Thursday, February 27, 2014

The perfect argument, if we hadn't forfeited it

Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality presents an intricate argument here that decriminalization* of marijuana would benefit transgendered people. A much simpler and firmer argument would be that the principle of self-ownership includes both the freedom to use marijuana if you so choose and equal freedom for LGBT people. At least it would be a firmer argument if we hadn't made a Faustian bargain with collectivist, authority-worshiping political correctness and learned to regard the principle of self-ownership as heresy.

*While I support legalization, I consider decriminalization to be a step in the right direction.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The golden age of big government

Progressive acquaintances of mine like to portray the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations as a golden age of big government in which high taxes paid for projects like the Interstate Highway System. They tend to overlook things like this:

Besides, I thought that progressives didn't like such big projects, but now it seems that they want higher taxes to fund them. If I didn't know any better, I'd almost start to think that they regarded taxation as its own reward.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The newest right, the right always to be comfortable

Just in case the right not to be offended isn't bad enough, we now have Right Not to be Offended 2.0, namely, the right always to be comfortable. As seen here:

a California politician has justified a ban on open carry with the following argument:

Just because one person is comfortable with their weapon doesn't mean that gives that person the right to infringe on the rights of other people who aren't comfortable.
Well, that certainly trumps the rights that are actually in the Constitution. Also, there is no way that it could be invoked against LGBT people, no sirree Bob.

Comcast and Time Warner: Oh, no, free enterprise!

In response to the announcement about Comcast and Time Warner, progressives are already blaming their favorite supervillain, free enterprise. Nothing says "free enterprise" quite like businesses that have based their business plans on sweetheart deals, if not outright monopoly franchises, from local governments.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The politically correct gay purity test

1. What does diversity mean to you?

A. Associating with people having differing outlooks, so that we can all learn from one another. (0)

B. Bringing people of differing backgrounds into the company so that we can better relate to our customers. (2)

C. Bringing people of differing backgrounds into the company so we can look good in our annual report. (4)

D. A matter of social justice. (6)

E. Bringing together a group of people of different races, ethnicities, sexes, socioeconomic levels, and geographical backgrounds, all of whom think exactly alike. (10)

2. Why do you believe what you believe about religion?

A. I carefully studied the teachings of the faith or faiths in which I was interested to determine whether they made sense both internally and in light of the evidence. (0)

B. I believe whatever I was brought up to believe. (2)

C. I am a militant atheist because I want to stick it to this majority Christian society. (4)

D. I believe whatever I was brought up to believe, except for the parts that don’t agree with modern liberal sensibility, since those parts cannot possibly represent what God actually meant to say. (6)

E. I am a devout member of the religion with which I identify. I don’t follow most of its teachings and have only a hazy recollection from Sunday school (or its equivalent) of what they even are, but I am still a devout member because I choose to identify as such, and you have no right to say otherwise. As for the content of what I believe, whatever I feel in my heart is the surest expression of what God actually meant to say. (10)

3. What is your political persuasion?

A. Pro-choice on everything. (0)

B. I am a Log Cabin or GOProud Republican. (2)

C. I am a moderate Democrat. (4)

D. I am a progressive. (6)

E. Bigger government is per se better government, except on abortion and, when a Republican is president, on national defense and foreign policy. (10)

4. Do you support equal freedom for transgendered people?

A. Yes, because people should be free to make choices over their own bodies. (0)

B. No, because trans is icky. (2)

C. Yes, because the religious right opposes it and because all right-thinking people know that transphobia is based on patriarchy and misogyny. (4)

D. No, because radical feminists oppose it and because all right-thinking people know that the entire transgender movement is based on patriarchy and misogyny. (4)

E. Both C and D, because Capital-T Truth is based not on what is said but on who is saying it. (10)

5. Julie says that since one gay man was once mean to her, all gay men are mean. Tim says that she shouldn’t generalize to all gay men from one person. How do we know that Tim is wrong?

A. Actually, Tim has a point. (0)

B. Tim is wrong because he is a man. (3)

C. Tim is wrong because he is thinking logically, when we all know that only the right people's emotions count. (3)

D. Tim is wrong because there are no individuals, only identity categories. (3)

E. All of B through D. (10)

6. With which Animal Farm character or characters do you most identify?

A. Benjamin the donkey (0)

B. Moses the raven (2)

C. Napoleon the pig (4)

D. The sheep (6)

E. Both C and D. (10)

7. With which Atlas Shrugged character do you most identify?

A. John Galt (0)

B. James Taggart (6)

C. Lillian Rearden (6)

D. Wesley Mouch (8)

E. I refuse to read that book, lest I poison my mind with wrong thought, but I still reserve the right to form an opinion about it, based on nth-hand accounts and pure speculation. (10)

8. How do you react when an acquaintance expresses a viewpoint with which you disagree?

A. It depends on how well that person supports that viewpoint with evidence and logic. (0)

B. It depends on whether that person is in a position to do me any favors. (2)

C. I denounce that person as a racist and a fascist without considering whether doing so makes any sense. (4)

D. I respond with appeals to ridicule and outright lies. (4)

E. Both C and D. (10)

9. A celebrity or business leader says something homophobic, but in a way that will make no difference in your life. How should our community leaders and allies react?

A. They shouldn’t. Haven’t you heard that you shouldn’t interrupt your enemy while he is destroying himself? (0)

B. They shouldn’t. They have much higher priorities, and we have neither the right nor the obligation to be the moral guardians of the whole world. (2)

C. They should find a channel through which to express an opposing view. (4)

D. They should take every possible opportunity to tell the world what a bad person that person is. (8)

E. They should do everything possible to punish that person. It won’t do any good, but at least they’ll be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by changing the public perception of that person from a bigoted jerk to a martyr for freedom of speech. (10)

10. What is your view of the First Amendment?

A. The rights set forth in the First Amendment are an essential part of freedom. (0)

B. The First Amendment, like the rest of the Constitution, is not a suicide pact. (4)

C. It should take a back set to anti-discrimination laws. (6)

D. It should take a back seat to both anti-discrimination laws and hate-speech laws. My right not to be offended is more important. (8)

E. The rights set forth in the First Amendment are outdated, reactionary, and even racist, except when I want to take advantage of them, in which case they’re sacred. (10)

How to score: Add up the numerical values of all of your answers. If you got 100, you have passed the purity test. If you got 0 through 99, you have failed the purity test and are unclean.

Two kinds of religious people

The way I see it, there are two kinds of religious people (and I am referring to actual religious people, not merely cultural or nominal members of religions). The first kind will gladly explain to you in detail not only what they believe, but also why they believe it. Their understanding of evidence and logic may make your head spin, but at least you'll know where they're coming from.

The second kind, the fluffy bunnies, simply assert that something is the case. They almost never go beyond that, but if they do, it will be only to something like "I feel it in my heart," as though their emotions were a special red telephone to God. If you've ever tried to have a discussion with such a person, you know that it does no good to point out that lots of people "feel in their hearts" lots of mutually exclusive positions, that they cannot all be right, and that that person has provided no test for determining who is hearing from God and who is simply engaged in wishful thinking. If you ask them how they know what they claim to know, and in the off chance that they acknowledge the question at all, they will say things like "Shut the fuck up" (and I quote that mature and Christlike language verbatim from one such person).

See also I just know and Queer religion.

Today's vocabulary word: blighted

blighted, adj. occupied by people or businesses that we should prefer to see somewhere else; desired by a politically connected developer: The city should step in and do something about this blighted neighborhood.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Today's vocabulary word: suicide

suicide, n. the act of taking one's own life. In some legal systems, suicide is a crime because it involves the destruction of government property.