July 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

My time in blogland has been enriching, including my temporary return to make a small contribution to systematizing the waterboarding debate; and I’m thankful for it and for all of you. Farewell, wherever you fare.


July 25, 2010 § 17 Comments

Homophobia is real. Let me explain.

Fear is not, in itself, irrational. It may be a-rational, but it isn’t irrational. Fear is a natural, human, emotional response to a threat; and the world is filled with threats. In fact that one of those threats will take each of us out of this world at some point is a virtual certainty.

A phobia is a radically disproportionate, overwhelming fear of something. It is perfectly rational to be afraid of, say, heights. I am sure there are even acrophobes who have died or been injured by falling from a height. What is irrational about the acrophobe is not that he fears heights, but that his fear of heights is disproportionate, overwhelming, debilitating. His emotional response to a real danger is vastly disproportionate to the objective nature of the danger.

I have no doubt that somewhere in the world there is a homophobe: a person who sees homosexual acts as a unique transcendent threat to such an extent that it causes an emotional reaction leading to psychological debilitation. I don’t know any such person, but I am sure he exists. I expect that should we encounter such a person, we ought to be able to agree that he suffers from homophobia; that he has… issues.

The reason leftist/libertine polemicists use the term homophobia is, of course, to paint adherents to traditional sexual morality as, not merely wrong, but as having… issues. Often as not this seems to be, shall we say, a projection on the part of folks who themselves seem to have… issues.

Musings on PC tyranny, ruling classes, and empty formalisms

July 23, 2010 § 10 Comments

Our country does have a ruling class. All countries always have a ruling class. There isn’t anything outrageous or objectionable about this. There are doubtless objectionable things about the content of our ruling class: who they are and what they do. But there isn’t anything objectionable about having a ruling class. Every community of any significant size throughout all of history has had and will have a ruling class.

The big difference in America is that our country is founded on the idea that ruling classes are illegitimate: that just powers of government do not by nature inhere in a ruling class, but rather derive from the consent of the governed. This is demonstrably false. As a result, we Americans spend a tremendous amount of energy telling lies to ourselves and pretending that things are different than they are in reality.

We put great stock in ignoring substantive content and leaning on empty formalisms. So for example we invoke a formal “right of free speech” – independent of the substantive content of our speech – as the reason why we should be permitted to protest at abortion clinics; not realizing that by invoking this empty formalism we are making the same kind of error as those we protest against. The “pro-choice” advocate asserts a right to “free choice” divorced from evaluating the actual content of that choice, much as we insist on a right of “free speech” divorced from evaluating the actual content of that speech. We could defend our right to protest murder specifically because it is murder, acknowledging at the same time that not all speech is acceptable nor should all speech be legal in every context. “Pro-choice” speech is not morally acceptable, and arguably – as incitement to commit murder – ought to be illegal. But we don’t do that; so we end up undermining ourselves. Socially conservative protest in a modern polity, because of the particular forms it takes, does little more than reinforce the foundations of the very things protested.
Generalized, the principle behind content-agnostic “equal rights” seems to be the formalization of agreeing to disagree. Agreeing to disagree is something civilized people often do: indeed agreeing to disagree is a basic feature of the civilized as contrasted to the barbaric. The problem with making “agree to disagree” the foundation of politics though is that it mostly works for things which aren’t politically important: the more crucial the exercise of political power is to a particular subject of dispute, the less “agree to disagree” works. After all, pro-choicers simply want pro-lifers to agree to disagree that abortion is murder.
As a result of all this a mature liberal society like ours is founded on PC tyranny: at one and the same time we have to pretend to support free speech and – because the content of speech actually does matter, despite the lies we tell ourselves – ruthlessly punish un-PC speech. PC tyranny isn’t an unnatural abberation. It is the natural, adult stage of a polity founded on empty Enlightenment formalisms. And the only way to fight it is to reject its foundations.


July 15, 2010 § 8 Comments

In the presence of a proportionate reason, it can – if additional double-effect conditions are met – be morally licit to engage in remote material cooperation with evil.

In politics, this means that it is possible, in specific circumstances, to licitly support a particular imperfect candidate (or imperfect law) while opposing those policies of his (or provisions in the law) which are wicked.
Of course this does require that one actually oppose those wicked policies or elements in word and deed. The difference between remote material cooperation and formal cooperation – all the difference between Heaven and Hell – is made manifest in other words and deeds which precede and follow that cooperation.

Beelzebub’s Earl Grey

July 15, 2010 § 23 Comments

A nice herbal infusion of “only three terrorists waterboarded”, redux.

Or, in this case, just a few trivial “non-elective” abortions funded.

This is all a “major storm in a tiny teacup”, of course, part of a Calvinist-Republican conspiracy on the part of people (like the USCCB) who hate health care reform for other reasons. It isn’t consequentialism when leftist Catholics support state-funded murder as a regrettable “necessary evil” in the pursuit of their good ends. Really. And anyway, leftist Catholics aren’t “supporting” state-funded “non-elective” abortions. They are just refraining from criticizing it, and launching attacks on anyone who does criticize it. Not the same thing at all.

What it is, though, is participation in a propaganda campaign in favor of not just legal abortion but funding of abortion. Which, as we know, is – participation in such a propaganda campaign is – never licit.

Leftist Catholics have it all wrong in my view (not that any seem interested in my opinion). I think there is a lot of truth to the notion that right-wing criticism of abortion funding and other wickedness tends to be partisan: that funding of abortions through private insurance plans is a vile wickedness which has been largely ignored, for example. That makes this a “teaching moment”: a good leftist Catholic could in theory be first in line to vocally oppose the wickedness perpetrated by the Obama administration, and could tie in criticism of private funding.

But that is just a theory. The “good leftist Catholic” seems to be a mythological creature.

A cup of sewage plus one drop of tea: sewage. A cup of tea plus one drop of sewage: sewage.

I’ve said this before in so many words, and I’ll say it again. It seems to me that when you elect a guy and engage in years-long public advocacy of his policies, you bring upon yourself certain very grave obligations. One of those grave obligations is to be first in line to criticize the wicked and despicable elements of his policies. Spending every public word attacking criticisms of those wicked elements is just knock-knock-knocking on Hell’s door.

I hear the tea there is pretty tempting.

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