Friday is a good day for Catholics to eat nothingburger

February 16, 2018 § 13 Comments

Rosenstein said there is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the scheme, nor is there any allegation that the scheme affected the outcome of the election

Dog bites man, women and children hardest hit

January 19, 2018 § 133 Comments

Apparently an attention starved Catholic mommy blogger wrote a hit piece against Christendom College.  I won’t link to the two part article itself because I’m not interested in driving traffic to trolls; but what follows is easily verifiable.  As usual with hubbubs like this I have a few specific things to point out, and no intention of addressing everything that everyone is saying on the subject.

The central ‘stage setting’ incident in part one of the hit piece took place in 2009.  Apparently a young female student drove herself (she was the driver with the car keys) and her boyfriend away from the college, past the local town with its hundreds of businesses and thousands of residences, deep into the Shenandoah mountains, to an isolated location in a national park.  A year and a half later she was talking about it with a professor and claimed she now realized that she was raped, in a classic “he said she said, long after the fact” scenario.

I find this story perfectly plausible. It is also manifestly unverifiable.

By all accounts the college did everything it could do in as professional, compassionate, and (nontrivially) legal a manner as anyone could reasonably expect.  The young man was investigated and punished for actually verifiable behaviors on campus, etc — the details (putative and otherwise), again, are available elsewhere so there is no need to rehash them here.

At least one of the individuals cited in the article series claims, in the combox, that the blogger’s citation is a tendentious misrepresentation of what was said in the interview.  So the veracity and fairness of the article is publicly disputed by one of its own sources.  But even if we grant the entire factual situation as reported, the articles are a complete hash of emotive nonsense.  The young woman who claims she was raped explains, as paraphrased by the blogger using her as clickbait:

But several former and current students say the school’s sheltered, highly structured campus culture actually facilitates sexual assault …

She says that the rules against romantic public displays of affection were so restrictive, it drove couples off campus.

So the central point of the article (its very title is “Are Women Safe in Christendom’s Bubble?”) seems to be that the College does such a great job enforcing decent behavior on campus that this forces students to go off campus to drink, engage in sexual debauchery, etc.  Horrors!  Christendom is so well-governed that it is virtually impossible, certainly in comparison to most colleges, to sexually assault women on campus!

And apparently in this specific case the mere proximity of the campus was so oppressive that it was necessary for the alleged victim herself – again she was the driver – to motor, not just a few miles into the nearby town, but to far off in the isolated Virginia mountain wilderness.  How else to fully escape the aura of moralistic oppression at Christendom and make possible the campus rapeyness that everyone in the Current Year has come to expect?

The logic doesn’t get any better as the lengthy articles progress.  The young woman’s father complains that students are punished for being drunk on campus but are not punished for “being a rapist” on campus:

“I always find it interesting they always try to punish students for drinking off campus, if you come back to campus drunk,” [the father] said. “I say, if you rape off campus, when you come back to campus, you’re still a rapist.”

In case the category error isn’t obvious, consider a different situation — streaking, say.  Nobody would fault the college for punishing a student caught running around naked on campus.  Everyone with any modicum of sanity would fault the college for punishing Student A with no evidence other than that Student B unverifiably claims to have seen Student A streaking deep in the Shenandoah wilderness after she drove him there.  (“But women very rarely lie about streaking” come emotion-laden shrieks from the Estrogenic Cloud).

A commenter suggested that the risk men bear of being falsely accused of sexual assault or rape is analogous the risk that women bear of getting pregnant: that this somehow balances things out (which is the important thing).  The obvious difference is that a man can be falsely accused of rape even if he did nothing wrong at all; whereas pregnancy only comes about in a very specific, concrete, well understood way.  No woman needs to adopt the (at this point well vindicated) Pence rule to refrain from sexual intercourse and avoid pregnancy. But any man who doesn’t follow the Pence rule is taking on the risk of being falsely accused of sexual harassment or worse.

The question of actual evidence and its relation to “victim blaming” gets to the heart of the matter.  If this young man in fact legitimately raped this young woman, as demonstrated by actual solid evidence, by all means punish him in the harshest manner as a rapist. There is no statute of limitations on rape, and nobody is responsible for an act of rape itself except the rapist.

But punishment in this case – indeed public rendering of the truth at all – is not (as reported at least) possible, because there isn’t any evidence. The only people who actually know what actually happened are the two people who were there at the time: he said, she said.

A more pertinent question then is, who is responsible for there not being any evidence?  Who put us in this situation?  Was it Christendom College with its overbearing and oppressive institutional success, when compared to pretty much all colleges everywhere, in keeping rapeyness and even consensual debauchery off campus; or was it someone else?

The most proximate person responsible for the impossibility of determining the truth in an objective, public way is the person in the literal driver seat who chose to drive the two of them, alone, deep into the Virginia wilderness.  And in close proximity to that person – perhaps carrying the greater responsibility, because responsibility comes along with age, wisdom, and authority – are parents who give driver’s licenses to young women and send them off to college hundreds of miles distant without any inkling that a seventeen year old driving deep into the wilderness with a random boyfriend is every bit as imprudent as a ten year old getting into a car with a stranger offering candy.

Close behind are trolling mommy bloggers who write self-serving hit pieces against an obviously well managed Catholic college precisely because of that college’s undeniable success, versus all of its peers, in keeping rape at the status of an off campus problem rather than an on campus problem.


UPDATE 1/21/2018: Added the sentence “So the veracity and fairness of the article is publicly disputed by one of its own sources. ”  Corrected the word “estrogenic”.

Doing violence to prison statistics

November 15, 2017 § 7 Comments

Cane Caldo recently objected to my contention that violence is the besetting sin of incontinent men, citing federal prison statistics.  One problem with citing federal prison statistics — even stipulating the veracity of official methods which categorize various crimes proximate to violence (e.g. burglary) as as nonviolent — is that the federal prison population is not representative of the prison population in general:

Obama made this a key point in his NAACP speech: “But here’s the thing: Over the last few decades, we’ve also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before. And that is the real reason our prison population is so high.”

This claim, which is widely accepted by policymakers and the public, is simply wrong. It’s true that nearly half of all federal inmates have been sentenced for drug offenses, but the federal system holds only about 14 percent of all inmates. In the state prisons, which hold the remaining 86 percent, over half of prisoners are serving time for violent crimes, and since 1990, 60 percent of the growth in state prison populations has come from locking up violent offenders. Less than a fifth of state prisoners — 17 percent — are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses.

In other words, for all the talk about nonviolent offenders, a majority of our prisoners have been convicted of a violent act, and even more have some history of violence.

(Emphasis mine)

Burning old love letters

October 14, 2017 § 21 Comments

I first ‘met’ occasional commenter and current knight-of-the-blogroll Semiotic Animal in the comment boxes of the Acton Institute.  It appears though that the entire comment thread at Acton was deleted, at some point: at least I don’t see any comments when I call up the page.

That’s too bad.  That particular comment thread was an interesting exercise in schooling ideological free marketers on the actual medieval understanding of usury, as opposed to strawmen crafted through extremely selective curation.

An explanation for the disappearing comment thread is as mysterious and impenetrable as an explanation for the Las Vegas mass shooting.

UPDATE:

The Acton moderator replies:

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Zip. I stand corrected. Not intentional. Probably a WordPress or Disqus issue created when we updated blog theme earlier this year and brought over comments. If you care to repost a comment and discuss specifically, feel free.

Mike T made the original thread available on archive.is.

Free speech means editing my comments

August 19, 2017 § 50 Comments

Just for the record.

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 3.54.43 PM

UPDATE:  I cropped the screen grab in a bit to make it more readable.

UPDATE 2: Two days in, all of my chopped up and modified comments have now been deleted from the Orthosphere thread, and from the earlier “PC” post. Comments are (hilariously) closed on the Free Speech post.

How to say trebuchet

July 24, 2017 § 114 Comments

Modernity defends itself through equivocation: by asserting the truth of some basic superficially unobjectionable doctrines and — this is the important part — rhetorically rationalizing that these doctrines are what distinguish good, distinctively modern societies from bad, distinctively regressive societies.  The whole point of these modernist doctrines is to set up oppositions: freedom versus rule by a monarch, equality versus aristocratic titles and privilege, sola scriptura versus distinctively Catholic doctrine and practice, feminism versus patriarchy, consent of the governed versus congenital positions of servility and authority, etc. etc.

Liberals diligently drowning priests and nuns, beheading aristocrats, and aborting unborn children in mass-murder factories while working hard to make sure that nobody so much as thinks about actually punishing the murderesses never stop to ponder if the doctrines they assert actually genuinely support the blood and bone distinctions being made in reality by the sharp implements employed.

One of the ways we can help bring clarity to the situation is to craft accurate descriptions of these superficially unobjectionable doctrines; descriptions we can set on fire and lob over the walls into the motte where modern conservatives (those who work hardest to conserve modernity) live, breathe, and have their being.  I’ll start with a few, and encourage folks to improve upon them or think of others.

  • Freedom means that a free society puts the right kind of people in prison for the right reasons.
  • Equality means that every aristocrat, commoner, criminal, slave, proprietor, debtor, trespasser, invader, disrespecter of royalty, savage, apostate, and heretic gets what he has coming to him.
  • Sola scriptura means that every true doctrine of the Christian faith is consistent with the Scriptures as assembled into the Biblical Canon and interpreted by the Apostolic Church established by Christ.
  • Feminism means that women are people too. Female people, who go into an irrational hormonal storm every few weeks and need men to look out for them and tell them what to do.
  • Consent of the governed means that nobody has managed to assassinate the dictator.
  • Minarchy means we want everyone to get along and play nicely with each other, and unicorns that fart fairy dust.

Feel free to suggest your own in the comments.

 

Everyone gets a medal in the motte

July 23, 2017 § 57 Comments

Any concept of political freedom capable of invalidating monarchical authority is rationally incoherent.

Any concept of equal rights capable of invalidating inherited privilege is rationally incoherent.

Any concept of sola scriptura capable of invalidating the distinctive claims of Roman Catholicism is rationally incoherent.

Any concept of mercy capable of invalidating the need to cease choosing objectively immoral behaviors is rationally incoherent.

The list can continue, but take note of the pattern. Modernity is all about selectively invalidating whatever parts of reality moderns happen to subjectively find inconvenient in the Current Year.

Now suppose you are someone who finds this critique of modernity in general, or one of the particular critiques, outrageous. You are convinced (say) that your non-nominalist concept of political freedom is perfectly coherent and unequivocal. You declare victory and plant your flag in triumph.

Have you noticed anything missing in your counter-argument?

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