Thursday, November 04, 2004

Needing Newton

Shocker. This blog is going to reference something in the NYTimes Op/Ed. But I think "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out" is very valuable for two reasons.

1. Jingle those keys for it's Prof. Wills from Northwestern.
2. It is a really cogent piece on my point from yesterday: that I can't drop my rhetoric and try to unify this country because a) I can't do that in good conscience and b) the people with whom I'd be unifying won't budge to the left because of intrinsic moral and religious values (read: you can't talk sense into them).

If you don't want to read the article, Wills looks at Christian Conservative America from the point of view of the Early Modernists, people like Newton, Locke, etc. who eschewed a worldview seen through the lens of religion to one seen through the lens of empirical evidence. Basically, this evidence no longer applies to a great majority of the population. That's why it doesn't matter if Bush grounds his reason for war in truth or fiction. His base does not rely on evidence of this sort to make judgments as to critical issues facing this country. That's why more people than not believe in the Virgin Birth and Adam and Eve than evolution. That's unfathomable.

So what does this all mean? Well, if America is going to eschew evidence, no wonder the rest of the world looks at us as if we've gone mad. Secular Europe is looking at devotional America. And who's our enemy? People whose reason is clouded by religion: Jihadist Muslims. We're going down the same medieval path with them.

I do think it's time for the smart people in this country (yeah, I said it) to stop defending their logic, degrees, and academic and judicial robes and start coming back at the religious right with an assault of reason and evidence. At some point, then, the non-religious conservatives (yes, the neo-cons and fiscal conservatives) have to make a choice: with the Enlightenment or with the religious believers.

Come on baby pump that thing shake it uh uh doo doo Brown!


At 3:54 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Wow, that's good stuff...that's all I have at this time.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. Forgive the pun.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Well said. But don't confuse me with the facts.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger poophopanonymous22 said...

thought this might put everything thats going on in perspective, things could be worse, damien apparently voted democrat this year

At 7:14 PM, Blogger ahren said...

i mostly agree, but don't think it's quite that simple. the recent picture that's been painted by a lot of things i read is of there being this overall religious moral fervor driving the policy of the right, that's scaring the shit out of people on the left.

in my opinion, there is also a large group of people on the left who wish to drive policy based on morals as well, however it's less obvious because it's not an explicitly religious moral agenda. in general this beliefs centers in various ways around the idea that central power can make better decisions than a more greatly distributed set of freedoms.

i find this sort of secular moral policy to be just as insidious. sometimes both types of moralists find an idea upon which they agree (war on drugs comes to mind), and it becomes thus entrenched as part of the country's skeleton.

what i'd like to see is the true reasonoids of the world (or country if you prefer) discard their current "allies" on the right AND left, and start kicking ass as a group of their own.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger wanderer said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:26 AM, Blogger wanderer said...

go u northwestern.

how is it for centuries that extremist/wahabi muslims were easily kept on the sidelines and deemed irrelevant by the majority of nuanced muslims. now with fundamentalism/extremism growing in all sectors- bush and his fundamentalists just breed/push people to fundamentalism in other places. enlightenment will lead people to question their oppression (be it physical or intellectual), exactly what those in power don't want.

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My take - Donnie and his leftist allies are being rebuked out of spite.

Having floated between a number of religious and non-religious communities in my lifetime, I can tell you that educated Christians (and yes, Don, it may shock you to know that Christians graduate from schools like Northwestern and the Ivies) don't believe there is evidence that refutes a virgin birth. And frankly, it's impossible to unseat them from this position. You *can* get them to budge on other biblical issues - New Testament and Old - that are easily disproved through the fossil record, but in turn they will use this same fossil record to insist that while evolution has been commonly proved within species, there is no tangible evidence of evolution between species. That's why they call it a missing link.

I used to work at a privately held company that was tightly controlled by a religious zealot: bible study during business hours, preferential treatment if you were a believer, etc. One thing that I learned from these people is that they feel incredibly marginalized and persecuted by the world at large. They point to missionaries being killed around the world, Muslim fundamentalism, and the general way that society and popular culture have mocked and belittled people with a strong faith in God. They see every other faith being celebrated, recognized and even endorsed by a homeland: Israel, India, the Arab world. Where, they wonder, is Christianity's homeland?

Faith is a tricky thing. Who are you - who are any of us - to discard religion as bunk? It (and admittedly all of its baggage) is the common and constant thread in human history. I mean, I'm an educated guy. I'm fairly confident that Noah didn't build an ark and get two of every species on the planet to get on board. At the same time, however, I'm humbled by the symmetry and beauty in nature and with every day in this life I'm more convinced this is not a coincidental existence. To believe that, in my mind, would be equally naive and arrogant.

So what I see in America today is different than what Donnie sees. He sees a swarm of book burning, 1950s Christians that want to homogenize our country. I don't believe it's nearly as Zionist as that. I believe you have small but admittedly wealthy and powerful group of people that control the religious right. The rest of the Christians in this country? They want to believe and worship how they want to without interference, and lead "regular" lives. But with whom are they going to align themselves on election day? A party that supports their belief in God, even though some of the planks may be a little over the top, or are they going to vote for the party that regards them in the manner that Donnie does? It's a no-brainer.

One final note on the REAL problem here, and why Donnie ultimately isn't part of the solution:

"The people with whom I'd be unifying won't budge to the left because of intrinsic moral and religious values (read: you can't talk sense in them)."

How arrogant. How far are you willing to budge to the right, Donnie, in the interests of unification? And how can someone as obviously enlightened and educated as you not see the hypocrisy in what you've written here? This is why our machine, our spirit is broken. Close-mindedness and bitterness the likes of which Donnie spews in his misguided missive is all too common on both sides. And it keeps perpetuating itself. And it makes me really nervous about our future.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...


Nah, but that was well said too...see, everyone is making good points, and I like that this isn't just an agree-fest. I said this last night to Hoobs, but this is an event to me is not unlike 9/11 in terms of dialogue -- everybody's got an opinion, and everybody's airing it in every forum. I think discussion is necessary, very necessary, and I think we're getting it in large numbers...

We could use a Limbaugh-type figure on Slack, as that's what we're missing...the all out radical righty. Any takers?

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am *not* picking up the Lamebaugh standard and running with way no how.

And I read a little further down after posting and saw a nice post by the Don that I didn't find as off-base. I hope you know I still love ya, Donnie, and I'd give you a sloppy man kiss (tongue optional) if you were here today.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

So maybe when I wrote "you can't talk sense into them" it did come off as arrogant. But so is: "hey rape victim, you have to have this baby because a 2000 year old book says so" or "hey fag, don't live together in my state." It reeks of arrogance of the worst kind: backed up by the indisputable "truth" of religion. There is no dialogue, this is the problem. For a lot of people in this country, having God on your side is like having cotton in your ears. Just as it would be wrong for me to say that you can't believe in a divine master plan for natural beauty because it's not scientific, it's wrong for you to tell me, "God made this flower because the Bible told me so." So I think it goes both ways. Look, I have no problem with people believing in a faith. I just don't think it has ANY place in the voting booth.

I understand your point that people feel marginalized because they have certain religious convictions. It's a frightening thing. But to give tacit approval to the yearning for a Christian "homeland" is maddening. Look at the places you've put forward as examples: India, Israel, Middle East. They're rocked by perpetual religious strife and a ruling class that manipulates religion for political gain. These are exactly the types of things our founding fathers sought to eliminate by separating church and state. And now you want to legislate a ban on gay marriage into my constitution for religious reasons? Would you like a Secretary of Religion in your cabinet? Go found your Christian homeland elsewhere. I'll value reason and RESPECT religion here.

And when I say I don't want to move right and try to unify "across the aisle" it's because I think that there has to be a real attraction to a rational consideration of the most pivotal issues of this country. I'm just not satisfied having those middle of the road Christians vote their church and not their reason. I'd like to think we could take some of these people by showing that we don't want to strip you of your religion, we just don't want you limiting your worldview because of it.

So when you say "the party that regards them in the manner that Donnie does" I'm not saying that these moderate Christians are nuts. Far from it. Just as the far religious right made themselves an attractive entity, attractive enough to win votes from reasoned rational Christian thinkers and thereby create a base, so to, I hope, can a rational left win the votes of these people by appealing to a broader value set that protects civil liberties, including religion. Will it be easy? No. Will it work? Probably not.

It's not close-mindedness. It's using the system that works in this country, make a powerful projection of yourself, give voters a reason to believe in you, and they will come. The right was very successful at this strategy while the left has been far less successful, taking weak positions hoping to attract the moderate right. I think the left needs to change its approach, and not in some scary, "nipples for every halftime" way. There's no need for a marijuana stand on every corner. Just a projection of "enlightenment values" in a manner that will draw votes from the moderate Christian right.

I hope you see the difference. (and use a name next time)

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

And I'll take that kiss...with tongue, thank you.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I don't think most people who read this site have a problem with Christianity. I don't even know how you get that from what Don wrote. I think what people have a problem are Christians who are not concerned with the facts. Bruce Bartlett, a treasury official for Bush Sr. & advisor to Reagan said this recently about W, "...he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' And, ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' ... ''But you can't run the world on faith.'' Now that's a fact.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger ricklestein said...

Anonymous, if you are "humbled by the symmetry and beauty in nature," how do you support an agenda that includes pillaging our most precious wild-lands for oil?

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Ricklestein, that Anon. poster is not FOR the war or FOR the radical right agenda...he is just a guy who right now cannot stand both sides (or so he says) and wants both sides to admit they're pretty bull-headed. I accused him of being a bit holier than thou privately, but I think he's got a fairly valid point. So your question should not be pointed to him...he's not speaking as a member of the radical right, he's merely shining light to our little liberal group as to how the other side feels (and as someone who's heard stories of his previous employer's Bible study, this guy knows a thing or two about these guys).

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the lack of a name. TJ from OH here, not trying to hide – I just can’t remember my user name and password and I’m too lazy to create a new one.

First of all, I don’t want you or any of the fine and loyal readers of Slack LaLane to think that I believe the same things the conservative religious right believes. I’m just trying to show you what I’ve found I think they believe through personal experience. Trust me, I’ve never voted for W (although I’ve enjoyed drinks at The W in Chicago with the Ace Cowboy).

And honestly Don, no disrespect, but it doesn’t “maybe” come across as arrogant when you write things like “you can’t talk sense into them” and “the smart people in our country (yeah, I said it).” It *is* arrogant. Just like it’s arrogant to insinuate that all conservatives carry attitudes like “hey rape victim” and “hey fag” above. Don’t you think you’re over-simplifying and generalizing a bit with that? Honestly, even the over-the-top Christians I used to work for didn’t give a damn about gay marriage. They weren’t in the business of persecuting anyone, they were in the business of feeling good about Jesus Kurt Warner-style. I know, it sounds ridiculous but that’s how they felt. I’ve always personally maintained that gay bashing isn’t a matter of religion, it’s a matter a ignorance. But that’s just me and there certainly are countless people on the right that are disgustingly opposed to alternative lifestyles. Trust me – I was more upset about Issue 1 passing (gay marriage ban) in Ohio than Bush winning. That as a people we would a) be so ignorant and b) even imagine that something like that has any place in the constitution whether you agree with it or not is maddening to me.

The confusing thing to me is that you say the lack of a dialogue is a problem when in your initial post you all but said the people on the right aren’t worthy of dialogue, that they’re so beneath you intellectually that it would be a waste of your time. Okay, so I’m putting words in your mouth but you get my point. And I agree that faith *ideally* doesn’t have a place in the voting booth. But the question has to be does morality have a place? I don’t have the answer. I think philosophically this question really needs to be hashed out. Where does morality fit into the world today? If you ratify a constitutional amendment legalizing gay marriage, what about polygamy or pedophilia? Aren’t they all discredited through the same basic belief systems, the same general morality? (note: I am completely opposed to any constitutional amendment regarding gay marriage, but fully support gay marriage personally. Also, I am not equating homosexuality with polygamy or pedophilia, I'm simply stating the legal reason for outlawing all of them is rooted in morality)What about the basis of our laws in general? You certainly know more about this than I do and I’d be very interested to hear your take. And I'm not being a smartass, seriously I'd like to hear your take.

And I do not, I repeat, do not rally behind the idea of a Christian homeland, tacitly or otherwise. I’m just saying that’s how they see it. They really feel like they’ve been screwed in this deal. And if you say you’re going to value reason and respect religion here, then dammit, put your money where your mouth is. Don’t perpetuate this situation by taking generalist and degrading attitudes toward religious people. Call out for your friends when they do. And challenge any religious nut that crosses the line as well.

You make a great point when you say you’d like to think that you could show the middle-of-the-road Christians that they could have a place in your party. Amen, brother. The thing is, though, this hasn’t happened yet. Nobody can blame Bush or the people themselves for this; blame the DNC (and while I’m on this string of thought, where in the fock were the stars of the Democratic party when Kerry needed them? I was on the front lines and didn’t hear as much as a peep from any power Dems other than John Glenn). That’s what really needs to happen. And you say now that you’re not saying moderate Christians are nuts, but honestly there was no caveat in what you wrote originally. I feel like you summarize in your recent post with what you should’ve lead with originally. Clear statements like that are the kinds of things that are going to help the situation. Some of the things that you wrote in the original post – again, strictly in my opinion – are not. I clearly see the difference; you just need to articulate it better if that’s what you mean.

You hear it a thousand times a day...the only constant in this world is change. We’re living in a very exciting and frustrating time right now. Let’s keep things in perspective. I heard someone break it down recently (I’m going to do a poor job of relating this but you’ll get the point) that 1000 years ago everyone was convinced the earth was flat. 500 years ago they were convinced the earth was the center of the universe. 150 years ago it was kosher to enslave people. 50 years ago, it was okay to legislate discrimination against women and minorities. The stuff we’re dealing with now, it’s all part of the social evolution. The ride will have its bumps and hills and valleys. But it always moves forward eventually.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

No, Ricklestein, that's not what he's saying or, I've gotta think, is supporting. What he's saying is that there is a group of people, the moderate Christians, who see their right to warship eroded and when weighing their vote, this fact eclipses other considerations, like environmental protection. I think it would be wrong to categorize all Christians as anti-environment because they vote with the right. What I would hope to achieve is to convince these moderate Christians that voting their reasoned conscience on matters like the environment is far more important than voting their church.

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gypsy - I agree with what you write there. No disputing those facts. But FYI, here's where I got what I got from Donnie's post:

"the people with whom I'd be unifying won't budge to the left because of intrinsic moral and religious values (read: you can't talk sense into them)."

"At some point, then, the non-religious conservatives (yes, the neo-cons and fiscal conservatives) have to make a choice: with the Enlightenment or with the religious believers."

The last one, especially, draws a line in the sand: you're either enlightened or you're a religious believer. How do you not take that away from that statement?

I know Don Fiedler. Don Fiedler is a friend of mine. I don't think Donnie has a problem with Christians per se. But I feel like he generalized there.

And I can't remember who wrote it or exactly what they said, but Ace is right - I'm as socially liberal as they come. I'm just telling you what the other side thinks, just like I tell all of these enthustiastic conservatives I work with what you guys think. Somebody has to be a conduit in this mess, and that's my personal contribution to improving the world we live in. That and recycling. And living by golden rule ethics. And probably a few other things that aren't coming to mind today.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Bart Starbux said...

I know a guy, Britt Stinslin, who grew up a Methodist in south Alabama. He is now a 28-year-old businessman with a wife, daughter, two dogs, and a mortgage. He is a Republican and even hosted some fund-raising events early on in the campaign. He attends church every Sunday and is considered by most to be a rational person.

He voted for Kerry, saying "I hate to say it, but I think Bush has done more harm than good." I was surprised that he voted Democratic, but if you are searching for a reason why more people like him across the country did not do the same, I think the answer lies at least partly in his answer. Had the Democratic Party produced a candidate that voters like him could have rallied behind, 1. the decision would not have been so difficult; 2. he would have been able to base his decision on positive aspects of his candidate, rather than the failings of the President.

You can't blame it all on the party, but a lot of what I've read here and in other liberal outlets is a perfect reflection of the mindset of the Democratic Party: liberals routinely underestimate the power and cohesion of conservatives. For all of their attempts to 'cross over,' liberals are so far out of touch with the mindset of anyone who thinks differently than they do, that they are constantly surprised and confused when that other half of the country shows up.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger ricklestein said...

I don't think that every Bush supporter wants to ignore EPA reports and believes that humans have had no adverse effect on the environment. What I fail to understand (and clearly it is my job to learn to understand), is how the 57 million people who voted for Bush (not just the Evangelicals) because of whatever wedge issues(s) were important to them were able to ignore every other failure of this administration. For the Evangelicals, why does refusing the right of someone else to marry trump your own economic health? For the middle of the roaders, the compassionate conservatives, why does privatizing social security trump our abominable performance in Iraq?

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

TJ, you seemed to get the gist later on in your comment than above. I'm not saying that all Christians are arrogant thumpers condemning unmarried pregnant women and homosexuals. (Though you've got to admit, the noise coming from the red states seems to convey that point.) I was just pointing out that if my point can be taken as arrogant, so can the extreme Christian position, so it's kind of fruitless to call anyone arrogant when, in doing so, you can't get them to rethink their position. I think that's an impossibility in this day and age with the religious right, the evangelical christians. Calling me arrogant leads to a reasoned response that, maybe you're right, should have been the top post. As for dialogue, this is the problem, there is no debating people who have Jesus on their shoulder. That's all. You can obviously engage me at any time you want.

Now, as to your last paragraph, that's what I posted a few days ago: the inevitable progression of enfranchisement. So we're eye-to-eye on that.

As for the basis of our laws, I'm not the best person to talk to on the subject even though, yes, I'm in law school. I've yet to take any real origins of laws classes on things like whether law is a natural or human construction. However, I think the basis of law is that, when you break a certain moral code, you have taken an unfair advantage over someone else. The adjudication of justice is therefore the smoothing over of this unfair advantage. As for polygamy, in my, admittedly, insufficient explanation of law, you might find nothing wrong with it. However, you might say that the fathers in polygamy have been proven (through empirical EVIDENCE) to neglect certain portions of their family born to less-valued wives. Here, these children would be at a disadvantage and the punishment of the father would be to strip him of his "advantage" that he need not adequately raise these children. Please don't quote me on any of this.

I think the reason for the vitriol and generalization in my lead post was based, in part, on the fact that I cannot fathom how evidence is of such little importance in this age. I shall take steps in the future not to paint Christians with such a broad stroke, no matter how inane I find their most fervent members. Thanks for pointing that out.

But I still don't think that I drew a line in the sand: Enlightenment or Christianity. There's obviously room for both. What I should have said was that the moderate right needs to STOP seeing the line in the sand as "with god" vs. "against god". There's a big difference.

And Bart: I'm not confused or suprised that the right showed up to vote last Tuesday. In my gut, I really expected it. I just think the better way to go in changing things for '08 is that we need to break this cohesion by painting a better picture of what we stand for. Kind of like spocking the pellini to another ball of your color rather than "oh....taking it for a walk."

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Sorry. Knee jerk reaction there. But as long as you do tell these people what the slackers think. Please tell them that you had a recent correspondence with a lifelong practicing Catholic who thinks there is no greater hypocrisy then allowing invitro fertilization, while condemning embryonic stem cell research and that it really doesn't matter if the birth was virgin or not and that having a "gut feeling" that their might be bad stuff in another country is not a valid reason for war and that they really don't need to worry if homosexuality is a sin or not, do they? Since old JC himself said it wasn't our job to judge each other. So, while I guess it is important to understand these people who are evidently such a strong force in this country, I'll never be the first one to admit the earth is flat in an attempt to have us all "get along."
Christianity helped pull civilization out of the dark ages by keeping literacy alive, so I hate to see it (in some cases) functioning as a drag on progress now.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Don Fiedler said...

"So, while I guess it is important to understand these people who are evidently such a strong force in this country, I'll never be the first one to admit the earth is flat in an attempt to have us all "get along.""

Awesome, Gyps. That's what I've been dancing around for a few days now.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...


At 12:01 PM, Blogger TJ in OH said...

Well, that all depends on which position of the evangelicals you're equating with the flat earth analogy, Gyps. Flat earth could be disproved. Flat earth wasn't morality or a fundamental religious belief. So while your point is certainly strong for argumentative purposes, where does it fit in the context of this debate? You too, Don. What are the deal breakers? On what points are you, in good conscience, inflexible? And in which points do you see room for compromise or common ground? Damn, anybody know any conservative Christians? I feel like we're getting to the heart of the matter here Don Henley Style, and I'd love to hear the opines of someone that really holds these conservative beliefs instead of me just chiming in on what I *think* they believe.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

TJ, as I got swamped with work on a fucking Friday, here's a brief synopsis of what I believe and what I'm inflexible on:

I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger TJ in OH said...

Advantage: Ace Cowboy.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I am inflexible on stem cell. And okay I see that it is not a perfect analogy. But you never hear Christians complaining about invitro. Which by their logic creates tiny little discarded souls. How is that okay and embryonic stem cell research which can save lives is not? Okay, so a soul can't be proved or disproved, but is an invitro soul less valuable than one that research will be done on? That's where I get my flat earth comment from. A closely held belief, which is erroneous, that delays, deters or flat out flies in the face of scientific progress.
I guess my bottom line is that so much of what is done in the name of faith these days is just off the mark. I wish people just had faith that they would be good Christians by treating each other decently. How could any "god" want to delay scientific advancement? Also, you see how fast religious conservatives abandon these beliefs when someone in their family is diagnosed with MS.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I realize now that my post looks extra-ridiculous under Ace's post. You forgot the G-spot. Men...

At 1:03 PM, Blogger TJ in OH said...

Ace doesn't, in fact, believe in the G-spot. It's well-documented.

Stem cell is a good topic. Personally, I am for stem cell research on donated embryos. I could be wrong, but nobody really knows if this will lead to anything or not (somebody chime in with the facts, please) - that hasn't been proven yet. But I think the potential is too great for us to not explore it. On the other hand, though, I'm creeped out by the thought of creating human embryos specifically for research. I don't know...I'm not a right-to-lifer or anything like that, but it just seems like it crosses some kind of cosmic line. It's not like I'm going to pick up a sign and picket a research center if they start doing it, but I wouldn't support it.

So there's a great example of potential compromise, right? Research, but only on donated embryos that would most likely get discarded anyway. Alright Slackers, if we get cracking we'll have solved our country's problems before happy hour. One down...

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Okay. Compromise. But only because you said happy hour. "Yes, have some" -- Dr. Egon Spengler

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I like how Bush is against stem cell research because he wants to create a "culture of life." I wonder how he reconciles that with the fact that he supports putting people to death via execution and started a war where 100K Iraqi civilians and 1,100 American soldiers are now dead. Some culture of life...

At 2:22 PM, Blogger ahren said...

is it really that the republicans are "against stem cell research"? or is it that they're against "federal funding for stem cell research"?

my impression is that they purposely muddy the two, because their majority is against the practice altogether, but the funding issue gives them some rational leverage on the topic. guess i don't know the specifics of it. i guess it's also possible that left has muddied the 2 positions in an attempt to make objections seem irrationally relgious and moralistic. probably the truth is that it's a combination.

in any case, yay stem cell research!!!
booooo federal funding for anything that isn't a big-ass weapon to protect me (perhaps we can make weapons eventually with stem cell research?) or a big concrete damn to provide me with electricity and water. who's with me?

At 2:29 PM, Blogger TJ in OH said...

Ahren, not unlike Clifford Ball, you seem to be a beacon of light in the world of flight.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Fuckin' libertarians...

At 3:07 PM, Blogger ethan said...

ace, before you know it you'll be voting for badnarik's replacement.

and just for the record, these comments are absolutely exhausting. it's like reading 35 op/ed's or watching a non-sports related PTI for 4 hours. no doubt interesting stuff but i feel like i need to go to the dentist (or ahren's) for some sweet air to clear my head.

and kudos to donnie for the initial post. sure it's a bit sensationalist and exaggerated but sometimes you just have to write something over-the-top to get people's attention. way to get the ball rolling man.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I don't think it is immoral to try to sneak the last word in... Ahren, I wasn't talking about all rebublicans. I have republican friends who wouldn't care if the entire human race was spawned in a petrie dish if their own tax cuts were big enough.

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been avoiding throwing my hat into such discussions due to a feeling of gut-rot that is 4 more years of W (drink a 12-pack of Guiness or any dark beer equivalent). However, I see that no right-wingers have stepped up to subject themselves to your collective onslaught. So, although I can't offer a true perspective from the religious right, I can espouse to tell you what I think it takes to overcome the mental red haze that a great majority of rural/religious America is currently under, because I grew up in it.

I hail from a small midwestern town in one of the red states. Born and raised Roman Catholic. K->12 at private Catholic schools. 90% of my town of 57686 is Catholic.

Prayer in school, every day. Classes on religion, every day. Friends, teachers, parents, relatives, constant bombardment of all things Catholic. Sure, we learned about Darwin, Newton, etc in science classes, but what kind of relative weight were these Enlightened thinkers granted in comparison to the almighty JC? Water to wine. The quality of the evidence didn’t seem to matter much, the weight of the almighty on, in, and around the brain trumped all.

The people in my town are generally very simple, down to earth, hard-working folk with excellent morals and wholesome family values. A very trusting and honest bunch of people, really. I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree with much of rural Midwestern or Southern America. But of course there are problems...

Although it’s slightly better now, racial tensions were pervasive (cross burnings in 1992). At one point in time, the minority population was 0.5%. That small fraction accounted for over 50% of the crime. I’m sure a slice of that has to do with podunk cops profiling black people, but it’s still pretty overwhelming. The residents of the town thought so too, and my young ears were subject to every racial slur imaginable, all said in total seriousness. A truly scary thing.

Fear of “different” people attacking you can cause crazy thinking. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a multi-colored fear table to go by, but we went everywhere from green to red. Make this threat come in the form of planes crashing into buildings, anthrax, WMDs, don’t let the freak-out level go below yellow, and you’ve got one frightened bunch of townies.

I think one thing you city-dwellers forget about is the relatively isolated atmosphere of rural America. As of the 2000 census, about a third of the US population was living in cities of under 50000 and rural areas. Although the Internet has ultimately penetrated into the majority of these areas, it is only a recent development when considered relative to the age range of eligible voters.

Many of the people in my town never leave the area, ever. All they know is their small community. They believe what their religious education and their priests tell them. They believe what the mainstream US media tells them. Why? Because what else is there?

Now stop and throw in the Bush Administration’s calculated and systematic efforts to strike fear into the heart of every person, put up a ringleader who’s got the dude next door aura with a dash of dumb honesty, deliver the whole message with the unwavering conviction of a preacher, and you’ve got a recipe for blind belief. Consistency and conviction delivers every time. Just about anyone can make a convincing argument of a virgin birth over Darwinism given a blank slate and a consistently biased atmosphere. You can convince 75% of 59 million people that Iraq and Al Qaeda are one and the same for identical reasons. All that matters is people should want to believe what you’re saying. Empirical evidence means almost nothing when going against such a saturated and pervasive front.

So how does the left break through? Systematic deconstruction delivered with that same consistency and conviction. Not an easy task. Especially considering the great weight of the GOP’s attack was based on Kerry’s perceived inconsistency.

The only way to break through is to shake the very core of what these people believe. This obviously isn’t done by attacking the wrong country, because as long as people could conceivably believe and want to believe that Saddam was responsible (see the podunk cop theory above), anything is possible.

The only example I can give you of a system of potential blind belief being shaken down is my own. So how did I get out of this atmosphere to become the liberal, pro-choice, pro-stem cell research, pro-gay marriage, pro-marijuana, non-church going agnostic that I am today? Systematic deconstruction delivered with consistency and conviction:

1. Teach racial equality from the beginning: when I was 5 years old, my family opened up to our home to a local college student who couldn’t afford housing. He was a black hockey player, talk about a rare occurrence, especially considering there were probably less than 100 minorities in town at the time. This guy was my best friend, he taught me how to play hockey and we hung out daily. I never understood racial slurs.

2. Organized Religion is BUSTED. Just before my freshman year in high school, one of the priests in my parish was caught molesting alter-boys. Kids I knew personally and friends of my little brother (thankfully not him as he refused to participate) were involved. As if that wasn’t bad enough, instead of sending this jacko off to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison where he would get just punishment, the church, with NO legal intervention, classified him as mentally disturbed and sent him off to some funny-farm for priests. Fucking sweet. After this incident, my parents gave me the option of going to church on Sundays. I slept in from then on. I had no clue why anyone would ever want to support an organization that allows things like this to occur with a slap on the wrist for punishment. Note that I DID NOT say people shouldn’t support the positive morals and values the church professes. I still value these greatly and this incident opened my mind to other religions. I now feel all of the major religions have positive things one can take from them, and this is the way I will raise any children I have. Show them all the options and if they pick one or take something positive from each, the decision is ultimately in their hands.

3. Travel & Culture. I saw much Europe and Africa before I graduated high school. Some distinct memories include getting off a bus in Morocco when I was 11 and having dozens of dirt poor kids my age swarm me with various wares. Seeing tiny tin shacks stretching as far as the eye could see in Johannesburg; 3 million people living in absolute poverty. The 4 members of my family were the only white people around and I remember passers-by looking at us with gazes of suspicion and hatred. It’s eye opening to experience the other side. Actually seeing what the rest of the world is like is a truly invaluable experience and one that much of our country doesn’t get outside of the grossly filtered lens of the US mainstream media.

4. A great education. Jingle those keys again; I’m a NU alum along with the siteops.

So this is basically what it took for me. What do I think it’ll take for that 75% of 59 million to break out of the funk that is an entrenched system of blind belief? As we’ve seen, encouraging intelligent dialogue based in empirical evidence doesn’t do the trick. One or more of the following must happen:

The occupation in Iraq must go even further down the shitter. I’m talking a total failure of the upcoming elections and possible civil war. Either that or another bin Laden will rise from the terrorist breeding ground the Bush Administration has produced. Isn’t it ironic that the US has created and nurtured (at the expense of protecting oil) the exact type of atmosphere that we went there on false pretenses to get rid of in the first place?

Osama bin Laden/Al Qaeda successfully executes another major attack on US soil in one of the “red” states. The northeast was closest to the terrorist attacks, look how those states voted. Seems to me the actual people closest to the tragedy would be the best judges of how the Bush Administration handled the aftermath.

Iran and/or North Korea successfully create nuclear weapons and use them. Not only did Bush attack the wrong country, he essentially committed the vast majority of US military resources for an undetermined and lengthy amount of time.

We make contact with extraterrestrials who confirm the theory of evolution and the fact that earth was not magically created in 6 days. I realize I’ve been painting quite a grim picture, so I thought I’d end with something positive.

So I guess that’s all I have. Just one man’s story and opinion.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Very interesting. I had the whole Catholic schools thing too. Learned creationism as fact. Years, and I mean years, later it started to become okay to believe in the evolution of mankind (with stipulations of course). To which I could only muster an exasperated, "No shit Sherlock" attitude. This is one of the reasons I begin frothing at the mouth whenever the subjects of science and religion collide.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Wow, there are still people talking in here? Turn the light out when you guys leave, willya?!

Anon. poster, well said. Very well said. I like different perspectives...


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