Friday, August 6, 2010

Morgan Freeman Solves the "Race Problem"

Hat tip and thanks to Mark Shea for this beautiful and sensible video.

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our mind...." - Bob Marley

Thomas Messner on the Moral Arguments in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

I always feel blessed to meet—seemingly at random—great people in my travels in this great country and this great state. A few weeks back I was fortunate to meet Tom Messner, the author of this fine piece which he wrote for the Heritage Foundation. "A chance meeting, as we say in Middle-Earth." (Or something like that.)

What Tom succeeds in doing here is to demonstrate the selectivity of those defending same-sex marriage by which they either dismiss or "harness" (his word) religious and moral arguments in the debate. So he effectively demonstrates that the question is to which morality do we appeal not do we appeal to morality. He quotes an unlikely source to emphasize this: President Obama.

More pragmatically, everyone has a worldview and everyone inevitably brings that worldview to bear on issues of public policy, including marriage. Therefore, as Barack Obama stated when he was still a U.S. Senator, “[S]ecularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square…. [T]o say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality . . . .”

I think that this is a really good read, and I'm hoping some of those students of law and history who hang out here can comment on it. Roger, Kathleen, Paul Z et al.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Newest from jnddepew: Time Bandit

Love this guy's stuff. There's great narrative misdirection here. The first clue of the character of the "visitor" comes around 0:57 when the he says "Don't forget your wallet!" Another strong hint is when he grabs the guy by the shirt. But if you're like me, you don't notice those the first time through because you're wrapped up in the story.

Free Speech and Policing

Over in the comments for this YouTube video, someone calling herself JessicaSideways has decided to spar with me on the subject of free speech. The video is from the Alliance Defense Fund and is about Christian students being defamed and silenced for their faith and moral beliefs. For example, one young man gave a speech about his faith and was called a "fascist bastard" by the professor in front of the rest of the class. Then he was mocked and told to "ask God what his grade is".

Now—when my wife calls me a "fascist bastard" I know it's sort of a term of endearment. But I'm not sure that was in the case in this college classroom. What's ironic and worth pointing out in my mind is that although JessicaSideways brings up so-called "hate speech" in her argument against the type of speech used by the two Christian students, it's all at a hypothetical level. Whereas the real threatening and degrading remarks in the video are all aimed at the Christian students. For example, in her first remark to me in reply to my statement that students should have free speech, she said: "Would you say the same thing if they started talking on how they think the Aryan race is superior and started targeting Latinos, Blacks and Asians?" But nobody was talking like that. This seems the perfect demonstration of the straw-man fallacy with a side of red herring. Likewise she brings up the act of "throwing around the word 'nigger' in class" which she claims would rightly offend black students. I'll concede the point, although that word only offends most blacks when "thrown around" by non-blacks. But the real point is that there wasn't anything analogous said about gays. It's pretty safe to say the girl in the class didn't say "[Expletives for gays and lesbians] shouldn't be allowed to adopt kids." But where's the drama in that? She focuses on a hypothetical situation by which she insinuates bad behavior.

I left a challenge to Ms. Sideways regarding her assertion that "Christianity works to the detriment of society." I sarcastically pointed out that there was hostility in that remark, echoing her fears about "targeting" by using her words. But my main thought about freedom of speech is that the best cure for what you think is incorrect speech is more speech, not less. Correct someone if they are wrong especially about the facts, don't tell them to shut up or bully them into it by wrongly characterizing their words. What she is doing in the combox can be called "policing"; someone is told they should be quiet because their words are perceived to be dangerous. Likewise the young man's professor was exercising a policeman's role by silencing his speech rather than allowing the speech then countering it with different speech.

Reasonable debates and conversations always produce clarity because they serve to ultimately bring out the underlying philosophical foundations of the words comprising the speech. And if nothing else, an audience can tell who is losing ground by the crescendo of shrillness of the tone and the callow mockery offered in place of sound argument.

Update: Found Jessica Sideways's site. So... there you go.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

J. Mitchell Simon: Can't believe I found this

If you hate Lou Reed, you probably won't dig J Mitchell Simon. But I have dug this guy ever since I heard his song called Meat Wagon and watched a short documentary on Mr. Simon on the now-defunct circa 2001. He also had written a song called My Severed Head Laughs At You about a dream he had on a bus in which his head had become detached. I'm listening to Underland currently on his myspace page and it's blowing me away, man.

Midnight Cove and Paint Stained Jeans are great, too. I love all this stuff.

Dr. Williams on Profiling

Damn, is Dr. Walter E. Williams great or what? Fabulous piece; here's my favorite part:

There is no sense of justice or decency that a law-abiding black person should suffer the indignity being passed up. At the same time, a taxicab driver has a right to earn a living without being robbed, assaulted and possibly murdered. One of the methods to avoid victimization is to refuse to pick up certain passengers in certain neighborhoods or passengers thought to be destined for certain neighborhoods. Again, a black person is justifiably angered when refused service but that anger should be directed toward the criminals who prey on cabbies.

Emphasis mine. The cops didn't start it, y'all. As the man said at the beginning, the world is imperfect. Don't ignore the great imperfection present in a violent criminal to focus your microscope on the lesser and rather justifiable imperfection of the cab driver.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kevin Hassett: "...the economic equivalent of the Bay of Pigs invasion"

Kevin Hassett demostrates that Obamacare only looks worse upon further review. Excerpt:

This clearly is a candidate for most disorganized organizational chart ever. It shows that the health system is complex, yes, but also ornate. The new law creates 68 grant programs, 47 bureaucratic entities, 29 demonstration or pilot programs, six regulatory systems, six compliance standards and two entitlements.

...and a partridge in a freaking pear tree.

No wonder the Democrats hate the fact that the name Obamacare has stuck like superglue to this cluster of stupid legislation. These idiots have tried to create a perpetual motion machine and have succeeded in making a mess and making fools of themselves. In the future, I predict that it will become customary to use the prefix "Obama-" to describe every doomed venture and stupid idea.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cannot Shuffle In This Heat

Well, better end the night with a real music video.

The Traveling Dingleberries

Another one from LRS.

The Roy Orbison part causes laugh tears.

I think it's interesting how much this pure pleasure technique makes its practitioners sound like Tom Waits. I'm sure Kathleen won't disagree....

Here's another demonstration of how hard it is to play slide guitar without hearing faculties. Yeah--a Diarrhea Straits cover.