian or French leaders.

If you want, though, I can tell you right now what Obama's 8-year Stras scorecard will be:

0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0, same as McCain's. Not a dime's worth of difference.

Saved you a lot of work.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:41 AM
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What does worry me is how tightly he is tying himself to escalating the war / occupation in Afghanistan.

Hasn't a desire to escalate the war in Afghanistan been a relatively standard feature of the liberal critique of the Iraq war for the last several years? At least since the 2004 campaign, one of the consistent center-left critiques of the Iraq war has been that it was a distraction from Afghanistan, and growing liberal support for withdrawal always seemed coupled with growing support for escalating the war in Afghanistan (because we were going to use those freed-up troops to "do Afghanistan right").


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:46 AM
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I got suckered by the Afghan pipeline BS back in the day. Without a lot of new evidence, forget that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:46 AM
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356:Those who want to sell ideas tell me that ideas really work.

No, I don't believe the Branch Dravidians followed Koresh because of his convincing Bible interpretations. I don't even think concepts of Charisma or Cult Dynamics do enough work, because very similar people reacted differently to the environment. I don't know why people do what they do.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 9:57 AM
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Yeah, and the people who sold you the superstructure idea succeeded.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:06 AM
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Stras, when was the last time a presidential contender from either party said that the two sides should each look at themselves?

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have both talked like this when it suited them. Bush even formally committed America to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Neither of them were anything close to even-handed when it came to Israel and Palestine.

In terms of actual American politics, anything other than absolute support for Israel is progress.

John, if you think Obama's going to give Israel anything less than absolute support, you're out to lunch. You have one half-hearted sub-Howard-Dean squishy-sounding statement Obama made in Amman, against a long trail of lines like "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," and "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power. Everything." And policywise, what has Obama promised to differently as far as Israel/Palestine? He says he won't talk to Hamas. He says he'll give Israel another $30 billion in military assistance, i.e., weapons to blow up Palestinians. He's said nothing about making Israel tear down settlements, or stop construction of the wall that's carving up the West Bank, or free any of the eleven thousand prisoners they currently hold. Palestinians have gotten no specifics from Obama, just as they never have from American politicians, whereas Israel has gotten plenty of promises. Palestinians instead have gotten utterly insincere displays of sympathy which will fail to be translated into anything real.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:06 AM
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359:Wiki ...just a quick search, I think I got a recent analysis from the Agonist

The new deal on the pipeline was signed on 27 December 2002 by the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.[1] In 2005, the Asian Development Bank submitted the final version of a feasibility study designed by British company Penspen. Since the United States military overthrew the Taliban government, the project has essentially stalled; construction of the Turkmen part was supposed to start in 2006, but the overall feasibility is questionable since the southern part of the Afghan section runs through territory which continues to be under de facto Taliban control.

On 24 April 2008, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan signed a framework agreement to buy natural gas from Turkmenistan.[2]


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:07 AM
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As I've said, I'm looking for signs. I do not believe that Bush II or Clinton ever said anything like that. You can prove me wrong by something other than assertion.

I already know what Obama's 8-year Stras score will be, and so do you. There are other questions in the air.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:09 AM
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0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0, same as McCain's. Not a dime's worth of difference.

On Israel/Palestine, of course there isn't a difference. I'm hardly the only one who thinks this is the case, either.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:09 AM
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361:I asked for an alternative. Culture?

I have never been sold on anything. But I have to use words to communicate.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:10 AM
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I do not believe that Bush II or Clinton ever said anything like that.

Don't click this link, then.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:13 AM
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Or this one.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:15 AM
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Another Article on the natgas pipeline agreement, dated 6/22. Long, and I skimmed, and I think this one doesn't mention the Manila financing that Karzai has arranged. Nobody has been willing to commit money since 1999.

News.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:20 AM
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It looks to me as though the Afghan pipeline is a small factor in the mix. In 2002 they were talking as though it was the decider. Total bullshit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:24 AM
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stras, you are either a) prefer being unhappy, or b) prefer making other people unhappy. This is the week where it became clear that Obama is going to end the Iraq war, and you're dwelling on this?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:29 AM
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370:Jesus, Emerson, click thru and read.

Karzai has a deal with money invested, for the first time in almost a decade. But nobody knows how they will provide security or pacify the necessary Taliban-controlled areas. A mystery.

And Obama wants to redirect resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Golly, a coincidence.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:31 AM
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This is the week where it became clear that Obama is going to end the Iraq war, and you're dwelling on this?

Became clear to whom?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:33 AM
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This is the week where it became clear that Obama is going to end the Iraq war

With America's help, the Shia may have ethnic-cleansed the Sunni away to the point where Iraqis can now protect oil production. Freeing Obama to move most troops (all but 50k) to Afghanistan.

Just cause we have "won" in Iraq don't mean the troops will be coming home. Obama never promised that, just withdrawal from Iraq.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:42 AM
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The fact that what sticks out your mind is an editorial that argues that what's good news is really bad I think demonstrates my point.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:42 AM
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Osama bin Laden & al-Qaedastan was always a nice casus belli to keep in reserve. Like money in the bank.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:45 AM
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375 -> 373.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:45 AM
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375: I couldn't quite parse what you wrote there, Walt, but the point of that editorial is that Obama is not, in fact, planning to "end the war," but planning to leave an unspecified number of "residual forces" behind in the form of what most of us would call "permanent bases."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:46 AM
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Are all editorials true, or just the most pessimistic ones?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:49 AM
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372: I did read it, Bob. The Afghan pipeline is a factor, and it's a big one to some people. Anywhere you look there's going to be something that can be claimed as the infrastructural cause.

Democrats have been using the "Bush neglected Afghanistan to invade Iraq" argument for 5 years, and they've always been trying to prove they're hawkish enough.

I'm not really benign about Obama, certainly not confident. I though that particular statement was hopeful. I don't think that anyone should claim to know what will happen based on public statements, and I wasn't doing that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:52 AM
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The hopeful thing was tacitly criticizing the Israelis and talking about changing the American role in the peace process in the context of that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 10:59 AM
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Are all editorials true, or just the most pessimistic ones?

Ramadani isn't just making this shit up. Obama has had the same "residual forces for force protection, training, and anti-terrorism" shtick going for at least a year now, and neither he nor Clinton nor Edwards would promise that troops would be out of Iraq by the end of their first term. All of this has been public knowledge for quite a while: "ending the war" for Obama has always come with an asterisk, just as "removing all combat troops" for Clinton always came with the implied but never-asked follow-up question, "how many troops do you consider 'combat troops'?"

Re-read Ramadani's piece and you'll find that he's often quoting past Obama statements from Obama himself or his official website. Like I said, he isn't making this up, and this isn't exactly news.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:00 AM
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Meanwhile, just when you thought the right wing couldn't possibly get any sillier...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:19 AM
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I think Ruffini's implied argument is that Obama should've expected the Germans to be speaking American by now, and anything less makes baby flags cry.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:31 AM
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383: This comment on the winger's site is awesome:

and you know what? i bet they didn't even hire german agents to do their bidding. i bet someone in his campaign actually speaks german.

OMFG!!!! Someone in the campaign probably attended a college!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:34 AM
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But given the real chance that Obama would repudiate all of his previous statements about Iraq, now that he's under pressure from (and, I'm sure, getting advice from) the Serious People in Washington, the fact that he reiterated a deadline, one that Bush's puppet government in Iraq endorsed, makes it a lot more likely that "residual forces" are going to be residual.

Also, I guess I don't understand why given any ambiguous statement or fact, that you assume that the most pessimistic interpretation is correct. "Residual forces" could mean all kinds of things. It doesn't necessarily mean "no actual change".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:38 AM
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Democrats have been using the "Bush neglected Afghanistan to invade Iraq" argument for 5 years, and they've always been trying to prove they're hawkish enough.

right, this is the issue, not any pipelines. The thing is, the Democrats are locking themselves in on a long-term military occupation of Afghanistan. The initial strike was justified, and we really did miss an opportunity there to get OBL and get out. But the continuing occupation is much more problematic than the DC establishment is willing to think about.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:49 AM
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"Residual forces" could mean all kinds of things.

Among the duties consistently assigned to these theoretical residual forces are training Iraqi troops, "counter-terrorism", a term which has been broad enough to justify nearly everything the U.S. has done in Iraq over the past several years, and "force protection" - that is, sitting around and guarding themselves and their stuff. Between those three things you basically cover most of the activities U.S. troops are engaged in in occupied Iraq right now. How many "residual troops" will that take? Clinton's people used to talk about having around fifty or sixty thousand troops left in the country.

Obama's website also talks about how Obama "would reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq." That's potential genocide, mind you. So if it looks like violence starts rising, Obama reserves the right to reinvade the country, for "humanitarian" reasons.

Again, this is nothing new; Obama's position on this has been clear for a while, and wasn't that different from Clinton's or Edwards's. It's a mistake to read him as having promised to end the war, in any reasonable sense of the words "end" or "war."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 11:58 AM
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the continuing [Afghan] occupation is much more problematic than the DC establishment is willing to think about

So very true. And they won't even begin thinking about it until a big chunk of the Iraqi occupation is cleared off the table. The initial strike may have been justified (in some sense), but it wasn't very well thought-out and I remain unconvinced that it was the wisest response.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 12:04 PM
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310

"Eh, probably half true. Or a quarter. Half true on the sentimentally pro religion thing. No patronizing intended. I guess what makes me sad is the expression of hostility to something meaningful and comforting and fulfilling in a thousand different ways to millions of people. I mean, you don't have to buy into it, but why begrudge people who do?"

I object to the street gang aspect of religion. Street gangs atttack people wearing the wrong colors to establish turf and demonstrate their power not because they are actually offended. I don't want to have to watch what I say to avoid attacks by religious gangs anymore than than I want to have watch what I wear to avoid being attacked by street gangs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 12:15 PM
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I'm uncertain about what Obama will do, but I'm reading the tea leaves. Stras in not uncertain, and history does not need to take place for him, because he knows what will happen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 12:21 PM
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387:right, this is the issue, not any pipelines.

Got it. Campaign slogans and political postures are more important to the PTB than getting massive amounts of energy to India and the multinationals who want to outsource to India.

Weird how people have different kinds of cynicism. I always tend to follow the money.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 12:27 PM
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388: Yes, that would be the most pessimistic possible interpretation of what Obama means. I have never seen any issue ever that you have offered opinion where you did not take the most pessimistic possible interpretation consistent with the facts. It's eerie.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 12:36 PM
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Also, I guess I don't understand why given any ambiguous statement or fact, that you assume that the most pessimistic interpretation is correct.

To be fair, Walt, this seems pretty reasonable to me given recent history.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 1:35 PM
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Stras in not uncertain, and history does not need to take place for him, because he knows what will happen.

Plenty of history has already taken place, which makes me inclined to think that the history to follow will largely resemble the history that's come before. Now, I could be totally wrong. Maybe Obama and the Democrats will completely deviate from everything they've done over the last ten to fifteen years and become an anti-imperialist, anti-militarist party of peace. Maybe they'll put the good of the United States and the good of the world over the good of AIPAC and the military-industrial complex and their own electoral prospects. But nothing they've said or done has ever demonstrated this in the slightest, any more than anything John McCain has done has demonstrated a willingness to take up pacifism.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:02 PM
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It's a mistake to read him as having promised to end the war, in any reasonable sense of the words "end" or "war."

And it is a mistake to think that even withdrawing all of our troops would end the war in either Iraq or Afghanistan. It would stop American involvement in those wars, but not the wars themselves. Those concerned with the plight of the civilians in either country would do well to remember that.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:06 PM
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Maybe Obama will be significantly different than what came before, Stras. Not as good as your absurd suggestion, not as good as you would bant, but measurably different and better than what came before. Maybe the future will not be exactly the same as the past.

I mostly supported Obama because I wasn't sure what he would do. I'm still not sure. You are, and in a sense you're right to be, because on the Stras scale I'm sure Obama will get the 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 rating.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:07 PM
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393: And no, Walt, that wouldn't be the most pessimistic possible interpretation of what Obama means. That's the most realistic interpretation of what Obama means. The post pessimistic possible interpretation of what Obama means, given his complete U-turns on FISA and Kyl-Lieberman, is that Obama is simply completely full of shit, and is willing to make lots of promises to people on the left whose support will be less important to him later on, with the intention of completely discarding those promises whenever it suits him to do so, and that his promises to end the war don't mean anything at all.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:09 PM
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It would stop American involvement in those wars, but not the wars themselves.

It would stop Americans from killing Iraqis and Afghans, which is pretty fucking important to anyone actually concerned with the plight of Iraqis and Afghans.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:11 PM
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Emerson, do you actually dispute my representation of Obama's foreign policy, or are you simply offended at my refusal to approve of it?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:20 PM
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Because, if Americans aren't the ones doing the killing, God knows it's OK.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:26 PM
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How about this, TLL: America has the power to stop the killing that America is directly responsible for. Since right now America is killing lots of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, America can reduce the number of people being killed by stopping its own killing-people projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'd try to spell it out even more simply for you, but I don't have any crayons handy.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 2:40 PM
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I dispute your claim to know what Obama's foreign policy will be based on the knowledge you have. I'm asking whether it will be different than past Democratic and Republican policies, and to what extent, and in which way. You're not asking anything; you don't need history, because you know everything already.

I'm not terribly optimistic, but I saw one straw in the wind that was rather hopeful, and I noted it here. You do seem to have a very binary mind, whereas everything is either good or bad with no degrees in between, and either certain or impossible with no degrees in between.

You don't need to read tea leaves, and I do, mostly because I have numbers between 0 and 1.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:01 PM
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You don't need to read tea leaves, and I do, mostly because I have numbers between 0 and 1.

As long as you stay rational that's cool. If you start throwing around 'i's then it is off to oogie boogie land for you.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:10 PM
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Well, you're right stras. The only soldiers that we can control are our own. Splendid isolation has a long history in the US, but I wouldn't have taken you for an old school Republican.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:10 PM
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You do seem to have a very binary mind, whereas everything is either good or bad with no degrees in between, and either certain or impossible with no degrees in between.

I would amend this to note that also, everything in today's current world is both certain and bad.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:20 PM
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I dispute your claim to know what Obama's foreign policy will be based on the knowledge you have.

"The knowledge I have" is more or less everything Obama has said on foreign policy. He hasn't deviated from Democratic orthodoxy when it comes to Iraq, where he's consistently maintained that he'll leave a substantial residual force behind, or on Afghanistan, where he's consistently maintained that he'll escalate the war. When it comes to Israel, he hasn't substantially deviated from Republican policy. Again, he's repeatedly said he won't talk to Hamas and that he'll massively increase military aid to Israel. His stance on Jerusalem, if taken at face value, is actually to the right of the Bush administration. He moved to the right on Iran last month, praising Kyl-Lieberman when he said the Senate had rightfully named the Iranian military a terrorist organization.

Now, it's true that everything that Obama could be saying on foreign policy could be a total lie, completely made up to conceal the "real" Obama. But hey, maybe McCain's a secret liberal who really wants to give everyone free abortions and universal health care and is just pretending to be a deranged, privatizing warmonger.

You're not asking anything; you don't need history, because you know everything already.

Who's the one ignoring history here? You're putting whatever optimism you have in one line of Obama's to the effect of "well they've both got their bad points, now don't they," that every U.S. president has made over the last twenty years. Bush II has said nice things about Palestinians and head-shaky things about how all these people just need to get along; so has Clinton. Neither of them were remotely even-handed with the Palestinians; they just knew when to deliver the right speech to the right audience. I haven't seen anything from Obama that indicates he's any different.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:37 PM
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Splendid isolation has a long history in the US, but I wouldn't have taken you for an old school Republican.

I like how the only alternative to military occupation of multiple foreign countries is isolationism.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:40 PM
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Now, it's true that everything that Obama could be saying on foreign policy could be a total lie.

Under the right circumstances isn't that exactly what you would say? Believe it or not, I believe that it's not always possible to be sure what politicians will do based on what they say!

I really don't expect much from Obama, but I did venture to make a speculation about one statement Obama made (which I would characterize differently than you did.) Should I should refrain from speculating while you're in the room, because you can predict the future, or should I simply refuse to respond to your comments (which you have suggested as an option) or should I go back to my policy of telling you to go fuck yourself from time to time?

Emerson, do you actually dispute my representation of Obama's foreign policy, or are you simply offended at my refusal to approve of it?

We're not so far apart on the facts, but you persistently strike me as an asshole. Have you ever conceded a point, backed off, or acknowledged uncertainty here?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 3:54 PM
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408 is stupid. I read the comment to which you are responding as meaning "So, you are taking the position that the US cannot possibly use its foreign policy for good. Makes sense, but you do realize that this position is generally associated with Republicans. You seem to have read it as meaning "I am an idiot, and far more morally bankrupt than strasmangelo jones."


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 4:02 PM
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John, of course there's some uncertainty here. Obama could be lying - he was lying about his opposition to the FISA bill, after all. Hell, he could be lying about everything. He could be a shapeshifting alien in disguise. He could be a mad scientist in a laboratory, poking your disembodied brain as it lies in a vat. It could alllllllll be a dreeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaam!

But we do have evidence, and evidence gives us reason to believe that certain things will happen. Obama behaves a certain way under certain political pressures, political pressures that won't magically disappear when he becomes president. It's rational to believe that the policies he currently advocates, as a mix of genuine belief and political pandering, will be similar to the policies he'll advance as president.

Now, you can jump up and down and yell "But you're not completely one hundred percent certain!, which, of course, is true - no one's completely one hundred percent certain of anything. But we have reason to believe, based on the information available to us, that there's a very good chance that these things will happen, and given that that's the case, I'd rather be prepared for them than be wishing on a star for an incredibly unlikely thing to happen, even if that incredibly unlikely thing is more pleasant. See also: the run up to the Iraq war. No, nobody was certain it was going to be a massive, bloody clusterfuck of epic proportions. But there was good reason to suspect very strongly that it was going to be, and there was reason to prepare oneself for that possibility other than sheer grumpy assholedom.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 4:06 PM
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Have you ever conceded a point, backed off, or acknowledged uncertainty here?

For the record, yes, several times, with B alone.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 4:06 PM
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410: But an old school Republican wouldn't say, "US cannot use its foreign policy for good". An old school Republican might say "It's none of our interest who those wogs/frogs are killing." There are a few positions in between. Now stras doesn't think much of "humanitarian intervention", but an old school Republican wouldn't say "so far, all of these foreign adventures result in the deaths of thousands of Americans, tens of thousands of foreigners, and use patriotism or humanitarianism to cover for the interests of Exxon Mobil or United Fruit". The last view of American foreign policy is hard to dispute, and the conclusion that follows from it is that if you want to get rid of badguys abroad, one of the first things you can do is stop arming them; if you want to protect democracies abroad, you should stop overthrowing them.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 4:18 PM
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Obama behaves a certain way under certain political pressures

I think this has been the source of some of our cautious optimism about the dude, especially those of us who have been involved in organizing and understand that to be part of Obama's belief system. Emerson once put it very well -- something about how an Obama presidency would be reactive to or at least acknowledging of social movements. Please improve on my paraphrase, JE, or link if you recall.

These days it feels like he knows how to capture them for his own benefit. I don't begrudge you your reading, stras, but this is where some of us suspected that he would practice politics with more populism than the Clintons. Yes, that's to damn with faint praise, but it's good to recall that it's our starting point (well, our leaving-off point) for presidential democrats.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 4:23 PM
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Stras, I almost always regret trying to communicate with you, and I don't think I'm the only one. Whatever small difference there is between us ends up becoming enormous. I know that this baffles you, but I don't really think that you're trying very hard to figure things out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 4:47 PM
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Yes, under pressure, Obama stated that the US would pull out of Iraq in 18 months, and al-Maliki backed his offer. Another Democrat would have equivocated. Now he's on the record, and the Iraqis expect us gone. We're going to be gone, Stras. It's going to happen. Sure, we might have some token "residual force," but it's not going to be 60,000 troops.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:12 PM
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Whatever small difference there is between us ends up becoming enormous.

Maybe this is yet another indication that the difference between us is not, in fact, that small.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:32 PM
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No differences with Stras are small. That's what I've found. Nothing can be allowed to drop.

Why don't you just say once again that the hostility people feel toward you is baffling and probably the result of weird character deficiencies of theirs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:39 PM
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Indeed, it's hard to see how someone who says this:

I'd try to spell it out even more simply for you, but I don't have any crayons handy.

could possibly come off as an asshole.

And this:

America has the power to stop the killing that America is directly responsible for. Since right now America is killing lots of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, America can reduce the number of people being killed by stopping its own killing-people projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

displays the logical skills of a 3-year old. I'm pretty sure we get that. Maybe it's possible that things are a little more morally complex than that.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:51 PM
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I do find it mildly ironic that we end up in the standard argument with stras in a post discussing degrees of dickishness.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 6:54 PM
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If you're bored, I think dd's Crooked Timber thread about Dennis Perrin is still going. Last I looked, they were still arguing about Chomsky & Holocaust Denial.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 7:24 PM
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That thread had so much potential, too. The first twenty comments or so were all interesting.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 7:28 PM
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That thread is absolutely hilarious. You'd think that when you're quoting someone's words back at them in order to expose them as ridiculous, and those words are "vulgo-marxist reductionist and deterministic basis-überbau nonsense", you'd realize that the discussion you're involved in cannot help but tar everyone in it with the same brush of ridiculousness.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 7:34 PM
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Blow it out your ass, F.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 7:35 PM
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415: and I don't think I'm the only one

and

418: Why don't you just say once again that the hostility people feel toward you is baffling and probably the result of weird character deficiencies of theirs

John, I wish you would cut it out with the circling of the wagons and the character assassination. I don't want to fight about it, but really. I am ignoring commenter F, whom I do not know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 7:40 PM
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John's whole thing with Stras is really weird, honestly.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-23-08 7:45 PM
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