Pharyngula

Imagine yourself in this situation. A young girl is accused of a heinous crime — use your imagination here, too, and think of the most horrible thing a person can do — and she is trapped in front of you, helpless. You have a rock in your hands. People around you are urging you to kill her; they say that you are justified in taking her life. What would you do?

Let’s say you don’t have a rock, but are just part of the large crowd of spectators, witnessing a small group of men killing this girl. What would you do then?

Be honest now.

I wouldn’t be able to do kill anyone, and I would try to stop the killers. She could be an unrepentant mass murderer, and I couldn’t be an executioner — I wouldn’t want to sink to her level, and I think killing is an easy ‘solution’ that solves nothing. At the same time, it reduces the humanity of the killers, and diminishes the quality of our culture. I may not be the target myself, but such acts harm me.

That makes this story of a 13 year old girl stoned to death for adultery in Somalia incomprehensible to me. I know that people do evil all the time, but this was a mob of a thousand people watching 50 thugs murder someone in a particularly brutal fashion. Couldn’t just a few have raised a voice in protest, couldn’t some small fraction of that thousand intervened? Are the killers so divorced from empathy and morality that they would gladly snuff out the life of someone who can do them no harm?

What’s especially appalling is that the murderers weren’t driven by a fundamental human need — they didn’t kill her because they were defending themselves, or because they were starving, or because she had some real power that could harm them. She was killed because she offended their sense of sexual propriety. Because they perceived her as sexually potent, she challenged their own insecure, mouselike manhood. This is outrageously vile.

And even at that, she was an innocent. She was a 13 year old girl who had been raped by three men, and for this she was dragged out, begging for her life, buried up to her neck, and then stoned to death by weak, blustering men who let their machismo overwhelm their humanity.

And of course, this was driven by Islamist delusions. Religion is excellent at elevating intangible, untestable lies to a higher plane of moral significance than something as real and as simple as the life of a child.


I should also add, before everyone condemns this as simply the act of a primitive society, that the same impulse is at work right here in America. Those people who voted yes on Proposition 8 in California were simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone at those who offend their moral and religious sense of propriety.

Comments

  1. #1 Quiet Desperation
    November 6, 2008

    God and sex: two potent ideas that never get along well together

    You need to read more Greek and Roman mythology. ;-)

  2. #2 NERV
    November 6, 2008

    Couldn’t just a few have raised a voice in protest, couldn’t some small fraction of that thousand intervened?

    The whole “it’s just a few extremsists” thing is wearing a bit thin, isn’t it?

  3. #3 Kate
    November 6, 2008

    PZ, I’m with you all the way on this one.

    I just wish that people would realize that even without religion as an excuse, misogyny of this sort happens every day. Perhaps not to the same degree, but women everywhere are at this very moment being told they are less worthy than men, that they are evil temptresses, that they are to hide their humanity and their sexuality and their love…

    …and it’s always because some guy just can’t deal with her being herself.

  4. #4 Jello
    November 6, 2008

    Debauched primitive savagery.

  5. #5 TSC
    November 6, 2008

    I know. This was/is some sick shit. In a stadium no less. Allah didn’t intervene so it *must* have been justified. Goddamn insanity and unimaginable cruelty.

  6. #6 Jason Dick
    November 6, 2008

    The whole “it’s just a few extremsists” thing is wearing a bit thin, isn’t it?

    Definitely. Sure, technically it is just a few extremists. But they couldn’t do it without the tacit support of the general population.

  7. #7 SPFS
    November 6, 2008

    I know that people do evil all the time, but this was a mob of a thousand people watching 50 thugs murder someone in a particularly brutal fashion. Couldn’t just a few have raised a voice in protest, couldn’t some small fraction of that thousand intervened?

    According to Amnesty International, some of the witnesses attempted to intervene:

    http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=17927

    Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.

    Though that last sentence is tainted with bitter irony.

  8. #8 Jason failes
    November 6, 2008

    Damn.

    I know that on paper what we’re doing is working, God belief is declining, people are becoming more educated, quality of life is going up, but it isn’t a smooth rise, it isn’t everywhere, and it certainly isn’t happening all at once.

    There’s an impulse to curl up into the fetal position, sleep for a hundred years, and wake up in a better world but, of course, if everyone who had that impulse actually did withdraw there would be no one left to make that better world come about.

    Press on, through the tears, press on.

  9. #9 Brian
    November 6, 2008

    “Let’s say you don’t have a rock, but are just part of the large crowd of spectators, witnessing a small group of men killing this girl. What would you do then?

    “Be honest now”

    I’d like to think I’d intervene, but in all honesty I probably wouldn’t out of fear for my own life.

    Why?

    Sure this larger group of people could easily overwhelm this smaller group if they wanted to. Given that the smaller group is engaged in this killing, it means that they probably have the support of the group at large, and if you bravely were the first to step forwards, you would *not* have the support of the group. You would *not* be leading a rescue of this young girl. You’d probably die right along with her.

    And sure, great social change, revolutions etc. have to start with a brave few willing to risk everything start it…this is part of the reason that few do and many die along the way for trying. And quite frankly, no matter what most of us think or say here, very few of us would intervene in this situation.

    Brian

  10. #10 techskeptic
    November 6, 2008

    yeah, when I read that article I was horrified. Worse is that her poor parents took her to the authorities to complain that she had been raped. The authorities then accused her of adultery.

    What a horrible mess.

    I have to be honest though. I have a wife and daughter. As do you. If I were unlucky enough to be there, I am not sure I would have what can only be described as a death wish, and stand up there and try to stop the killing. I would rather be able to go home to my family and try to escape or start a revolution.

    I think what you tell yourself you would do may be different if you were there. In a community that stoned a little girl to death after she had been raped, I suspect resistance from you part would simply and quickly lead to your own death.

    So this would lead me to nonparticipation at best. However, if it were my daughter or wife being stoned, you bet, I would do what it takes to get her free. Chances are that I would not live through that ordeal.

  11. #11 beebeeo
    November 6, 2008

    I feel disgusted by people like that.This proves that Islam is still in the dark ages. Not all christians are better and I would guess most muslims are also more civilised but those somalis are the lowest of the low.

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Yeah but this is in a third world county with completely different rules. Things like this would never happen here.

  13. #13 MarkW
    November 6, 2008

    The BBC link:

    According to Amnesty International, nurses were sent to check during the stoning whether the victim was still alive. They removed her from the ground and declared that she was, before she was replaced so the stoning could continue.

    Words fail me.

  14. #14 Jose
    November 6, 2008

    Couldn’t just a few have raised a voice in protest, couldn’t some small fraction of that thousand intervened?

    I’m pretty sure that in similar cases you’ve linked to in the past people did protested, and some were in fact killed for doing so.

  15. #15 RAM
    November 6, 2008

    There is something deep in the psyche of mankind that demands victims for sacrifice. Christianity tortured and burnt innocent woman as witches. Jewish and Muslin tradition demands stoning, such as this sad situation and probably most others. Romans loved killing anyone deems a criminal to the state by the most barbaric means. I worry for our species.

  16. #16 Vic333
    November 6, 2008

    Well, if I had to choose between the two, I’ll take the sex.

  17. #17 OctoberMermaid
    November 6, 2008

    You mentioned the same impulse here in America and it’s true. The American Family Association gets its panties in a twist even over LOGO, that gay and lesbian channel and got some of its advertising pulled because, you know, what if a kid turned the channel and SAW GAYS!?

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=310058

  18. #18 Olaf
    November 6, 2008

    I bet you wouldn’t be so quick to criticise, PZ, if it were Muslims that did this. It’s easy to pick on the oppressed Christian minority in America, but as soon as it’s a religion that might actually fight back by blowing up a building or two you atheists always change your tune. Talk about two-faced, cowardly…

    What’s that? You say they were Muslims?

    Er… carry on.

  19. #19 Valis
    November 6, 2008

    In Africa, life is cheap. There isn’t the same respect for the value of human life as there is in other cultures. I know this is hard for Westerners to understand, but that is how it is here. And it’s not only because of “Islamic delusions”. There was a case here just recently of a woman being stoned just because she was wearing trousers! The mob who did it explained that they did it because the bible said woman aren’t allowed to wear pants.

    Jello @ #4 said it exactly. Then there is the other delightful habit we have of “necklacing” people. That consists of putting a car tyre around a person’s neck and then pouring petrol (gas) over it and setting it on fire. Lovely.

    Oh, OT: Sarah Palin isn’t the only one who thinks Africa is a country, I remember an episode of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” were Drew Carey made the same error. Must be all that good shit he’s smoking, hehe.

  20. #20 Donnie B.
    November 6, 2008

    Horrific and revolting.

    You have to wonder how such social practices came about in the first place. Is this the equivalent of a male lion killing the cubs sired by a different male? One thing’s for sure, it guarantees that a rapist’s child will not be born.

    Another question — was this particular insanity ever practiced in the West, either before or after Christianity came along? I’ve heard of a few rather vile politico-sexual customs but I don’t think this is one of them. How about the Far East? Or is this a specifically Islamic-region horror?

  21. #21 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    those somalis are the lowest of the low

    So if you had them in front of you, a stone in your hand, and a crowd backing you or at least not interfering you would…They’re guilty, the child they murdered was innocent, but PZ’s original question was what would you do if you were confronted with someone you believed to be a heineous criminal. In other words, if they thought in their sick, twisted little minds that she was a criminal, does that provide some level of excuse for the stoning or only make it worse?

  22. #22 MissPrism
    November 6, 2008

    That’s a horrifying story.

    But I would be deluding myself if I said that I would have intervened. Very few people have that sort of courage. Even in the absence of any risk to themselves, as Milgram showed us, most people are cruel when they’re told to be. To suggest that everyone should be willing to confront an armed mob in the name of justice is belittling the heroism of those who do.

  23. #23 mike
    November 6, 2008

    Couldn’t just a few have raised a voice in protest, couldn’t some small fraction of that thousand intervened?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_responsibility

    It’s easy to read something like this story and imagine you would stand up against the violence. But I don’t think it’s quite that clear-cut.

  24. #24 Neil
    November 6, 2008

    Convicting a girl of 13 for adultery would be illegal under Islamic law.

  25. #25 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    According to Amnesty International, nurses were sent to check during the stoning whether the victim was still alive.

    Now there was a missed opportunity to intervene. The nurses could have declared, “Nope, dead as a dodo…Excuse us, we’ll just haul off the biohazardous trash now.”, taken the kid away and hid her someplace until she could be taken out of the country to somewhere–anywhere–safer. But they didn’t.

  26. #26 Greg Peterson
    November 6, 2008

    The Abrahamic religions actually have a story about a man–their namesake–who was going to stab his completely innocent son to death on “God’s” say-so. The sickening blood-lust is hardly a shock given what their holy books describe.

    Also, anyone who cares to take action might be interested in the activist group, Equality Now (http://www.equalitynow.org/english/index.html) which came to a lot of people’s attention through the advocacy of Joss Whedon.

  27. #27 Sastra
    November 6, 2008

    Ah, but at least their morality is objective. It isn’t grounded in the whims of human beings: it’s firmly anchored in the word and will of God.

    I read about this earlier on Butterflies and Wheels and it just made me sick. Bottom line, there is nothing more subjective and relative than morality based on religion. What religion and God you “choose” can literally lead you anywhere, with no court of appeal — because who can argue with God?

    Those religious liberals who insist that no, only a belief in God can allow someone to say these Islamic Men of God were wrong forget that the God who forbids stoning is as much a matter of faith as the God which demands stoning.

    All religion adds to morality is the ability to say the issue is settled and outside of human reason and dispute. It doesn’t fix how it ought to be settled. God doesn’t have to be a reasonable humanist. God can resemble this group of Somalians.

  28. #28 Qwerty
    November 6, 2008

    PZ is right. The yes on prop 8 voters are just a little more civilized than those in Africa stoning this girl. All anti-gay propositions are nothing less than a form of punishment.

    We should remember that we use to dunk women in this country at one time for behaving improperly.

    And at the beginning of our country the populace tolerated tarring and feathering which was a brutal form of torture that often led to the death of the victim.

  29. #29 The Chemist
    November 6, 2008

    was this particular insanity ever practiced in the West, either before or after Christianity came along?

    Don’t know about stoning, but I seem to recall a lot of burning alive at the stake.

    Ideologies and people are never exceptional. They are always predictable. It doesn’t matter which society you’re in, this sort of behavior is predictable, especially where rule of law is fairly absent. Remember the lynchings during slavery and Jim Crow? If a slave escaped, or killed his master, the repercussions were felt by all of the slaves in the region.

    Individual people are smart, compassionate, or reasonable. Groups have appalling tendency to become hysterical when the individuals within them feel powerless.

  30. #30 Mike in Ontario
    November 6, 2008

    I just finished “Wild Ducks Flying Backwards” on CD, an anthology of the shorter writings of Tom Robbins, read by the author himself. Quite a treat! One essay about mythology really stuck with me. Myth, to Robbins, isn’t something historical, nor is it the kernel of truth based on a real event. Myth is something that has never happened, yet is happening all the time. Myth is important to us as a species, BUT when MYTH is construed as factual and/or historical, then it becomes dogmatic and rigid, ceasing to be of any real use and hence a danger to the species. He specifically talked about the Jesus resurrection MYTH, once useful as a metaphor for spiritual rebirth, that has been twisted into a historical “fact” to the extreme detriment of the whole of humanity.
    Instead of looking to Mohammed STRICTLY as an example of piety, peace, and humility, misogynistic adherents abuse the myth to justify their own reactions against their inadequacies, lusts, and other “impure” impulses. What a goddamned mess

  31. #31 jennyxyzzy
    November 6, 2008

    If we can interpret ‘try to stop the killers’ as meaning trying to garner crowd support to stop the killing then sure, I think I’d try. If PZ wants it to mean attempting to physically stop the killers, then no, I don’t think I would. As others have pointed out, that would most likely be a futile effort that leads directly to you yourself joining the victim.

  32. #32 Nick
    November 6, 2008

    I live in a particularly red district in California(we re-elected a Republican to the House!) and I’ve been talking with people who voted yes on 8. It isn’t very hard to find them and they are more than willing to let you know what they think. I try to press them on how gay marriage effects their lives. Most can’t come up with any answer. And when pressed further most don’t really care about the relationships of other people and what they do in private. But they universally agree that they would not tolerate that sort of behavior in their own home. I get the distinct impression that many people around here would disown a gay or lesbian child. This seems to be a very personalized version of “not in my backyard”.

    Many of these people don’t agree with the sentiment that marriage is some sort of sacred institution and that banning gay marriage would magically restore it. One only need to look at the latest celebrity gossip magazine to see that heterosexuals have done more to damage the institution of marriage than any homosexual. So a lot of the yes votes for prop 8 stem from a general dislike of homosexuality. It never occurred to many of these voters that they were taking rights away from people. And for this I place a lot of blame on the No on 8 campaign. It did a terrible job of defending gays and lesbians. Rather than wasting time trashing the Mormon church it should have been putting things into practical terms that people–who are very, very far removed from the LBGT equality movement–could understand.

    I really hope that prop 8 paves the way to the Supreme Court. Seeing the anti-gay movement undone by its own bigotry would more than make up for the anger and frustration generated by their most recent act of evil.

  33. #33 raven
    November 6, 2008

    Yeah it is horrifying. Stuff like that happens everywhere although the Moslems are the current front runners in pointless murders.

    In the US, lynching people based on skin color has stopped but it happened only a few generations ago. Gays are still killed for being gay but at least the cops make some efforts to find the killers and bring them to justice.

    Every year in some part of the world, alleged witches are killed by mobs. Sometimes the mobs are Xians. There were witch killings recently in Cambodia, India, and Indonesia and who knows how many in Africa.

    Civilization is two steps forward, one step backward. Some places are still trying to find the path.

  34. #34 pharynguphile
    November 6, 2008

    Ah yes. Stoning/murder and the refusal of a minor state endorsement. I see the logical connection. Everything is clear now.

  35. #35 Jose
    November 6, 2008

    Man, I just don’t type/think fast enough to post here.

  36. #36 Eamon Knight
    November 6, 2008

    BDC@#12: Yeah but this is in a third world county with completely different rules. Things like this would never happen here.

    There was a similar “honour killing” case in Ontario within the last year. But it must be noted that, at least in Canada and the US we treat the perpetrators as murderers; in Somalia the regime (such as it is) supports such killings. In that respect it is significantly *not* “the same thing happening here”.

  37. #37 The Chemist
    November 6, 2008

    Civilization is two steps forward, one step backward. Some places are still trying to find the path.

    No. There’s no linearity.

  38. #38 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    In the US, lynching people based on skin color has stopped but it happened only a few generations ago.

    Depending on how you define “generation.” People were attacked based on their skin color and perceived religion in 2001 and later and I definitely remember some hate crime murders of blacks within the last 10 years. (one could argue about whether they were technically “lynchings” since I don’t think that the killers even bothered to come up with an excuse like “looked at a white woman funny” but just attacked based on racial hatred.)

  39. #39 Dunc
    November 6, 2008

    What’s especially appalling is that the murderers weren’t driven by a fundamental human need. [...] Because they perceived her as sexually potent, she challenged their own insecure, mouselike manhood.

    Not that I want to defend such barbarism, but the need to protect your sense of identity is one of the most fundamental human needs there is. People will not only kill for it, they’ll gladly die for it.

  40. #40 Sabrina
    November 6, 2008

    I am here in California and voted no on prop 8, but talking to 3 people that admitted they did vote yes, one did so because her and her husband believe that if they allow same sex marriage next they will be allowing people to marry dogs (I had to point out they just compared an human adult to a dog). Another believed it was unnecessary because they can already have a “domestic partnership” and it is the same thing. I had to educate her on how it is not the same. The last person was one that offered to give me a “yes on 8″ sign for my yard. A few days after that he asked then if I stole all the local signs when the turned up missing one night(he knew from my initial reaction he knew I was disgusted by the sign) He voted because of religious reasons. Not a debate I want to get in with a co-worker.

  41. #41 Matt
    November 6, 2008

    PZ, you had it all oh so right, until you went off the rails with this

    Those people who voted yes on Proposition 8 in California were simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone

    There are many things wrong with Prop 8, beginning with the implied legitimacy conferred to the State that they have the power to define marriage in the first place. But it is ever so much better than stoning those you dont approve of. Not in the same ballpark, not in the same league.

  42. #42 Who Cares
    November 6, 2008

    Almost no one would dare to stand up against this, if they’d done so they’d be dead as well.
    The people who can stand up against this and have a chance of surviving will not do so because it would destabilize their power base.

    That said at a crowd of a roughly a thousand having about 50 people actually performing the stoning would be on par for the percentage of people suspected of being socio/psycho-pathic.

  43. #43 labert
    November 6, 2008

    We need to recognize that this is the same sort of attitude and behavior currently being advocated not only in Prop 8 but in all the legislative and social agendas of the Taliban wing of the Republican party.They are offended that they aren’t given the “freedom” to place gays in the stocks and demonize those who might dare offend their invisible sky dude by copulating without his magical blessing . . .
    They’re insane, and they’re trying to conquer America. We need to constantly and publically call them on the fact that their “morals” are invented based on irrational and unproven superstitions.

  44. #44 raven
    November 6, 2008

    Depending on how you define “generation.” People were attacked based on their skin color and perceived religion in 2001 and later and I definitely remember some hate crime murders of blacks within the last 10 years.

    Hate crimes including the occasional murder still happen, they never stopped. The difference between them and lynchings, is that nowadays, the cops try to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

    During the lynching days, mobs could kill people in the open and the cops looked the other way and no one remembered who did it.

  45. #45 E.V.
    November 6, 2008

    When I first heard about the incident a couple of days ago, I had to suppress my rage and kneejerk response to want to nuke the hell out of them, obliterate those mouthbreathing, idiotic inhumane bastards once and for all.
    Of course, I saw how that overwhelming thirst for scorched earth retaliation and retribution was as sick as what the bullshit they committed.
    When you started this post, I had to ask myself if I wanted to revisit this topic again. The rage and the nausea are still there but I no longer want to “lay waste to them, utterly”, to paraphrase Monty Python.
    Well, perhaps a chosen few…

    And actually, God and futility go quite well together.

  46. #46 The Chemist
    November 6, 2008

    Not that I want to defend such barbarism, but the need to protect your sense of identity is one of the most fundamental human needs there is. People will not only kill for it, they’ll gladly die for it.

    IAWTC

  47. #47 MissPrism
    November 6, 2008

    I think Prop 8 is comparable – of course stoning is orders of magnitude worse, but they both come from the nasty, self-righteous impulse to hurt someone you look down on and blame God.

  48. #48 Doug Hudson
    November 6, 2008

    Of course, as I’m sure you are all aware, a rather famous religious figure, faced with almost exactly the situation described here, did intervene, and did save the girl.

    Unfortunately, 1) the people in this case were not followers of said figure, and 2) even if they had been, history clearly demonstrates that said figure’s followers often miss the point of his intervention.

  49. #49 Black Jack Shellac
    November 6, 2008

    PZ, of course this is beyond repulsive. But if you were to stand up to those 50 thugs you would end up dead. The only consolation here is that old maxim: live by the sword, die by the sword. These cowards will die a horrible death, most of them anyway.

  50. #50 Salt
    November 6, 2008

    Those people who voted yes on Proposition 8 in California were simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone

    That’s democracy for you. Two wolves and one sheep deciding on what is for dinner. Interesting though that PZ equates the democratic process to Islamic delusions, both potentially adverse to the well being of the individual.

  51. #51 negentropyeater
    November 6, 2008

    Despair !

    When’s the last time someone has heard some positive news comming out of Somalia ?

    Don’t think I can remember any…

  52. #52 Kimpatsu
    November 6, 2008

    Are the killers so divorced from empathy and morality…
    As Bertrand Russell pointed out, they regard these actions as the supreme morality. That’s because they regard morals as having nothing to do with the sum total of human happiness.

  53. #53 E.V.
    November 6, 2008

    Moralists refuse to Suck!

    (Man oh man – they really blow)

  54. #54 Nick Gotts
    November 6, 2008

    A disgusting crime. However, PZ, given what SPFS@7 reports, which can’t have been that hard to discover, how about a little more research on your part next time you blog on something like this?

  55. #55 John C. Welch
    November 6, 2008

    Too bad the militia who shot the kid didn’t spend another quarter, and shoot the girl. If there was no way to save her, then at least a quick death would have been a mercy at that point.

  56. #56 Jarandhel
    November 6, 2008

    Regarding the question about the history of stoning in the West:

    One of the most important events in the history of Spanish psychiatry is the
    foundation of the first lunatic asylum in Valencia, in 1409. The story of its
    foundation is both curious and moving. On the 24th February of that year, Fray
    Juan Galiberto Jofre, a monk of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy, was going to
    preach in the Cathedral of Valencia on the feast-day of our Lady of the Helpless
    when he beheld a group of boys insulting and stoning a poor madman.

    [Early Medieval]

    1640 England, London 1 Lamb, Dr m Stoned to death by a mob at St. Paul’s Cross (and probably
    confused with 1628, although the date *is* given several times in Robbins)

    [Historical Witches and Witchtrials in England, Ireland, and Scotland]

    “On the morning of Friday, Oct. 8th, when about
    to take cars for Boston, I was informed that the boys in District No. 5 had killed their
    teacher.”

    So began School Superintendent Daniel T. V. Huntoon’s account
    of one of the more grisly episodes in Canton’s history– the stoning of a young
    schoolteacher by four of her students in 1870.

    [Stoning of a School Teacher, Page 3, Canton, Mass.]

    Just a few historic examples of stoning in the West.

  57. #57 Ka
    November 6, 2008

    # 48:Of course, as I’m sure you are all aware, a rather famous religious figure, faced with almost exactly the situation described here, did intervene, and did save the girl.

    In the case of the “famous religious figure”, the woman was indeed an adulteress. In this case, she was a 13-year-old girl who had been raped by three men and was accused of adultery afterwards.

  58. #58 abb3w
    November 6, 2008

    It sounds like it’s a culturally inculcated solution to a particular problem, which is evolutionarily “better” than doing nothing whatsoever, but worse than any number of other alternatives.

    The “solution” that we in the “civilized” West would desire is a change to a different behavioral response. However, this requires a change in the other group’s cultural identity. This might be done by inducing an evolutionary pressure in another direction.

  59. #59 Janine ID
    November 6, 2008

    Posted by: John C. Welch | November 6, 2008

    Too bad the militia who shot the kid didn’t spend another quarter, and shoot the girl. If there was no way to save her, then at least a quick death would have been a mercy at that point.

    Torturing the girl is the point. It is demonstration of what to expect when you stray from the path that big sky daddy lays out for his sheep.

  60. #60 Paul R
    November 6, 2008

    Can I imagine a circumstance in which someone had committed a crime for which I would be willing to want kill them. Yes – If someone abused or killed my daughter then I would want them dead. Could I actually do the deed myself? I have no idea, and I don’t really want to find out.

    Is the stoning of this 13year old girl justifiable? No, not even slightly. It doesn’t matter if she was raped or willingly committed adultery (why is a 13 year old married?), that does not justify this level of punishment.

    All right thinking people should be utterly condemning this senseless act, and all religious types should be reminded that those who committed it believed their religion justified it.

  61. #61 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Of course, as I’m sure you are all aware, a rather famous religious figure, faced with almost exactly the situation described here, did intervene, and did save the girl.

    Or so stories say, written down decades after the events following multiple generations of hearsay being told word of mouth from goat herder to goat herder.

  62. #62 Justin Higinbotham
    November 6, 2008

    Well said! Here in CA, I’m appalled that people think they’re not being bigots when they go off about how righteous they are in condemning homosexuality, or worse, when they claim that they’re not discriminating against those people, but rather just defining their own religious beliefs in a harmless and righteous way.

  63. #63 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    It sounds like it’s a culturally inculcated solution to a particular problem, which is evolutionarily “better” than doing nothing whatsoever, but worse than any number of other alternatives.

    wait

    What?

    I may be misunderstanding you but are you suggesting the stoning of an innocent 13 year old is evolutionarily better than doing nothing?

    1. How is this a question of evolution except on the most distant minor of scale?

    2. how the hell is this better evolutionarily than doing nothing?

  64. #64 Bob L
    November 6, 2008

    In all honesty I don’t know if I have the guts to be the first guy to go against a mad crowed but I certainly would be the tenth one to join that first guy.

  65. #65 peter
    November 6, 2008

    Not that I want to defend such barbarism, but the need to protect your sense of identity is one of the most fundamental human needs there is. People will not only kill for it, they’ll gladly die for it.

    Agreed, and I think (and I stress that this is pure speculation), in instances like this, there’s often a mechanism at work that almost *demands* escalation: Once one has been a part of something awful, there is often a need to justify that act, and the initial act becomes a stabilizing force for that coping mechanism. Thereafter any threat to that coping mechanism is met with defense commensurate to the guilt/horror that it alleviates. When this threat comes from within then similar acts must be repeated– it’s an external way to put one’s fingers in one’s ears and say to one’s doubt: nah-nah-nah I can’t hear you. Perhaps in order to fulfil its purpose such actions need not be barbaric and cruel… but perhaps barbarism does fill that purpose and is an easy (and somewhat addictive) path to stumble upon– making such debacles almost inevitable (give enough people enough time and they’ll find a way…).

    *shrugs shoulders* or maybe I’m just a BIT too full of myself.

  66. #66 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    In the case of the “famous religious figure”, the woman was indeed an adulteress.

    How do you know that? Maybe she was and maybe she was another 13 year old who was raped. Just kind of hard to tell from the story. (Assuming that ANY of it has any factual basis.)

  67. #67 Clare
    November 6, 2008

    You don’t even have to use the parallel of gay people – just imagine if it had been something particularly petty and minor – like what the reaction would be if it had been a petition for women to be allowed to go topless in the same way men do.

    What I truly can’t understand are people who say ‘well that’s their way of life/how they were brought up/it’s a different culture’ – that is only useful as a tool to understand people. Stoning children (though her actual age is debateable in this case but we KNOW it happens to children regardless) is not something truly comprehensible however much you try.

    It almost makes it worse when you hear about this sort of thing being used as a lever in unrelated disputes. Like the recent episode in (I think!) India where a teenager was mauled by dogs and shot – allegedly an ‘honour killing’ but more sinisterly the end result of a land dispute between the girl’s husband and her father. Hilarious, no?

  68. #68 Snark7
    November 6, 2008

    What I *would* like to do is simply to force-feed every member of the militia his own genitals. After the blinding and the all-limb amputations and being butt-raped by some dogs and some pigs and having the videos of this transmitted to the whole world, islamic or not.
    And tattoo the reason for this on their foreheads and spread them around the country in the cities as living proof what will happen the next time, someone even thinks about a stoning.
    Lucky for these shitheads (and maybe for me) I’m not really capable to do any of this.

  69. #69 Kobra
    November 6, 2008

    Sadness and feelings of betrayal aside, adultery doesn’t cause permanent bodily harm to another person. Stoning a person to death for adultery baffles me.

    However, some of the nastier crimes (when the person is actually guilty and unrepentant) deserve harsh sentences. Draconian? Yes. Effective? Not really, but neither is the entirety of our justice system.

  70. #70 Mu
    November 6, 2008

    I’ve seen a lot on this board, but comparing a democratic vote of millions to a despicable act of murder is about as twisted a connection as the best of the religious right can come up with. Fundamentalism at its best, Ken Hamm would be proud of you. But then, I thought people had lost their perspective when they declared the right to gay marriage equal as a human right to life and freedom, as big as abolition of slavery and the right to vote.

  71. #71 S
    November 6, 2008

    Why is it that we can never seem achieve the art of thinking clearly while experiencing strong emotions?

  72. #72 Thuktun
    November 6, 2008

    Being completely honest, a society where 50 people were willing to stone a teenager to death for allegedly having sex is also likely to stone to death any single person who spoke up in defense.

  73. #73 The Atheist Jew
    November 6, 2008

    How about being honest about this: What if the person being sentenced to death killed a close family member, a spouse or a child for example?

    I personally think I could be the executioner in that instance.

    Though I don’t know if I could if the victim was at arm’s length to me. I think it depends on my identifying with the mourning family and the heinousness of the crime.

    Just being honest.

  74. #74 MarkW
    November 6, 2008

    Paul R at #59: I think “adultery” in this case is defined as any sexual contact except that between husband and wife.

    I wonder what happened to the three men accused of raping her? I’m willing to bet nothing much.

  75. #75 Kobra
    November 6, 2008

    @68: Just to clarify, I don’t consider stoning appropriate and I’m purposely leaving “harsher sentences” open to interpretation just because this is not the area of my expertise. All I have is my opinion on this one.

    I just read this part:

    And even at that, she was an innocent. She was a 13 year old girl who had been raped by three men, and for this she was dragged out, begging for her life, buried up to her neck, and then stoned to death by weak, blustering men who let their machismo overwhelm their humanity.

    That’s just fucked up.

  76. #76 Pete Rooke
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t understand why some Gays would even want to officially marry each other. I can understand the desire for civil privileges (although I believe this goes too far in that it gives official recognition of such a lifestyle) but it seems needlessly provocative to have it defined as a marriage. A marriage in this country has been a monogamous heterosexual union recognised by both the state and a religious institution.

  77. #77 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    However, some of the nastier crimes (when the person is actually guilty and unrepentant) deserve harsh sentences.

    That sounds uncomfortably close to the world view of the people doing the stoning to me. They believed that the girl had committed a serious crime. A truly nasty crime. Ok, so they’re misogynistic nuts to say the least, but they probably truly thought that she deserved the “harsh sentence” she received. That they were acting in justice. Possibly that they were even acting in mercy: saving her from a life of disgrace and clearing her crime so she could make peace with Allah and have a good afterlife. Or maybe just using her as an example so that other teenagers wouldn’t “sin” and be condemned to hell. Justice, mercy, prevention of future crimes…all good goals, aren’t they? But so easily perverted. In short, are you sure you want to go there?

  78. #78 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 6, 2008

    It should, one hopes, be very easy
    To look on this and to condemn,
    But look at Kitty Genovese–
    In some ways, we are much like them.

    When crowds make people nearly faceless
    It is a certain kind of Hell,
    Promoting hate, however baseless–
    Religions do this awfully well.

    To recognize that this potential
    Is human, is my fervent wish;
    It can be fought–it’s not essential
    (You need not be a cuttlefish)

    These people show the worst of us
    But us they are, we need to learn;
    We share one planet-home, and thus
    It’s to ourselves we have to turn:

    Belief can spread, just like a cancer
    Harmful ones have got to go;
    While some believe that God’s the answer
    For these beliefs… the answer’s NO.

    A bit more, here.

  79. #79 MarkW
    November 6, 2008

    I believe this goes too far in that it gives official recognition of such a lifestyle

    Fuck you very much Pete Rooke.

  80. #80 BMcP
    November 6, 2008

    If she is accused of the horrible crime: Take her to the authorities (such as the police), so they may see if there sufficient evidence for an arrest.

    If there is evidence of her committing the crime: Take her to the court of law so she may be judged guilty or innocent by a jury of her peers based on the evidence presented.

    If she was convicted: Take her in for the appropriate punishment by the authorities, even if that punishment is death, which for me is an acceptable punishment for particle crimes (pre-meditated first degree murder, child rape…).

    But this was a mob, you can reason with individual people, you really can’t reason with a mob, a mob just wants blood, not justice.

  81. #81 Kobra
    November 6, 2008

    @76: Thanks for pointing out the unintentional ambiguity. I was referring to murder, etc.

  82. #82 SteveM
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t understand why some Gays would even want to officially marry each other.

    You truly are a bigoted moron aren’t you? Why does anyone want to get married? Why would gays not have similar motivations and emotions.

  83. #83 Tom
    November 6, 2008

    It doesn’t say in the story, but for ‘adultery’ I took that to mean that she had sex (was raped) by married men, rather than her being married.

    Either way, it doesn’t matter of course. This is probably the sickest and most immoral story I have EVER heard.

  84. #84 Ka
    November 6, 2008

    In the case of the “famous religious figure”, the woman was indeed an adulteress.

    How do you know that? Maybe she was and maybe she was another 13 year old who was raped. Just kind of hard to tell from the story. (Assuming that ANY of it has any factual basis.)

    In the case of the famous religious figure, all we can rely on is the famous religious book, which clearly states that she was an adulteress. My point is that it is horrible to stone an adulteress, but it is even more horrible to stone a rape victim.

  85. #85 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    Pete “well meaning fool” Rooke, you fail to understand a lot about modern life. Not all marriages are religious for example. Time to go back to your church and pray for guidance on how to join the modern world.

  86. #86 Cliff
    November 6, 2008

    That PZ said voting for Proposition 8 in California and stoning a young girl to death share the same impulse as a cause in no way equates the moral gravity of the two actions; he merely notes a similarity of cause, not of consequence.

  87. #88 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke, master of the stupid comment.

  88. #89 Kobra
    November 6, 2008

    needlessly provocative to have it defined as a marriage

    It’s only provocative if you’re premeditating violence.

  89. #90 SteveM
    November 6, 2008

    If she is accused of the horrible crime: Take her to the authorities (such as the police), so they may see if there sufficient evidence for an arrest.
    If there is evidence of her committing the crime: Take her to the court of law so she may be judged guilty or innocent by a jury of her peers based on the evidence presented.

    Did you not read the article? She confessed to the crime. The words “I was raped” clearly admits to having sex with those men, so therefore guilty of adultery. (I striked out the “jury of peers” part since that is the american way) But since she confessed, no need for court anyway.

    < /heavy sarcasm >

  90. #91 Richard Harris
    November 6, 2008

    God and sex: two potent ideas that never get along well together.

    Well, I don’t know about that. In the precurser religions of the present Abrahamic & Hindu faiths, there was lots of sex between the gods, & between gods & mortals too.

    Why is that Jehovah is always called by male titles such as ‘father’? It’s just a hang-over from the earlier religions of the Mesopotamians. Why is the Xian god living with a bunch of spirit buddies, called angels, & all sorts of other minor gods? Monotheism, don’t make me laugh. Bunch of edjits.

  91. #92 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 6, 2008

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM | November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke, master of the stupid comment.

    You are giving him too much credit.

    Pete Rooke, slave of stupid reasoning.

  92. #93 windy
    November 6, 2008

    Of course, as I’m sure you are all aware, a rather famous religious figure, faced with almost exactly the situation described here, did intervene, and did save the girl.

    Said religious figure saved one woman, and tried to make some sort of metaphorical point that was apparently widely missed, instead of making clear that it was a crappy law in the first place. But no, he also came to “fulfill the law”. Thus he did little to stop barbarism from persisting in his region until an offshoot religion came along and adopted some of these barbaric punishments. But then the intervention by the religious figure probably never happened anyway.

  93. #94 MissPrism
    November 6, 2008

    Mu: I haven’t seen anyone, anywhere, ever say that marriage inequality is as bad as slavery. I agree with you that that’s nonsense. If you show me where anyone has said it I’ll email them and tell them so.

    Of course stoning is massively worse than Prop 8. However, comparing things is not the same as equating them; it’s perfectly reasonable to point out that stonings and Prop 8 are both about punishing people for no good reason because of what God supposedly thinks about their genitals.

  94. #95 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke, slave of stupid reasoning.

    Patricia has been a good influence. Good snark.

  95. #96 uncle frogy
    November 6, 2008

    the chemist “Individual people are smart, compassionate, or reasonable. Groups have appalling tendency to become hysterical when the individuals within them feel powerless”

    I would bet that there is a very strong correlation between feelings of powerless and these kinds of “mindless acts”. I would further suggest that there is also a very strong correlation between fundamentalist religious belief and practice and feelings of powerless.
    As my own understanding of life and acceptance of its limited nature the easier it has become to not fear the word or concept and implications of atheism emotionally. In effect the less fear of my personal powerless I feel the easier it becomes to act and think more rationally.

    To the question how would I react?
    Why would I have even gone to such an event in the first place. If I really want to have any success in stopping things like that then I would find ways that would lead to positive change maybe starting or joining a group who’s goal was such changes. Not some noble gesture like standing up before the crowd and getting killed also and be in the end ineffectual.

  96. #97 Ignorant Atheist
    November 6, 2008

    Troll here, trolling again. PZed, you have a way with words. I admit to stupidity and contradictory beliefs, but I am 100% against killing innocent people for idiotic beliefs.

  97. #98 GuyIncognito
    November 6, 2008

    “In the US, lynching people based on skin color has stopped but it happened only a few generations ago. Gays are still killed for being gay but at least the cops make some efforts to find the killers and bring them to justice.”

    Oh no! Now you did it! You compared discrimination of blacks to discrimination of gays! LIBERAL!!!! It’s not even the same thing. Sure gays are sometimes lynched, but not nearly as often, and usually only in red states. Well, that one kid got shot in school in a supposedly blue state, but that was really an isolated incident. There was that whole Holocaust thing, but that happened in Germany and it was more about Jews anyway. And of course blacks can’t pretend to be white, but gays can always pretend to be straight. They have it way better. So you see, that’s why Loving v. Virgina was great, but gay marriage should be put to a vote. Can’t have liberal activist judges giving rights to gays on a whim. Well, OK, a majority of the majority of activist judges in California are Republicans, but they aren’t true Republicans. No true Republican would ever give rights to gays without voting on it first. We heterosexuals were nicer to gays than whites were to blacks, so we should have a say. Sure we said gays were really just wacko heterosexuals, and threw them in jail for being wackos, but that isn’t nearly as bad as slavery. It’s only sort of bad, and we did offer to cure them. Well, we did ruin that Oscar Wilde guy and one of the inventors of the computer, but the last guy was an atheist so he deserved it. Besides that happened in Europe anyway. It would never happen here. So it’s okay that heterosexuals must approve of gays in the voting booth before they can have the right to marry, because we’ve always been relatively less crappy to them. And if you keep comparing gays to blacks, you’ll just make blacks mad and they’ll turn against you in the voting booth. Or some shit.

    headexplode

  98. #99 Rudi
    November 6, 2008

    Can this really be true? Can so many members of our species really posess the genetic machinery to behave in this way? Why aren’t WE like it? What has happened to those people to make them that way?

    That is so vile my brain can hardly process it – that thousands of people could partake in sick, depraved barbarism that is off the scale in terms of its inhumanity. And as PZ says, that would still be true if she was guilty of a crime. She’s an innocent kid who’s been raped.

    Every single Government in the world should be condeming this as vehemently as they can and outlining what it is they are going to do to address such sickening sub-chimpanzee animalism.

  99. #100 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t understand why some Gays would even want to officially marry each other.

    I know some who don’t, but that’s not the point. “Marriage” in our society grants a special set of privileges to two people in a relationship. Whether you agree with the institution of marriage or not is irrelevant, that’s just how things are. Denying people these privileges because of the gender or sex of the person with whom they choose to have this relationship is arbitrary and stupid. And a violation of their rights.

  100. #101 negentropyeater
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke,

    I can understand the desire for civil privileges (although I believe this goes too far in that it gives official recognition of such a lifestyle) but it seems needlessly provocative to have it defined as a marriage.

    Since when is homosexuality a “lifestyle” ? Can you please describe it for me, I’d be interested.

  101. #102 raven
    November 6, 2008

    The difference between prop. 8 and the torture/murder of the little girl is quantitative not qualitative/b>.

    The reasoning is exactly the same but the penalties are a lot different in degree.

    Missprism said it well: it’s perfectly reasonable to point out that stonings and Prop 8 are both about punishing people for no good reason because of what God supposedly thinks about their genitals.

    It is a bit astounding to think that a god who created a 13.7 billion light year wide universe with quadrillions of stars is deeply, passionately interested in the sex lives of each and every of 6.7 billion ephemeral primates on a small rocky planet somewhere. Don’t they have hobbies or the internet in heaven or something?

  102. #103 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    Aw, damn. I just replied in earnest to Mr. Rooke. There’s two minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

  103. #104 Josh
    November 6, 2008

    Words can’t even begin to describe how angry I am that this still happens in our world…

    If anyone can still be apathetic about how badly the world needs to change, I can’t understand how.

  104. #105 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Since when is homosexuality a “lifestyle” ? Can you please describe it for me, I’d be interested.

    Yes please Rooke. Tell us about the gay lifestyle.

  105. #106 John C. Randolph
    November 6, 2008

    PZ,

    I was with you right up until you tried the package dealing at the end. The prop 8 vote was not a call for violence against anyone, and overblown rhetoric like that is not going to help us pass a new proposition to repeal it the next time around.

    -jcr

  106. #107 Peter Ashby
    November 6, 2008

    @Clare
    like what the reaction would be if it had been a petition for women to be allowed to go topless in the same way men do.

    In New Zealand you can go topless, even if you are a woman. It’s all about equality you see. Of course you won’t see NZ women wondering down the street topless, but the principle is there that if you do then PC Plod cannot put you in jail for lew and lacivious behaviour. Oh and you can pee in the gutter if you are pregnant. Here in the UK you are permitted to pee in a policeman’s helmet if caught short while pregnant…

  107. #108 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    Can so many members of our species really posess the genetic machinery to behave in this way?

    Yes.

    Why aren’t WE like it?

    We are. Does the word “waterboarding” mean anything to you? Gitmo? Abu Grahib? Did the soldiers who killed the family of a 14 year old girl, raped her over their bodies and then killed her ever get punished beyond being told that they were naughty?

  108. #109 noncarborundum
    November 6, 2008

    I remember an episode of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” were Drew Carey* made the same error.

    * also a Republican. Not that there’s anything (necessarily) wrong with that.

  109. #111 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 6, 2008

    Posted by: Pete Rooke | November 6, 2008

    I don’t understand why some Gays would even want to officially marry each other. I can understand the desire for civil privileges (although I believe this goes too far in that it gives official recognition of such a lifestyle)but it seems needlessly provocative to have it defined as a marriage. A marriage in this country has been a monogamous heterosexual union recognised by both the state and a religious institution.

    This is a perfect example of what PZ was talking about. Religion is used to define what a person is and what a person may do.

    In the eyes of her torturers and murders, the unfortunate thirteen year old girl overstepped her role, allowing herself to be raped.

    In the eyes of the Rookie and those who vote yes for Proposition 8, LGBT people are overstepping their god given roles to be straight and demanding the right to a same gander marriage.

    The difference is the degree of punishment of these transgressions of “god’s” law. In Somalia, the local authorities allowed the murder of a victimized girl. In California, there is the denying of rights that most people take for granted. But we are now that far removed from the days that is was criminal for GLBT people to express themselves. And we have people who believe they are doing “god’s” will by murdering those who do not fit gender norms.

  110. #112 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    Here in the UK you are permitted to pee in a policeman’s helmet if caught short while pregnant…

    Adds new meaning to the old saying about there never being a cop around when you really need one…

  111. #113 Tim Fuller
    November 6, 2008

    With religion everything is possible.

    Enjoy.

  112. #114 Rey Fox
    November 6, 2008

    “Pete Rooke, master of the stupid comment.”

    “Pete Rooke, slave of stupid reasoning.”

    Pete Rooke, penis-phobe.

  113. #115 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    @Raven

    Don’t they have hobbies or the internet in heaven or something?

    They don’t even have a pool table.

  114. #116 CJO
    November 6, 2008

    Or so stories say, written down decades after the events following multiple generations of hearsay being told word of mouth from goat herder to goat herder.

    In the case of “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” the situation is considerably worse: it’s a 4th century (at the earliest) addition to John.

    And the original teller of tall tales about a certain rabbi were probably Galilean fishermen, not goat herders; in any case, they didn’t tell the one about Yeshua and the adulteress.

  115. #117 blueelm
    November 6, 2008

    There are so many things wrong with this it hurts to think about it. I take issue with the idea that there are some crimes (any) that deserve torture or death. If a person is dangerous to society they should be kept away from means to do damage, but stoning a child? All this indicates to me is that if given the excuse most people are no better than the criminals they condemn and religion is absolutely not efficient at controlling that impulse.

  116. #118 Graculus
    November 6, 2008

    Individual people are smart, compassionate, or reasonable. Groups have appalling tendency to become hysterical when the individuals within them feel powerless

    Evidence?

    Because there are an awful lot of dumb, heartless and irrational idjits out there.

  117. #119 Ignorant Atheist
    November 6, 2008

    To those who comment about the fear of standing up against this sort of abomination, I think Rosa Parks. Yes, it is a lesser form of intolerance that she sat down for, but the spirit is the same.

  118. #120 noncarborundum
    November 6, 2008
    Of course, as I’m sure you are all aware, a rather famous religious figure, faced with almost exactly the situation described here, did intervene, and did save the girl.

    Or so stories say, written down decades after the events following multiple generations of hearsay being told word of mouth from goat herder to goat herder.

    It’s even worse than that for this particular story, which doesn’t show up in any manuscript of the Gospel of John until the 5th century.

  119. #121 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    @Dianne

    Did the soldiers who killed the family of a 14 year old girl, raped her over their bodies and then killed her ever get punished beyond being told that they were naughty?

    While your point that that sort of thing does happen here is valid, I hasten to point out that the soldiers involved got a little more than a telling-off. James Barker got 90 years (20 w/o parole), Paul Cortez got 100 years (10 w/o parole), Jesse Spielman got 110 years (10 w/o parole), and Steven Green’s trial starts in April. Whether you agree with the sentences or not (I’d probably be okay with these guys getting locked up for good), it’s not like they just had their wrists slapped.

  120. #122 Josh
    November 6, 2008

    PZ, I don’t know who took the jam out of your doughnut, but I think you’ve been dabbling in a bit of hyperbole since Obama was elected.

    I didn’t like the addendum to your post. Stoning a girl for getting raped and denying a group of people equal marriage rights have two things in common: 1) they are wrong, and 2) they are usually driven by religious belief. That’s it, man.

    You make an ass out of yourself when you conflate them, and you betray your own ignorance when you downplay the role “primitiveness” played in this scenario. Stoning is in the Bible as well as the Koran. Religion may explain why it occurs in Africa and the Middle East, but it does not explain why it doesn’t occur in the West. Society does. Ours has advanced more than others (by our own subjective measure of course, but that’s all we have).

    If I were Californian, I would have voted NO on Prop 8, and I don’t like Obama’s stance on gay rights, either. But please, man, get off the cross, would you? There are different degrees of wrong, and lumping all religious intolerance together is, as Reza Aslan would say, “profoundly unsophisticated.”

  121. #123 Annick
    November 6, 2008

    As someone who will soon be exercising the right to marry her same-sex partner in Canada, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that Californians chose to remove human rights. Even after all of the ads, particularly the Mormons barging in and destroying a lesbian couple’s marriage liscence, the only thing motivating such hatred has to be religious ideology. How else could people be so willingly destructive ?

  122. #124 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 6, 2008

    Posted by: Annick | November 6, 2008

    …the only thing motivating such hatred has to be religious ideology. How else could people be so willingly destructive ?

    God’s away on business, therefore his followers have to enforce his will.

    I hope your marriage goes well. Ain’t it great to be treated as a grown up citizen?

  123. #125 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    Josh, you missed or ignored PZ’s point. Both the stoning and the vote in California were inspired by holy books. They, they holy books, cause people to behave mean toward other people. A huge difference in degree between the two examples, but the same cause.

  124. #126 Ignorant Atheist
    November 6, 2008

    OK, I admit to being a troll and being stupid. But I am surprised that I am the first here to mention Rosa Parks. Admitted, different in degree, but same in intent. Had she done what she did in a muslim population, she would have been dragged from the bus and killed.

  125. #127 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I didn’t like the addendum to your post. Stoning a girl for getting raped and denying a group of people equal marriage rights have two things in common: 1) they are wrong, and 2) they are usually driven by religious belief. That’s it, man.

    And they are also about denying rights to exert power. What I get from PZ’s point is that it is all part of the same thought process, just differing (by some magnitude) degrees.

    It’s the same line of thought of Christians who think women should be subservient to their husbands and the taliban who force women into Bhurkas and kill them when they violate that.

    Same line of thought, differing magnitude of severity and reaction.

  126. #128 Kate
    November 6, 2008

    @Pete Rooke:
    I do no usually killfile people since I feel it is in my best interests to expose myself to a variety of thoughts and opinions that are different from my own, but even I have my limits. I’ve read some pretty atrociously idiotic things from you in the past, but today is the last day I will bother to read your words.

    You don’t bother to learn from the discussion here and simply parrot the same tired old lies and misconceptions. I think you do it for the attention, so I hope you enjoy this, the last attention you’ll ever get from me.

  127. #129 noncarborundum
    November 6, 2008

    A marriage in this country has been a monogamous heterosexual union recognised by both the state and a religious institution.

    Which is, of course, the reason why it can be solemnized only by religious figures such as town clerks, judges and justices of the peace. Look up “civil marriage“, you dolt.

    On a related topic, this morning’s AP story on Prop. 8 quoted a supporter saying this:

    Common sense, and concern for the common good, trumped ideology, bigotry and power politics here in California.

    In a rational world, that would be a Prop. 8 opponent crowing about its defeat. Sadly, in many respects we’re still living in bizarro mirror world.

  128. #130 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    @120: That was actually a real question masquerading as a rhetorical one: I had no idea what had happened to the soliders involved and was hoping someone would tell me. Nevertheless, did they do anything wrong, from the military’s point of view, except get caught? How many times before this did they or others get away with it? (The answer MAY be rarely if ever, but I’ve heard stories from vets that make me think that it is not…anecdote, of course, but scary.)

  129. #131 Matt
    November 6, 2008

    >>>stonings and Prop 8 are both about punishing people for no good reason because of what God supposedly thinks about their genitals. Miss Prism #93

    And what is the crime specified, and consequent punishment to be meted out, written into law in Prop 8?

    I personally believe both actions are best viewed as cultural enforcement of tribal identity. In one case the majority employs violence to stop it. The other is cultural preference codified.

    The distance between these actions is probably a half-millennium long.

  130. #132 SteveM
    November 6, 2008

    Matt@130 wrote:

    And what is the crime specified, and consequent punishment to be meted out, written into law in Prop 8?

    “punishment” can also mean being denied a privilege. No one said anything about a “crime”, just that prop 8 was punishing gays for loving a person of the same sex. They are being punished by being denied a privilege granted to heterosexual couples.

  131. #133 ryanm
    November 6, 2008

    @Cuttlefish

    You always know just what to say,
    I’ll take your ink any day.

  132. #134 Arikia
    November 6, 2008

    Ugh. Sometimes I hate the world.

  133. #135 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    And what is the crime specified, and consequent punishment to be meted out, written into law in Prop 8?

    The crime is, essentially, having different genetics than the majority. Probably a collection of recessive genes, but whatever the details…

    The punishment is denial of the rights and privileges that marriage partners enjoy from being each other’s legal next of kin, heir, and power of attorney, to having a simple, unambiguous description of your relationship. To give one example that stuck in my mind: Dan Savage in the book “The Committment” describes a situation in which his son’s dog was hurt and his boyfriend took the dog to the vet. Savage then called to see how the dog was doing and was refused because that information could only be given out to the dog’s owner or his/her spouse. Yes, it’s a minor thing in the grand scheme of life, but it’s that sort of constant little reminders that you’re a second class citizen of whom the “good people” of the world do not approve and whose relationship has no legal standing has to be wearing after a while.

  134. #136 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    @Dianne

    That was actually a real question masquerading as a rhetorical one: I had no idea what had happened to the soliders involved and was hoping someone would tell me.

    Ah, fair enough. I had to search for the details, myself. If you think you can keep your breakfast down, you can find more information here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmudiyah_killings

    As for your second question, I’m guessing you’re being both cynical and rhetorical (I approve of both). We could probably go back and forth all day on how much of this was justice for the sake of justice and how much was justice for the sake of saving face, but I’m relatively okay with the punishment, however it was motivated. Generally, it sucks that PR plays such a role in matters such as these, but this time, they seem to have gotten it right, kinda.

    It’s interesting to note, given the original topic, that Green, the only alleged offender to be tried as a civilian, faces the death penalty. I’m not sure how they do things in Kentucky, but I’m guessing that, if he were convicted, the execution wouldn’t be performed in a stadium.

  135. #137 Mu
    November 6, 2008

    Regarding Prop 8, if the liberal side would have added a proposition 9 “the state of CA recognizes civil unions between any couple with the same rights as a traditional marriage”, it would have probably passed with flying colors. The “gay marriage” discussion is not about equal legal rights, it’s about a symbol. To the religious, marriage is the symbol of their God sanctioned union. To the activists, it’s the symbol of defiance. In a sense, it’s like the cracker. You can think it’s ridiculous, or you can publicly deface it. One is an act of rational thought, the other is a stunt.

  136. #138 Robin
    November 6, 2008

    I’ve not heard of anyone being stoned in this country, but let’s be honest: We are still having difficulty recognizing that victims of sexual assault are, in fact, victims. Whether religious traditions are entirely to blame, I cannot say. It seems to be an older problem in Western society than that.

  137. #139 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 6, 2008

    Mu, what of all the straight couples who’s marriage were not sanctioned by a church?

  138. #140 Norman Doering
    November 6, 2008

    noncarborundum wrote:

    In a rational world,…

    Now there’s an irrational fantasy.

    … Sadly, in many respects we’re still living in bizarro mirror world.

    So it would seem.

  139. #141 Paul
    November 6, 2008

    Nick (comment 32),

    Please don’t subscribe to “blaming the victim” on the passing of prop 8. One thing that is forgotten here is that political rhetoric works and the “Yes on 8″ folks worked it very, very well. Plus, there is the issue of how to approach the situation. Looking at the proposition in 2006 in Arizona (Prop 107), because it was double-barreled and included ending domestic partnerships even for heterosexual couples, all of the arguments had to specifically mention heterosexuals losing their rights. That’s why it didn’t pass in 2006, because we told the straights that they may lose their rights. I had to be very careful not to mention anything about homosexuals and the rights which are deserved by all; everything had to revolve around heterosexuals.

    In this current 2008 California proposition situation, there was (and still is) the problem of how to approach advertising for voting no. Symbolic advertisements (such as the heterosexual wedding that was stopped and had the tag line “What if you couldn’t marry the person you love?” or, ostensibly, that). Noting the losing of rights apparently didn’t work as well. The approach to attempting the removal of civil rights is an extremely tough political issue that does not have a clear-cut, single answer to approaching.

    Sadly, “protecting traditional marriage” is a tag-line which mobilizes individuals and groups even though it holds no water in terms of meaning or history.

  140. #142 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.

    Indeed. Once again we have a distortion of facts to promote a naive provincial xenophobia: I would have intervened (in my fantasy world where there would be no risk in doing so), why didn’t they?

  141. #143 Marc Abian
    November 6, 2008

    “young girl is accused of a heinous crime — use your imagination here, too, and think of the most horrible thing a person can do — and she is trapped in front of you, helpless. You have a rock in your hands. People around you are urging you to kill her; they say that you are justified in taking her life. What would you do?”

    I don’t know about a young girl, but for an adult, I’d take it in a heartbeat.

  142. #144 Alex P
    November 6, 2008

    This is a classic example of why any religious belief is so very dangerous. I’ve been mulling the concept of the “why” for some time now, and I believe the reason comes down to the fact that religious indoctrination, especially at a young age, has the effect of atrophying the part of the brain that is responsible for critical thought process.
    The most fundamental, all important concept in all belief systems is the need for “us vs. them” mentality. This, of course, is the glue that makes the individuals group together in order to share that belief system. The second pillar for religious belief is the necessity for egocentricity; it is known that children are born with an egocentric viewpoint. Through normal emotional growth we outgrow this stage, and develop a more rational sense of our actual place in space and time. For those of us that were fortunate enough to be born into family units that did not practice religious indoctrination (or were intellectually strong enough as adults to overcome said indoctrination) our ability to process our thoughts through this filter provides us with the capability for reasoned cognition. This critical thinking process is what gives humans the capacity for empathy; the ability to mentally and emotionally place ourselves in another individuals situation. Religiously biased thinkers lack this capacity as it is in direct conflict with the structure of the belief system in which they have been taught to, without question, rely upon for their understanding of their particular place in the world (i.e. the center of a universe personally overseen by an all-knowing personal super power).
    It is an extremely interesting fact that most devoutly religious systems strongly discourage the use of imagination-based play in their young. Mythology from other cultures, as well as “fairy tales” are to be avoided as corruptive influences. In the most extreme cases, normal and healthy manifestations of “imaginary friends”(to use but one example) are not only discouraged, but seen by adults as evidence of evil forces attempting to gain access via the vulnerable young. As imaginary play plays such a manifestly critical part in the healthy emotional development of an individual in early childhood, it is easy to see how it’s repression would have the consequence of both stunting any future ability for empathetic (and likewise critical) thinking as well as giving the new “acceptable” mythology of religious belief system to fill the void.
    It is precisely this combination that creates a personality which is not only incapable of empathy towards an “unbeliever”, but also has the effect of leaving the individual quite incapable of utilizing critical thought process to filter both ideas and actions through a reasoned, personalized, and realistic process. Thus, brutally murdering a young child publicly and collectively in response to a horrible crime perpetrated against her by others rather than the more evolutionally expected response of protecting and punishing the ones responsible for crimes against the young and vulnerable is the consequence of thorough religious indoctrination in it’s most pure form.

  143. #145 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    To the activists, it’s the symbol of defiance.

    OH PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASSE.

    How about equality?

  144. #146 Natalie
    November 6, 2008

    Unbelievably ironic tidbit from the article:

    He says two men accused of helping to kill a man and torture his mother, who they accused of theft, were each given 39 lashes in the north-eastern suburb of Suqa-hola.

    The man who actually killed the alleged thief was released, after agreeing to pay his family 100 camels in compensation.

  145. #147 Donnie B.
    November 6, 2008

    MarkW @ #73:

    I wonder what happened to the three men accused of raping her? I’m willing to bet nothing much.

    I’m gonna go with black irony here and say they were aquitted when their accuser failed to show up in court to give testimony.

  146. #148 Alex P
    November 6, 2008

    {Thus, brutally murdering a young child publicly and collectively in response to a horrible crime perpetrated against her by others rather than the more evolutionally expected response of protecting and punishing the ones responsible for crimes against the young and vulnerable is the consequence of thorough religious indoctrination in it’s most pure form.}
    Apologies. Meant to read: “protecting the young and vulnerable and punishing the ones responsible”

  147. #149 craig
    November 6, 2008

    Mu, I’ll have to let my atheist brother and atheist sister-in-law know that when they got married it was just a stunt.

  148. #150 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    I’m not sure how they do things in Kentucky, but I’m guessing that, if he were convicted, the execution wouldn’t be performed in a stadium.

    One can never be too sure about the south*, but as far as I know, no executions in the US are carried out in stadiums. However, the proposal of having them televised is periodically brought up. Is it better if it is only a virtual crowd cheering on or ignoring the murder? Is it better if the person being killed really did commit a heineous crime? Who gets to decide what crimes are heineous?

    With someone like Green, my impulse is to say, “Too badly broken, there’s nothing left of value in him, just keep him away from others”. I have no real interest in whether he lives or dies. But I seriously worry about people who want to watch him die on TV. Or Youtube.

    *I say only because I’m from the south and therefore feel entitled to make fun of it.

  149. #151 Kaerion
    November 6, 2008

    PZ, you said that acts such as this harm you, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Just reading your comments about this heinous crime makes me lose a small, but significant, bit of my faith in humanity, and it will take many, many puppies and random acts of kindness to restore it to where it once was – to make up for the horrific, cold-blooded murder of this innocent little girl. And even then, it will never quite be enough, because she’s still dead, and the people who murdered her, both the monsters throwing stones and the ones watching without trying to stop it, will be free to commit crimes like this again in the future; and if they’re capable of doing it once, I’m willing to bet that they’ll do it again.

    I don’t even know what else to say about this, I honestly just want to curl up in a little ball and cry, but reading about things like this make one thing perfectly clear to me: We can never give up. The fight against intolerance, inequality, and anything else that will make people murder an innocent girl, or use their votes to take away peoples’ rights, will most likely never succeed 100%, but every little victory, no matter how tiny it is, no matter if it only improves life a little bit for one single person, is more important than anything else. And as long as we keep it up, and never give up, we’ll keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time. And maybe, just maybe, we can one day help save the life of a young girl, just like this one.

    And that will make all the effort worthwhile.

  150. #152 craig
    November 6, 2008

    Additionally, Mu, there are religions that will HAPPILY marry their gay and lesbian congregants.

    Imagine that.

    Oh, wait, I just realized you only mean the *official* church.

  151. #153 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    I wonder what happened to the three men accused of raping her? I’m willing to bet nothing much.

    It’s not a stretch to suspect that they were part of the crowd murdering her. Probably feeling very self-righteous about killing the slut who tempted them.

  152. #154 Matt
    November 6, 2008

    Alex P wrote

    the fact that religious indoctrination, especially at a young age, has the effect of atrophying the part of the brain that is responsible for critical thought process.

    Fact? What study can you point me to asserting this?

    Or is that merely your opinion? Newton, however eccentric in his Christianity, was deeply religious. I wonder what he wouldve written had his brain not been so atrophied.

  153. #155 CJO
    November 6, 2008

    The “gay marriage” discussion is not about equal legal rights, it’s about a symbol. To the religious, marriage is the symbol of their God sanctioned union.

    That’s the argument that brought out the “base” to vote yes on 8. But the kinds of propaganda the campaign used to sway the “swing voters” on the issue weren’t focused on the “defense of our sacred union” angle at all. The two most effective lies, I believe, were 1) that elementary school teachers would somehow be compelled to evangelize for the wholesome goodness of the “gay lifestyle” and 2) that churches were going to be sued if they didn’t perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

    The first, I think, based on some conversations I’ve had, was effective in the African American communities (African Americans were ~70% in favor of 8). And I have come to see that the position “I don’t care what you do, but don’t talk to my kids about it because I don’t want to be bothered answering questions that make me uncomfortable” is pretty rampant.

    The second lie is just so stupid, it’s hard for me to see how it was persuasive, but it simply wasn’t effectively rebutted by the No on 8 campaign. The proper counter-argument is by comparison to excommunication. You can’t sue a religious leader or community for asserting that you’re not right with their god and taking whatever internal action called for by the religion. (excommunication=refusal to perform wedding) The law has to simply shrug, and say, in effect, “The guy says his imaginary friend doesn’t like you. Nothing we can do about that.” But it was repeated ad nauseum on talk radio and on the web: “how soon before the law forces my church to start marryin’ them swishy types?”

    These two pieces of propaganda (disseminated with the aid of a heap of dirty money from out of state) were what put 8 over the hump.

  154. #156 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    That PZ said voting for Proposition 8 in California and stoning a young girl to death share the same impulse as a cause in no way equates the moral gravity of the two actions; he merely notes a similarity of cause, not of consequence.

    Ahem: “simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone”

    I think he’s a lot better than such an absurd metaphor that equates a vote in a democratic political process — no matter how vile its consequences — to vigilantism.

  155. #157 wil
    November 6, 2008

    We are little more than ‘killer monkeys’ with a thin veneer of civilization upon us. Killing the “other” is an accepted and, in this case, acceptable form of mass rage dissipation. Why would it trouble you so?

  156. #158 SteveN
    November 6, 2008

    I’m struck by the similarity between this situation and the biblical story about Jesus saving some woman about to be stoned to death. That story showed great humanity… but the reality is that almost no one lives up to that ideal, especially religious fanatics such as these monsters in Somalia, and the Prop 8 monsters here in California. I think of Gandhi’s comment that he might have become a Christian–if he had ever actually met someone who was a Christian.

  157. #159 negentropyeater
    November 6, 2008

    Please note that as usual, the coward homophobe Pete Rooke did not come back.

    Like a seagull, he just came to lay his crap, and flew away.

    His primitive brain functions do not allow for the kind of rapid argumentation required by Pharyngulites, he’s completely incapable of defending his pathetic ideas, so he’d rather just move on.
    But don’t be mistaken, he’ll be back in another thread another moment, with some more crap of the same sort to lay like a seagull and fly away one more time.

  158. #160 Anton Mates
    November 6, 2008

    According to Amnesty International, some of the witnesses attempted to intervene:

    The BBC witness disagrees with this; he says that onlookers were objecting verbally but didn’t try to stop the militia, who shot the other boy in the “confusion” as everyone crowded around.

    I have no idea who’s right.

  159. #161 Jeff
    November 6, 2008

    #136:
    To the religious, marriage is the symbol of their God sanctioned union.

    Yes

    To the activists, it’s the symbol of defiance.

    No. Gays just want to get married like everyone else, and as usual, religious extremists need to force everyone to abide by their superstition-based views.

    It should be obvious that discriminating against gays is wrong, but we have a lot of backward, bigoted people in this country.

  160. #162 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t know about a young girl, but for an adult, I’d take it in a heartbeat.

    For which you would win the Darwin Award, as you would be rightly tried and convicted of murder, even if your victim that you stupidly killed merely because a crowd said she was guilty actually turned out to be guilty.

  161. #163 StuV
    November 6, 2008

    Matt: Newton wrote Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, and AFTER that descended into the Christian muck.

  162. #164 Jared Lessl
    November 6, 2008

    a vote in a democratic political process — no matter how vile its consequences

    What was non-democratic about the stoning? I bet if you polled everyone in the stadium, the majority would have agreed that she deserved to die.

    I’d argue that there’s nothing more democratic than a mob. That’s why we are not a democracy. Because majority rule is the absolute _worst_ way to guarantee minority rights.

  163. #165 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I have no idea who’s right.

    It doesn’t matter, “Couldn’t just a few have raised a voice in protest, couldn’t some small fraction of that thousand intervened?” is FAIL either way.

  164. #166 Ka
    November 6, 2008

    Posted by: SteveN | November 6, 2008 2:33 PM

    I’m struck by the similarity between this situation and the biblical story about Jesus saving some woman about to be stoned to death.

    As I already pointed out at # 56 and, for clarification, # 83, the similarity does not go very far.

  165. #167 Sven DiMilo
    November 6, 2008

    We are little more than ‘killer monkeys’ with a thin veneer of civilization upon us. Killing the “other” is an accepted and, in this case, acceptable form of mass rage dissipation. Why would it trouble you so?

    Because some of us monkeys aspire to something better for our descendants. To us, this case is neither accepted nor acceptable.

  166. #168 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    What was non-democratic about the stoning? I bet if you polled everyone in the stadium, the majority would have agreed that she deserved to die.

    I bet you’re a fool who can’t even spot your own contradiction. You have a point about tyranny of the majority, but you’ve infused it with stupidity. Regardless of the validity of the slippery slope argument from majorities voting to institutionalize discrimination against gays to majorities voting for people to die, the Prop 8 process was not a civilized form of vigilantism; it passed through several layers of governmental function, from the original crafting of the state constitution, to the approval of putting the proposition on the ballot by appointed and elected representatives.

  167. #169 StuV
    November 6, 2008

    By the way, I am somewhat taken aback by equating Pete Rooke with an fecal-bombing seagull. Something about the soaring seems too high-brow.

    My mind’s eye seems to conjure something more akin to a shit-flinging monkey which was dropped on its head as an infant.

    Several times.

    Just my two cents, nothing to see here, move along, as you were, take your pick.

  168. #170 Father Nature
    November 6, 2008

    Bravo, PZ. Nobody should be allowed to forget this obscene event.

  169. #171 StuV
    November 6, 2008

    @truth machine, OFM:
    it passed through several layers of governmental function

    Shouldn’t that be “bypassed”?

    @Jared:

    Civics, UR DOIN IT RONG.

  170. #172 Tulse
    November 6, 2008

    it passed through several layers of governmental function, from the original crafting of the state constitution, to the approval of putting the proposition on the ballot by appointed and elected representatives.

    And thus PZ’s comment that “Those people who voted yes on Proposition 8 in California were simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone”.

  171. #173 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t understand why some Gays would even want to officially marry each other.

    Funny how some people treat “I don’t understand X” as if it were an argument against X.

    Perhaps if you would meet, get to know, become friends with, and have a discussion with some, you might manage to understand it.

    although I believe this goes too far in that it gives official recognition of such a lifestyle

    Sure, it goes too far to give official recognition to the lifestyle of two people being in a loving, committed, family relationship.

    It will never happen, but Pete really ought to read the California Supreme Court decision, which answers his questions in considerable detail.

  172. #174 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    And thus PZ’s comment that “Those people who voted yes on Proposition 8 in California were simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone”.

    Tulse, you dimwit, I’m not arguing that the process wasn’t civilized, I’m arguing that, contra PZ, it wasn’t vigilantism, and contra Jared, that it wasn’t the sort of raw “democracy” that is epitomized by a mob.

  173. #175 Bill Dauphin
    November 6, 2008

    Sarah Palin isn’t the only one who thinks Africa is a country, I remember an episode of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” were Drew Carey made the same error.

    Drew Carey, though, has a much clearer sense of his own limitations. If I had to choose, though, I think I’d prefer to have Carey as VP and Sarah Palin hosting The Price Is Right (or would that be The Price Is Far Right?) rather than vice versa.

    Thankfully, we don’t face that choice.

    OTOH, if Ted “It’s a Series of Tooobz!” Stevens wins the Alaska Senate race and is then expelled from the Senate (as he certainly would be), the seat will be filled by a special election. Senator Sarah Palin, anyone?

  174. #176 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Shouldn’t that be “bypassed”?

    No, it passed through the layers I mentioned, it did not bypass them.

  175. #177 Tulse
    November 6, 2008

    I’m not arguing that the process wasn’t civilized, I’m arguing that, contra PZ, it wasn’t vigilantism

    And in the passage he wrote about Prop 8, he didn’t say it was, merely that it arose from the same impulse religious people have.

    and contra Jared, that it wasn’t the sort of raw “democracy” that is epitomized by a mob

    Right, hence the “civilized” bit.

  176. #178 SC
    November 6, 2008

    Define “civilized.”

  177. #179 wim v
    November 6, 2008

    At the Natural History Museum in Stockholm (Sweden) there is currently a travelling exhibition called “Rainbow Animals” about homosexuality in the animal world.

    The museum’s website
    states:
    “One sometimes hears arguments against human homosexuality on the grounds that it does not occur in nature among other animals. [...] Rainbow Animals is the first exhibition in the world to address those questions within the framework of a fascinating new area of biological study.
    The exhibition includes a selection of more than 1500 different species for which homosexual behaviour has been documented. [...] [Visitors] will encounter swans, dolphins, giraffes and other animals among which homosexual behaviour is common.”

    And to make the thing even more attractive, they have a poll: “Is homosexuality normal?”.

    My native country is Belgium, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2003, and I currently reside in Sweden where same-sex civil unions have been possible since 1995 and the country is now about to legalize same-sex marriage.

    You don’t even have to go back 100 years, when Belgium and Sweden were still respectively deeply catholic and protestant nations. And look at them today. You’d be hard pressed to find more secularized nations. Things can move fast, people.

  178. #180 PZ Myers
    November 6, 2008

    Obviously, I didn’t accuse the backers of proposition 8 of vigilantism — I accused them of being driven by the same irrational motives to control the sexual behavior of their neighbors.

  179. #181 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Why is it that we can never seem achieve the art of thinking clearly while experiencing strong emotions?

    Because the whole point (biological function, as a consequence of natural selection) of emotions (or rather the biological processes that invoke them) is to yank cognition in a particular direction. See, e.g., Marvin Minsky’s “The Emotion Machine” to understand the fitness benefit of this heuristic.

  180. #182 Lowell
    November 6, 2008

    It will never happen, but Pete really ought to read the California Supreme Court decision, which answers his questions in considerable detail.

    I’m sure you’re right that Pastor Pete will never read it (or comprehend it even if he did), but in case anyone else is interested, here’s a link to the California Supreme Court’s decision in In re Marriage Cases. http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/archive/S147999.PDF

    It’s long, but (I thought) a very well-reasoned opinion.

  181. #183 Sili
    November 6, 2008

    I’m a coward. I’m sure I wouldn’t raise my voice or a lift a hand to save anyone but myself.

    I actually doubt that I wouldn’t throw the rock too. I’m so conformist it hurts, when push comes to shove.

  182. #184 Sven DiMilo
    November 6, 2008

    Not a can of worms I really want to re-open, but I really doubt that “homosexual behavior” observed in wild animals is equivalent to what we’re talking about when the subject is human “homosexuality.”

  183. #185 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Obviously, I didn’t accuse the backers of proposition 8 of vigilantism

    Once again: “simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone”

    If that’s not an accusation of vigilantism, it certainly isn’t obvious.

    I accused them of being driven by the same irrational motives to control the sexual behavior of their neighbors.

    Yes, you did that too, and I haven’t argued against it.

  184. #186 Andrew
    November 6, 2008

    PZ and any others who might have tried to intervene or convince others to interevene: you would be dead. If you read the Amnesty bulletin linked to above and here:http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=17927, it is clear that this is not a case of some local religious nuts enforcing as primitive morality, but rather part of a campaign of terror directed against civilians in a civil war:
    ” The reports on this killing should be understood within the climate of fear that armed insurgent groups such as al-Shabab have created within the areas they control in Somalia. As Amnesty International has documented previously, government officials, journalists and human rights defenders face death threats and killing if they are perceived to have spoken against al-Shabab, who have waged a campaign of intimidation against the Somali people through such killings.”

    Make of this what you will. The horror of this act remains. Sick fucks…

  185. #187 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    P.S. I’m sure PZ doesn’t mean to accuse the voters of vigilantism. That’s why I said that “simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone” is an absurd metaphor — it’s bad argumentation, a matter of sloppy thinking.

  186. #188 Steve
    November 6, 2008

    I wager some folks voted yes simply because they find homosexual sex a distasteful practice. Maybe some because they didn’t want to be defined as a supporter of their cause, if not gay themselves by implication.

    “Understanding is a lot like sex. It’s got a practical purpose, but that’s not why people do it normally.”

    -Frank Oppenheimer

  187. #189 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    And in the passage he wrote about Prop 8, he didn’t say it was, merely that it arose from the same impulse religious people have.

    No, he didn’t merely say that. Again “simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone” — that says nothing about impulse, and it’s not his statement about impulse that I challenged.

    Right, hence the “civilized” bit.

    That bit is irrelevant to my difference with Jared; he’s talking about tyranny of the majority, which can be executed in arbitrarily civilized fashion, on which he and I are in complete agreement.

  188. #190 Will Von Wizzlepig
    November 6, 2008

    Without denying the bad things that happen to people all over the world, most people could bring about plenty of change if they’d actually focus on helping the people right next to them.

  189. #191 SC
    November 6, 2008

    I’m a coward. I’m sure I wouldn’t raise my voice or a lift a hand to save anyone but myself.

    I actually doubt that I wouldn’t throw the rock too. I’m so conformist it hurts, when push comes to shove.

    Wow. Do you really think that? I’ve stood up for a weaker person in this sort of situation, and at the time didn’t really think about my mortality – someone’s potentially going to be thrown into a highway, you have to do something…

    I’m disappointed that the view of my students seems to be that they wouldn’t stop injustice, but I suppose that’s why I’m there…

    Sigh.

  190. #192 Paul
    November 6, 2008

    Nick (comment 32),

    Please don’t subscribe to “blaming the victim” on the passing of prop 8. One thing that is forgotten here is that political rhetoric works and the “Yes on 8″ folks worked it very, very well. Plus, there is the issue of how to approach the situation. Looking at the proposition in 2006 in Arizona (Prop 107), because it was double-barreled and included ending domestic partnerships even for heterosexual couples, all of the arguments had to specifically mention heterosexuals losing their rights. That’s why it didn’t pass in 2006, because we told the straights that they may lose their rights. I had to be very careful not to mention anything about homosexuals and the rights which are deserved by all; everything had to revolve around heterosexuals.

    In this current 2008 California proposition situation, there was (and still is) the problem of how to approach advertising for voting no. Symbolic advertisements (such as the heterosexual wedding that was stopped and had the tag line “What if you couldn’t marry the person you love?” or, ostensibly, that). Noting the losing of rights apparently didn’t work as well. The approach to attempting the removal of civil rights is an extremely tough political issue that does not have a clear-cut, single answer to approaching.

    Sadly, “protecting traditional marriage” is a tag-line which mobilizes individuals and groups even though it holds no water in terms of meaning or history.

  191. #193 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Comments 18 and 97 both win the thread.

    Comment 76 is also highly recommended…

    Yeah but this is in a third world county with completely different rules.

    It’s in the absence of a country, a hole in the political map of the world, with an absence of rules other than whichever religious ones people happen to believe in.

    Ah yes. Stoning/murder and the refusal of a minor state endorsement. I see the logical connection. Everything is clear now.

    The difference in degree is large. The difference in kind isn’t.

    A marriage in this country has been a monogamous heterosexual union recognised [sic -- British spelling!] by both the state and a religious institution.

    Does it have to be recognized by a religious institution? Where I come from, that’s not the case. Marriage is a bureaucratic act in the registrar’s office. Most couples, but by no means all, then marry again the next day, in church; the denominations do not marry couples that aren’t already bureaucratically married, and religious marriages are completely ignored by the state.

    Separation of church and state, you see. “Congress shall make no law”…

    And then there’s comment 128, which answers “no” to my question.

    If she is accused of the horrible crime: Take her to the authorities (such as the police), so they may see if there sufficient evidence for an arrest.

    If there is evidence of her committing the crime: Take her to the court of law so she may be judged guilty or innocent by a jury of her peers based on the evidence presented.

    There is no police. There is no court, other than self-proclaimed religious authorities. There is no Somalia. There is no country at all there.

  192. #194 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    P.S. I’m sure PZ doesn’t mean to accuse the voters of vigilantism. That’s why I said that “simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone” is an absurd metaphor — it’s bad argumentation, a matter of sloppy thinking.

    Let me try to clarify my point, since several people seem to be having a lot of trouble distinguishing between different things. If people were standing in front of the homes of married couples and shouting at them or spraypainting their homes, or making nasty phone calls, that would be a form of vigilantism that is arguably slightly more civilized than casting stones. But they, or very few, are doing that. Rather, the state presented them with a piece of paper, they filled in a circle, and the result of their group behavior will be to rip out from under loving couples their civil marital status. I’m not saying the impulse isn’t the same, I’m not saying that what has been done isn’t despicable, I am simply pointing out that one is vigilantism and one is a legal process that is supported even by many people who oppose some of its outcomes. Someone (SC?) might want to argue that such state processes are as bad as or worse than vigilantism, but that’s an argument to be had, and not to simply be skipped over by saying that a vote is a fancy sort of stone throwing.

  193. #195 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    She was being sacrificed for the harvest. They’ll have good corn next year.

  194. #196 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    The difference in degree is large. The difference in kind isn’t.

    a) Is the difference between a difference in degree and a difference in kind a difference in degree or a difference in kind?

    b) “Sure there’s micro-evolution, but no macro-evolution. Cats and dogs are different kinds of animals.”

    In fact there is no such demarcation; large enough differences in degree are indistinguishable from differences in kind.

  195. #197 StuV
    November 6, 2008

    She was being sacrificed for the harvest. They’ll have good corn next year.

    …unless she was gay of course, but that goes without saying.

  196. #198 Tulse
    November 6, 2008

    that would be a form of vigilantism that is arguably slightly more civilized than casting stones.

    I can’t speak for PZ, of course, but read again the words he wrote:

    “I should also add, before everyone condemns this as simply the act of a primitive society, that the same impulse is at work right here in America. Those people who voted yes on Proposition 8 in California were simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone at those who offend their moral and religious sense of propriety.”

    It seems clear to me he isn’t accusing Prop 89 voters of vigilantism, but instead of acting on a religious impulse to punish “those who offend their moral and religious sense of propriety”. In this case, the punishment is “more civilized”, but the impulse to do so is the same.

  197. #199 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Killing the “other” is an accepted and, in this case, acceptable form of mass rage dissipation.

    WTF? What, if anything, are you trying to say? I don’t get it.

    I’d argue that there’s nothing more democratic than a mob. That’s why we are not a democracy.

    Don’t twist that word that much. A representative, constitutional democracy with rule of law is still a democracy.

  198. #200 Joe
    November 6, 2008

    @161: I’m not sure you fully understand the Darwin Awards.

  199. #201 Paul
    November 6, 2008

    Just noticed that I accidentally posted twice (my internet went out for a little bit)… sorry!

  200. #202 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Wow. Do you really think that?

    I think moral conundrum surveys are misleading because people cannot accurately predict how they will behave in these situations. I know I’ve been both more cowardly than I expected and more brave than I expected. However, it’s certainly better to value bravery and think of oneself as a brave person and

    I suppose that’s why I’m there…

    to teach people that.

  201. #203 Bill Dauphin
    November 6, 2008

    As Bertrand Russell pointed out, they regard these actions as the supreme morality. That’s because they regard morals as having nothing to do with the sum total of human happiness.

    Or, to reference yet another great philosopher, “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad; if it makes you happy, why the Hell are you so sad.”

    But seriously folks… I’m coming around to the idea that any philosophy that places no (or negative) value on personal pleasure and happiness just plain ol’ sucks!

  202. #204 SASnSA
    November 6, 2008

    Having read the article all the way through, I think there was more in this case than just religious fundamentalism.

    The port of Kismayo was seized in August by a coalition of forces loyal to rebel leader Hassan Turki, and al-Shabab, the country’s main radical Islamist insurgent organisation.

    Mr Turki is on the US list of “financers of terrorism”.

    It seems likely to me that the rapist where part of this insurgent group, and the leaders of this group who are in effect in charge of Kismayo where quick to charge the girl instead of its own; and similarly quick to silence her. If this is the case, I wouldn’t put it past them to have included the rapists in the group casting stones.

    Now this may be naive of me, but this scenario seems more likely than for this girl to be convicted and killed so viciously by the community which she grew up in. I know that plenty of women are killed in Islamic areas for adultery, but they’re normally women, not girls, and usually not rape victims that had no way of preventing their rape. In this case I believe it was more than just religious beliefs behind her death.

  203. #205 j h woodyatt
    November 6, 2008

    “I wager some folks voted yes simply because they find homosexual sex a distasteful practice.

    No no no. Most of the people who voted Yes either A) have never participated in a homosexual act, or B) have participated in a homosexual act at some point, and they’re deeply ashamed of the fact that they were aroused enough to do it. (The rest of us were certainly more likely to vote No.) That’s not distaste for the practice. That’s either A) complete ignorance of the practice, or B) distaste for the people who indulge in the practice (including themselves).

    I wager, like I think PZ does, that most of the people who voted Yes did so out of hated for the gay and lesbian community and a desire to keep them from being treated fairly and with equal protection under the law.

    “Maybe some because they didn’t want to be defined as a supporter of their cause, if not gay themselves by implication.”

    That doesn’t explain why the opinion polls diverged from the election results. A significant minority of people were telling pollsters they intended to vote No, but they marked the Yes on their ballot anyway.

    My explanation for that is I suspect a lot of voters didn’t want to admit to pollsters that they were consumed with hate and revulsion for gays and lesbians, so they said they would be voting No because they wanted to appear more tolerant (even to feel like they were more tolerant than they actually are).

    Deep down in their hearts, these people all know that what PZ says in comment #179 above is true: they’re “driven by the same irrational motives to control the sexual behavior of their neighbors [as those violent Islamist fuckheads who killed that 13-year-old rape victim].” They’re just afraid to own up to it in public.

  204. #206 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    @161: I’m not sure you fully understand the Darwin Awards.

    You’ve given no reason for your doubt. The subject was a person stupid enough to publicly stone someone to death, simply because they had been accused of a crime and a mob had told them the stoning was justified. The consequence of such stupidity would likely be capital punishment, eliminating those stupid genes. (I also understand that the Darwin Awards are based on naive and mistaken views about evolution.)

  205. #207 Sven DiMilo
    November 6, 2008

    By way of combining a couple of threads:
    “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution”
    as Emma Goldman didn’t quite say.

  206. #208 StuV
    November 6, 2008

    Killing the “other” is an accepted and, in this case, acceptable form of mass rage dissipation.

    Such as, oh, gay people uniting and stoning every Mormon they find?

    Just sayin’.

  207. #209 Granny
    November 6, 2008

    This is where I think PZ becomes irrational. Let’s see ….. PZ has his moral sensibilities offended by people whose moral sensibilities indicate it is good to execute 13 year old girls who have been raped or by other people whose moral sensibilities are such that they think it is wrong for two people of the same sex to marry. As I recall, it was the philosopher David Gauthier who argued that moral beliefs are ‘appendages of outworn (religious) beliefs’. Unless PZ wants to point to some transcendent moral absolutes that are true for all people in all places and at all times, then why in the world should he think that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are real? If there is no ‘god’ or no transcendent moral laws, then killing a 13 year old girl is no more right or wrong than a Northern Pike having a good meal of its offspring. We dance to the tune of our genes and our environment. There is no moral right or wrong. Sure, PZ can make up his own moral beliefs, but surely he must realize he just made them up. Or maybe he would appeal to his society, but surely he realizes that his society just made them up as some sort of social contract. Why in the world should he think that his society morally trumps Somalia society, or the slight majority of Americans who think same sex marriage is wrong? Everyone just makes up their own morality …. at least those who are irrational enough to believe in such things. Moral ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are in the same class as the Easter Bunny, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and gods ….. made up entities to make people feel good. If PZ wants to believe that there is some transcendent moral absolutes, then he needs to show their existence from the laws of physics, which ultimately, is all that runs this universe. Here is my suspicion about PZ …. he’s an ‘old school’ atheist …. an atheist who ditches the gods, but still clings to morality as if it was objective. The ‘new school atheists, the truly free thinkers, recognize morality for what it is … something made up to make themselves feel good about their opinions, be they opinions that people who oppose same sex marriage are wrong, or that people who stone 13 year old girls are wrong, or that a tomcat that eats its own offspring is wrong. Please, PZ, raise the bar on your own rational thinking.

  208. #210 GS
    November 6, 2008

    You happen to forget that that is precisely the point of religion. How could anybody do such a thing WITHOUT religion?

  209. #211 Pete Rooke
    November 6, 2008

    Bill Dauphin: “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad; if it makes you happy, why the Hell are you so sad.”

    This is exactly it: why the Hell (to use the expressed vernacular) are you so sad if it “makes you happy” (at least in the immediacy. I think the answer to this is that we have an intrinsic sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral. People who engage in sodomy or other perversions often have a sense of guilt or shame as a result of there actions. On the other hand it may all simply be a social construct..

  210. #212 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    It seems clear to me he isn’t accusing Prop 89 voters of vigilantism, but instead of acting on a religious impulse to punish “those who offend their moral and religious sense of propriety”.

    I have already addressed this several times. You insist on talking about the part of his statement I don’t disagree with and ignore the part I do disagree with: regardless of the impulse, the process by which the result was obtained is not “a … version of casting a stone”. That’s important, because we can all agree that casting stones and any “slightly more civilized version” of that is unacceptable, but we can’t all agree that casting a vote as part of the California initiative process is unacceptable — certainly not for the same reasons or by the same arguments.

  211. #213 windy
    November 6, 2008

    I’m not arguing that the process wasn’t civilized, I’m arguing that, contra PZ, it wasn’t vigilantism

    I’m not sure if the killing in Somalia was vigilantism, strictly speaking – the girl was ‘convicted’

  212. #214 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    How could anybody do such a thing WITHOUT religion?

    Lynchings, for example, are not primarily motivated by religion.

  213. #215 Joe
    November 6, 2008

    @205: You’re right, I should have explained. Your original comment made no mention of the man removing himself from the gene pool by way of capital punishment.

  214. #216 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    poe.

  215. #217 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke, Oh, you mean guilty like the boy buggering catholic priests in your church?

  216. #218 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    Pete “well meaning fool” Rooke, you haven’t spent enough time praying in how to come to grips with the modern world. Back to your church and don’t come out until you realize your god made people gay.

  217. #219 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Pete I see you’re back. I’m sure you’ll dodge this and run off, but answer the question posed to your earlier.

    What exactly is the gay lifestyle? Can you please let me know?

  218. #220 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    People who engage in sodomy or other perversions often have a sense of guilt or shame as a result of there actions

    Pete, sodomy is obviously God’s plan. Who are you to question the will of God?

  219. #221 Bart Mitchell
    November 6, 2008

    I know what I would do. I would go to my home, get my rifle out of the safe, and shoot in the air. I would say, the first person who throws a rock, dies. And I would shoot anyone that tried to kill her.

    I’ve used threat of force to protect a gay man, and I know that I would use threat of force to save that girl.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, and I don’t support the death penalty, but I do support the right to defend human life.

  220. #222 Zaphod
    November 6, 2008

    Granny: The old, tired, and smelly fish tale that “gods” give us morality was smashed ~350 BCE by Plato.

    Read Euthyphro. Here’s a link:

    http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/euthyfro.html

  221. #223 Pete Rooke
    November 6, 2008

    Patricia: “Oh, you mean guilty like the boy buggering catholic priests in your church?”

    I’m surprised that you are happy to blithely throw around the connection between paedophilia and Homosexuality. When I made the same connection, not by intention, I was roundly condemned.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM: I profess to have no particular insight into such matters.

    Via http://www.Ask.com however, gaylifestylemonthly. com and on some decidedly negative aspects: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2003/nov/09/drugsandalcohol.drugs

  222. #224 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I’m not sure if the killing in Somalia was vigilantism, strictly speaking – the girl was ‘convicted’

    Ok, but it would be quite a stretch to consider it “due process” — enough that it would be a difference of kind. And as PZ set it up, he’s talking about stoning generally, even if this particular case can be squeezed into a “due process” frame. One can replace “vigilantism” with “vigilantism*” in my posts, where the latter includes people carrying out “justice” directly, even if state sanctioned. And whatever “directly” might mean there, it doesn’t include casting a vote, which has no force by itself, only in its effect on a group statistic. Majority vote systems are problematic, but the cure is not straightforward, certainly not as straightforward as banning voting as if it were stoning. We know that this particular change to the constitution is unacceptable, but how exactly does one characterize which changes are and are not acceptable so that can be established a priori and not on an ad hoc Potter Stewart principle?

  223. #225 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    By golly, I’d like to know what the gay life style is too. Maybe it’s better than the farming life style.

  224. #226 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    I profess to have no particular insight into such matters.

    Pete “well meaning fool” Rooke, the above is why you shouldn’t post where you cannot make intelligent contributions. Now back to your church and keep praying until you can get your mind into the twentyfirst century.

  225. #227 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM: I profess to have no particular insight into such matters.

    Yet in comment #75 you said this.

    I don’t understand why some Gays would even want to officially marry each other. I can understand the desire for civil privileges (although I believe this goes too far in that it gives official recognition of such a lifestyle) but it seems needlessly provocative to have it defined as a marriage. A marriage in this country has been a monogamous heterosexual union recognised by both the state and a religious institution.

    So what is “such a lifestyle”. You seem to be quick to disparage it. I’d like to know what it is.

  226. #228 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I’m surprised that you are happy to blithely throw around the connection between paedophilia and Homosexuality.

    You referred to sodomy, moron — whether something is sodomy isn’t dependent on the mental states of the participants.

    As for perversion … everything about you is perverted. Have you no shame?

  227. #229 Desert Son
    November 6, 2008

    PZ posted:

    People around you are urging you to kill her; they say that you are justified in taking her life. What would you do?

    Let’s say you don’t have a rock, but are just part of the large crowd of spectators, witnessing a small group of men killing this girl. What would you do then?

    Be honest now.

    I’d like to answer the question in two parts. Part the First: I honestly don’t know.

    I have never been in that circumstance, and I hope profoundly never to find myself in such a circumstance. Since I have never been in that circumstance, I can’t say how I’d act, especially because the particular circumstance would be, in my experience thus far, highly unusual and likely less correlated to previous action. I have behaved bravely and rightly before; I have also failed to behave as such. I just don’t know.

    Part the Second: I like to think/imagine that I would act bravely, and in a morally upright manner and make an attempt to stop the circumstance. It’s been an emotional week for me, highs one minute (Obama winning the Presidential election), lows the next (reading the subject story). I like to think the situation would do more than just “get my blood up” and I’d spring into action and not only do the right thing, but in so doing, I also like to imagine that my effort would be inspirational enough that others in proximity would change sentiment and back me up. I like to think that I could even resolve such a dramatic change in the extant group dynamics through communication alone, and not with violence, and that should it have to come to violence to intervene, that I’d demonstrate moves worthy of Bruce Lee when he’s got that look on his face just before he throws down with Oharra in Enter the Dragon.

    But I just don’t know.

    In the meantime, I know some things that I can do: continue to speak out against bigotry where I encounter it; donate time and money to causes I feel educate and illuminate for more understanding; try to encourage good when I see it happen even as I try to condemn ill when I see it happen; support domestic and foreign policy that encourage positive change in places where these kinds of things happen; try to recognize my own savagery and failings when they rear and strive to act more humanely anyway.

    Still the story horrifies.

    No kings,

    Robert

  228. #230 StuV
    November 6, 2008

    Granny: I see you’ve joined the debate club. Go back and study some more, because with this caliber of abject drivel you are going to fail.

    For starters, you can google “humanism”.

  229. #231 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    You said sodomy Pete. My remarks come from reading page after page of court cases, as reported in the FFRF newspapers where the dominant charges with catholic priests has been with boys.
    If I’m wrong point me toward the evidence.

  230. #232 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    my money is on granny being poe in trojan horse form.

  231. #233 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    some decidedly negative aspects

    And so because there’s a lot of drug use among those who frequent the gay bar scene, it’s going too far to recognize stable loving family relationships between people of the same sex. Sure, that makes sense — to a bigoted, religion-addled moron.

  232. #234 Pete Rooke
    November 6, 2008

    Nerd of the Redhead: “you haven’t spent enough time praying in how to come to grips with the modern world. Back to your church and don’t come out until you realize your god (sic) made people gay.”

    I don’t deny that God gives people challenges to deal with in there day-to-day lives. If indeed it is the case, as people of your ilk like to profess, that Homosexuals are born, and not made, then these people must learn to overcome these urges and live the good life. Many, many have.

    As to the point about religion coming to grips with modernity, well that’s patently false. In the words of MLK: “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Advances by religious people inspired by religion have abolished slavery, established the first *great* democracy in the world and continue to fund aid around the world on an unprecedented scale.

  233. #235 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t deny that God gives people challenges to deal with in there [sic] day-to-day lives. If indeed it is the case, as people of your ilk like to profess, that Homosexuals are born, and not made, then these people must learn to overcome these urges and live the good life. Many, many have.

    A just and loving god [no need for sic].

  234. #236 Wowbagger
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke, sick fuck, wrote:

    I don’t deny that God gives people challenges to deal with in there day-to-day lives. If indeed it is the case, as people of your ilk like to profess, that Homosexuals are born, and not made, then these people must learn to overcome these urges and live the good life. Many, many have.

    Funny how this sort of rationalisation is almost always used by straight, white males in first-world democracies, isn’t it?

    Your god’s obviously given you the ‘challenge’ of being a clueless asshat; you don’t sound like you’ve done much to overcome that.

  235. #237 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    whether something is sodomy isn’t dependent on the mental states of the participants.

    I should, of course, have mentioned ages and power relationships in addition to (or instead of) mental states.

  236. #238 Bill Dauphin
    November 6, 2008

    large enough differences in degree are indistinguishable from differences in kind

    Almost sounds like a new “Clarke’s Law”!

  237. #239 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    If indeed it is the case, as people of your ilk like to profess, that Homosexuals are born, and not made, then these people must learn to overcome these urges and live the good life.

    Since everything about you is sick and perverted, why do you call it “good”, and why must people learn to be like you?

  238. #240 Granny
    November 6, 2008

    Zaphod, I’m familiar with Euthyphro’s dilemma, but your response utterly misses the point. The dilemma was between the idea that a) something is good because the gods like it and, b) the gods like it because it is good. For an atheist, neither is an option. Obviously, if there are no gods, then a) is a non-starter, but can an atheist go for b? Option b implies some transcendent set of moral absolutes that the gods (or humans) can refer to to see what is good or evil. But what kind of atheist believes in stuff like that? A true atheist doesn’t believe in imaginary things like gods or transcendent moral absolutes. There is nothing ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about the religious right, atheists, homosexuals, or stoning.

  239. #241 Pete Rooke
    November 6, 2008

    You said sodomy Pete.

    I dare say most cases of sodomy do not involve paedophilia.
    But anything to support your irrational hatred of the religion.

    PS It was rightly termed “freedom of religion” in the constitution and I would hesitate to read anything published by the ontologically anti-constitutional FFRF.

  240. #242 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Almost sounds like a new “Clarke’s Law”!

    Clarke’s Law is a special case, where advancement measures degree and the kinds are technology and magic.

  241. #243 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke, If you think the bible isn’t pro slavery, then you are one piss poor christian, who is obviously pig ignorant of the bible.

  242. #244 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I dare say most cases of sodomy do not involve paedophilia.

    And I dare say most cases might not involve only men.

  243. #245 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I dare say most cases of sodomy do not involve paedophilia.

    Non sequitur, you moron.

    But anything to support your irrational hatred of the religion.

    Are Catholic priests buggerers or aren’t they?

  244. #246 Cliff
    November 6, 2008

    Let me try to clarify my point, since several people seem to be having a lot of trouble distinguishing between different things. If people were standing in front of the homes of married couples and shouting at them or spraypainting their homes, or making nasty phone calls, that would be a form of vigilantism that is arguably slightly more civilized than casting stones. But they, or very few, are doing that. Rather, the state presented them with a piece of paper, they filled in a circle, and the result of their group behavior will be to rip out from under loving couples their civil marital status. I’m not saying the impulse isn’t the same, I’m not saying that what has been done isn’t despicable, I am simply pointing out that one is vigilantism and one is a legal process that is supported even by many people who oppose some of its outcomes. Someone (SC?) might want to argue that such state processes are as bad as or worse than vigilantism, but that’s an argument to be had, and not to simply be skipped over by saying that a vote is a fancy sort of stone throwing.

    Thank you for the clarification.

  245. #247 Wowbagger
    November 6, 2008

    But anything to support your irrational hatred of the religion.

    Pete Rooke, sick fuck, your brothers-in-faith made unwilling participants in sexual acts, one of the worst crimes possible. Then your church’s leaders covered it up, protected the guilty, and allowed (if not encouraged) them to keep doing it to more people. Between being violated and denied justice, lives were (and are still being) destroyed.

    And you think hating that is irrational?

  246. #248 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Your original comment made no mention of the man removing himself from the gene pool by way of capital punishment.

    Since that likely consequence of being convicted of murder is what would make him eligible for the Darwin Award, I didn’t think an intelligent audience would need it spelled out.

  247. #249 E.V.
    November 6, 2008

    So why wasn’t her adulterous consort(s) stoned too? We all know the answer to that sadly. This is the society that thinks that male Islamic martyrs get 72 virgins in the afterlife. What do the women get? Then there are the honor killings noemally carried out in Bumfuckistan but now committed in the US and Europe by these delusional fucks.
    I’ve left out the Christian idiots who refuse medical treatment for their kids; the Gawd-driven militia groups; the racist scum that drug James Byrd to death and those 6 toothed white supremacists who don’t see the horror of that crime; the gay teens who are psychologically tortured, beaten or abandoned by their Religiotard families; the asswipes who threaten to kill one of their own over a magically blessed cracker… AAAAUUUUUUUUUGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Life on Earth will be a lot better when the human species is long gone.
    Granny:
    Normally I respect my elder’s, but in your case, with your smug but nonetheless idiotic fallacies, I’ll tell you straight up -Fuck You and the horse you rode in on, bitch.

  248. #250 Dianne
    November 6, 2008

    large enough differences in degree are indistinguishable from differences in kind

    Whether or not this is true, the distinction between denying people the right to marry based on their sexual orientation is not far enough from stoning people for adultery to be indistinguishable from a difference in kind. The right to marry and found a family is described by international organizations as a basic human right. Denial of a basic human right to people because you disapprove of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation is not so far from stoning someone as to make the comparison out of line.

  249. #251 PeteK
    November 6, 2008

    At the end of “Bridge on the River Kwai”, an officer walked around muttering “Madness”, over and over..

  250. #252 Anon Anon
    November 6, 2008

    A substantial fraction of children born to married women are the product of adultery. Exact figures are hard to come by, but the correct number is around 10% to 30%. (See Wikipedia link below.)

    The consequences of paternity fraud are similar to those of manslaughter and kidnapping. The child the husband would have had never lives because he cannot afford to pay for the interloper’s child in addition to the one he would have had. The child grows up never knowing its father, which has consequences for the child’s inheritance and medical issues.

    Most states in the U.S. assume that any child born to a married man are his and they do not accept any evidence to the contrary. Thus, a substantial percentage of men have had their right to have children taken from them and are forced by the government to raise, or at least pay for, the child(ren) of the interloper.

    I do not believe that adulterous women should be executed.

    P.Z., what do you believe should be done to meet out justice to women who defraud their husbands about his paternity?

    You claim to be a free thinker. It is easy to condemn people on the other side of the earth who brutally execute minors. Tell us what you would do with the 10% or so of American women who have harmed their husbands through paternity fraud. Do you have the guts oppose feminists with whom you associate?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paternity_fraud

  251. #253 Joe
    November 6, 2008

    @247: “Since that likely consequence of being convicted of murder is what would make him eligible for the Darwin Award, I didn’t think an intelligent audience would need it spelled out.”

    First, I have to assume another point about your original comment – that we are talking about a murder taking place in the US. Are we?

    Second, can you tell me what the odds are that someone convicted of murder will a) be sentenced to death and b) will actually be put to death?

  252. #254 Tom L
    November 6, 2008

    “Someone (SC?) might want to argue that such state processes are as bad as or worse than vigilantism, but that’s an argument to be had, and not to simply be skipped over by saying that a vote is a fancy sort of stone throwing.

    Would you be happy and satsified if this girl were to have been put through a formal trial in front of an official judge, who after careful deliberation announced in his official capacity that “rape == adultery” and handed down a sentence of stoning?

    Would you be happy and satisfied if some group managed to navigate the Constitutionally provided avenues to revise the California and United States Constitutions, to strip away the principle of equal protection, and insert language that once again blacks and women cannot vote; and have it all ratified by constitutional convention and state adoption?

    Yes, a vote is, on occasion, merely putting an official stamp on stone-throwing. This is not different in any substantial way from PZ’s original formulation.

  253. #255 raven
    November 6, 2008

    anon anon the dumbfuck troll:

    The consequences of paternity fraud are similar to those of manslaughter and kidnapping. The child the husband would have had never lives because he cannot afford

    Just who is impregnating these married women, the Easter bunny? You are assuming in your psycho troll way that only women have sex and commit adultry. The husband is quite possibly out knocking up some other woman or a teen age girl. On average it all works out in the end. In fact, surveys state that men have more sexual partners than women and are more likely to commit adultry.

    So what is your solution for men having affairs, castration, stoning, or lynching? And there goes half the male population, dead at the hands of irate mobs of woman.

  254. #256 Joe
    November 6, 2008

    @247: Actually, I found this on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_United_States

    “in recent years the average has been about one execution for about every 700 murders committed, or 1 execution for about every 325 murder convictions.”

    Doesn’t sound as if removing oneself from the gene pool as a result of murdering someone is a “likely consequence.”

  255. #257 Pete Rooke
    November 6, 2008

    Wowbagger: Pete Rooke, sick ****, your brothers-in-faith made unwilling participants in sexual acts, one of the worst crimes possible. Then your church’s leaders covered it up, protected the guilty, and allowed (if not encouraged) them to keep doing it to more people. Between being violated and denied justice, lives were (and are still being) destroyed.
    And you think hating that is irrational?

    Lets keep it civil.

    As to your conspiracy, well it is worthy of Dan Brown. Lets just entertain the absurd notion for a second however – why does that lead to a hatred of Catholicism? The dogma must surely stand alone – as either true or false. The acts of a few sinners does not alter the teachings one jot although, I readily agree that such acts would inspire strong emotions.

    Expanding on this however, suppose it did give you the authority to dismiss Catholicism offhand. Does it give you the authority to dismiss the entire Christian tradition and all of the differing doctrinal perspectives?

  256. #258 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    As to your conspiracy, well it is worthy of Dan Brown. Lets just entertain the absurd notion for a second however – why does that lead to a hatred of Catholicism? The dogma must surely stand alone – as either true or false.

    Even for you Pete this is a ridiculous statement. Of all the Christian sects out there Catholics are up there as being the most tied to the Church and it’s culture, celebrations, organization, rules and fanfare than any of them. The Church did systematically protect, reassign and hide the offenders while constantly putting more children in harm. You ignoring that shows what a dishonest sick person you are.

  257. #259 Lurkbot
    November 6, 2008

    This sickening story just keeps getting worse the more I think about it. The hope that the talibangelists and the bitterenders in the Religious Right in this country are any better seems misplaced to me, however.

    Every time a new dispensation arises in the Semitic-descended religions, be it Yahwism, Christianity, Islam, Protestantism, etc., it usually starts by appealing to the previously powerless groups such as women, and they make it popular. Within a century or two, though, the same reactionary impulses that originally came out of the Arabian desert, that some omnipotent god who supposedly created the whole universe has nothing better to do than enforce the sexual mores of some primitive tribe of flea-bitten sandcrawlers, gets back in the saddle again.

    Islam was originally a tolerant religion, but about 1000 on the Christian calendar it began to become obvious that they were never going to conquer the whole world as they had been promised, and the disappointment led to the rise of the kind of intolerant “fundamentalist” Islamism we see today. (That coupled with economic and technological inferiority in the last two centuries has created a real witches’ brew.)

    If you read some of the outpourings of the wingnuts over Tuesday’s election results, you see the same sort of thing beginning. Make no mistake, the forces of violence and murder are girding themselves for the struggle. So yes, fight them tooth and nail! If a rock is all you’ve got, it’s better than nothing.

    To whoever said that there is no Somali Republic anymore: You’re right. But at least they never had the power to carry out the threat implied by the other three points on their flag’s star: incorporating Djibouti, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and the Northeast Province of Kenya!

  258. #260 E.V.
    November 6, 2008

    Anon Anon:

    The consequences of paternity fraud are similar to those of manslaughter and kidnapping.

    WTF? REALLY? And you will prove this… how?
    People are being brutally killed and you’re worried about paying the check for being cuckolded?
    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.
    Seriously, you should consider self-annihilation and put yourself out of our misery.

  259. #261 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    you claim to be a free thinker. It is easy to condemn people on the other side of the earth who brutally execute minors. Tell us what you would do with the 10% or so of American women who have harmed their husbands through paternity fraud. Do you have the guts oppose feminists with whom you associate?

    non-sequitur of the week goes to.

    What a gigantic asshole you are. Even in this thread where Pete is showing his worst, you for a moment made me reconsider who here is the biggest moron.

  260. #262 Anton Mates
    November 6, 2008

    Option b implies some transcendent set of moral absolutes that the gods (or humans) can refer to to see what is good or evil.

    No, it doesn’t. It simply implies that gods prefer whatever it is that most humans consider moral. This does not require either gods or humans to base their preferences on some transcendent reality. The Greek gods generally agreed with mortals about what food tastes good and which people were hot, but that doesn’t imply transcendent Laws of Deliciousness and Bangworthiness.

    But what kind of atheist believes in stuff like that? A true atheist doesn’t believe in imaginary things like gods or transcendent moral absolutes.

    Plenty of atheists believe in moral absolutes. Plenty of others don’t, but nonetheless have grounds for considering moral judgments as meaningful as any other value judgments. Still others reject the concept of morality, but still have ethical preferences of some sort.

    Why don’t you ask some “true atheists” and actually find out how they deal with the issue?

  261. #263 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Why don’t you ask some “true atheists” and actually find out how they deal with the issue?

    I’m sticking with my comment at #231

  262. #264 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    Pete “well meaning fool” Rooke, here is something you need to pray about. If you pray right, it might take you tens years to get answer. Otherwise, it might take forever. Either god made gays in which case we have to respect their rights, or gays are god’s mistakes, in which case god isn’t omnipotent, which is a requirement to be a god. This implies god doesn’t exist. Pray for ten years minimum. Then get back to us with the answer.

  263. #265 Wowbagger
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke,

    Lets keep it civil.

    Cram it in your jesus-hole. With walnuts.

    As to your conspiracy, well it is worthy of Dan Brown.

    Are you serious? Dan Brown is fiction. The church’s cover-up of child-molesting priests is documented fact. Or are you claiming that it’s all a fabrication? Maybe you better get a tinfoil hat to go with your gimp suit.

    It leads to a (rational) hatred of catholicism because the people responsible for catholicism chose to protect the church rather than the victims. No doubt you feel similarly; that it was better for the ‘good name’ of the church to be protected than for those monsters to be stopped from their vile actions.

    You dismiss homosexuality because you see it as a ‘challenge’ given by your god to certain people who need to overcome it. What did those kids who your brothers-in-faith raped (often repeatedly) do to deserve the ‘challenge’ of having their lives destroyed by the so-called agents of a supposedly kind and loving god?

    Does it give you the authority to dismiss the entire Christian tradition and all of the differing doctrinal perspectives?

    Did I say that? No, the catholic church as an organisation has to answer for its numerous crimes. The authority to dismiss the entire christian tradition comes from the fact it is a tradition based on absurd and patently nonsensical lies, and is perpetuated and supported by a combination of the manipulative, the credulous and the ignorant.

  264. #266 ildi
    November 6, 2008

    Well, speaking as a “true atheist,” I’m all over the transcendent Laws of Deliciousness and Bangworthiness.

  265. #267 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    It leads to a (rational) hatred of catholicism because the people responsible for catholicism chose to protect the church rather than the victims. No doubt you feel similarly; that it was better for the ‘good name’ of the church to be protected than for those monsters to be stopped from their vile actions.

    But even beyond that, Catholic doctrine is virtually inseparable from the organization and its traditions, ceremonies, rules and hierarchy of leaders.

  266. #268 Milawe
    November 6, 2008

    What happened to this girl is unimaginably horrific and that it will spread terror to women in Somalia, especially rape victims, is unquestionable. But surely this is why we should also encourage PZ to mention that the US is financially backing an Ethiopian occupation of Southern Somalia and that occupation and wars historically lead to increased rapes as the soldiers on both sides attempt to attack and defile women as a weapon of terror.

  267. #269 Buford
    November 6, 2008

    It seems to me that marraige rights should be seen in the same historical context as voting rights.

    The American founding fathers wanted every ‘citizen’ to have a vote. They did not realize that their definition of ‘citizen’ was too limiting. Their original definition left out a lot of people – women, non-landowners, slaves and many others.

    The progress of our democracy has been in recognizing those limitations and expanding the definition to be more inclusive. We didn’t notice all of the limitations at one moment and fix it at one time. Women got the vote at a different time than non-whites and non-landowners was different still. The good news is that we continue to sporadically recognize mistakes and fix them.

    I think that marraige rights are similar. The old definitions of who qualifies are quite restricting and no rational reasons exist for being so – just historical (and hystrical) ones. It takes time and effort for a society to recognize that it has been blind to a particular form of injustice and to change it. It is to be expected that not everyone will agree at first.

    Eventually atheists will also be recognized as people who should be included rather than excluded.

    I mentioned earlier that the progress of democracy was being more inclusive. I meant progress in a positive sense. We have had some negatives temporarily enshrined along the way. One way of looking at the amendments to the Constitution: the ones that expanded rights have been kept and the ones that restricted rights have been reversed after further thought (Prohibition).

  268. #270 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    But surely this is why we should also encourage PZ to mention that the US is financially backing an Ethiopian occupation of Southern Somalia and that occupation and wars historically lead to increased rapes as the soldiers on both sides attempt to attack and defile women as a weapon of terror.

    There is no doubt that happens, but did I miss that these were soldiers that raped this girl?

  269. #271 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Whether or not this is true, the distinction between denying people the right to marry based on their sexual orientation is not far enough from stoning people for adultery to be indistinguishable from a difference in kind.

    That’s not the difference I referred to. Rather, I was referring to the difference between casting a stone and casting a vote. In addition to the due process/vigilante distinction, a vote has no effect unless it’s part of a statistical majority, so it’s a bit more like everyone putting their hands on a giant stone, and the stone only gets thrown if the number of hands placed below it exceed the number of stones placed above it.

    The right to marry and found a family is described by international organizations as a basic human right. Denial of a basic human right to people because you disapprove of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation is not so far from stoning someone as to make the comparison out of line.

    No disagreement there. My objection is to the claim that how the denial was performed was “simply … a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone”. That statement is facile and false, and its falsity has nothing to do with how heinous it is to deprive people of this basic human right. And the more complex reality leads to serious questions about democracy, voting, the California initiative process, the California amendment process, and so on. As it so happens, descriptions by international organizations are not binding law in California. What is now binding law — unless someone can craft a constitutional argument that will win over a majority of the California Supreme Court — is religious-fed bigotry.

  270. #272 Walton
    November 6, 2008

    Not that I’m defending Islamic law in the slightest, or the barbaric practice of stoning women to death – but just to be pedantic, the news story to which this blog post links makes two important points, which don’t appear to have been discussed:

    (1) We don’t know the girl was 13, since there’s been no reliable international observation. Amnesty International has made that claim, based largely, it would seem, on hearsay. It was initially claimed that she was 22 or 23.

    (2) Stoning a girl of 13 to death for adultery would be illegal under Islamic law.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a stupid and savage practice to stone anyone, of any age, to death for adultery, and I haven’t missed the main point of this post. But as a pedant, I do feel it’s better not to jump to conclusions based on limited evidence.

  271. #273 Wowbagger
    November 6, 2008

    But even beyond that, Catholic doctrine is virtually inseparable from the organization and its traditions, ceremonies, rules and hierarchy of leaders.

    Exactly. Any halfway decent person would have distanced his- or herself from the church the instant the truth about the repeated rapes and the cover-ups came out.

    I mean, c’mon. Sure, if you’re the sort of person who can’t live without wanting to feel guilty about thinking perfectly normal thoughts, or telling other people what to do (or not to do) in their own bedrooms, or sucking up to an invisible man in the sky so you can go to the most boring place imaginable after you die, go start your own damn sect; it’s not like it hasn’t been done before.

  272. #274 Jackie
    November 6, 2008

    You know, I’m sick of mathematicians. They’re so evil. Just take Ted Kaczynski the “Unabomber” for example. Maybe we should just outlaw mathematicians. Mathematicians are the root of all evils. Stop them now!

  273. #275 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    The American founding fathers wanted every ‘citizen’ to have a vote.

    Actually they didn’t: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors …”

  274. #276 Benny
    November 6, 2008

    God and sex don’t get along well together?
    I thank God for giving me a wonderful wife with whom I have still great sex!
    BTW…we got married in a beautiful little church in Kent, UK, 25 yrs ago!
    Otherwise it’s a nice post, PZ…(maybe our muslim brothers won’t like it, but they should take courage! You don’t write very often “about” Islam. Somehow, you prefer Christians…)

  275. #277 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    You know, I’m sick of mathematicians. They’re so evil. Just take Ted Kaczynski the “Unabomber” for example. Maybe we should just outlaw mathematicians. Mathematicians are the root of all evils. Stop them now!

    Does math tell it’s followers (math followers???) to discriminate against others?

    weak weak weak

  276. #278 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    God and sex don’t get along well together?
    I thank God for giving me a wonderful wife with whom I have still great sex!
    BTW…we got married in a beautiful little church in Kent, UK, 25 yrs ago!
    Otherwise it’s a nice post, PZ…(maybe our muslim brothers won’t like it, but they should take courage! You don’t write very often “about” Islam. Somehow, you prefer Christians…)

    watered down fatwa envy?

  277. #279 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    I’m sure Pete is Jesus incarnate, and that’s why he has no problem in casting the first stone.

  278. #280 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    You know, I’m sick of mathematicians. They’re so evil. Just take Ted Kaczynski the “Unabomber” for example. Maybe we should just outlaw mathematicians. Mathematicians are the root of all evils. Stop them now!

    While many people who voted for Prop 8 may have thought they were outlawing gays, or gay sex, or gay relationships, or gays raising children (all those idiots saying “I voted yes because children need a mommy and a daddy”), or gays sharing health insurance, etc., fortunately they didn’t achieve any of that.

  279. #281 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Wowbagger: Pete Rooke, sick ****[fuck], your brothers-in-faith made unwilling participants in sexual acts, one of the worst crimes possible. Then your church’s leaders covered it up, protected the guilty, and allowed (if not encouraged) them to keep doing it to more people. Between being violated and denied justice, lives were (and are still being) destroyed.
    And you think hating that is irrational?

    Lets keep it civil.
    As to your conspiracy, well it is worthy of Dan Brown. Lets just entertain the absurd notion for a second however – why does that lead to a hatred of Catholicism?

    Well, I think it’s more civil to use the term “sick fuck” to express an honest opinion than to deliberately misinterpret, mischaracterise and lie about what someone someone presents. Civility is more about the way one conducts oneself than the specific terminology one uses.

    In this case, clearly Catholicism is instantiated by the Catholic Church and no-one else, and Wowbagger’s claims are not controversial.

    Bah.

  280. #282 Tom L
    November 6, 2008

    This paternity tangent is going seriously off topic, but what the hell.

    The obvious answer to that problem is to make paternity testing a routine post-partum procedure. For most people it will be the merest formality. (And those men who view it as a violation of privacy within their marriage can always waive the test). For those cases where it actually matters, the husband’s rights are preserved. When a failed match is detected, the mother must name all possible progenitors of the child, or face sole financial responsibility for the child in the event her husband wishes to divorce. The men she names then submit DNA, and the, ahem, “winner” is then responsible for child support — even if the husband wishes to forgive and forget, and retain status as the official father of that child.

    ** No one is made to pay for a child he did not sire.
    ** Everyone who actually fathers a child pays for that child
    ** Everyone who cheats badly enough to cause a pregnancy is exposed, which should be at least a minor deterrent.
    ** Men who are messing around with married women face the possibility of paying for a child they don’t get to be Dad of — also a deterrent.

    There. No stoning necessary.

    Now, can we get back on topic?

  281. #283 Sastra
    November 6, 2008

    Granny #208 wrote:

    Unless PZ wants to point to some transcendent moral absolutes that are true for all people in all places and at all times, then why in the world should he think that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are real? If there is no ‘god’ or no transcendent moral laws, then killing a 13 year old girl is no more right or wrong than a Northern Pike having a good meal of its offspring.

    As long as humans share a common evolved nature, there will be basic and fundamental agreements on good and evil, and right and wrong, which “transcend” the individual or group, and apply to all humans. Not transcendence, but intersubjectivity — that’s the rock on which any absolute or near-absolute must be grounded, whether God exists or not. Theists themselves are forced to assume humanistic ethics, whenever they appeal to a God that represents a universal sense of what is Good. There has to be that sense in the first place, or God could not satisfy it. You cannot just hustle God’s moral superiority and goodness into the definition of God: it has to be recognizable.

    What God adds, of course, is not moral authority — we grant God moral authority when we recognize it as meeting our own understanding of right and wrong — it adds in new facts, and takes away the ability to counter these facts with “worldly” argument. People who are innocent on the secular level become criminals on the “spiritual” level.

    So my point in #27 stands:

    the God who forbids stoning is as much a matter of faith as the God which demands stoning.

    If God exists, then killing a 13 year old girl is wrong whatever God thinks about it. If God could not condone what these Somalians did, then God is bowing to the logical higher authority of what is fair among human beings.

  282. #284 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Wowbagger, I should know by now to refresh before posting.

    heh.

  283. #285 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Would you be happy and satsified if this girl were to have been put through a formal trial in front of an official judge, who after careful deliberation announced in his official capacity that “rape == adultery” and handed down a sentence of stoning?

    Would you be happy and satisfied if you weren’t an idiot? I said nothing about what pleases me, only that certain things are different from each other. In fact, if you weren’t so fucking stupid, you would grasp that I have repeatedly acknowledged the tyranny of the majority, and have referred to Prop 8 as despicable and heinous.

    This is not different in any substantial way from PZ’s original formulation.

    It’s not different in any substantial way if you ignore all the substantial differences.

  284. #286 Lowell
    November 6, 2008

    You don’t write very often “about” Islam. Somehow, you prefer Christians…)

    First, Benny, if you use the search functions, you’ll find quite a few posts on Pharyngula critical of Islam.

    Second, although PZ does address Christianity more often that Islam, there’s a good explanation for that: he lives in a country where Christianity is the dominant religion.

  285. #287 Wowbagger
    November 6, 2008

    John Morales wrote

    Wowbagger, I should know by now to refresh before posting.

    That’s fine; I appreciate the support. Pete Rooke’s a seriously disturbed and deluded individual, even for a xian. Perhaps the sheer volume of posts pointing out the failure of the catholic church as a pillar of morality and goodness (the irony!) will make him think a little bit more about it.

    Unfortunately, I can picture him (as much as I don’t want to) in his basement in his gimp suit, his jesus-and-mary porn on the screen, his soiled-with-ejaculate-bible, and his books covered in human skin; tinfoil hat on his head and fingers in his ears: ‘la la la la I am not listening…’

  286. #288 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Doesn’t sound as if removing oneself from the gene pool as a result of murdering someone is a “likely consequence.”

    Ok, then change it to “For which you would increase your chances of winning the Darwin Award to 1 in 325″. Thanks for helping me improve it so much.

  287. #289 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    You don’t write very often “about” Islam. Somehow, you prefer Christians…

    Yeah, that’s a real mystery. Perhaps it’s because he lives in a predominately Christian culture where Christians try to force the rest of us to live according to their peculiar superstitions. Frankly, it’d be pretty weird if he only went after witch doctors and Islamic fundamentalists on the other side of the planet without commenting on the same sort of crazy nonsense going on in our own society.

  288. #290 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    The consequences of paternity fraud are similar to those of manslaughter and kidnapping.

    A caution about being too facile in talking about differences of degree.

  289. #291 Joe
    November 6, 2008

    @287: Anytime, brother.

  290. #292 Walton
    November 6, 2008

    Unless PZ wants to point to some transcendent moral absolutes that are true for all people in all places and at all times, then why in the world should he think that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are real? If there is no ‘god’ or no transcendent moral laws, then killing a 13 year old girl is no more right or wrong than a Northern Pike having a good meal of its offspring.

    This is, for me, a major point of confusion. On the one hand, I am inclined to believe in an objective morality which transcends human culture and society; and, without theism, it’s difficult to identify the source of such morality.

    On the other hand, the Judeo-Christian conception of God doesn’t really explain it either. What about Numbers 31? Or the Book of Joshua? In these, if the narrative is taken to be accurate, God commanded genocide, the slaughter of innocent women and children purely because of the race and nation to which they belonged. If there are universal, objective moral values, this surely offends against them.

    So it is rather difficult to understand. If there is no God, then why do we need, or profess, an objective standard of morality beyond that which is socially-defined? But if the Judeo-Christian God is real, and morality stems from divine command, then why does our instinctive moral sense directly conflict with God’s purported commands in the biblical narrative? Of course, one can believe in a God or gods while rejecting the Abrahamic tradition – but most religious stories have similarly unpalatable aspects. And one can believe in a (deistic or non-interventionist) God or gods while rejecting existing religion entirely – but then how do we know what such a God expects of us, or where true morality lies?

  291. #293 'Tis Himself
    November 6, 2008

    Granny,

    If you make something difficult to read, people will not read it. Paragraphs are your friends. Learn to use them.

  292. #294 Tom L
    November 6, 2008

    “Would you be happy and satisfied if you weren’t an idiot?

    Wow, way to argue the merits of your case, there.

    “I said nothing about what pleases me, only that certain things are different from each other.”

    Sure, that a vote to stone is different from — and apparently somehow better than — actually throwing one yourself, as if the girl in question would be somehow better off by all the political machinery being exercised before being killed, or that somehow justice had been served thereby.

    “in fact, if you weren’t so fucking stupid, you would grasp that I have repeatedly acknowledged the tyranny of the majority, and have referred to Prop 8 as despicable and heinous.”

    I’m referring to your apparent reverence for due process. absent, at least in earlier posts, an equal reverence for sanity of outcomes. Even your analogy about a giant rock seems to give it a pass: because so many hands were on the rock before it was thrown, that somehow makes it okay that it was thrown, because at least some other hands were resisting it.

    If the outcome is awful, how it was arrived at is irrelevant. At the moment, you and I appear to agree on that idea.

  293. #295 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    (maybe our muslim brothers won’t like it, but they should take courage! You don’t write very often “about” Islam. Somehow, you prefer Christians…)

    And the cries of persecution were sung high on the hills, by the choir of the children of God. For they were truly at one with the suffering of their lord. They did bequeath a message of subjugation where the promised land would be theirs; indeed the time of reckoning was at hand. An obstacle of towering proportions blocked the path for they could never yield to grandeur whilst the dissenter mocked in fury from the sideline.

    “There is no promised land, thou art madmen” the dissenter would cry, a taint of scepticism would tarnish the air. Uncertainty wavered the faith of even the most stoic follower, the weakness of the fall pulsing through their veins and etching away at their very soul. But one cried out “Enough! Why are we faltering on the account of that one dissenter? Why is our faith damaged by those who deny the glory of the Creator? Is it not said that He forgives all? And we, made in His likeness have the capacity to forgive too. We have the duty to be in His image and show tolerance, for that is truly the meaning of the sacrifice”

    For a while the group was stunned, guilt washed over them and there was a moment of catharsis as only the holy spirit can provide. They realised at this moment the dissenter was themselves, that they had been led astray by their own feelings of inadequacy. This was the moment that would renew them, they would be born again and be as one with God. But first, just to be on the safe side they killed the dissenter anyway. After all, Jesus forgives all except blasphemy ;)

  294. #296 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Are Catholic priests buggerers or aren’t they?

    [chirp]

  295. #297 Nate
    November 6, 2008

    Religion is excellent at elevating intangible, untestable lies to a higher plane of moral significance than something as real and as simple as the life of a child.

    That is very well put.

  296. #298 raven
    November 6, 2008

    You don’t write very often “about” Islam. Somehow, you prefer Christians…

    Could it be because the Islamic wingnuts are over there, doing sickening things to each other.

    Whereas, the Xian wingnuts are over here, doing sickening things to each other and anyone else they target.

    Osama bin Laden knocked down a skyscraper and killed 3,000 people. Bush and his collection of religious fanatics all but wrecked the United States and killed more than that by a long ways.

    PZ’s Representative, Michelle Bachmann wants to root out “antiAmerican” congresspeople and believes the Catholic church is headed by the Antichrist. And he gets hate mail and death threats on a routine basis from xians who tried to get him fired. Nothing like seeing demented religious fanatics on a daily basis.

  297. #299 E.V.
    November 6, 2008

    A true atheist doesn’t believe in imaginary things like gods or transcendent moral absolutes. There is nothing ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about the religious right, atheists, homosexuals, or stoning.

    Yeah, if you leave out (pathos) sympathy, pity, empathy, sense of fairness, sense of justice; or are you implying atheists are incapable of these things?

    See: Secular Humanism:

    Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition.

  298. #300 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    tm @295, only a very small proportion, I suspect. I was heavily involved with Catholic priests in my childhood and the worst I encountered was public “drop-your-pants bare-bum spanking” as punishment during class.

    It’s the denial and hypocrisy that annoy me, particularly the Church policy of supporting their own functionaries (who’ve abused the trust required of them by followers) despite their claimed morality.

  299. #301 Mu
    November 6, 2008

    Craig,

    I grew up in a country (Germany in the 70s) where a small group of people thought to impose their version of needed change on the people by killing some high profile people – leading to an enormous backlash of exactly the kind of suppression they were trying to fight. All that stuff we have here since 9/11, machine guns in airports, searches, been there, done that 30 years ago. I see the same kind of “we can’t live with small change, we want it all, and we want it now” attitude in parts of the gay rights movement (and I know now someone will accuse me of linking them to terrorist violence; sod off). The gay rights movement squandered a perfect opportunity for equal legal rights over the symbol of being allowed to marry. I even bet no one would have objected if they would have sworn to their civil union in front of a priest. All gone now on the altar of “it’s total victory or death”.
    It might be not the bravest activist position, but I take 99% for free now over nothing for 20 years and a fight.

  300. #302 Buford
    November 6, 2008

    Truth machine, OM @ 274

    Sorry for the delay. My internet connection went wonky.

    Do you disagree with me or did you just want to point out that we do not vote directly for President?

    I am aware of the Electoral College. I do not think that is relevant to my point (in #268 for those of you following along at home)

  301. #303 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Wow, way to argue the merits of your case, there.

    Are you happy to be a blithering hypocrite? Your “would you be happy” bullshit was a condescending ad hominem strawman attack on me for which you deserve nothing from me but to be smacked hard.

    I’m referring to your apparent reverence for due process.

    Once again, cretin, “I said nothing about what pleases me, only that certain things are different from each other”. Perhaps if you offered up a quote where I expressed such reverence you might get some respect from me. What I did say,and which you did quote, was “Someone (SC?) might want to argue that such state processes are as bad as or worse than vigilantism”. But yes, I do prefer the California initiative process, flawed as it is, to people throwing stones, silly me.

    absent, at least in earlier posts, an equal reverence for sanity of outcomes.

    What, fuckhead, I have to come out and say that stoning children is evil for you to assume that I have “equal reverence” for them not being stoned? As for Prop 8, “earlier posts” includes other threads here where I have expressed my opposition in the strongest terms, and even without that, anyone here who is at all familiar with my stands on religion and human rights would know where I stand on Prop 8. In any case, I have no obligation to spell out every one of my views just to keep an imbecile like you to make unwarranted assumptions about them.

    If the outcome is awful, how it was arrived at is irrelevant. At the moment, you and I appear to agree on that idea.

    No, dipshit, if the outcome is awful, we agree that it is awful. But I have pointed out ways in which how it was arrived at is relevant. See, if you weren’t so dumb, you could grasp that relevance is relative. Of course how an awful result is obtained is not relevant to it being awful, but, like, duh.

  302. #304 Tom L
    November 6, 2008

    Regarding the question of what would I do in the situation: I can’t really say. If it were my daughter or wife being subjected to such a profound injustice, I might well bring an AK-47 to the event and try to take out as many of the madmen stoning my kin for such down-the-rabbit-hole logic as daring to be victimized by other madmen. (By the way, firing a gun in the air and saying “First one to throw a stone dies” is for all intents and purposes saying “Shoot me first, throw rocks second.”)

    On the other hand, the above assumes that I would be acting out of my current understanding of morality. More likely, having grown up there and been thoroughly indoctrinated into the madness, I would be throwing rocks myself, in order to restore the honor of my family.

    This is not to give them a pass on their heinous action, nor to imply that morality is properly relative and subject to local social custom; merely to note that insanity is a communicable disease.

  303. #305 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    That’s one thing I’ve always found annoying about talking in absolutes, that is if there is no absolute source of morality then there is only moral subjectivism. It’s a play on semantics and ignores much of what we know about evolutionary psychology. The sense of right and wrong is an evolved trait, born out of repeated social interaction and geared towards survival of the group and the invidivual within it. There are no objective morals to reach for, morality itself is a social construct.

    It’s like saying without an absolute lawgiver that transcends society, there can be no law.

  304. #306 Tom L
    November 6, 2008

    tm, For someone who dislikes ad hominems, you sure call a lot of names.

  305. #307 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Tom @305, you apparently misunderstand what ad hominem means.

  306. #308 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Do you disagree with me or did you just want to point out that we do not vote directly for President?

    Yes, I disagree that “The American founding fathers wanted every ‘citizen’ to have a vote. They did not realize that their definition of ‘citizen’ was too limiting.” The first sentence is contrary to the evidence and the second sentence is silly.

    As to both voting rights and marital rights evolving historically — yes, but voting rights have been historically expanded via amendment and statute, whereas marital rights have been sometimes expanded and, as we just saw, sometimes curtailed.

  307. #309 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    Ad hominem:
    You’re argument is wrong because you’re an arsehole

    Not ad hominem:
    You’re argument is wrong because you failed to take into account the empirical data as given here, by the way you’re an arsehole.

    Insulting someone is not a logical fallacy, using said insult as your argument is a logical fallacy.

  308. #310 Zaphod
    November 6, 2008

    Granny wrote: “A true atheist doesn’t believe in imaginary things like gods or transcendent moral absolutes. There is nothing ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about the religious right, atheists, homosexuals, or stoning.”

    Certainly an atheist doesn’t believe in airy-fairy nonsense like gods. In fact, pretty much every theist also rejects nearly all of the gods ever worshipped. They just usually stop throwing them out with one remaining, presumably like a souvenier shell from the beach. Atheists do them one better and get rid of the shopworn myth altogether.

    What is “good” is a matter about which there can certainly be debate. Certainly, much that seems “good” to various religions is patently and obviously vile and evil. The case before us being a wonderful example. How can an atheist determine good and evil? He or she can start from the ethical bases common to nearly all philosophies. The golden rule, for example, which was pronounced in various ways by Buddha and Socrates, among others, centuries before the Christians co-opted it.

  309. #311 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    tm, For someone who dislikes ad hominems, you sure call a lot of names.

    That’s exactly right, moron. It is because you attacked my claims about what is or isn’t different by blithering about what makes me happy — an irrelevant ad hominem — that I call you the names you deserve. Now, if I reversed it and claimed that, because you’re an idiot, you must be wrong, that would be ad hominem.

  310. #312 Buford
    November 6, 2008

    OK then.

    You may be in a bad mood from the Tom L thread.

    I won’t pursue it.

  311. #313 costanza
    November 6, 2008

    The problem here is point of view. Human beings are disreputable, violent creatures. Evidence? Look at human history – we spend more time, money, intellectual output…you name it…waging war. I live behind the walls of the so-called Ivory Tower now, but that wasn’t always the case. Yes, you can say that, “I would never sit by while that happened”, but for most of you…well..you don’t really know, do you? (it’s an easy thing to say, sitting in a Starbucks or what have you). Thomas Hobbe’s ideas concerning human nature were perhaps too lenient. These people killed because they wanted to…religion was the excuse, not the cause.

  312. #314 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Tom @305, you apparently misunderstand what ad hominem means.

    Yes indeedy.

    An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim,

    Like, say, what would make them happy.

    rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

    The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.

    And for that crime against reason I, the truth vigilante, throw my stones.

  313. #315 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    I am inclined to believe in an objective morality which transcends human culture and society; and, without theism, it’s difficult to identify the source of such morality.

    There’s no such thing as red — some things just happen to reflect light in the 600 – 750 nm wavelength. So why do people of all cultures and societies with normal, healthy eyesight consistently report seeing red when you show them an object that reflects light within that range? Just because a concept is “just in our head” doesn’t mean that it’s completely arbitrary.

  314. #316 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    You may be in a bad mood from the Tom L thread.

    Um, ad hominememememem…

  315. #317 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    I see ol Pete didn’t want any part of the slavery issue.

    And now here comes Walton back, still has his poker too.

  316. #318 SC
    November 6, 2008

    tm,

    Check your emails. :D

  317. #319 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    Hmm… I went a different way with my argument than I had originally intended, and now, in hindsight, I probably should have quoted Granny instead of Walton.

    Ah, well. Time to go butcher some tunes, anyway.

  318. #320 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    Patricia, ole Pete doesn’t seem to like to be challenged. Of course, it might upset his faith if he actually looks at the facts of what the bible says, and what his church does.

    Which sex have you decided upon of Walton’s hooker?

  319. #321 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I am inclined to believe in an objective morality which transcends human culture and society; and, without theism, it’s difficult to identify the source of such morality.

    That you need theism to support this belief should be a good reason for you to abandon the belief (aside from it being frankly incoherent).

    If there is no God, then why do we need, or profess, an objective standard of morality beyond that which is socially-defined?

    We don’t need it, and as “profess”, that’s like asking why we profess that breaking mirrors is bad luck.

  320. #322 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Azdak,

    [1] There’s no such thing as red — some things just happen to reflect light in the 600 – 750 nm wavelength. [2] So why do people of all cultures and societies with normal, healthy eyesight consistently report seeing red when you show them an object that reflects light within that range?

    [1] That’s what we call “red”. (reflect or generate – e.g. LEDs)
    [2] Because, when language is learnt, those people are told that that perception is the perception of “red”.

    Pedantry aside, I don’t think your analogy is applicable, since perception of morality is not a sensory perception but a cognitive one (or, it’s subjective not objective).

  321. #323 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Check your emails. :D

    Nuthin’ there … when did you send?

  322. #324 SC
    November 6, 2008

    Nuthin’ there … when did you send?

    Yikes. About ten minutes ago. To the newer one. Please tell me you got it. If it went to someone else, that would be a problem.

  323. #325 Sastra
    November 6, 2008

    Walton #291 wrote:

    This is, for me, a major point of confusion. On the one hand, I am inclined to believe in an objective morality which transcends human culture and society; and, without theism, it’s difficult to identify the source of such morality.

    Try an experiment: think of what an ‘objective morality’ which ‘transcends’ human nature would be like.

    A morality that transcends individuals means that a person could be wrong about what is right.

    A morality that transcends culture means that a culture could be wrong about what is right.

    A morality that transcends humanity means that human beings, taken as a collective species, can all be wrong about what is right.

    That last one is problematic. It would entail that love, fairness, kindness, generosity, honesty, justice — every basic virtue which humans value as basic virtues — could all be wrong. It could turn out that they’re bad things, and Objective Morality is invested in some alien Uber Species or God which looks evil to humans, but is really Perfect and Good.

    But why the hell call that thing “Good” – if you’re a human?

    That’s why you can’t ground an ‘objective’ or universal morality in a source outside of human nature — like God. It only works if God must be the reflection of everything we already value, human nature symbolized. God’s morals would have to make sense to us, or they’re useless. And if they make sense to us, then recognizing God as their source is irrelevant. We can figure right and wrong out on our own. It makes no pragmatic difference if God or evolution is the reason we got the way we are. Once you have intersubjective values, you work from there. Source doesn’t matter.

    I think the reason the God of the Bible is immoral when regarded by modern eyes is that the Bible assumes a world where it’s a given that purity, obedience, and loyalty to tribe and Authority have been structured into the universe as the highest values, trumping all others. There’s no good reason to rank them that way, though, absent a specific God which set the universe up that way.

    In fact, there’s no good reason to rank them that way even if God did set the universe up that way. Unless God can persuade everyone that His way is best, He’s just one opinion among many. The ability to smite your enemies does not make one right. Not even if you’re God.

    If we can create a better God than God, there’s no reason to assume that we must believe in one, or we can’t create a better one.

  324. #326 Michael Hawkins
    November 6, 2008

    Religion is an excellent catalyst for bigotry and hatred.

    http://forthesakeofscience.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/solid-argument/

  325. #327 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    That should be a group decision made by everyone that has donated, unless Walton identifies the gender of a hooker he’d prefer.

    Personally, I’d like to hire The Lady Chablis. I’d imagine she could do something interesting with that poker.

  326. #328 Dan
    November 6, 2008

    There should have been a Proposition 8b, next to Prop 8, banning mixed race marriages.

    I wonder what the the outcome would have been. I mean, when civil rights stares you in the face…

  327. #329 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    That’s what we call “red”. (reflect or generate – e.g. LEDs)

    It’s what we call red wavelengths, a matter of physical definition. But perception of red is a quite different thing, and we can perceive red when no wavelengths in the red range are present, and we can perceive those wavelengths as colors other than red.

    Because, when language is learnt, those people are told that that perception is the perception of “red”.

    I think Adzak’s point is that we have a common physiology.

    Pedantry aside, I don’t think your analogy is applicable, since perception of morality is not a sensory perception but a cognitive one (or, it’s subjective not objective).

    Analogies depend on similarities; they aren’t made inapplicable just because there are differences — there are always differences. The universality of morality (to the degree that it is) is in part a consequence of a common biology and evolution.

  328. #330 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Patricia, I think Sastra is far more likely to reach Walton than you.

    His earnestness kinda balances your frivolity, so for mine you both contribute. Remember, every good routine needs a straight guy :)

    PS the contrast in age, sex and outlook is duly appreciated by me.

  329. #331 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Please tell me you got it.

    Not yet. I just sent you one (“Maybe it’s stuck in the tubes”).

  330. #332 Dexter Fox
    November 6, 2008

    Religion is the ultimate trump card. You can trump law, decency, the social good, anything. God is bigger than any of those. If God tells you it’s alright, then you can sleep at night.

    Religion isn’t the basis of morality, it is the subversion of morality. The perversion. The antithesis of morality.

  331. #333 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    His earnestness

    Her.

  332. #334 SC
    November 6, 2008

    Finally. Phew!

    For fuck’s sake – they “upgraded” my email, and now it doesn’t work. I tried to reply, but I don’t think it went through. Here’s what it said:

    “I’m a complicated woman. :)

    Soon – I promise.”

  333. #335 mayhempix
    November 6, 2008

    Posted by: Pete Rooke | November 6, 2008 4:28 PM
    “People who engage in sodomy or other perversions often have a sense of guilt or shame as a result of there actions.”

    And Pete knows this because…?

  334. #336 Heidi Anderson
    November 6, 2008

    As someone who lurks here frequently, I feel the need to stick up for consensual sodomy – mentioned a few posts back. But I guess since I am a woman, married to a man, the state doesn’t care about that.

    I saw all heterosexuals so inclined throw a “love-in” so to speak, in there towns and cities where Prop 8 and the like passed. Sodomy-Ins!!!!

  335. #337 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    tm #328,

    Analogies depend on similarities; they aren’t made inapplicable just because there are differences — there are always differences. The universality of morality (to the degree that it is) is in part a consequence of a common biology and evolution.

    I can’t dispute the first sentence, or the the second in general terms. But, to be applicable as an analogy, it should also not have qualitative (categorical?) differences.
    I don’t think it’s applicable because colour perception is not (I think) changeable according to our current beliefs, whilst morals are.

    That said, I will think on your clarification.

  336. #338 Malcolm
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke The vile troll blathered @256,

    Lets keep it civil.

    It isn’t uncivil to point out that the catholic church covers up crimes against kiddies. Suggesting that wearing miniskirts is an invitation to rapists is uncivil. Please learn to tell the difference.

    As to your conspiracy, well it is worthy of Dan Brown. Lets just entertain the absurd notion for a second however – why does that lead to a hatred of Catholicism? The dogma must surely stand alone – as either true or false. The acts of a few sinners does not alter the teachings one jot although, I readily agree that such acts would inspire strong emotions.

    I think that when discussing this topic with catholics, it is important to point out that this doesn’t just involve “a few sinners”, as the troll here would like to imply. The orders to cover this up, and excommunicate those who talked to the cops, came from the man they now call the pope.

    Expanding on this however, suppose it did give you the authority to dismiss Catholicism offhand. Does it give you the authority to dismiss the entire Christian tradition and all of the differing doctrinal perspectives?

    Emphasis mine.
    What “authority” is needed to dismiss fairy tales?

  337. #339 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    tm @333, Walton is female?
    Wow, I’m thick. Luckily, other than the pronoun, I need change nothing I wrote :)

  338. #340 Buford
    November 6, 2008

    Not ad hominem at all.

    Not an attack or an argument.

    Just an observation on my part that may or may not be true, but nevertheless helps me decide to not continue discussing anything further tonight.

  339. #341 SC
    November 6, 2008

    And Pete knows this because…?

    My evening is complete.

  340. #342 Sven DIMilo
    November 6, 2008

    tm @333, Walton is female?

    Naw, I don;t think so. I think the Machine interpreted your syntax to mean that the “he” referred to Sastra. As did I at first.

  341. #343 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    tm @333, Walton is female?

    Sastra. Your pronoun was rather ambiguous — apparently I picked the wrong referent.

    Wow, I’m thick.

    So I’ve said, but probably not in this case. :-)

  342. #344 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    I don’t think it’s applicable because colour perception is not (I think) changeable according to our current beliefs, whilst morals are.

    Again, you’re picking out a difference, when it’s the similarity that makes the analogy explanatory — universality of human circumstances yields universality of human attributes, whether it’s color perception or taboos.

  343. #345 casey
    November 6, 2008

    Why are ppl like Pete anit-sodomy? Does it bother them that much that other ppl are getting action they aren’t?

    Also, i am quite sure that the majority of sodomy is heterosexual, I’m not sure why they think it has anything to do with being gay or straight. it’s a sexual act like any other… i have trouble believing these guys would say no to a blow job from their partners.

    Are you still against sodomy Pete if it’s married partners?

  344. #346 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    Why thank you John!
    Emmet Caulfield started a donation drive to hire a hooker to remove the poker Walton has so firmly inserted up his joyless backside. So with my $20, we now have $40 towards the hooker.

    I think Walton is a male, and 19 years old. But he could be some prissy old lady for all we know. He got his tighty whitey’s all in a knot when I ask him why he hangs out here all the time, and isn’t out getting drunk and laid.

    We think Walton needs a professional hooker with goodly experience to remove that poker. Sastra nor I, probably just don’t have the proper training.

  345. #347 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Not ad hominem at all.

    You seemed to suggest that I may have written what I did in response to you because I “may be in a bad mood”, which would be an ad hominem dismissal of the substance of what I wrote. But perhaps you were just expressing a concern that my attitude toward him might spill over to you, so you were avoiding any possibility of that. But I generally compartmentalize pretty well.

    I suggest you do some more reading about the attitude of the founders toward “citizens” voting.

  346. #348 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    What?!

    Truth Machine, Walton is a girl?

    Well, if that’s the case, the need for the hooker is even greater.

  347. #349 truth machine, OM
    November 6, 2008

    Truth Machine, Walton is a girl?

    Not that I know of. But Sastra is an earnest one, and I thought JM was referring to her.

  348. #350 mayhempix
    November 6, 2008

    Why don’t we hook up Pete and Walton?

  349. #351 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Why don’t we hook up Pete and Walton?

    Um, Peter Rooke is despicable, Walton is just naive.

    To tie this back to the post, I can certainly imagine Peter Rooke throwing rocks at a helpless girl (whilst feeling virtuous) were someone with “spiritual authority” to tell him it was morally right, but I doubt Walton would (and certainly not without arguing the case, anyway).*

    They both seem to annoy regular posters, but for quite different reasons, and at least Walton claims to be (and I don’t disbelieve him) open to persuasion.

    As W to needing a hooker, well he’s male, 19 and a law student in England. I very, very much doubt he’s virginal in a sexual sense – not that I don’t think he’s getting a metaphorical deflowering here.


    * I would, but only under immediate duress and with feelings of self-loathing. I’d likely rationalise it as “her or me”, and plot revenge thereafter.

  350. #352 Emmet Caulfield
    November 6, 2008

    Why don’t we hook up Pete and Walton?

    Slightly unfair. Walton is, at worst, an earnest bore in dire need of a blow-job. Pete, OTOH, is a festering sore on a three-legged donkey’s cock-shaft who earned a killfile entry from me after about half-a-dozen ejections of purulent intellectual excrement that, presumably, festers in his puny frontal lobes, shriveled to walnut-size by the narrow-minded misogyny spoon-fed to him by the evil child-rape enabling scutterholes that he looks to for moral guidance.

  351. #353 mayhempix
    November 6, 2008

    @ Morales and Caulfield

    Humor people, humor.

    In the context of previous posts about hookers and sodomy, it seemd like a natural progression. But I do agree that Pete is in a sick league of his own and Walton does seem genuine if naive and in need..

  352. #354 Zaphod
    November 6, 2008

    On a completely separate note: the likelihood that anyone would defend the 13 year old girl, having been raised in that culture and particular superstitious idiom, is zilch.

    “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
    — Blaise Pascal, Pensees

  353. #355 Katharine
    November 6, 2008

    That Walton is a 19-year-old and a law student I find very, very hard to believe. Unless England has undergraduate law or he is some sort of prodigy who got his undergraduate degree at 18. I’m 20 and I’m a year away from finishing undergrad and going to grad school for neuroscience.

    Walton, seriously, you need to loosen the hell up. Have a beer, it’s legal for you guys. Watch some Monty Python if they still televise it on the Beeb over there.

  354. #356 'Tis Himself
    November 6, 2008

    Pete Rooke,

    It isn’t the pedophile priests that anger me. Any group with a large population is going to have a statistically significant number of sexual predators.* It’s how the church hierarchy went out of their way to protect the pedophiles that causes my rage. If the church turned the pedophiles over to the appropriate authorities when they first came to light, my anger wouldn’t exist. But when Cardinal Law and other bishops outright lied to police and prosecutors, apparently with the full approval of the man who’s now “Christ’s Vicar on Earth,” then you must excuse me if I feel somewhat irked at your precious church.

    *I don’t have any concrete evidence, but I strongly suspect that the number of pedophiles in the Catholic priesthood is higher than that of the general adult male population. When an organization makes normal sexual behavior illegal for its employees, it seems reasonable that those employees will find other means to express their sexuality.

  355. #357 Katharine
    November 6, 2008

    Here’s an idea:

    If you’re heterosexual and against Proposition 8, do some good old-fashioned bum play for gay men’s rights and some good old carpet munching (although I’m sure this is done already) for lesbians’ rights. We know the fundies despise anal sex and cunnilingus.

  356. #358 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    We know the fundies despise anal sex

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm not always so much

  357. #359 Emmet Caulfield
    November 6, 2008

    As [to Walton] needing a hooker…

    The task at hand is to remove the the poker he has planted firmly up his backside. I suggested a hooker because I figured s/he would be much cheaper than a proctologist and just as effective if part of the handle is still sticking out.

  358. #360 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself,

    … I strongly suspect that the number of pedophiles in the Catholic priesthood is higher than that of the general adult male population.

    well, yeah. The priesthood is all-male and obligate celibate (i.e. no lawful expression of sexuality allowed), and those over whom they have power tend to be children in their care.

  359. #361 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    Why Emmet, that’s down right slutty!

  360. #362 Emmet Caulfield
    November 6, 2008

    Unless England has undergraduate law…

    It does.

  361. #363 Emmet Caulfield
    November 6, 2008

    Why Emmet, that’s down right slutty!

    Why, thank you, Patricia: flattery will get you everywhere.

  362. #364 Nerd of Redhead
    November 6, 2008

    I must be slow today. PR showed up because of the description of the stoning, the thought of which turned him on. DOH. We always knew he had something to hide.

  363. #365 Kel
    November 6, 2008

    PR longs to live in the time of Jesus, so he could show he is without sin by casting the first stone.

  364. #366 IST
    November 6, 2008

    hmmm… the “Islam is peace” diatribe is starting to look as if it’s made of one of the targets they use at terrorist training camp… I’d love to buy into that if it weren’t for the fact that stories like this keep popping up. This is not the work of a few extremists, this is the work of a vile, disgusting ideology that permeates the entire religion.

  365. #367 Zaphod
    November 6, 2008

    IST: while christianity has come a long way (mostly, I would argue, by way of ascending non-belief), you should look up “auto da fe'” before you judge these islamist barbarians too harshly.

  366. #368 Patricia
    November 6, 2008

    Yes, actually I do know it will get me everywhere. That’s why I lay my flattery on thick, it gets me over, under around and through, every time.

  367. #369 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 6, 2008

    hmmm… the “Islam is peace” diatribe is starting to look as if it’s made of one of the targets they use at terrorist training camp… I’d love to buy into that if it weren’t for the fact that stories like this keep popping up. This is not the work of a few extremists, this is the work of a vile, disgusting ideology that permeates the entire religion.

    fixed

  368. #370 Emmet Caulfield
    November 6, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself @#356,

    Indeed, you make the case well. But it isn’t over. They haven’t changed. The Catholic Church Hierarchy, from the bishops up to the Pope, is still a vile child-rape enablement mafia. The Vatican continues its policy of non-cooperation with law-enforcement (police enquiries to the Vatican are returned unopened), at least half-a-dozen serial child-rapists and accessories after the fact to child-rape, like Cardinal Law, continue to live in the Vatican, beyond the reach of civil justice in the jurisdictions where they committed their crimes, and there have been documented cover-ups in South America recently, after they supposedly “came clean”. In 2001, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, instructed bishops that, in future, the Vatican would make all decisions pertaining to allegations of clerical child-abuse. This puts a lie to any claim made that the infamous Crimen Sollicitationis was “misinterpreted” by bishops without Vatican approval — the Vatican is doing exactly the same thing.

    In the mid 19th century, the Church defrocked child-raping priests and handed them over to the civil authorities for prosecution. Until they return to that policy, the Church remains in an abject state of moral turpitude.

  369. #371 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    @Zaphod

    …before you judge these islamist barbarians too harshly.

    Is such a thing possible? Seriously.

  370. #372 Zaphod
    November 6, 2008

    Azdak: Certainly it is possible, if in the judging you overlook the fact that they are humans, too. Sad, stupid, vicious and benighted humans, but humans nonetheless. Just like the European ancestors who participated in the auto da fe’.

  371. #373 Houdini1218
    November 6, 2008

    Kitty Genovese.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  372. #374 John Morales
    November 6, 2008

    Houdini1218, I can’t agree with you that this represents an instance of the Genovese syndrome – I see it more like the “Stanford prison experiment” effect.

  373. #375 j h woodyatt
    November 6, 2008

    Katherine writes: “If you’re heterosexual and against Proposition 8, do some good old-fashioned [s3xx0ring...]“

    Um, I’m probably up for it… where and when are we all meeting up?

  374. #376 Art
    November 6, 2008

    Such killings are, IMHO, nearly always an attempt to stop change and to maintain established social, sexual and hierarchical categories and structures. Typically for people to maintain themselves within an established comfort zone and/or position of advantage.

    People engaged in such practices are, in effect, trying to keep the ‘other’ and change at bay by having the victim represent the archetypal other and change.

    Once this sort of activity gets started it quickly gathers momentum and attempting to stand in its way makes you automatically an ‘other’ and a person blocking the will of the community.

    If you catch it early and have enough advantage/s like political, economic power, authority, or an edge in firepower or muscle to counter the forces pushing for execution than you might nip it in the bud. But once your facing a crowd of hundreds and the people involved have significant power and control your not going to have much traction. If objection without putting yourself at risk is possible then of course it makes sense to do that.

    But in such tightly controlled and mono-cultural communities anything but mild objection and discreet non-participation could get you in a hole next to their original target. It sounds very heroic and noble but it is just uselessly self-defeating. As much as I would like to project that I would boldly stand up to the crowd and powers that be I know how such events tend to turn out if you don’t have an army standing behind you when you make your stand. Failing that your just sacrificing yourself for no gain and allowing the extremists to target you for elimination now or later.

    You have to pick your fights. And survive long enough to build connections, coalitions and enough power to start to moderate and steer these sorts of displays with an eye toward eliminating them altogether.

    As sad as it is the best you might be able to do is document the event so it can be held up to the community and world later so they can’t deny it or equivocate and/or to simply walk away.

  375. #377 Azdak
    November 6, 2008

    John Morales,
    I grant you that the analogy is in some respects somewhat tenuous. It occurred to me as I was finishing the post that a more sound analogy would have been that of language itself, but I’d already typed what I’d typed, and well… it was easier to hit submit than start again. My point was, as Truth Machine so succintly summarized,

    The universality of morality (to the degree that it is) is in part a consequence of a common biology and evolution.

    Certainly, morality develops as a consequence of social interaction (like language), but that development depends, to a large extent, on a common physiology. We’re built to play well with others. Well, so long as they’re a member of our ‘group.’

  376. #378 Justin
    November 6, 2008

    Hi Dr. Myers,

    thanks so much for your support here. I’m a gay Canadian and I’m really concerned about how easy it was to overturn this judicial ruling. A simple majority should not be allowed to overturn such a judgement, and least of all a judgement that specifically targeted this sort of law. What’s worse is that it was proposed only after the Court sided with same-sex marriage; talk about a double standard of having confidence in a court to make a decision and then abadoning such confidence when the court doesn’t give the ruling you want. But, with yours and many others’ support, I can rest easier knowing that the “moral” majority won’t take away the rights of the people they don’t like without a daunting fight.

    Still, I worry. I worry that religious dogma and the gentle but pernicious theology that butresses it will sway too many people to think that what they are doing (or are trying to do) is right and good, despite the fact that religious dogma couldn’t give a hoot about persons and what they deserve, and despite the fact that much of the homophobic theology is pseudo-philosophical babble, immersed in Thomistic ideas of the natural purpose of sex and marriage long debunked by the enlightenment and post-modern thinkers.

    I sometimes feel like a sheep amongst wolves, all of us deciding what to have for dinner. The trust and stewardship that keeps my government from coming after my relationships and feelings is a delicate one. I feel that many gays in the US do and will need protection from democratic institutions just as much as they rely on them, simply because it now seems to be a tool for religion to force itself on those people who are unwilling and UNABLE to recognise it.

  377. #379 Buford
    November 7, 2008

    I shall now try #269 again-

    Truth Machine @308 said

    Yes, I disagree that “The American founding fathers wanted every ‘citizen’ to have a vote. They did not realize that their definition of ‘citizen’ was too limiting.” The first sentence is contrary to the evidence and the second sentence is silly.

    I shall establish that the definition of citizens who have the right to vote has changed over time. If you want to quibble over the exact wording of the first sentence or my direct knowledge of their ‘intent’ – OK, you win. Not particularly gemane to my point.

    My opinion is that they had a common, though too restrictive, idea of who should be allowed to vote. You may disagree. I stand by it. They were wrong to leave out so many people. The citations below show that others agreed with me enough to make changes.

    U.S Constitution, Article 1 Section 4
    September 17, 1787
    The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof…

    U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV, section 2
    July 9, 1868
    But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors…is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States…

    U.S. Constitution, Amendment XV, Section 1
    February 3, 1870
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    U. S. Constitution, Amendment XIX
    August 18, 1920
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.

    And TM also said

    As to both voting rights and marital rights evolving historically — yes, but voting rights have been historically expanded via amendment and statute, whereas marital rights have been sometimes expanded and, as we just saw, sometimes curtailed.

    Voting rights have also expanded and curtailed – expanded by amendment and statute, as you said, and curtailed by other statutes (Jim Crow laws, etc.) and local action (mob pressure and more)

    I don’t think that the methods we use to establish standards and modify them are terribly important to my general point that they are parallel cases. It would be important if I were specifying an action to make a change. I have not.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. I used it as an opportunity to read the Constitution again (bought a copy a few weeks ago)

    You may have the last word if you wish. This will be mine.

  378. #380 Mike
    November 7, 2008

    One thing that you forget is the power of the situation, none of us can predict what we will do in a situation until we encounter it. To say that you wouldn’t kill isn’t necessarily the truth. Consider Milgram’s experiment, over 2/3 of participants administered lethal shocks (or so they thought) because a man in a lab coat told them to. Or the Stanford Prison Experiment, 24 normal people completely sunk into their roles in a prisoner/guard situation. The experiment had to be shut down after 6 days despite a planned two week duration due to the sadistic behaviors that emerged.

    The power of the situation is extremely strong, don’t discount the possibility you would do something until the situation presents itself to you.

  379. #381 raven
    November 7, 2008

    Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.

    Y’all need to learn to read and think. As was pointed out on this thread many times, a few bystanders did try to prevent the atrocity. The stone throwing thugs were protected by “militia”. In the noncountry of Somalia, this is other thugs with AK47 automatic rifles and grenades and maybe a machine gun. Unless you are armed the same way and willing to shoot it out, you aren’t going to stop it.

    It is fundamental Islam plus anarchy plus ignorant thugs barely out of the stone age.

    There are plenty of Xians in the USA who would do the same thing happily. Read about what Rushdooney, the psychopathic father of Xian Dominionism and Pat Robertson’s mentor had planned. He wanted to kill 297 million of the 300 million citizens now alive in the USA. What stops them is normal people backed up by the rule of law and a lot of cops and soldiers. The difference between fundie Islamics and some fundie Xians is nothing really. We simply don’t let ours run around lose, much to their annoyance. The fundie Death Cult leaders in their own words:

    Pat Robertson: wikipedia
    Hugo Chávez” I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.

    We will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it.
    [Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, at the Aug 8, 1995 U.S. Taxpayers Alliance Banquet in Washington DC, talking about doctors who perform abortions and volunteer escorts My note. Terry’s sympathizers have, in fact, murdered more than a few health care workers.

    “Pastor Jerry Gibson spoke at Doug Whites New Day Covenant Church in Boulder.

    He said that every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.

    bcseweb.org Rushdooney:
    Our list may not be perfect but it seems to cover those “crimes” against the family that are inferred by Rushdoony’s statement to Moyers. The real frightening side of it is the interpretation of heresy, apostasy and idolatry. Rushdoony’s position seems to suggest that he would have anyone killed who disagreed with his religious opinions. That represents all but a tiny minority of people. Add to that death penalties for what is quite legal, blasphemy, not getting on with parents and working on a Sunday means that it the fantasy ideal world of Rushdoony and his pals, there will be an awful lot of mass murderers and amongst a tiny population.

    We have done figures for the UK which suggest that around 99% of the population would end up dead and the remainder would have each, on average, killed 500 fellow citizens.

    Chalcedon foundation bsceweb.org. Stoning disobedient children to death.Contempt for Parental Authority: Those who consider death as a horrible punishment here must realise that in such a case as
    ….cut for length
    Rev. William Einwechter, “Modern Issues in Biblical Perspective: Stoning Disobedient Children”, The Chalcedon Report, January 1999

  380. #382 Azdak
    November 7, 2008

    Azdak: Certainly it is possible, if in the judging you overlook the fact that they are humans, too. Sad, stupid, vicious and benighted humans, but humans nonetheless. Just like the European ancestors who participated in the auto da fe’.

    I’m inclined to disagree. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a more vile or reprehensible act (though I’m not feeling morbid enough to make more than a superficial attempt, there). That similar things have occurred at the hands of others makes no difference whatsoever. And I’m hardly overlooking the fact that they’re human; if she’d been stoned to death by a group of rampaging monkeys, I’d have a very different reaction. It’s because they are human that I condemn them as monsters.

  381. #383 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    Azdak, OK, I get it now. I will agree with this qualification:

    … morality develops as a consequence of social interaction (like language), but that development depends, to a large extent, on a common physiology and environment. We’re built to play well with others. Well, so long as they’re a member of our ‘group.’

    Which, I suppose, means I must agree that there’s some innate basis for morality, and thus it is objective to some degree (from our perspective).

  382. #384 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    PS Azdak, your post brings to mind the old theories of an innate language. I don’t know enough to have a firm opinion on this, but the arguments do seem analogous.

  383. #385 Azdak
    November 7, 2008

    Yeah, the environment part was wrapped up in the “as a consequence of social interaction” — your qualification seems redundant to me. But if you’re happy, I’m happy.

  384. #386 Azdak
    November 7, 2008

    …and in response to your postscript, check out The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker, if you haven’t already. It’s both accessible and fascinating. I gather his stuff is consistently awesome, though I’ve not yet gotten further than his stuff on psycholinguistics.

  385. #387 Aquaria
    November 7, 2008

    In the US, lynching people based on skin color has stopped but it happened only a few generations ago. Gays are still killed for being gay but at least the cops make some efforts to find the killers and bring them to justice.

    True, the cops do things now, but sometimes it takes Federal intervention to get results. And sometimes it takes money to get it to really stop in its tracks.

    The last famous lynching was of Michael Donald in 1981, in Mobile AL. The cops believed rumors about a drug deal gone wrong. Local activists convinced the FBI to step in. Only then did arrests happen. One of the lynchers had, I think, a mistrial. Another turned on the third lyncher in exchange for a life sentence. The third lyncher got the death penalty (and was executed in the late 90s).

    But what really made a difference was how the Southern Poverty Law Center, on behalf of Donald’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the KKK faction involved, and won an award of $7 million dollars. It literally bankrupted the KKK, or at least that little coterire of white-sheeted peckerwoods. I don’t know if that’s what’s gotten the Klan to bring it down a notch, but I don’t think it played a small part, either.

  386. #388 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    But what really made a difference was how the Southern Poverty Law Center, on behalf of Donald’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the KKK faction involved, and won an award of $7 million dollars. It literally bankrupted the KKK, or at least that little coterire of white-sheeted peckerwoods. I don’t know if that’s what’s gotten the Klan to bring it down a notch, but I don’t think it played a small part, either.

    The other day I watched the 2nd season episode of The West Wing where Sam mentions this event in order to try and get Josh to sue after he’s shot. Donald’s family, IIRC, ended up getting the Klan headquarters as part of the settlement – I found that particular irony even more delicious than usual.

  387. #389 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    Azdak, thanks for the response and the reference to The Language Instinct – I’ve not checked it out but (hopefully) shall.

    Re:

    the environment part was wrapped up in the “as a consequence of social interaction” — your qualification seems redundant to me.

    Well, I included the distinction because I consider that social interaction is significantly affected by the physical environment and mores reflect that, but I’ll reconsider whether the distinction is redundant.

  388. #390 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    @Buford
    My opinion is that they had a common, though too restrictive, idea of who should be allowed to vote.

    Yes, I agree, but this contradicts your statement that “The American founding fathers wanted every ‘citizen’ to have a vote”, unless ‘citizen’ just means whoever they wanted to have a vote, in which case its a hollow tautology. But ‘citizen’ meant something specific to them, something broader than who they wanted to be allowed to vote.

    As for your statement that they did not realize that their definition was too limiting, after putting more thought into it I take back my claim that it’s silly. They indeed did not realize that a) discrimination in voting (or other) rights is socially unstable — such discrimination will inevitably be struggled against; and b) extending the vote to the entire citizenry works; their fears about the consequences of the hoi polloi being able to vote were unfounded, or at least exaggerated.

  389. #391 peter
    November 7, 2008

    The attempts of PZ and others to instrumentalise this incident for their own agenda is very poor form, and, arguably, could contribute to making acts like this more common in the future.
    If I were to follow PZ’s logic, I could allege that for all his pretended outrage, he’s effectively flung a rock at the poor kid himself.

  390. #392 SC
    November 7, 2008

    extending the vote to the entire citizenry works; their fears about the consequences of the hoi polloi being able to vote were unfounded, or at least exaggerated.

    Indeed. (OK, I suspect the meaning of “works” for me is not the same as you intended. ;))

  391. #393 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    Our list may not be perfect but it seems to cover those “crimes” against the family that are inferred by Rushdoony’s statement to Moyers. The real frightening side of it is the interpretation of heresy, apostasy and idolatry. Rushdoony’s position seems to suggest that he would have anyone killed who disagreed with his religious opinions. That represents all but a tiny minority of people. Add to that death penalties for what is quite legal, blasphemy, not getting on with parents and working on a Sunday means that it the fantasy ideal world of Rushdoony and his pals, there will be an awful lot of mass murderers and amongst a tiny population.

    Scary. And, incidentally, didn’t Jesus heal people on a Sunday (for which he was condemned by the Pharisees)? And didn’t he say “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?”

    Yet, sadly, throughout history, every religion – on whatever basis it was founded – seems to have metamorphosed, for many of its followers, into a corrupt dogma used to promote hate. Human nature is very sad.

  392. #394 arctic fox
    November 7, 2008

    large enough differences in degree are indistinguishable from differences in kind

    Almost sounds like a new “Clarke’s Law”!

    even better

  393. #395 ndt
    November 7, 2008

    I believe this … gives official recognition of such a lifestyle

    That’s the idea.

  394. #396 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Questions of consent apart, are there any grounds for regarding any sexual act as immoral?

  395. #397 ndt
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: Josh | November 6, 2008 12:59 PM

    Stoning a girl for getting raped and denying a group of people equal marriage rights have two things in common: 1) they are wrong, and 2) they are usually driven by religious belief. That’s it, man.

    That was PZ’s point. Reading comprehension fail.

  396. #398 ndt
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: truth machine, OM | November 6, 2008 2:54 PM

    What was non-democratic about the stoning? I bet if you polled everyone in the stadium, the majority would have agreed that she deserved to die.

    I bet you’re a fool who can’t even spot your own contradiction. You have a point about tyranny of the majority, but you’ve infused it with stupidity. Regardless of the validity of the slippery slope argument from majorities voting to institutionalize discrimination against gays to majorities voting for people to die, the Prop 8 process was not a civilized form of vigilantism; it passed through several layers of governmental function, from the original crafting of the state constitution, to the approval of putting the proposition on the ballot by appointed and elected representatives.

    So? So did the parts of the US constitution that allowed slavery, the Fugitive Slave Act, and the other laws that enforced it. Being enacted democratically and via due process does not give laws some holy veneer. It’s just a more fair process then fiat from unelected leaders. A republic is just as capable of evil as a dictatorship, it’s just less likely to direct that evil at voting citizens.

  397. #399 ndt
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: truth machine, OM | November 6, 2008 3:28 PM

    Obviously, I didn’t accuse the backers of proposition 8 of vigilantism

    Once again: “simply performing a slightly more civilized version of casting a stone”

    If that’s not an accusation of vigilantism, it certainly isn’t obvious.

    Yes, it is obvious. You’re reading something into PZ’s post that isn’t there.

  398. #400 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    Questions of consent apart, are there any grounds for regarding any sexual act as immoral?

    possibly public fornication, in terms of what consenting adults do in private – no.

  399. #401 ndt
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: Pete Rooke | November 6, 2008 5:01 PM

    I don’t deny that God gives people challenges to deal with in there day-to-day lives. If indeed it is the case, as people of your ilk like to profess, that Homosexuals are born, and not made, then these people must learn to overcome these urges and live the good life.

    Why?

  400. #402 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    I guess some immorality comes in with unprotected sex where one lies about protection or is harbouring an STD.

  401. #403 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Indeed. (OK, I suspect the meaning of “works” for me is not the same as you intended. ;))

    I intended it only so far as that the system remained viable, it didn’t self-destruct. Of course, one could hope for more than that, and I think sometimes we’ve had it and sometimes not so much.

    What meaning of “works” do you have in mind?

  402. #404 SC
    November 7, 2008

    I intended it only so far as that the system remained viable, it didn’t self-destruct.

    Yes, I know.

    What meaning of “works” do you have in mind?

    As an instrument to maintain power – works to placate people by leading them to believe their participation in the electoral system is genuinely allowing them to shape the direction of society, while the ruling class continues to rule; works to lead the poor and oppressed away from more radical approaches; and so on in that vein. They had no reason to fear full suffrage as a threat to the dominance of a relatively small elite – quite the contrary.

    /anarchist

  403. #405 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    So? So did the parts of the US constitution that allowed slavery, the Fugitive Slave Act, and the other laws that enforced it. Being enacted democratically and via due process does not give laws some holy veneer. It’s just a more fair process then fiat from unelected leaders. A republic is just as capable of evil as a dictatorship, it’s just less likely to direct that evil at voting citizens.

    So? WTF does any of this have to do with my response to Jared? I never claimed anything about laws have some holy veneer — in fact, I’ve made it clear that the passage of Prop 8 sucks. The outcome of this due process sucks. So what the fuck relevance are your other examples, when we’ve got a perfectly good one in front of us? Jared said “that’s why we’re not a democracy” — well, right, Prop 8 didn’t get onto the ballot through direct democracy, it required the actions of elected and appointed officials, but that didn’t spare us. But Jared says the stoning is democratic, and PZ says voting for Prop 8 is simply a civilized form of stoning, so by transitivity Prop 8 is democratic, but Jared says we’re not a democracy, so as to spare us the tyranny of mob rule, yet somehow we ended up with it anyway. These contradictions stem from facile, erroneous equations between voting and stoning and between mobs and democracies. Mob action might be preceded by a vote of sorts — “Raise your hand if you want to get the sucker!” — but the mob itself is a group of people engaged in a forward feedback loop resulting in violence.

  404. #406 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Questions of consent apart, are there any grounds for regarding any sexual act as immoral?

    You tell us.

    To me, there’s nothing special about sex in re morality. Why should bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells have any more of a moral dimension than, say, threading a needle?

    There are certainly moral issues beyond just consent around sexual acts. For instance, cheating on your partner is immoral, but because it’s a violation of an agreement, not because it’s sex. Having sex with a child, even if the child consents, is immoral because it victimizes the child and does violence to its psyche — the same could result non-sexually, say by giving the child drugs.

  405. #407 Confused
    November 7, 2008

    I’m coming late to the party, so this may have been raised already, but in the report on the story I heard:

    – They weren’t stoning her because her sexuality offended her, they were stoning her because she spoke out against the men who gang raped her.

    – They may be weak blustering men, but they were weak blustering men WITH GUNS. The only eyewitness report I’ve heard (although how reliable that is is up for debate – bear in mind that the last few western journalists in Somalia have been shot) said that the prevailing opinion among the crowd was that this was horribly injust. But before you get all “when good men do nothing” on me, if you’re being honest, you really have to add another clause before the “Be honest now” statement in your post along the lines of:

    “Suppose the man holding the rock has a group of five or ten men with machine guns, glaring at the crowd daring any one of you to speak out. What would you do?”

    Changes it a bit, don’t you think?

  406. #408 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    As an instrument to maintain power – works to placate people by leading them to believe their participation in the electoral system is genuinely allowing them to shape the direction of society, while the ruling class continues to rule; works to lead the poor and oppressed away from more radical approaches; and so on in that vein. They had no reason to fear full suffrage as a threat to the dominance of a relatively small elite – quite the contrary.

    So was it the ruling class that struggled to achieve women’s suffrage? I suppose one can argue that those who fought for it weren’t poor and were relatively unoppressed — often the wives of powerful men. But in the end, it seems to me that, regardless of what you might have hoped for, the poor and oppressed chose the path they took — with, no doubt, the ruling class steering them as best they could.

    I just read a blog comment that somewhat reflects my view:

    I can assure you that I will be making plenty of criticisms of Obama and what he does as time goes on. But for now, my feeling is that we should be down on our knees with gratitude that this incredibly smart, perceptive, and thoughtful guy has agreed to take all of the problems of our sorry-ass country onto his shoulders instead of doing something much less stressful like teaching constitutional law for a nice salary at some Ivy League college or making nice laws in the Senate. If we wanted a radical leftist as president, then we should have gotten out and organized a fucking revolution ourselves instead and showed how smart and influential we really are, and then put our own radical leftist revolutionary leader in charge of our fucking righteous revolution. But no, we weren’t that smart, we weren’t that influential, and so we have to settle for letting someone else clean up the mess that the American right made for us and which we righteous progressives weren’t able to stop.

    I understand that Obama would not be where he is if he weren’t acceptable to the elites, but the thing about not having power is that, well, you don’t have power, and those who do continue to wield it to get their way. At the same time, I think there’s something to that bit about the arc of justice, and I believe that broadening suffrage is part of that arc and not just a distraction from the path to whatever anarchist end you dream of.

  407. #409 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Kel (#400):

    possibly public fornication, in terms of what consenting adults do in private – no.

    What is the reason for that possible exception?

    truth machine (#406):

    Why should bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells have any more of a moral dimension than, say, threading a needle?

    Could not all human activity & interaction – without exception -be described as “bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells”?

    Having sex with a child, even if the child consents, is immoral because it victimizes the child and does violence to its psyche

    How can a consensual act involve victimization and violation?

  408. #410 John Bunyan
    November 7, 2008

    Look, quite simply, this is just one example of religious barbarity. Mankind simply cannot afford this any longer. Any religious belief ultimately condones barbaric behaviour and as such, should have no place in the modern age. But try telling that to any misguided believer or any faith. In my view, we might have little chance of surviving the next 100 years as a species whilst governments around the world simply allow this sort of stuff because people claim fucking ‘God’ wills it or some such bollocks. The whole thing makes me extremly fucking angry.

  409. #411 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    How can a consensual act involve victimization and violation?

    Children are not emotionally mature enough to understand the choices and its consequences. Yes some “children” and by children I mean under 18 are more mature than others. However the law has to provide a line for age of consent because determining ones maturity for such decisions is virtually impossible and is very subjective.

  410. #412 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Of course the age of consent varies wildly from place to place. Take that 18 as an example not a rule.

  411. #413 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    possibly public fornication, in terms of what consenting adults do in private – no.

    What is the reason for that possible exception?

    I’d have thought that was obvious; because people mightn’t want to watch/hear other people doing it. Apparently that’s what the internet is for…

  412. #414 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    I’d have thought that was obvious; because people mightn’t want to watch/hear other people doing it. Apparently that’s what the internet is for…

    Wait just a minute.

    Are you suggesting that there are places on the Internet where one can watch people have sex?

  413. #415 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    BTW, given the level of engagement and the widespread belief that Obama will bring about positive change, your argument would seem to suggest that Obama’s charisma is an instrument to maintain power. I think that would be a mistaken view. However, I also think that it would be a mistake for people to think that, by voting for Obama, they have engaged in the political process and now are done for another 2 or 4 years.

  414. #416 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    What is the reason for that possible exception?

    Public decency. We have certain things that we keep private and in our own homes.

  415. #417 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Kel wrote:

    Public decency. We have certain things that we keep private and in our own homes.

    I suspect ol’ Pilty of setting us up with this line of reasoning; I’m not going to be surprised if he comes back with some jabs about moral relativism and how atheists can’t have morals (or, if you like, decency) because they don’t believe in god and so forth.

    Then again, seeing Truth Machine’s name on a recent post in the thread might have scared him off…

  416. #418 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    What is the reason for that possible exception?

    Lack of consent from nonparticipants.

    Could not all human activity & interaction – without exception -be described as “bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells”?

    I suppose so, but that question doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with my point, which was that sex is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

    How can a consensual act involve victimization and violation?

    a) Why can’t it?
    b) By involving consent from someone incapable of guarding their own best interests — e.g., a child or an intoxicated person.
    c) Can’t you do anything other than ask stupid questions?

  417. #419 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    The whole thing makes me extremly fucking angry.

    It seems that a lot of people here feel that way … enough to form a mob …

  418. #420 truth machine, OM
    November 7, 2008

    jabs about moral relativism and how atheists can’t have morals (or, if you like, decency) because they don’t believe in god and so forth.

    My morality is determined internally; someone telling me that something is or isn’t immoral doesn’t change whether I find it immoral. So not only is babble about god’s rules irrelevant to my sense of morality, but so is the claim that something is acceptable in some other culture. Goodbye absolute morality, and goodbye the misunderstanding of moral relativism.

    Then again, seeing Truth Machine’s name on a recent post in the thread might have scared him off…

    It’s just photons emitted by your screen; nothing to be afraid of.

  419. #421 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    I suspect ol’ Pilty of setting us up with this line of reasoning; I’m not going to be surprised if he comes back with some jabs about moral relativism and how atheists can’t have morals (or, if you like, decency) because they don’t believe in god and so forth.

    I can see that happening too, but it’ll be interesting to see how many posts it takes him to start talking about demonic possession (I still laugh at the notion he thinks they are real).

  420. #422 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    I can see that happening too, but it’ll be interesting to see how many posts it takes him to start talking about demonic possession (I still laugh at the notion he thinks they are real).

    Well this thread isn’t really buried enough yet. Give it a day or so.

  421. #423 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Are you suggesting that there are places on the Internet where one can watch people have sex?

    Well, not for long in Australia; we’ve got our own right-wing Jesus freaks (well, freak) in the Senate who are out to fuck with our internets. Unfortunately, the government needs his vote to get things through, and have decided to suck up to him and, in the famous words of Helen Lovejoy, ‘think of the children’ and apply filters at the ISP level.

    Fortunately, everyone is pointing out what a stupid, pointless, destructive and regressive idea it is – perhaps they’ll listen.

  422. #424 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    apply filters at the ISP level.

    If they need help with that they could ask your neighbors a few countries to the north. I think they demonstrated their prowess in that area during the olympics.

    That’s scary. but..

    Fortunately, everyone is pointing out what a stupid, pointless, destructive and regressive idea it is – perhaps they’ll listen.

    hopefully that will ring true.

  423. #425 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    Fortunately, everyone is pointing out what a stupid, pointless, destructive and regressive idea it is – perhaps they’ll listen.

    Not while that bible bashing Stephen Fielding has the balance of power!

  424. #426 Icelander
    November 7, 2008

    I have to be honest though. I have a wife and daughter. As do you. If I were unlucky enough to be there, I am not sure I would have what can only be described as a death wish, and stand up there and try to stop the killing. I would rather be able to go home to my family and try to escape or start a revolution.

    If it were my daughter that was being stoned, I wouldn’t have a reason to go on. I’d rather die protecting her.

  425. #427 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Wowbagger (413):

    possibly public fornication, in terms of what consenting adults do in private – no.

    What is the reason for that possible exception?

    I’d have thought that was obvious; because people mightn’t want to watch/hear other people doing it.

    Kel (416):

    Public decency. We have certain things that we keep private and in our own homes.

    truth machine (418):

    Lack of consent from nonparticipants.

    Sounds to me like you’re all pandering to an irrational archaic taboo probably inherited from the Abrahamic tradition. Surely these prissy, puritanical ‘nonparticipants’ should loosen up, remove the pokers from their backsides and accept public sex for the beautiful, life-affirming (or at least morally neutral) thing it is?

    Why should we ban things purely because some uptight prudes might not like to look at them? After all, some people might object to gay pride parades on just those grounds.

    truth machine (418):

    Could not all human activity & interaction – without exception -be described as “bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells”?

    I suppose so, but that question doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with my point, which was that sex is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

    Forgive me if I misunderstood you, but you seemed to be implying that sex was morally neutral because it it was merely a physical phenomenon. In which case, why isn’t everything morally neutral?

    How can a consensual act involve victimization and violation?

    a) Why can’t it?
    b) By involving consent from someone incapable of guarding their own best interests — e.g., a child or an intoxicated person.
    c) Can’t you do anything other than ask stupid questions?

    a) Because victimization and violation imply a lack of (informed, rational) consent.
    b) Fair enough, they could involve uninformed or irrational consent. So how, in your opinion, is consensual sexual intercourse against a child’s ‘best interests’? In what way does it (to use your expression) violate a child’s psyche?
    c) You seem very quick to impute stupidity to people. Isn’t that rather uncharitable?

    truth machine (420):

    My morality is determined internally

    By what?

    someone telling me that something is or isn’t immoral doesn’t change whether I find it immoral. So not only is babble about god’s rules irrelevant to my sense of morality, but so is the claim that something is acceptable in some other culture.

    A Mohammedan might retort that your views on the morality of stoning rape victims to death was irrelevant to him – as was the fact that your culture regards homosexuality as acceptable.

  426. #428 SC
    November 7, 2008

    So was it the ruling class that struggled to achieve women’s suffrage?

    How is that a response to what I said? Was it supposed to challege something in my statement?

    I suppose one can argue that those who fought for it weren’t poor and were relatively unoppressed — often the wives of powerful men. But in the end, it seems to me that, regardless of what you might have hoped for, the poor and oppressed chose the path they took — with, no doubt, the ruling class steering them as best they could.

    Which says nothing to contradict my argument, which dealt with the facts that a) this path was pursued in lieu of others, and b) those others may have had more substantive success. I make my arguments concerning the relative value and long-term effectiveness of direct vs. mediated action based on my values, knowledge, and empirical findings. I don’t care if you’re convinced or not.

    If we wanted a radical leftist as president, then we should have gotten out and organized a fucking revolution ourselves instead and showed how smart and influential we really are, and then put our own radical leftist revolutionary leader in charge of our fucking righteous revolution. But no, we weren’t that smart, we weren’t that influential, and so we have to settle for letting someone else clean up the mess that the American right made for us and which we righteous progressives weren’t able to stop.

    This little rant have nothing whatsover to do with anything I’m saying, so I don’t see why you would think it pertinent. I don’t want a radical leftist president, and indeed such a thing is impossible since the radical left is anarchism; nor do I want to choose a leader for my “righteous revolution.” I believe in organizing democratic movements from below and in direct action (this and electoral action are not in theory entirely mutually exclusive, but in practice they often are – choices have to be made, and the mediated route is a bad one IMO).

    I understand that Obama would not be where he is if he weren’t acceptable to the elites, but the thing about not having power is that, well, you don’t have power, and those who do continue to wield it to get their way.

    The goal is to get power. This is where the focus on electoral action can lead people astray.

    At the same time, I think there’s something to that bit about the arc of justice, and I believe that broadening suffrage is part of that arc and not just a distraction from the path to whatever anarchist end you dream of.

    Nice presentation: on one side of the scale, there’s allegedly constructive action in the electoral arena; on the other, the hazy “anarchist end” I “dream of.” No – what I’m putting up against your practical vision is a different practical vision, not a dream. Many of the gains you attribute to suffrage were in fact the result of forms of collective action other than voting or lobbying.

  427. #429 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Forgive me if I misunderstood you, but you seemed to be implying that sex was morally neutral because it it was merely a physical phenomenon. In which case, why isn’t everything morally neutral?

    You mean other physical phenomenon. Say punching someone in the face?

  428. #430 SC
    November 7, 2008

    And since Janine and I were recently talking about the great Voltairine de Cleyre, here’s her “Direct Action”:

    http://www.spunk.org/texts/writers/decleyre/sp001334.html

  429. #431 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    I see Pilty is trying for some long term setup for god given morals. Pilty, your god doesn’t exist, so morals have to come from and be defined by men. So either prove your god up front (failed to date, no physical evidence), or find another blog to infest.

  430. #432 maxamillion
    November 7, 2008

    BMcP | November 6, 2008 12:14 PM

    If she is accused of the horrible crime: Take her to the authorities (such as the police), so they may see if there sufficient evidence for an arrest.

    You didn’t even read the story did you!

    If you had then you would have read
    When the family tried to report the rape, the girl was accused of adultery and detained, Amnesty said.

    Anyone that has read the horror stories about women that are raped in Pakistan would know that the most likely outcome would be death.

    Spend 8 Mins of your life and think about how some people are really oppressed.
    “a Pakistani woman who was gang raped in so called “honour”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq4PFnl1S6Q

    Or perhaps a few more minutes and use Google!
    http://www.google.com/search?q=pakistan+rape+women&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_enAU260AU260

    Unfortunately the world is not a tidy place and religion is just dragging humanity down the drain.

  431. #433 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM (429):

    Forgive me if I misunderstood you, but you seemed to be implying that sex was morally neutral because it it was merely a physical phenomenon. In which case, why isn’t everything morally neutral?

    You mean other physical phenomenon.

    You believe in non-physical phenomena?

    Nerd of Redhead (431):

    Pilty, your god doesn’t exist

    Shouldn’t that be “probably doesn’t exist”? Or “almost certainly doesn’t exist”?

    so morals have to come from and be defined by men.

    All men? Some men? Each man?

    prove your god up front (failed to date, no physical evidence)

    You have failed to date to clarify what would constitute “physical evidence” of God’s existence.

  432. #434 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    Shouldn’t that be “probably doesn’t exist”? Or “almost certainly doesn’t.

    Only in the London posters. Here, your god doesn’t exist, along with all the others thought up by man (except the flying spaghetti monster).

    If you god exists, show us the unambiguous physical evidence. Finding Moses’ eternally burning bush in the Dead Sea might be a good start. Until then, keep your godbotting to yourself, or another blog.

  433. #435 Sean
    November 7, 2008

    Hi PZ

    Love your stuff as usual, but I disagree that there’s any equivalence between that act of barbarity in Somalia and the objections to Proposition 8.

  434. #436 Arnosium Upinarum
    November 7, 2008

    “Are the killers so divorced from empathy and morality that they would gladly snuff out the life of someone who can do them no harm?”

    I would also amplify this very charge onto what you said of the observing crowd – a crowd, of course, which has itself been beaten into cowering in abject terror under a religious culture no different than the worst authoritarian fascist dictatorships.

    It’s all the same.

    Absolutely ghastly hideous.

    A spectacular act of brutality on the part of the rapists, followed by their abject cowardice in doing away with their “little problem”…by having a bunch of buddies help them raise an easy stink of outrage amongst neighbors who are readily enthusiastic to react (and be SEEN to react) “properly”, demonstrating more contempt for innocent humanity than they could possibly have managed without decrepit religion.

    Again.

    You’re right. That very same current flows right here in America. Christians have the monumental audacity to single out a “special” guy as THE One who had died for all of us. They all gather around that crucifix in a mindless daze and declare it “important” as a symbol of ultimate, cosmic sacrifice.

    That idea barely merits a spit.

    The truth of the matter is that countless people throughout the religiously ripped history of humanity have been ostracized, tortured and executed in ways horrible beyond the comprehension of ordinary imaginations (mercilessly tortured and burned alive was just ONE common and fashionably preferred method for those accused of “witchcraft” over centuries of European and colonial history; the methods employed were not restricted to that particular charge) – THEY WERE ALL OF THEM SACRIFICED BY PRECISELY THE SAME INTOLERANCE CHRIST IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SHOULDERED ALL BY HIS DIVINE LONESOME.

    CRAP ON IT!!! What’s it changed??? What’s been the sinister force at work all along here??? One thing it has definitely provided: an avenue for excuse for the most corrupt and morally dispicable.

    The young lady who met her death at the hands of a people – HER people – infested by superstitious religious indoctrination is only one of the very latest in a long and tragic list stretching back long before the time of Christ. But that terrible legacy doesn’t make her singular fate any less important. Every last single victim of religious intolerance in the history of the world is testimony to the evil behavior which religion inspires.

    And anybody who expects “after-life” retribution to be meted out to those responsible by some idiotic notion of a divine agency is as much of a fool as they are an ass.

  435. #437 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    You believe in non-physical phenomena?

    Um no. But you do.

    Answer the question.

  436. #438 Bill Dauphin
    November 7, 2008

    Questions of consent apart, are there any grounds for regarding any sexual act as immoral?

    Others have already commented on this, but I want to weigh in: IMHO, there is no sexual act that can be considered immoral unless [a] it is less than fully consensual1 or [b] it violates the basic rights of uninvolved third parties.

    That second caveat covers the “public acts” business: Uninvolved individuals who are forced to observe sexual acts without their consent are having their rights violated. Hmmm… “without their consent”…. Maybe it all comes down to consent after all: Looked at in one way, third parties who are having their rights violated by others’ sexual acts aren’t so “uninvolved”; they could just as easily be seen as unconsenting participants. (Don’t think observers are participants? Check w/Heisenberg!)

    In any case, IMHO there is no private, truly consensual sex act that is intrinsically immoral. And I think this topic is not just a matter of trivial titillation: I think this weird (and fundamentally religious) idea that sex is inherently depraved, and therefore unacceptable outside some very narrow (and, according to many folks, divinely ordained) parameters, has seriously warped politics in this country. Issues such as abortion, gay rights, pornography, etc. — all of which have the religious notion of the innate depravity of sex at their core — drive wedges between people who would otherwise be natural allies. Catholic social teaching, for instance, is right in line with a liberal (in the American sense of the word) social-justice political agenda, and Catholics would be a naturally liberal-Democratic constituency… if only the church’s approach to everything sexual didn’t lead them to be (you should pardon the expression) strange bedfellows with the hard-right Protestant evangelical movement. (And, BTW, while I’m no psychologist, I suspect the church’s twisted approach to sex may be at the root of clergy sex abuse, as well.)

    Just try to imagine how American politics would be without sex-related issues sucking the air out of the room. It’s one of two major themes (the other being the legacy of the Vietnam war and its opposition) that have consistently, throughout my entier lifetime, distracted our politics from the real public concerns of good governance, social justice, public infrastructure, economic policy, and foreign policy/national defense.

    A generation from now, when this generation’s sexually tolerant children run the world and nobody young enough to run for office could possibly have served in or opposed the Vietnam war, maybe we’ll begin to get rational political debate in this country. Unless, of course, we substitute Iraq/Afghanistan for Vietnam and restart the whole babykillers-versus-pussies dialectic for the 21st century. [fingers crossed]

  437. #439 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Pilty the Dungfish is back?!

    You really are a one hit wonder Piltdown Man. Once again, I’ll accept any of the proof of god that he presented before.

    He can land here on earth and walk among us like he did in Eden. He can open the graves in a large town, say Paris or New York and cause 500 of the dead to rise again. Or trot out the dragons and unicorns. Should be easy for a god. I’m sure someone would notice if he stopped the sun again.

  438. #440 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Answer the question.

    To be honest, I didn’t understand the question. Perhaps you could rephrase it?

    Here it is again:

    you seemed to be implying that sex was morally neutral because it it was merely a physical phenomenon. In which case, why isn’t everything morally neutral?

    You mean other physical phenomenon. Say punching someone in the face?

    Not sure what you’re asking here. If you mean “Do you think truth machine’s original statement implies punching someone in the face is morally neutral?”, I would say yes, that seems to logically follow from his statement (as I understood it).

    This was TM’s original statement:

    Why should bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells have any more of a moral dimension than, say, threading a needle?

    He went on to say:

    my point … was that sex is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

    The inescapable implication is that physical phenomena do not have a moral dimension.

  439. #441 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Yes it was obvious that you were trying to twist your corrupted brand of logic into misrepresenting what TM and the rest of us were saying.

    The act of punching someone in the face causes harm to another individual who (more than likely) isn’t consenting to said punch. The harm it causes is the difference. Consensual sex doesn’t do anything of the sort.

    So trying to twist what TM said into some moral free pass to do anything is intentionally misrepresenting what he was saying.

    And is yet another example of the dishonest tactics you love to employ.

  440. #442 Bill Dauphin
    November 7, 2008

    Ooops… I seem to have left off the planned footnote to my last (@438). I meant it to be:

    1 I accept the social/legal convention that children are incapable of fully informed consent (though there might be some room for argument over how “child” should be legally defined), so this caveat inherently prohibits sex with children.

    In addition…

    Wowbagger (413):

    possibly public fornication, in terms of what consenting adults do in private – no.

    What is the reason for that possible exception?

    I’d have thought that was obvious; because people mightn’t want to watch/hear other people doing it.

    Kel (416):

    Public decency. We have certain things that we keep private and in our own homes.

    truth machine (418):

    Lack of consent from nonparticipants.

    Sounds to me like you’re all pandering to an irrational archaic taboo probably inherited from the Abrahamic tradition.

    Actually, of the three quotes, only Kel’s use of the word “decency” (suggesting that there’s something indecent about sex) is even vaguely pandering; the others are couched in terms of rights and consent.

    Surely these prissy, puritanical ‘nonparticipants’ should loosen up,…

    Probably they should (certainly I would counsel them to do so), but our laws and customs recognize their right to be prissy and puritanical, as long as they don’t try to force the rest of us to be.

  441. #443 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Bill Dauphin (#438):

    Uninvolved individuals who are forced to observe sexual acts without their consent are having their rights violated.

    So should the public display of pornographic magazines in shops or sexually explicit images on billboards be banned on the grounds that some people may not wish to be confronted by such imagery?

    IMHO there is no private, truly consensual sex act that is intrinsically immoral.

    So no problem with incest?

    Issues such as abortion, gay rights, pornography, etc. — all of which have the religious notion of the innate depravity of sex at their core

    I don’t know of any religion that holds sex to be “innately depraved”, except perhaps ancient gnosticism. If Catholicism held sex to be innately depraved, why does it stress the importance of procreation?

    And the issue of abortion has nothing to do with sexual morality. It’s about the definition and value of human life.

    Catholic social teaching, for instance, is right in line with a liberal (in the American sense of the word) social-justice political agenda, and Catholics would be a naturally liberal-Democratic constituency…

    What Catholic social teaching did you have in mind here?

  442. #444 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    So no problem with incest?

    Consent.

  443. #445 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM (441):

    The act of punching someone in the face causes harm to another individual who (more than likely) isn’t consenting to said punch.

    So? Why should bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells have any more of a moral dimension than, say, threading a needle? A punch in the face is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

  444. #446 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008
    So no problem with incest?

    Consent.

    Incest among adults?

  445. #447 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    Weighing in to this debate: I think it’s crucial to draw a distinction here between those moral values which are personal and private, and those which ought to be in the public sphere; and a second distinction between those which ought to be enforced by law and those which ought not.

    IMHO, there is no sexual act that can be considered immoral unless [a] it is less than fully consensual or [b] it violates the basic rights of uninvolved third parties. – I don’t entirely agree. I would agree that this is the correct test for whether a sexual act should be illegal or regulated by law; the proper sphere of the law is to enforce people’s rights, not to impose moral values, and therefore the law ought not to get involved in regulating private, consensual sexual acts between individuals of full capacity, provided they don’t trespass in any way on others’ legitimate rights and liberties. I think most of us here probably agree on this point.

    But our reasoning is very different. I would argue that government should not regulate people’s sex lives because, from my perspective as a libertarian, I don’t trust government with the authority to make moral decisions for people. So the fact that a particular act should not be illegal does not preclude it from being immoral. Morality relates to the way we choose to exercise our free choices.

    But I would not agree with you that private, consensual sexual acts between adults can never be immoral – particularly where the conception of children, or the risk thereof, is involved. I think, for instance, that it’s most beneficial to children’s development and to society if children are brought up in a stable two-parent family (not necessarily a heterosexual one, I hasten to add). Much social science research bears out this point. It is not my intention to denigrate single parents; but (to the best of my knowledge, admittedly never having attempted it) single parenting is very difficult. Therefore, there is a compelling, secular social reason why it is immoral to have (penetrative) sex, and hence risk conceiving a child, when you are not in a stable, long-term relationship. Government, of course, cannot and should not prevent people from choosing to do so. But I personally would never embark on such a course, and I would assert – at the risk of sounding judgmental – that it is the wrong choice.

    I also think that pornography and prostitution are both immoral – again, from an entirely secular perspective. Both exploit and objectify women. And while it might be convenient to believe that porn stars and prostitutes have made a voluntary choice, the reality is that many are exploited, drug addicts or, in some cases, enslaved by human traffickers. So these so-called “victimless crimes” are, in reality, far from victimless. Whether they ought to be prohibited by the state is a legitimate topic of debate, certainly, but I don’t think they’re morally acceptable, and I would never, under any circumstances, visit a prostitute.

    However, I’m not going to defend all religious moral teaching on sexuality, by any means. Much of it made more sense in an era when contraception was non-existent and sexual behaviour much more dangerous, but doesn’t make much sense today. And I think, also, that in an overpopulated world one can move beyond the idea that sex must be exclusively for procreation; thus, for instance, there is nothing immoral IMO in being in a stable, loving same-sex relationship. Nor, for that matter, is private masturbation inherently immoral.

    As regards Piltdown Man’s arguments: The fact that something is a physical phenomenon clearly does not preclude it, in context, from having a moral dimension. The act of sex is not intrinsically immoral, any more than the act of swinging one’s fist is intrinsically immoral – but it depends on the circumstances in which you embark on it, and the effect it has on others.

  446. #448 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    BTW, Nerd of Redhead and Patricia – if you really want to see incontrovertible evidence of God’s existence, why don’t you ask Him to provide some?

    I’m sure He’d be willing to oblige, if you ask Him nicely.

  447. #449 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Walton:

    The fact that something is a physical phenomenon clearly does not preclude it, in context, from having a moral dimension. The act of sex is not intrinsically immoral, any more than the act of swinging one’s fist is intrinsically immoral – but it depends on the circumstances in which you embark on it, and the effect it has on others.

    Agreed, but truth machine said nothing about context.

  448. #450 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Pilty, If you don’t stop flirting with the Rev. I’m gonna tell Nick Gotts. You fickle ol’ perv.

  449. #451 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    So? Why should bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells have any more of a moral dimension than, say, threading a needle? A punch in the face is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

    Harm to the recipient of the punch.

    Quit being dense.

    BTW, Nerd of Redhead and Patricia – if you really want to see incontrovertible evidence of God’s existence, why don’t you ask Him to provide some?

    And what incontrovertible evidence did god provide you?

    Incest among adults?

    If they protect themselves from having children (and still not 100% sure that’s a reason)… besides the social yuck factor. Not sure I see a problem. I could be convinced otherwise. Haven’t spent much time thinking about incest with consenting adults.

  450. #452 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Well brown me in a toaster and call me a pop tart, ol’ Pilty finally came up with an idea.

    See that Nerd of Redhead, all we have to do to get god to appear, is you and I pray real nice.

  451. #453 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    BTW, Nerd of Redhead and Patricia – if you really want to see incontrovertible evidence of God’s existence, why don’t you ask Him to provide some?

    I’m sure He’d be willing to oblige, if you ask Him nicely.

    Translation. I can’t prove god exists, so I will try to side step the question. What a godbot. Just another Liar for Jebus(TM)you prove god exists he/she/it/fsm doesn’t.

  452. #454 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Walton

    Therefore, there is a compelling, secular social reason why it is immoral to have (penetrative) sex, and hence risk conceiving a child, when you are not in a stable, long-term relationship.

    No there is not. There is a compelling secular social reason to educate people as to how to better protect or abstain but no reason to make the act immoral. In the same way that there is a really good social, economic and secular reason to educate people on how to drive, but the act of driving is not immoral. How are you going to measure who is in a long term stable relationship? What’s the divorce rate again? I guarantee my parents thought they were in a long term stable relationship when I was born. They’re divorced now, thankfully.

    I also think that pornography and prostitution are both immoral – again, from an entirely secular perspective. Both exploit and objectify women.

    Yes some people pray on others, but there are plenty of feminists who think that pornography empowers women.

  453. #455 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    hehe

    pray should be prey

  454. #456 SASnSA
    November 7, 2008

    I’ve been thinking about the question of why morality varies so much; especially as it’s viewed in Islam. We see that their morality is much looser as it pertains to murder. I wonder if this morality is what evolves in people who live in a desert environment where there would tend to be much more competition for the few resources available.

    Now, I probably should say that I don’t believe this excuses them for these sorts of acts in this day and age, but maybe it could explain where this warped morality comes from.

    Many of us live in areas

  455. #457 SASnSA
    November 7, 2008

    Sorry, thought I got rid of that last little bit before posting

  456. #458 Rick
    November 7, 2008

    PZ,

    Interesting that you compare those who voted Yes on Prop 8 to the perpetrators of the stoning in Somalia. You said those people lacked a sense of morality for what they did to that young girl. I agree that their actions are barbaric and horrible. However, they are acting out of what is morally acceptable in their culture.

    The Californians who supported Prop 8 were acting out of their own sense of morality. They stood up for what they believed was unacceptable and their voice was heard. They saw the liberal trend in our country as destructive to the fabric of the family and were courageous enough to take action, just as decent people in Somalia should have done to prevent the death of that little girl.

    If the good folks of California vote for what they believe in, how can you “cast stones” at them? Kind of a vicious circle, huh? Hard to make moral judgements of any kind without coming off as a hypocrite.

  457. #459 Owlmirror
    November 7, 2008

    Oh, look. Pilt is back.

    if you really want to see incontrovertible evidence of God’s existence, why don’t you ask Him to provide some?

    So in other words, you agree that God need merely be asked to perform some action that cannot be explained by human action, or even random coincidence. So obviously since God does not respond with such actions, God does not exist.

    Actually, I thought of a wonderful way for God to demonstrate his omniscience: Provide humans with exact predictions of novas and other astronomical events.

    Since no information can travel faster than light, the reasonable explanation for such knowledge must be a true omniscient being.

    [Although I suppose, as an advocatus diaboli, that we should not rule out aliens with FTL technology]

    But more generally, I already pointed out that God need only speak for himself.

    Speak, and we will hear. Be silent, and we will doubt. Remain silent forever, and we will reject the idea that there is anyone there to speak in the first place. We will realize that anything we thought we might have heard were only illusory echoes inside our own minds…

  458. #460 Owlmirror
    November 7, 2008

    The Californians who supported Prop 8 were acting out of their own sense of morality.

    Just as the stone-throwers were.

    They stood up for what they believed was unacceptable and their voice was heard.

    Just like the stone-throwers.

    They saw the liberal trend in our country as destructive to the fabric of the family and were courageous enough to take action

    Just like the stone-throwers were.

    just as decent people in Somalia should have done to prevent the death of that little girl.

    No, you dolt.

    The decent people of Somalia who wished to prevent the death of the little girl were the liberals.

  459. #461 Justin
    November 7, 2008

    A distinction must be made, when talking about the possible “moral implications” of sexual acts, between the sexual act and its possible consequences. Many people say that homosexual sex is immoral because it is homosexual sex, and somehow violates some standard (the contenders for this standard all being incoherent conglomerations of pseudo-philosophical babble). Here it isn’t the neglect of some social goal or the production of horrible consequences that informs the condemnation; it is, in strict Kantian fashion, the act itself.

    Of course, anyone who actually thinks that gay sex is immoral is themselves immoral — as in, their act of thinking violates some standard of morality, or perhaps, decency. It’s beyond %$^%’d up that their brain stems can handle such retardedness.

    Oh, and in light of what Rick has rhetorically asked of PZ, I think it is safe to say that he stupidly argues, on the one hand, that people ought to have saved the small girl’s life in Somalia, but then at the same time asks us to recognise that this is “their culture”, and that we should not pronounce judgement on it. It’s an incoherent sack of potatoes, rotten from the bottom right.

  460. #462 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    …but there are plenty of feminists who think that pornography empowers women.

    And I have no hesitation in saying that they are completely wrong.

    There is much I dislike in modern feminism – but one thing I respect about the movement in general is that it stands up to the increasing sexual objectification and degradation of women in our culture. Pornography is not just harmless fun. It often rests on exploitation of women who have few other options; and even where this is not the case, its existence encourages an unpleasant and degrading view of women as nothing more than sexual objects. This kind of underlying misogyny – which manifests itself, in milder forms, in the sarcastic and demeaning comments people often make about the appearance of female politicians and public figures – is really the most significant remaining threat to the equal treatment of women in Western society, now that women have full legal rights.

  461. #463 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    He’s also over looking the fact that if allah/god did exist not one of us in America would be alive today. Millions of prayers go up to god everyday for us to be dead.

    God did nothing during Katrina or the tsunami, there was sure a lot of praying then.

    Have fun kiddo’s I’ve got a batch of herbs to get ready for market today. See ya later!

  462. #464 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    It often rests on exploitation of women who have few other options; and even where this is not the case, its existence encourages an unpleasant and degrading view of women as nothing more than sexual objects.

    I don’t necessarily disagree but that also doesn’t mean that it is always the case.

    I however find a bit of cognitive dissonance in your position as a libertarian and someone who has made the claims you have in this thread concerning prostitution and pornography. Correct me if I am wrong.

    This kind of underlying misogyny – which manifests itself, in milder forms, in the sarcastic and demeaning comments people often make about the appearance of female politicians and public figures – is really the most significant remaining threat to the equal treatment of women in Western society, now that women have full legal rights.

    Rights which allow them the freedom to chose to be involved in porn.

  463. #465 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Hey Walton, what gender of hooker do you prefer? I’ll look forward to your answer when I get back.

  464. #466 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    Rev, Walton has shown himself to be a bit of a prudish godbot. But his true religion is libertarianism, something base on fairy tales like most religious philosophy.

  465. #467 CJO
    November 7, 2008

    Pornography is not just harmless fun. It often rests on exploitation of women who have few other options

    File under: consent.

    and even where this is not the case, its existence encourages an unpleasant and degrading view of women as nothing more than sexual objects.

    When are you going to learn that “unpleasant (according to Walton’s uptight standards)” doesn’t constitute an argument? Has it ever occurred to you that it can be fun to be a sexual object? That participation in any given activity, some of the time, doesn’t make anyone “nothing more than” anything, since all lives have many dimensions? That consensual ‘degradation’ is exciting for many persons of both sexes?

    And before you launch into another scolding drone (have you ever considered joining a convent?), I don’t dispute the existencce of misogyny, I dispute that pornography is a significant cause or enabler of it.

  466. #468 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Rev, Walton has shown himself to be a bit of a prudish godbot. But his true religion is libertarianism, something base on fairy tales like most religious philosophy.

    Right which is why I asked about the cognitive dissonance.

    It’s one thing to be a prude, but if you’re a libertarian and want to regulate two of the largest industries (legal or not) in the world….. um.

    wait

    What?

    Shouldn’t they be able to regulate themselves?

  467. #469 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Oh damn it.

    Stupid blockquote fail.

  468. #470 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    I however find a bit of cognitive dissonance in your position as a libertarian and someone who has made the claims you have in this thread concerning prostitution and pornography.

    I thought I’d made that clear. There is a distinction – something that both the religious right and the left seem to miss – between illegal and immoral. I don’t know why so many people have so much difficulty with this concept. Libertarianism is not the same as libertinism. Just because I don’t want the state to force moral values on free individuals, doesn’t mean that I actually reject those moral values.

    The law should not enforce moral standards. It should protect individual rights and freedoms from encroachment by others. As a libertarian I believe, inter alia, in the separation of morality and law.

    So I wouldn’t ban pornography – just as we don’t ban, for instance, marital infidelity. These things are, in my personal opinion, morally wrong; but I don’t have the right or the moral authority to impose my moral views on everything else via the coercive power of the state. Nor does anyone else.

  469. #471 Bill Dauphin
    November 7, 2008

    PM (@443):

    So should the public display of pornographic magazines in shops or sexually explicit images on billboards be banned on the grounds that some people may not wish to be confronted by such imagery?

    This is “engineering, not science”: I do not think there is anything inherently immoral about sexually explicit images (necessarily, because I don’t think there’s anything inherently immoral about sex), but I recognize people’s right not to be compelled to view images they find upsetting. So this becomes not a moral issue, but a legal issue of balancing competing rights… not dissimilar from other questions of balancing rights in public spaces. Whatever the answer for a given community, it has nothing to do with moral condemnation of the sexual nature of the images.

    So no problem with incest?

    Consensual incest between adults? None whatsoever. Show me that society has a compelling interest in preventing inbreeding, and give me a reasonable proposal for legally restricting same, and I’ll think about it… but moral condemnation of the act per se? No, thank you.

    I don’t know of any religion that holds sex to be “innately depraved”, except perhaps ancient gnosticism.

    Do you know of any (Western) religion that doesn’t act as if sex were innately depraved, in its teachings and customs? (BTW, many Christian sects teach that everything “worldly” is innately depraved, and if you don’t think sex is at the top of the “worldly” list, you haven’t been paying attention.)

    If Catholicism held sex to be innately depraved, why does it stress the importance of procreation?

    If Catholicism didn’t implicitly hold sex to be innately depraved, why would it need to “justify” sex by stressing the importance of procreation (and, conversely, the evils of nonprocreative sex)?

    And the issue of abortion has nothing to do with sexual morality. It’s about the definition and value of human life.

    Bullshit. I’m sure there are some abortion foes who are genuinely concerned about human life (at least in their own minds), but as a movement, opposition to abortion is all about restricting (some would say “punishing”) sexuality. If “baby killing” were the true heart of the issue, abortion foes would call for the law to treat abortion as first-degree murder (e.g., life in prison, or perhaps even execution, for both those who obtain abortions and those who perform them)… but nobody actually does. (Even the strongest attempts to recriminalize abortion [e.g., South Dakota] have included only the mildest punishments.) And if you consider that Catholic teaching opposes both abortion and contraception, it seems very clear that their true agenda is to make sure that sex has consequences. Intellectually honest “social conservatives” (they’re rare, but they exist) will sometimes even admit that what they oppose is anything that separates sex from its (presumably negative) consequences.

    Catholic social teaching, for instance, is right in line with a liberal (in the American sense of the word) social-justice political agenda, and Catholics would be a naturally liberal-Democratic constituency…

    What Catholic social teaching did you have in mind here?

    You could start with the seven Corporeal Works of Mercy. More generally, Christian social teaching (aside from the stuff about sex) emphasizes peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity, mutual support, turning away from materialism… face it, Jebus was a damn commie!

    Walton (@447):

    You miss the point with many of your objections. You give examples of cases which (if we stipulate their truth) may in fact represent immorality, but not specifically because of their sexual nature. That is, the sexual enslavement of a woman is immoral because it’s enslavement, not because it’s sexual; the sexual exploitation of a child is immoral because it’s exploitation, not because it’s sexual; reckless disregard for the health of a fetus is immoral because it’s reckless, not because of the sexual act that creates the fetus.

    As for…

    I also think that pornography and prostitution are both immoral – again, from an entirely secular perspective. Both exploit and objectify women.

    …I think your presumption that sex work “expolit[s] and objectif[ies]” women is based on an a priori belief that sex is somehow distasteful. We don’t typically say that movie stars, singers, or athletes (to name some other sorts of performers) are exploited and objectified, nor nurses, waitresses, or (legit) masseuses (to name some other sorts of service providers). Broadly assuming that sexual performers and sexual service providers are always exploited and objectified is just anti-sex prejudice.

    OTOH…

    And while it might be convenient to believe that porn stars and prostitutes have made a voluntary choice, the reality is that many are exploited, drug addicts or, in some cases, enslaved by human traffickers.

    …some prostitutes and porn stars genuinely are being abused, and that, of course, is immoral. It’s just that it’s not the sex that makes the abuse immoral; it’s the abuse.

    I’ve heard the argument made (more often WRT prostitution than porn) that women are forced into sex work by the economic inequity they face in our society. Such inequity certainly exists, and it is inherently immoral… but to a certain extent, all of us who work for a living are “forced” to do what we’re doing out of economic necessity.1 Where there’s actual, specific coercion, I agree that it’s immoral, but if a woman chooses to make her living by having sex for money rather than, for instance, working the night shift at a convenience store or waving flags on a road construction crew, who are we to judge her? Choice (which is another way of saying “consent”) is the key… and I’m quite certain there are people who are genuinely prostitutes by choice.3

    My idea about how the law should treat sexuality will probably sound vaguely libertarian to you: I think the law should take no notice whatsoever of sexuality, per se.2 The difference is that I feel this way not exactly because I’m worried about “the State,” but because in my mind, the state is our neighbors… and I don’t think what kind of sex anybody is having is any of the neighbors’ business.

    1 Heck, if I could match my current income and benefits by having sex with strangers, I’d seriously consider doing that instead of what I’m doing now. Sadly, the idea that anybody would pay to have sex with me is nothing but absurdist comedy! More likely, folks would pay not to have sex with me.

    2 This principle would have the salutary effect of making the whole gay marriage debate moot: If the law took no notice of sexuality, it could hardly distinguish between domestic partnerships based on what sort of sex the partners were having.

    3 No doubt you could find one if you tried… and I urge you to do so.

  470. #472 Tulse
    November 7, 2008

    should the public display of pornographic magazines in shops or sexually explicit images on billboards be banned on the grounds that some people may not wish to be confronted by such imagery?

    Where the hell do you live so that you see sexually explicit billboards and publicly viewable sexually explicit magazine covers? The Mustang Ranch? Amsterdam? Or does your criterion for “sexually explicit” include visible midriffs and ankles?

  471. #473 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    The law should not enforce moral standards. It should protect individual rights and freedoms from encroachment by others. As a libertarian I believe, inter alia, in the separation of morality and law.

    Ok point taken. I did either miss that or ignore it. Not sure which. I retract that.

    I don’t however retract my disagreement about the inherit immorality of prostitution and / or pornography. It’s just not the case.

    Yes there are very bad things that happen to people in both industries. One way to solve some (not all) of that is through regulation. And not regulation as to what they can do, but as to how their employees are treated.

    I will even go so far as to say that prostitution (and I’m speaking of legal prostitution not illegal streetwalkers) and pornography may even be a risky career.

    But so what, there are lots of risky careers. You make the choice to go into that career. No one is legally forced into either. There are always options. The options may not as well paying, as fun, as glamorous etc. but they are still options. Does that mean they should be treated poorly once they make that choice? No. How to deal with that, greater oversight. Does that mean that there is still the risk of emotional damage? Of course. But that is a risk of the job. A job that is a choice.

    I’m sure I’m missing something here so I expect flames from all sides. That’s fine. I’m wearing my asbestos undies.

  472. #474 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    Bill Dauphin at #471: I see your point. And I suppose I’m instinctively more anti-sex than is, perhaps, rationally justifiable. But many ethical philosophies, not just those in the Judeo-Christian tradition, have prized self-denial as the first step on the path to righteousness.

    I, as a libertarian, base my philosophy of the law and of public policy on the concept of individual rights and liberties. To that extent, we seem to largely agree regarding these matters; so we’re not arguing, substantially, over what should and shouldn’t be prohibited by law. But you seem to go further in basing not just your political and legal philosophy, but also your private moral philosophy, on individual rights and liberties; that is to say, if an act doesn’t violate another’s person or property or disregard any of their rights, then ipso facto it isn’t immoral. On that basis, you’re quite right that there’s no reason for treating sexual immorality as a distinct category in itself, or for viewing any sexual activity as wrong where there is no coercion, exploitation, breach of trust or loss of liberty.

    But I would contend that, whereas my public policy arguments need to be objectively, rationally justified, my personal moral values do not; because I do not seek to impose them on others via coercive force. As regards my private values, I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits. Why else do so many cultures and ethical systems around the world – Buddhism being a good example – prize celibacy so much? And why were so many of the greatest philosophers and scientists (Nikola Tesla being a good example, off the top of my head) celibate throughout their lives?

    This is, of course, a wholly personal and subjective reflection, and as I said, I don’t seek to impose it on anyone else. My political views are libertarian; but my private moral views are not libertine. That is the essence of the distinction I’m trying to draw. In other words, celibacy is the best of all possible options – but it should not be forced on people via the power of the state, any more than any other lifestyle should.

  473. #475 Bill Dauphin
    November 7, 2008

    CJO (@467):

    and even where this is not the case, its existence encourages an unpleasant and degrading view of women as nothing more than sexual objects.

    When are you going to learn that “unpleasant (according to Walton’s uptight standards)” doesn’t constitute an argument?

    More to the point, Walton’s assertion that porn (and sex work generally) “encourages an unpleasant and degrading view of women as nothing more than sexual objects” has embedded within its very language the a priori (but unacknowledged) assumption that sex is disreputable.

  474. #476 Emmet Caulfield
    November 7, 2008

    I also think that pornography and prostitution are both immoral – again, from an entirely secular perspective. Both exploit and objectify women.

    So (male) gay porn and prostitution are fine.

  475. #477 Bill Dauphin
    November 7, 2008

    Walton:

    But many ethical philosophies, not just those in the Judeo-Christian tradition, have prized self-denial as the first step on the path to righteousness.

    I’m not quite arrogant enough to set my opinion above all those vaunted moral traditions, but really, for my own self, I am utterly unconvinced that self-denial for its own sake is in any way admirable or beneficial. Deferring immediate gratification in service of some larger (or longer term) good is one thing, but absent some positive goal, self-denial per se is just baseless self-punishment.

    But you seem to go further in basing not just your political and legal philosophy, but also your private moral philosophy, on individual rights and liberties; that is to say, if an act doesn’t violate another’s person or property or disregard any of their rights, then ipso facto it isn’t immoral.

    That’s basically right, but it seems like you’re trying to squeeze me into some libertarian schema. Don’t. I believe in common goals and common goods, and in collective action in service of same. But as I grapple with individual moral questions, I find my cumulative sense of morality is increasingly that something like the Golden Rule is the only basis for morality… and that arbitrary external rules about behavior, disconnected from that behavior’s impact on the rights of others, are almost always bullshit. This sense is a work in progress, but that’s how I’m leaning. In particular…

    As regards my private values, I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.

    …I think it’s really our collective neurosis about sexuality that’s destructive, rather than sexuality itself, and the cure for that neurosis is letting go of shame, rather than embracing self-denial. Your moral rejection of the “purely physical” and elevation of “more noble [presumably nonphysical] pursuits” strikes me as arbitrary and meaningless, and frankly, it breaks my heart to hear you say it. You are setting yourself up for a very sterile, unhappy life; I beg you to reconsider.

    On occasion you’ve been counseled to “get drunk, or laid, or both” around here, and I suspect you think that’s just cruel teasing because of your youth. In fact, I quite sincerely, and without any trace of sarcasm or ill intent, urge you to “eat, drink, and be merry” at least a bit; if you don’t, someday you’ll regret it.

    Why else do so many cultures and ethical systems around the world … prize celibacy so much?

    Perhaps because arbitrary rules about behavior (and attaching moral shame to same) are a good way of controlling the masses?

    And why were so many of the greatest philosophers and scientists (Nikola Tesla being a good example, off the top of my head) celibate throughout their lives?

    You’re not laboring under the misapprehension that Tesla was happy or well adjusted, are you? Plenty of brilliant people have been emotional and psychological train wrecks. And plenty of brilliant people have been wild hedonists. And plenty of brilliant people have been mild-mannered, perfectly average folks (socially average, that is). Please don’t convince yourself, with this much life ahead of you, that you need to be some sort of lonely ascetic to make a mark on the world.

  476. #478 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    Well, I return to this thread to see a lot of references to sex, but from a rather narrow perspective. Human sexuality is complex, and takes some odd turns which haven’t yet been referred to.

  477. #479 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    If Catholicism held sex to be innately depraved, why does it stress the importance of procreation?

    Because it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the church survives (or, in the case of catholicism, flourishes – the pope doesn’t live in a simple hut, does he?) on the money from those who adhere to the belief system it is purported to represent; more people = more money. More procreation = more people.

    Anyway, I always thought that catholics were supposed to find enjoying the act for the act’s sake to be depraved, and only focus on doing their god’s work by performing it in order to procreate.

    The film Like Water for Chocolate, IIRC, has a scene where the married Hispanic (catholic, obviously) couple have what is basically a ‘sheet with a hole in it’ so that the act can be performed with minimum physical contact between the two. Not exactly pro-enjoyment.

    In a biography of the Kennedys it was explained that his mother was a strict catholic and would, as soon as she knew she was pregnant, stop sharing the marital bed with Joseph, JFK’s father – since sex was only for the process of procreation, if she was pregnant there was no point in doing it any more, was there? This also may have had the side effect of inspiring Joe to have so many extra-marital affairs.

    But, to be fair to catholicism, the anti-sex (for pleasure) doesn’t appear to be limited to them.

  478. #480 Azdak
    November 7, 2008

    If Catholicism held sex to be innately depraved, why does it stress the importance of procreation?

    To answer the question with a question, what ever happened to those Shakers?

  479. #481 Emmet Caulfield
    November 7, 2008

    On occasion you’ve been counseled to “get drunk, or laid, or both” around here, and I suspect you think that’s just cruel teasing because of your youth.

    Well, I think it has more to do with Walton coming across as an excessively serious and joyless ascetic, which, if accurate, is tragic in a nineteen year old. I see it more as an expression of frustration by those of us who know that we regret not what we have done, but what we have not. It’s a hard lesson to learn first hand.

  480. #482 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Tulse, #472, wrote:

    Or does your criterion for “sexually explicit” include visible midriffs and ankles?

    Careful, you’ll get Pete (sick fuck in a gimp suit with a shiny new tinfoil hat) Rooke back here talking about mini-skirts and knee rolls.

  481. #483 SC
    November 7, 2008

    People are having a discussion with Walton about sex and pornography. Wow. When I finish this, I may go over to Blake Stacey’s blog to debate physics.

  482. #484 Emmet Caulfield
    November 7, 2008

    People are having a discussion with Walton about sex and pornography.

    Yeah, some guys have all the luck ;o)

  483. #485 CJO
    November 7, 2008

    I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature,

    For most of modern history in the west –and in many other cultures besides– sexuality has been repressed, by an institutionalized set of prohibitive attitudes very similar to the ones for which you express admiration. The free and consensual expression of human sexuality is not destructive or negative in the least. Quite the opposite, in my experience. It is your brand of ill-considered, reflexive priggishness that is the problem, not sexuality, which is ineluctable anyway.

    and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.

    What a hopeless muddle you are. It seems to me the most noble pursuit is improving the lives of our fellow men and women. And a free and empowered sexuality is the partial product of life free from “such purely physical desires” like material safety, adequate shelter, sanitary living conditions and enough to eat. So the rest of us, nominally free of these desires already in the affluent west, should foreswear fucking in order to devote ourselves more fully to bringing about an order in which otherwise happy people, now freed of dire material want due to our single-minded nobility, should follow suit, until we’re a planet of dour, sexless drones: but aren’t we smug and self-satisfied that we’ve devoted ourselves to such noble pursuits!

  484. #486 SC
    November 7, 2008

    Yeah, some guys have all the luck ;o)

    Well, if I can manage to stay awake today (had to teach early this morning), perhaps we can chat later. :)

  485. #487 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    …until we’re a planet of dour, sexless drones…

    Do I come over as a dour, sexless drone?

  486. #488 SC
    November 7, 2008

    Do I come over as a dour, sexless drone?

    Was that a joke?

  487. #489 clinteas
    November 7, 2008

    Was that a joke?

    Unintentional joke…

  488. #490 CJO
    November 7, 2008

    *chuckle*

    Granted, your pedantry subroutines are state of the art, so maybe the current version is droid-class, but yes, Walton, yes you do.

  489. #491 Emmet Caulfield
    November 7, 2008

    I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.

    Holy shit!

    Walton, that’s just fucked up.

    What is destructive about sexuality? What is negative about sexuality? What is ignoble about “purely physical desires”?

    And what is this “energy” of which you speak? Surely not anything measured in Joules, but a psychological motivational thing? Is there some principle of conservation of this stuff? Some law that says that if I get a blowjob, I can’t do mathematics for a week? It’s simply horseshit. If anything, you’re much happier to doing “more noble pursuits” with a bloody great smile on your face.

  490. #492 clinteas
    November 7, 2008

    I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.

    Walton,
    if you are of legal age,my advice is you go to the next ATM,get 100 bucks out,or alternatively ring up the girl of your dreams,and get it over and done with.
    It will a)enable you to talk in an informed way about sexuality,and it will b)make you feel better.
    Trust me on that one.

  491. #493 Walton
    November 7, 2008

    I’m really starting to find this line of conversation uncomfortable, and excessively personal. Maybe it’s best if I abandon this thread?

    (Debating politics is much easier than addressing my own psychological hangups.)

  492. #494 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Walton wrote:

    I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.

    This doesn’t exactly paint you as a happy, well-adjusted person, Walton. I mean, I’m not getting any either; it doesn’t mean I want to stop others from getting busy if the mood strikes them.

  493. #495 Steve_C
    November 7, 2008

    Sex is a blast. Why anyone would deprive themselves baffles me.

  494. #496 SC
    November 7, 2008

    As I mentioned to Walton the last time he expressed those views, human sexual desire is the reason he and the rest of us are here to be having this conversation. We have it to thank for our existence.

  495. #497 Emmet Caulfield
    November 7, 2008

    I’m really starting to find this line of conversation uncomfortable

    Which is precisely why you should follow clinteas’s advice.

  496. #498 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.

    I would suggest the priesthood but we all know that isn’t a place to escape human sexuality.

    But yes it is your own personal feeling and opinions. Some people just aren’t sexual.

    But that does taint your view on what is immoral and what is moral.

  497. #499 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    To everyone else, I would refrain from being hard on (no pun intended) Walton about his sexuality. It’s not something to joke about.

    How he uses that to interpret how everyone else should behave or makes judgment calls, that’s another issue all together.

  498. #500 SC
    November 7, 2008

    (Debating politics is much easier than addressing my own psychological hangups.)

    I believe some of your psychological hangups about sex are at the root of some of your political opinions.

  499. #501 Emmet Caulfield
    November 7, 2008

    Some people just aren’t sexual.

    Sure, but there’s a helluva difference between being asexual or ambivalent about sex, and thinking it’s destructive, negative and ignoble.

  500. #502 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    True. I just worry about someone with such obviously serious issues. Sexual issues are usually symptoms of something deeper.

  501. #503 clinteas
    November 7, 2008

    I believe some of your psychological hangups about sex are at the root of some of your political opinions.

    That does not only apply to Walton,but to society as a whole.
    Sexual repression is never far from religion.

  502. #504 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Sorry, that was the Captain Obvious comment of the day.

    Time for beer.

  503. #505 God
    November 7, 2008

    One of the things that guarantees that humanity will continue to amuse Me is that sexuality and aggression are controlled by the same hormonal signaling system, and the portions of the brain that control the respective behaviors are confusable.

    There will always be some subset of the species that sees pursuing an attractive mate to be psychologically equivalent to destroying a hated enemy, or controlling a chattel slave, with all the concomitant anguish that implies.

    Not to mention all of the other psychological factors that can be confused with sexuality, generally guaranteeing that there will always be someone for whom either giving in to desire or repressing it will lead to unhappiness and neurosis.

    As I’ve mentioned before, if you found out what I did to bring about the creation of humanity, you would never stop throwing up.

  504. #506 SC
    November 7, 2008

    Walton, I’ll be honest. I know I’m prone to attack you, but it’s because you drive me up a freakin’ wall. However, I think all of us her are kind and well-meaning people. I’ve noticed that you seem to gravitate towards discussions of sex, even raising some questions recently on a completely unrelated thread. When it is discussed, as here, you seem to wish to, ahem, penetrate more deeply into the subject. Since you’ve received personalized replies in the past, you had to expect that you would again. This all makes me think that perhaps you do want to talk about it. Maybe this isn’t the best forum (although I do recall that when you discussed some personal issues in the past you received sympathy and offers of help), but I hope you do find someone with whom to talk about this.

  505. #507 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    Hey God where’s that bike I prayed about in 5th grade?

  506. #508 CJO
    November 7, 2008

    Oh, jeez. Now God’s here. Talk about a boring, sexless drone! I mean, this guy hasn’t been laid since Sodom. And have you tried to read his book?! zzzzzz

  507. #509 Longtime Lurker
    November 7, 2008

    I’m a little pissed that Walton was able to hijack this thread, which began as an expression of horror and outrage over a female Somali child being killed by the fundamentalist Islamic patriarchy running roughshod over the region. Please, stop being so solipsistic!

    That being said, Walton, maybe you’d be better served if you spent less time on the ‘net and went out more often. Find yourself a nice girl (or dude, if your natural inclination is in that direction) and try to develop a genuine relationship, which may lead to a satisfying sex life, which would (ironically) make sex and sexual mores less of a consuming obsession for you.

    On my own part, I’ve found that the sheer brutality of this act has stirred up some ugly feelings in myself. Sure, we can all hypothesize what we’d do if we were armed, and could intervene to save the girl, but what would any of us do if we were flying overhead and could drop a M.O.A.B. on the stadium after the fact? It terrifies me that a Kurtzian “Exterminate the brutes” even crossed my mind, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t.

    That reason alone convinces me that every effort must be made to restore the moral/social fiber of the U.S. come January. Not only must we restore habeas corpus, end the major land war, and conduct our anti-terrorism efforts in a smarter, more humane fashion, but we must overhaul the justice system in this country and put an end to the prison-industrial complex that made Abu Ghraib possible.

    Brutality breeds brutality, dehumanization/demonization is contagious.

  508. #510 God
    November 7, 2008

    Hey God where’s that bike I prayed about in 5th grade?

    What part of “you exist to amuse Me” did you not understand?

    I mean, this guy hasn’t been laid since Sodom.

    Or ever.

    And have you tried to read his book?! zzzzzz

    Boy, have you not been reading the right parts. Come on, it starts out with shame, pain, banishment, continues on with murder, then graduates to mass murder.

    There’s boring begats in there, but then, there always are.

  509. #511 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Oh, jeez. Now God’s here. Talk about a boring, sexless drone!

    I know. At least he could have taken a lesson from Zeus and shown Mary a boots-knocking, heavenly good time rather than just zapping her from afar with magic jizz to knock her up.

    Or maybe that’s just what she told Joseph…

  510. #512 God
    November 7, 2008

    At least he could have taken a lesson from Zeus and shown Mary a boots-knocking, heavenly good time rather than just zapping her from afar with magic jizz to knock her up.

    All of the steamy stories about Zeus and his wild affairs were made up by horny Greeks who wished to justify their own… goings on.

    Sometimes they were made up to explain an unexpected pregnancy. “No, no, our daughter would never spread her legs for any random schmuck! It must have been Zeus in disguise! Her child will be a demigod at the very least!”

    And so on and so forth.

    Nothing to do with Me, except for My amusement in seeing their obvious lying.

  511. #513 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    What part of “you exist to amuse Me” did you not understand?

    Sheesh. It was only a bike. What part of you’re a big meanie face do you not understand.

    Just because you’re all omnipotent and all powerful and father of the savior of the world and have a great ass is no reason to be an asshole to a 5th grader.

  512. #514 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM (451):

    So? Why should bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells have any more of a moral dimension than, say, threading a needle? A punch in the face is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

    Harm to the recipient of the punch.

    You clearly still haven’t broken those Abrahamic shackles. What you call “harm” is itself nothing more than a particular interaction between cell-clusters. To attach any kind of moral significance to this particular physical phenomenon is a superstitious reflex …

    BTW, Nerd of Redhead and Patricia – if you really want to see incontrovertible evidence of God’s existence, why don’t you ask Him to provide some?

    And what incontrovertible evidence did god provide you?

    To begin with, an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes.

    Patricia (452):

    See that Nerd of Redhead, all we have to do to get god to appear, is you and I pray real nice.

    Nothing to lose.

    Nerd of Redhead (453):

    Until you prove god exists he/she/it/fsm doesn’t.

    That’s a completely arbitrary and pointless condition. You asked for evidence – what does its source matter? If an inquirer came seeking an authoritative in-depth explanation of evolutionary theory & you suggested he e-mail Dawkins or PZ Myers, what would you think if he responded with “Fuck them, I want to hear it from some guy who posts occasionally in Pharyngula’s comboxes!”

    Owlmirror (459):

    So in other words, you agree that God need merely be asked to perform some action that cannot be explained by human action, or even random coincidence. So obviously since God does not respond with such actions, God does not exist.

    And how do you know He doesn’t respond with such actions? Perhaps He just likes to be a bit more more discreet nowadays than in the past.

    I already pointed out that God need only speak for himself.
    Speak, and we will hear. Be silent, and we will doubt. Remain silent forever, and we will reject the idea that there is anyone there to speak in the first place.

    Maybe you’re just hard of hearing. Or not listening hard enough.

  513. #515 God
    November 7, 2008

    Sheesh. It was only a bike.

    You wouldn’t have shot your eye out, at any rate.

    and father of the savior of the world and have a great ass

    Not so much with any of that, either. I’m immaterial. Literally and completely.

    What part of you’re a big meanie face do you not understand.

    Just because you’re all omnipotent and all powerful [...] is no reason to be an asshole to a 5th grader.

    No, I’m assholy to you, and to everyone else, because it amuses Me to be assholy. That’s the only reason there is, and the only reason I need.

  514. #516 God
    November 7, 2008

    To begin with, an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes.

    That was not Me.

    Heh. You are so gullible.

  515. #517 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    You clearly still haven’t broken those Abrahamic shackles. What you call “harm” is itself nothing more than a particular interaction between cell-clusters. To attach any kind of moral significance to this particular physical phenomenon is a superstitious reflex …

    What a gigantic dodging load of shit that is. Punching someone in the face is causing physical harm to someone. Abrahamic religions meaning exactly shit in this. It is harm. Are you suggesting that only the Abrahamic religions have a monopoly on that is and isn’t harm?

    That’s really your answer? Weak. My comment above stands even stronger now that you’ve deposited that reeking pile of fecal waste above.

  516. #518 God
    November 7, 2008

    And how do you know He doesn’t respond with such actions? Perhaps He just likes to be a bit more more discreet nowadays than in the past.

    No, it’s basically because I’m assholy.

    Maybe you’re just hard of hearing. Or not listening hard enough.

    Nah. The silent treatment is my favourite psychological torture.

  517. #519 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    Pilty, you just don’t have any idea of burden of proof. I don’t have the burden of proof to disprove you alleged, god. Since you are the one positing god you have the burden of proof to show that your god exists with the proper physical evidence, or to shut up about god. You keep shirking you duty to prove god, which is an admission that you know you cannot prove god. The continued talk of god just makes you appear to any rational person, and the atheist who blog here, to be a congenital liar.

  518. #520 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 7, 2008

    To begin with, an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes.

    You’re going to have to be more specific

  519. #521 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Ah, Pilty. The prophecy has been fulfilled. I wrote in #417:

    I suspect ol’ Pilty of setting us up with this line of reasoning; I’m not going to be surprised if he comes back with some jabs about moral relativism and how atheists can’t have morals (or, if you like, decency) because they don’t believe in god and so forth.

    And you’ve waited until truth machine left, too. Two from two.

    Anyway, you don’t have much of a point. Just because a society developed morals and ethics at the same time as believing in a super-invisible bestfriend doesn’t mean the existence of the super-invisible bestfriend is responsible for the morals.

    Of course, no civilization that didn’t take on an abrahamic religion has ever managed to survive, has it? They can’t have; they’d have been incapable of having any morals, wouldn’t they?

  520. #522 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    Longtime Lurker,

    On my own part, I’ve found that the sheer brutality of this act has stirred up some ugly feelings in myself.

    This is just one incident amongst many other superstition-based atrocities going on in Africa. They don’t generally make the news, but search for child witches, for example, and you’ll find even worse than this incident. It’s not just Islam, it’s all superstitions that are enablers.

  521. #523 CJO
    November 7, 2008

    You clearly still haven’t broken those Abrahamic shackles.

    What a tiresome git you are. The foundation of all morality, pre- and post- composition of the Torah, the gospels, or whatever literature we’re calling “Abrahamic,” is the same: do unto others, or more generally, and in modern terms, treat your fellow persons as ends in themselves and not means to an end. The idea that some Judean scribe invented this, or having written it down, owns it and holds it in trust for his spiritual descendents and no others is just ignorant and parochial.

  522. #524 Anon
    November 7, 2008

    Pilty, I was just wondering…

    For those who believe in Satan (I don’t know if you are one of them), do you think they believe he would be powerful enough to fool you into thinking you had felt “an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes.“? If not, why not?

    We know that we (humans) are capable of experiencing illusions. Of believing things that are simply not so. Of being fooled by someone who is able to manipulate what we experience. I am genuinely curious–how is it that you can guarantee that your 20 minute experience could not possibly be anything other than what you believe it to be?

  523. #525 Longtime Lurker
    November 7, 2008

    It’s not just Islam, it’s all superstitions that are enablers.

    Yeah, even political ideologies and economic theories can enable brutality… it’s just hard to maintain one’s equilibrium when confronted with news of such monstrous acts.

  524. #526 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Bill Dauphin (471):

    I do not think there is anything inherently immoral about sexually explicit images (necessarily, because I don’t think there’s anything inherently immoral about sex)

    Non sequitur. Just because an act is not inherently immoral, it doesn’t necessarily follow that representations of that act cannot be inherently immoral.

    I recognize people’s right not to be compelled to view images they find upsetting. So this becomes not a moral issue, but a legal issue of balancing competing rights… not dissimilar from other questions of balancing rights in public spaces. Whatever the answer for a given community, it has nothing to do with moral condemnation of the sexual nature of the images.

    What criteria do you use to ‘balance’ these ‘competing rights’? A great many people would find this deeply offensive. Do they have a ‘right’ not to be offended by such spectacles? If so, how is it to be ‘balanced’ against those who insist on their ‘right’ to indulge in it?

    If Catholicism didn’t implicitly hold sex to be innately depraved, why would it need to “justify” sex by stressing the importance of procreation (and, conversely, the evils of nonprocreative sex)?

    It’s not a questioning of ‘justifying’ sex but of perceiving its true nature.

    I’m sure there are some abortion foes who are genuinely concerned about human life (at least in their own minds), but as a movement, opposition to abortion is all about restricting (some would say “punishing”) sexuality. If “baby killing” were the true heart of the issue, abortion foes would call for the law to treat abortion as first-degree murder (e.g., life in prison, or perhaps even execution, for both those who obtain abortions and those who perform them)… but nobody actually does. (Even the strongest attempts to recriminalize abortion [e.g., South Dakota] have included only the mildest punishments.)

    Perhaps many in the pro-life movement are indeed hypocrites. Perhaps many are cowards, shrinking from the logical consequences of their premises. Or perhaps they reason that calls for the death penalty for abortionists would be too easily misrepresented as ‘extremist’ and so campaign in a more low-key, tactical fashion. Who knows?

    And if you consider that Catholic teaching opposes both abortion and contraception, it seems very clear that their true agenda is to make sure that sex has consequences. Intellectually honest “social conservatives” (they’re rare, but they exist) will sometimes even admit that what they oppose is anything that separates sex from its (presumably negative) consequences.

    I think there’s a germ of truth in that, but I don’t think it’s a cynical exercise in social control on the part of the patriarchy, as you seem to be implying. Rather, it comes back to the teleological view of sexuality. Plus a natural conservative disapproval of the frivolous hedonism that flinches from accepting responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions.

    Catholic social teaching, for instance, is right in line with a liberal (in the American sense of the word) social-justice political agenda, and Catholics would be a naturally liberal-Democratic constituency…

    What Catholic social teaching did you have in mind here?

    You could start with the seven Corporeal Works of Mercy. More generally, Christian social teaching (aside from the stuff about sex) emphasizes peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity, mutual support, turning away from materialism… face it, Jebus was a damn commie!

    What have peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity, mutual support and turning away from materialism got to do with communism (a system of thought that, if nothing else, was avowedly materialistic)?

    And in what sense are the Corporal Works of Mercy closer to liberalism than to conservatism? (By which I mean proper old-school traditionalist conservatism, as opposed to the deviationist running dogs of capitalist-Americanist-democratic “neoconservatism”.)

  525. #527 Nerd of Redhead
    November 7, 2008

    Another long post without any proof for your alleged god. Pilty, you just look pathetic. Just one little bit of proof that can be shown to be of divine origin by scientists, debunkers, and magicians. And then to try theology with a god? Sheer insanity on your part. First god, then showing the holy book is divinely inspired, and then, and only then, theology.

  526. #528 Piltdown Man
    November 7, 2008

    Anon (#524):

    Pilty, I was just wondering…
    For those who believe in Satan (I don’t know if you are one of them), do you think they believe he would be powerful enough to fool you into thinking you had felt “an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes.”? If not, why not?
    We know that we (humans) are capable of experiencing illusions. Of believing things that are simply not so. Of being fooled by someone who is able to manipulate what we experience. I am genuinely curious–how is it that you can guarantee that your 20 minute experience could not possibly be anything other than what you believe it to be?

    Now that’s an interesting question. Unfortunately it’ll have to wait — it’s getting late and I really must have some rampant sex with my good lady wife.

  527. #529 CJO
    November 7, 2008

    What have peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity, mutual support and turning away from materialism got to do with communism (a system of thought that, if nothing else, was avowedly materialistic)?

    Love the equivocation on “materialism,” there. Keep it up; you’re easily in the running for our most mendacious and intellectually craven regular commenter. I’m pulling for you.

    And this bit, from Luke 18, doesn’t strike you as advocating something a lot like collectivism?

    “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
    23
    But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.
    24
    Jesus looked at him (now sad) and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!
    25
    For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
    26
    Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?”
    27
    And he said, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.”
    28
    Then Peter said, “We have given up our possessions and followed you.”
    29
    He said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
    30
    who will not receive (back) an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.”

  528. #530 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: Piltdown Man | November 7, 2008

    Unfortunately it’ll have to wait — it’s getting late and I really must have some rampant sex with my good lady wife.

    That is as truthful as your name.

  529. #531 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    Piltdown Man:

    I really must have some rampant sex with my good lady wife.

    You really must have unrestrained and violent sex? So, all this talk of the morality of sex was just to get you in the mood for a bit of savagery, then. Kinky! Just try not to bruise her too much, please.

  530. #532 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Piltdown Man wrote:

    I really must have some rampant sex with my good lady wife.

    Got to get that twenty-minutes of ‘proving god’ in so you don’t wake up an atheist, huh?

  531. #533 Eric Saveau
    November 7, 2008

    “I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits.”

    Jesus H. FUCK, Walton!!! What the fuck is WRONG with you?!??!!?

    Seriously. That is an absolutely horrifying statement to make, and makes me want to make damn sure that you never ever ever get within shouting distance of my kids or any of my friends. I get that you’ve got issues, you’ve alluded to them before, but a sick statement like that is completely and utterly inexcusable.

  532. #534 Wowbagger
    November 7, 2008

    Eric Saveau, #533, wrote:

    Seriously. That is an absolutely horrifying statement to make, and makes me want to make damn sure that you never ever ever get within shouting distance of my kids or any of my friends.

    On the plus side you’d know that he wouldn’t be trying to have sex with any of them…

  533. #535 John Morales
    November 7, 2008

    Eric Saveau,

    [...sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature...] That is an absolutely horrifying statement to make.

    Agreed. For one thing, it’s the rationale for infibulation.

  534. #536 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Again Walton, you skate around the question of your gender preferance.

  535. #537 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    Actually, of the three quotes, only Kel’s use of the word “decency” (suggesting that there’s something indecent about sex) is even vaguely pandering; the others are couched in terms of rights and consent.Fuck off that’s what I meant! It’s not solely a Judao-Christian enterprise to conduct sex in private, nor is it to reject nakedness. Don’t take the inherent social bias we have towards the biblical doctrine as a source of the sense of morality and shame; it’s as bad as those who think that without the bible society would descend into that!

  536. #538 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    Blockquote fail, I’ll try again

    Actually, of the three quotes, only Kel’s use of the word “decency” (suggesting that there’s something indecent about sex) is even vaguely pandering; the others are couched in terms of rights and consent.

    Fuck off that’s what I meant! It’s not solely a Judao-Christian enterprise to conduct sex in private, nor is it to reject nakedness. Don’t take the inherent social bias we have towards the biblical doctrine as a source of the sense of morality and shame; it’s as bad as those who think that without the bible society would descend into that!

  537. #539 Kel
    November 7, 2008

    Sounds to me like you’re all pandering to an irrational archaic taboo probably inherited from the Abrahamic tradition.

    Fuck off I am! Do you think that the only thing stopping people from copulating in the streets is the Judao-Christian religious doctrine? If so, fuck you! If not, then your point is mute.

  538. #540 Anon
    November 7, 2008

    @Pilty #528…

    I really don’t know which to wish…

    if good lady wife has cloven hooves and horns, she may rock your world tonight. If not, you may be saved… and bored to death. I can perfectly understand that you want both demon and angel in your bed tonight…

    Just remember, it is only a bronze-age religious ideology that insists you must choose between the two. Reject superstition, and have a wonderful evening…

  539. #541 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 7, 2008

    Posted by: Patricia | November 7, 2008

    Again Walton, you skate around the question of your gender preferance.

    Just send him both a Margaret Thatcher lookalike and a Ronald Reagan lookalike. That should get some iron in his pants. He is free to act on one or both.

    I shudder typing this out.

  540. #542 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    That ol’ perv Piltdown Man just got all excited by the thought of Walton being a virgin, and trying to drop his pen in the room and peek up the Rev. BigDumbChimps cassock.

    So far as his rampant sex fantasy – I’ll bet 5 cyber ducats his good lady wife holds less than 100 pounds of air pressure.

  541. #543 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Janine, We are all wasted on that boy. He is the most joyless, poker up the ass, young waste of organs I’ve ever seen.

  542. #544 Longtime Lurker
    November 7, 2008

    Again Walton, you skate around the question of your gender preferance.

    He’s in the U.K. equivalent of ROTC… I don’t think the UK has anything equivalent to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” but he may be avoiding a razzing in boot camp. I don’t think, however, admitting to being a virgin/asexual would be regarded in a better light, though. Maybe he just uses a copy of Atlas Shrugged as a “beatin’ bible”.

    The fact that I actually know about Wally’s personal history/career trajectory is kinda scary, but he DOES always carry on about himself.

  543. #545 windy
    November 7, 2008

    I personally feel that sexuality is one of the most destructive and negative aspects of human nature, and that we would all do better to transcend such purely physical desires in favour of devoting energy to more noble pursuits. Why else do so many cultures and ethical systems around the world – Buddhism being a good example – prize celibacy so much?

    Usually they prize celibacy in combination with doing away with personal property… I have gotten the impression that to you the acquisition of property isn’t such a negative and destructive pursuit, though?

    Also, these cultures didn’t know about effective birth control. So people who wanted to dedicate themselves to something else besides raising a family might not have had much choice. If science had been invented earlier, we might have celibacy oaths for grad students :)

    And why were so many of the greatest philosophers and scientists (Nikola Tesla being a good example, off the top of my head) celibate throughout their lives?

    Then again, there was Feynman…

  544. #546 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Unfortunately you’re right Lurker. Walton proves that there are blue ribbion winning christian idiots in countries other than America.

  545. #547 Sven DiMilo
    November 7, 2008

    I’ve had Walton killfiled for ages, but the rest of you fuckers keep quoting the guy…
    Celibacy? Celibacy?
    8-D>
    There’s all kinds, no?

  546. #548 Patricia
    November 7, 2008

    Mmmmm, why thank you Sven for calling me a fucker. I take that kindly. Middle aged women don’t often get that sort of- suggestive compliment.

  547. #549 Bill Dauphin
    November 7, 2008

    First, Walton:

    I’m genuinely sorry the conversation has made you uncomfortable. I know we sometimes play rough around here, but I’m sure I’m not alone in being sincerely concerned for your happiness. When I said earlier that some of your comments broke my heart, I was not being facetious: For whatever reason, you seem to have preemptively cut yourself off from one of the things that makes life truly wonderful… and I suspect this arbitrary denial of your own pleasure extends to areas of your life other than sexuality. I urge you to reconsider: There is no nobility or virtue in self-denial for its own sake, nor is there any inherent dishonor in pleasure. I hope you can shake off this unnatural asceticism, and find a balanced, happy approach to life.

    Now for the fossil (@526):

    Just because an act is not inherently immoral, it doesn’t necessarily follow that representations of that act cannot be inherently immoral.

    OK, if you say so. Suppose you convince me that pictures of people having sex (the pictures themselves, I mean; not any particular display of them… and assuming their production was consensual on all parts) are immoral… and do so without also arguing (or implying) that sex itself is immoral?

    What criteria do you use to ‘balance’ these ‘competing rights’?

    This is situational, the sort of thing that courts and legislatures at all levels of government handle all the time. As I said, “engineering, not science.” And in any case, this competition of rights in no way suggests that the behavior in question is intrinsically immoral.

    It’s not a questioning[sic] of ‘justifying’ sex but of perceiving its true nature.

    Mebbe so… but I stand by my contention that, in the eyes of the Catholic church (and of many other religions, esp. the “Abrahamic” ones), the “true nature” of sex is that it’s evil except when confined to certain narrow, divinely authorized channels. Nothing you’ve said persuades me otherwise.

    And while this line of conversation might seem like a thread hijacking to some, I don’t really think it is: This notion that sex=lust=evil, based on religious mythology rooted in prescientific understandings of the world, is precisely what not only allows but promotes atrocities like the Somalia story in PZ’s OP… not to mention countless other similar tragedies large and small.

    If we could just let the fuck go of this idea that our physical appetites (and the pleasure we get when we satisfy them) are shameful and depraved, half of what makes the world scary and sad and violent would go away with it.

  548. #550 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Oh Bill we always play rough around here. Are you drunk?
    I’ll walk you home man, cause I’m slightly less drunk.

    Then I hope Janine walks me home, so we can sing slutty songs, laugh and twirl.

  549. #551 Bill Dauphin
    November 8, 2008

    Patricia:

    Are you drunk?
    I’ll walk you home man, cause I’m slightly less drunk.

    Careful, now… sounds like that might lead to some of that evil stuff!

  550. #552 Tom L
    November 8, 2008

    You really must have unrestrained and violent sex?

    Nah, it’s just a kinky position, is all.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attitude_(heraldry)#Rampant

  551. #553 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    Anon (#524):

    For those who believe in Satan (I don’t know if you are one of them), do you think they believe he would be powerful enough to fool you into thinking you had felt “an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes.”? If not, why not? We know that we (humans) are capable of experiencing illusions. Of believing things that are simply not so. Of being fooled by someone who is able to manipulate what we experience.

    Hence the rules for the discernment of spirits.

  552. #554 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    Nerd of Redhead (519):

    Pilty, you just don’t have any idea of burden of proof. I don’t have the burden of proof to disprove you alleged, god. Since you are the one positing god you have the burden of proof to show that your god exists with the proper physical evidence

    There is no burden of proof. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone – I’m satisfied God exists. If you wish to remain lost in your errors, that’s entirely your affair.

  553. #555 Kel
    November 8, 2008

    I’m satisfied God exists.

    Are you also satisfied to the same extent that a cracker turns into Jesus and PZ Myers is under demonic possession?

  554. #556 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM (517):

    Punching someone in the face is causing physical harm to someone. Abrahamic religions meaning exactly shit in this. It is harm. Are you suggesting that only the Abrahamic religions have a monopoly on that is and isn’t harm?

    Nope, obviously there is such a thing as harm which is very unpleasant to those who experience it. What I don’t understand is how one can assign moral significance to that unpleasantness if one accepts truth machine’s particular materialistic premises.

  555. #557 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    CJO (529):

    What have peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity, mutual support and turning away from materialism got to do with communism (a system of thought that, if nothing else, was avowedly materialistic)?

    Love the equivocation on “materialism,” there.

    What equivocation? Christ did indeed teach a “turning away from materialism”. He assigned the spiritual a higher place in the hierarchy of value than the material. Which is the exact opposite of historical communism.

    And this bit, from Luke 18, doesn’t strike you as advocating something a lot like collectivism?
    “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
    23
    But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.
    24
    Jesus looked at him (now sad) and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!
    25
    For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
    26
    Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?”
    27
    And he said, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.”
    28
    Then Peter said, “We have given up our possessions and followed you.”
    29
    He said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
    30
    who will not receive (back) an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.”

    I see no advocacy of “collectivism” whatsoever. I see a directive to avoid entanglement with worldly concerns.

  556. #558 Nerd of Redhead
    November 8, 2008

    There is no burden of proof. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone – I’m satisfied God exists. If you wish to remain lost in your errors, that’s entirely your affair.

    Still playing dumb pilty. Your belief is irrelevant if you keep it to yourself like a polite person would (that is don’t post here about it), nobody would care. Once you post here and posit god, we have every right to challenge your belief and the facts behind the belief. So, I am questioning the facts behind your god. There appear to be no facts or evidence, which makes you out to appear deluded. Are you ready to show physical proof for your god yet? If not, why not do the polite thing and quit posting about god, religion, and theology here.

  557. #559 Kel
    November 8, 2008

    Pilty, your argument entire rests on the assumption that the Judao-Christian God exists, you have a burden of proof if you want that assumption to be valid. If you don’t feel like taking that burden of proof then please stop basing your arguments on that assumption.

  558. #560 Owlmirror
    November 8, 2008

    And how do you know He doesn’t respond with such actions? Perhaps He just likes to be a bit more more discreet nowadays than in the past.

    Because “discretion” is utterly inconsistent with the performance of such actions. We cannot tell that God is performing them if he does not explicitly make it clear that they are being done and that it is himself that is doing them.

    Maybe you’re just hard of hearing. Or not listening hard enough.

    Then the onus is on God to speak up. Since God does not speak up, and has not spoken up for my entire lifespan, clearly God is the one with the problem.

    And what incontrovertible evidence did god provide you?

    To begin with, an experience of His presence that lasted approximately 20 minutes

    And how do you know that it was incontrovertible? How do you know that it could not be explained by a seizure of some sort, perhaps in the temporal lobe?

    What have peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity, mutual support and turning away from materialism got to do with communism (a system of thought that, if nothing else, was avowedly materialistic)?

    What peace? “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.”

    And as for materialism…. Funny how cult leaders in all eras demand that their followers give up everything either for the cult leaders, or to the cult leaders. Either way, they demand that the followers make themselves dependent upon the cult leader.

  559. #561 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    Bill Dauphin (549):

    Now for the fossil

    I’n not a fossil. I’m a real live dinosaur.

    Just because an act is not inherently immoral, it doesn’t necessarily follow that representations of that act cannot be inherently immoral.

    Suppose you convince me that pictures of people having sex (the pictures themselves, I mean; not any particular display of them… and assuming their production was consensual on all parts) are immoral… and do so without also arguing (or implying) that sex itself is immoral?

    Well in talking about immorality, I’m not one can draw a meaningful distinction between the “pictures themselves” and “any particuar display of them”. Moral evil is meaningless outside the context of rational beings — there is no inherent quality or essence of evil that mystically inheres in a picture; any evil arises from the uses rational beings make of it.

    In the case of sex, one must draw a distinction between an innately good natural act and various evil perversions of it. In the case of sexually explicit imagery, the evil would lie in the exposure of a properly private act in the public domain and it the artificial stimulation of sexual arousal in a context divorced from the sexual act itself.

    What criteria do you use to ‘balance’ these ‘competing rights’?

    This is situational, the sort of thing that courts and legislatures at all levels of government handle all the time. As I said, “engineering, not science.” And in any case, this competition of rights in no way suggests that the behavior in question is intrinsically immoral.

    But engineering depends on the prior existence of objective scientific laws. The very notion of competing rights assumes a) their existence and b) the intrinsic moral desirability of their being fulfilled.

    I stand by my contention that, in the eyes of the Catholic church (and of many other religions, esp. the “Abrahamic” ones), the “true nature” of sex is that it’s evil except when confined to certain narrow, divinely authorized channels.

    I wouldn’t quarrel with that, although to say something is “evil except when …” is not the same thing as saying something is “innately” evil. And again, the evil lies not in the thng itself but in the (mis)use to which it’s put.

    If we could just let the fuck go of this idea that our physical appetites (and the pleasure we get when we satisfy them) are shameful and depraved, half of what makes the world scary and sad and violent would go away with it.

    I would say most people in the Western world let go of that idea a long time ago. What taboos are left intact today?

    – Western society has in the past few decades become saturated with images of a highly sexualized nature. These can be seen on television, on cinema screens, in magazines, advertising billboards, etc.

    – These images often don’t even relate specifically to sex as such – they could be advertising motor cars or chocolate. In other words, a ‘pan-sexualism’ has crept into the culture, whereby an erotic component is gratuitously grafted on to something that has nothing to do with sex.

    – At no point is this pervasive eroticism linked to the conception and raising of children. Quite the reverse – the possibility of conceiving a child is an annoying inconvenience that gets in the way of a free and easy hedonism. Hence the urgency with which contraceptive devices and procedures are devised and promoted.

    – As the years have passed, these images have become more and more explicit. This is in conformity with the inner logic of a consciously taboo-breaking mindset – once one sacred cow has been killed the hunt is on to find an even bigger and more sacred one to slaughter in order to achieve the same frisson. This ‘drift’ toward the ever more extreme can easily be confirmed by watching a 10-year-old movie whose sexual content was considered shocking in its day. Chances are it will now seem quaint, innocent even.

    – Younger age-groups are being exposed to these processes. Witness, for example, the emergence of sexualised children’s toys such as the Bratz range of dolls. Observe how the so-called ‘lads’ mags’ that took off in the 90s are regularly displayed in newsagents’ where they can easily be seen by children, despite featuring soft-porn cover imagery.

    These developments are indisputable. What you think the consequences will be depends on your view of sexuality. Liberals say: The weakening of taboos surrounding sex has been a positive development, long may it continue! [That's what they say when they're not moaning about how repressed we all are.]

    There seem to be two main arguments to support this view:

    1. Sex is utterly harmless and innocuous. To fence it round with puritanical taboos is cruel and unnecessary, breaking a butterfly on the wheel.
    2. Sex is a primordial powerhouse of raw dionysiac energy. To attempt to dam this volcano is both futile and dangerous.

    These kind of contradict each other but the same liberal will often come out with both. I recall having a conversation many years ago with a feminist colleague concerning a news story about a girl who’d been sexually assaulted while out alone wearing what some would consider ‘provocative’ dress. The feminist waxed indignant about males – all potential rapists, uncivilized, utterly unable to control their savage instincts, little better than brutes basically. Should, then, the victim have dressed less provocatively so as not to inflame this uncontrollable savagery? Certainly not, exclaimed the outraged feminist – men should be expected to exercise self-control!

    Personally I believe sexuality to be a tremendously powerful force with vast physical, psychological and spiritual ramifications. Society has a stake in it & so cannot fail to take an interest in it. In that sense it cannot be a purely private matter but must be ‘legislated’ for.

  560. #562 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    Re: celibacy.

    Remember that religious asceticism is not the renunciation of worldly pleasure for no reason. It is a sacrifice undertaken in devotion to the deity. In the case of Christian asceticism, there is the further dimension of uniting oneself with the sufferings of Christ. Finally there is the role of ascetic practices as a way of disciplining the passions and achieving self-mastery — which even on a purely natural level can be extremely satisfying and psychologically fruitful, as many pagan ascetics well knew.

    It’s easy to scoff at a pious virgin who chooses to renounce the world. You can dismiss his choice as the product of an immature or unbalanced psychology. But you’ll have a harder time explaining away the likes of St Augustine, St Francis, St Ignatius of Loyola and many others, all experienced worldy men who perceived that the earthly and divine economies do not always coincide in matters of profit and loss. At any rate, they thought it worth undertaking.

    “I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.”

    “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, and cast away himself?”

  561. #563 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Nope, obviously there is such a thing as harm which is very unpleasant to those who experience it. What I don’t understand is how one can assign moral significance to that unpleasantness if one accepts truth machine’s particular materialistic premises.

    You can continue to build up whatever strawman version of what TM said you’d like. I’ll even bring you the match.

    “could not all human activity & interaction – without exception -be described as “bringing one set of cells into contact with another set of cells”?”

    I suppose so, but that question doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with my point, which was that sex is just a particular set of physical phenomena.

    Quit twisting the facts to make them support your corrupted logic.

    Now are you still claiming that the Abrahamic religions hold a monopoly on what is harm and what isn’t?

  562. #564 Nerd of Redhead
    November 8, 2008

    What? Rev. BDC, a fundie godbot using corrupted logic? Well, that confirms my sense of their being delusional fools. Just the concept of god is enough to make one mad if it isn’t tightly compartmentalized. When it takes over, there is just no hope for rational thought. Our old troll PR is a classic example.

  563. #565 sea creature
    November 8, 2008

    Personally I sometimes wonder if straights aren’t jealous of us queers based upon some strange perception that we have more fun or somehow have easier relationships. Straight women especially have remarked to me about how nice it must be to share child rearing with another woman rather than a man. I can’t imagine that straight men are such lousy co-parents as they seem to imply. I sometimes get the weird vibe that I am shirking some responsibility to join in the supposed stress of the heterosexual lifestyle.

    I’d also really like a definition of the heterosexual lifestyle. Is it Nascar rather than Project Runway? Burgers rather than tofu? Stretch pants for women rather than fitted jeans? Manscaping rather than hairy backs for men?

  564. #566 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Don’t forget Guns, God and guts. And by guts I mean beer guts.

  565. #567 Eric Saveau
    November 8, 2008

    @Piltdown Man-Thing

    *knock knock knock*

    [Big scary used car salesman smile]

    Hello, friend! Are you familiar with the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? Good! We are here to bring Jesus’ message of love of salvation to all the people in these perilous times! Have you received the love of Jesus into your heart? No, not at THAT church; we bring the REAL message of Jesus. All other churches are just part of the evil liberalgaycommunisecularhumanislamofascist conspiracy! You’d better get on your knees and join up with us pronto, because we saw some Jehovah’s Witnesses down the street and you know what they’re like! You want the TRUTH of Jesus in your life, right? Right? RIGHT?!?!?!?

  566. #568 RobW
    November 8, 2008

    It almost makes it worse when you hear about this sort of thing being used as a lever in unrelated disputes. Like the recent episode in (I think!) India where a teenager was mauled by dogs and shot – allegedly an ‘honour killing’ but more sinisterly the end result of a land dispute between the girl’s husband and her father. Hilarious, no?

    Consider that most lynchings in America had economic motives, thinly justified by racial hatred combined with trumped-up charges, often sexual in nature- rape, attempted rape, or simply disrespecting white women- supposedly intended to maintain the social order by reminding the negroes of their place. Usually though, the victims were successful business owners or farmers, their heirs were forced out of town with nothing, and the property ended up in white hands- often the original accuser’s.

    Meaning that the given excuse, as evil as it is- sexual impropriety and maintaining the racial heirarchy- was itself a rationale intended to cover up a real motive of theft by terror and violence. A property crime disguised as a hate crime disguised as vigilante justice. Layers of evil.

    Pure speculation on my part follows, take with appropriate grains of salt:

    I suspect that a lot of “honor killings” (and black lynchings can be considered a form of these) are similarly motivated- false accusations of sexual impropriety used to punish someone who has inspired enmity and/or envy from the local powers that be.

    That these parents went to the local authorities (the militia) in the first place, rather than keep quiet or even punish her themselves, indicates that they did not subscribe to the hateful ideology of fundamentalist extremism. Perhaps her death was as much a punishment on them for daring to speak up against that ideology by seeking justice for their daughter and a warning to everyone else.

    In other words, it serves to enforce a sense of terror in anyone else who may challenge the religious authority at least as much as it enforces a norm of sexual propriety. It may, as with lynchings in America, be a punishment for sexual misconduct on the surface, a means of suppressing dissent from the social order beneath that, and possibly a means of taking from the family in question to boot.

    Did the surviving family have to leave town after this? (How could they stay and face their neighbors who stood by and let their daughter be raped and then publicly murdered?) If they left, did they leave any property behind, a farm or business? Were they known locally as dissenters or just insufficiently respectful to local religious authorities? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the answer to all these is yes.

  567. #569 Anton Mates
    November 8, 2008
    And why were so many of the greatest philosophers and scientists (Nikola Tesla being a good example, off the top of my head) celibate throughout their lives?

    Then again, there was Feynman…

    …Einstein, Darwin, Heisenberg, Bohr, Huxley, Hooker, the Curies, Lord Kelvin, Euler, Gauss, Descartes, Russell….

    Hell, Stephen Hawking has an active (and tumultuous) sex life, even during periods of severe disability.

    Rousseau slept with anything that moved and had to drop out of school because he masturbated too much to finish his homework.

    The numbers don’t lie: If you want to be a great scientist, mathematician or philosopher, have sex.

  568. #570 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 8, 2008

    Shorter Piltdown Hoax: Better to be fucked by big sky daddy than to have intercourse with a fellow human.

  569. #571 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    The one who renounces seems weak to the one incapable of renunciation.

    – Nicolás Gómez Dávila

  570. #572 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Look out Janine, ol’ Pilty could get frisky again.

  571. #573 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    The one who renounces seems weak to the one incapable of renunciation.

    – Nicolás Gómez Dávila

    C is for cookie, it’s good enough for me.

    -Cookie Monster

  572. #574 Owlmirror
    November 8, 2008

    But you’ll have a harder time explaining away the likes of St Augustine

    *snort* You’re citing that particular oversexed hypocrite?

    “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

    Augustine was a rabid horndog.

  573. #575 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    Why do caterpillars crawl?
    Why is there a sky?
    Why is there a world at all?
    And why do I ask why?

    – Mokey Fraggle

  574. #576 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Pilty – Just whom are you trying to irritate?

  575. #577 Owlmirror
    November 8, 2008

    Pilty – Just whom are you trying to irritate?

    Muppet fans.

  576. #578 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Oh, then that would be me.

    In that case, fuck off Pilty.

  577. #579 'Tis Himself
    November 8, 2008

    Remember that religious asceticism is not the renunciation of worldly pleasure for no reason. It is a sacrifice undertaken in devotion to the deity…But you’ll have a harder time explaining away the likes of St Augustine….

    Obviously you’re not that familiar with Augustine.

    “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet” (da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo).

    There’s the point that Augustine proclaimed the benefits of chastity, but his only sexual experience was with mistresses. That skews his views. He taught that Original Sin was transmitted by concupiscence and lust. According to his Confessions, Augustine always felt ashamed about his sexual relationships. Possibly if he had been married, he would have had a different view towards sex.

    It’s interesting that the Catholic Church is very anti-sex. Perhaps the fact that the hierarchy are professional virgins doesn’t allow them to accept that much of the rest of the world have different viewpoints about sex.

  578. #580 SC
    November 8, 2008

    C is for cookie, it’s good enough for me.

    -Cookie Monster

    My favorite comment of the evening, by far.

  579. #581 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    I’ve read quite a bit about church practices in regard to the witch trials, do to some of my ancestor’s being hanged.

    It’s the smug manner that they tortured, and sexually abused them upsets me the most.

  580. #582 Piltdown Man
    November 8, 2008

    I love a good bum on a woman, it makes my day.
    To me it is palpable proof of God’s existence, a posteriori.
    Also I love breasts and arms and ankles, elbows, knees;
    It’s the tongue, the tongue, the tongue on a woman that spoils the job for me.
    Please understand I respect and admire the frailer sex
    And I honour them every bit as much as the next misogynist.
    But give some women the ghost of a chance to talk and thereupon
    They go on again, on again, on again, on again, on again, on again, on.

    I fell in love with a woman with wonderful thighs and hips
    And a sensational belly. I just never noticed her lips were always moving.
    Only when we got to the altar and she had to say “I do”
    And she folded her arms and gathered herself and took in a breath and I knew
    She could have gone on again, on again, on again till the entire
    Congregation passed out and the vicar passed on and the choirboys passed through puberty.
    At the reception I gloomily noted her family’s jubilant mood,
    Their maniacal laughter and their ghastly gratitude.

    She talks to me when I go for a shave or a sleep or a swim.
    She talks to me on a Sunday when I go singing hymns and drinking heavily.
    When I go mending my chimney pot she’s down there in the street,
    And at ninety-five on my motorbike she’s on the pillion seat
    Wittering on again, on again, on and again and again.
    When I’m eating or drinking or reading or thinking or when I’m saying my rosary.
    She will never stop talking to me; she is one of those women who
    Will never use three or four words when a couple of thousand will easily do!

    She also talks without stopping to me in our bed of a night;
    Throughout the sweetest of our intimate delights she never gives over.
    Not even stopping while we go hammer and tongs towards the peak –
    Except maybe for a sigh and a groan and one perfunctory shriek.
    Then she goes on again, on again, on again on and I must
    Assume that she has never noticed that she’s just been interrupted.
    Totally unruffled she is, and as far as I can see
    I might just as well have been posting a letter or stirring up the tea!

    She will not take a hint, not once she’s made a start.
    I can yawn or belch or bleed or faint or fart – she’ll not drop a syllable.
    I could stand in front of her grimly sharpening up an axe,
    I could sprinkle her with paraffin, and ask her for a match –
    She’d just go on again, on again, on again even more.
    The hind leg of a donkey is peanuts for her, she can bore the balls off a buffalo.
    “Mother of God,” I cried one day, “Oh, let your kingdom come
    “And in the meantime, Mother, could you strike this bugger dumb?”

    Well, believe it or not, she appeared to me then and there:
    The Blessed Virgin herself, in answer to my prayer, despite the vulgarity,
    Shimmering softly, dressed in blue and holding up a hand.
    I cocked a pious ear as the Mother of God began.
    Well she went on again, on again, on again, on, and I
    Will have to state how very much I sympathise with the rest of the family.
    Give some women the ghost of a chance to talk and thereupon
    They go on again, on again, on again, on again,
    And again, and again, and again, and again
    They will go on again, on again, on again, on again, on again, on again, on …

    (words & music: Jake Thackray)

  581. #583 'Tis Himself
    November 8, 2008

    Piltdown Man #582:

    And your point is?

  582. #584 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    What a colossal ass you are.

  583. #585 Kel
    November 8, 2008

    And your point is?

    That he’s proud to be in a cannibal cult

  584. #586 Owlmirror
    November 8, 2008

    That’s got to be the least pious tune I’ve seen in a while.

    What has gotten into you, Pilt?

    Perhaps someone’s hand is up your arse?

  585. #587 John Morales
    November 8, 2008

    The Piltdown thing has apparently been reduced to naked trolling, now that the vacuity of its professed dialectic has been exposed. Bah.

  586. #588 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Holy shite Owlmirror! Stand back, he may just tell you what’s gotten into him. *shudder*

  587. #589 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Ewwwwwww!
    John Morales how could you try to plant that image in my brain?! Naked trolling Pilty. Oh, my brain!
    Ewwwwww!!!

  588. #590 Nerd of Redhead
    November 8, 2008

    I see Pilty left a big pile Patricia, we will need your big pitchfork to clear that garbage out. I always knew firmly believing in god made men delusional. Pilty is showing us what happens when you think you hear god.

  589. #591 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Well Nerd, it’s a ten tiner, but I don’t think I can lift that big a pile.
    PZ’s got a big pile when he gets back. We just had a blood bath on the RFK thread.
    The moon isn’t full until the 13th, I don’t know what’s got into people tonight!

    Maybe the BigDumbChimp can lift that Pilty pile. I’ll leave the manure fork in the corner.

  590. #592 John Morales
    November 8, 2008

    Oops, sorry Patricia. Bad choice of words.

    Could’ve been worse, though – I might have put the word “rampant” there somewhere.

    <ducks>

  591. #593 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Arrggh! John!
    Please, not rampant naked trolling….
    I haven’t had my supper yet.

    And think of Owlmirror too. We are delicate flowers. Now stop that. ;o)

  592. #594 Ophiuchus
    November 8, 2008

    PZ,
    You state that killing a mass murderer would solve nothing. You say that as if there is a solution to murder but, as a society, we’re going about it all wrong. Admittedly killing a mass murderer does not solve the problem of mass murder but how do you cure murder? Do you think it’s possible that one day humans will not murder? I see your point that you yourself can not do it but, assuming you’re an omnivore, do you kill your own beef? Chances are that you do not. Instead you pay a butcher to do it. Having said that I think it’s a little unfair to ask us to put ourselves in the shoes of the executioner. I admit it would be tough to take the life of another human, but I can imagine a situation where I would do it. If, for example, my family is the victim of a home invasion by drug crazed murderer’s and I thought a member of my family was at risk I would absolutely kill another person. I’m sure you can think of a situation where you would take the life of someone else. I realize there is a difference between self defense and corporal punishment but you said that you didn’t think you would be able to kill anyone but isn’t there immorality in absolute pacifism? What punishment should we hand down to a child murderer?

  593. #595 John Morales
    November 8, 2008

    Ophiuchus,

    Do you think it’s possible that one day humans will not murder? I see your point that you yourself can not do it but, assuming you’re an omnivore, do you kill your own beef?

    Bad example, I think.
    Were killing a steer murder, abbatoirs would not legally exist.

    Having said that I think it’s a little unfair to ask us to put ourselves in the shoes of the executioner.

    It wasn’t a general hypothetical case, it was very specific.
    To use this rhetorical approach is sophistry, given PZ’s unambigous first two paragraphs.

    I’m sure you can think of a situation where you would take the life of someone else.

    Again, PZ was most clear regarding the specific situation.

    Instead of answering PZ’s question, you’ve avoided and misrepresented his point. Shameful, that is, unless of course you’re simple, in which case it’s merely pathetic.

  594. #596 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Oh please, what kind of idiot are you?
    This is a thirteen year old girl that has been RAPED by THREE men.
    She is the victim.

    Do you get this idiot? She is the victim.
    If I were prone to praying, I would pray that you have no daughters.

  595. #597 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Maybe the BigDumbChimp can lift that Pilty pile. I’ll leave the manure fork in the corner.

    Wait… did someone call me?

    I’m busy drinking whiskey and watching Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on Austin City limits. I’ll take a stab after I quit boogyin’ down

  596. #598 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    Jake Thackray

    His work covers four main themes, class, sex, family and religion and the bizarre and amusing ways they intersect with each other. He was a devout Catholic but this did not stop him puncturing the pomposity he found there or reflecting the smallest absurdities of religion through caricature. Some have criticised his attitude to women, in songs such as “On again! On again!”, as misogynistic, but others have defended it as gentle social satire. His songs regarding family focused mainly around his brother Ben Thackray, with whom his relationship was most strong. Ben Thackray later went on to have an accomplished career as a guitarist.

    by the way anyone whose PBS station is playing Austin City Limits right now should watch. Sharon Jones is one bad mutherfucker.

  597. #599 Patricia
    November 8, 2008

    Yes please Chimpy, help a strumpet out.

    Nasty old Piltdown perv left a horrid pile on the thread. I have a ten tined manure fork but the pile is simply to heavy for a delicate morsel like me to lift.

    If you could hold your nose, and fork it into the trebuchet basket I would be ever so grateful!

  598. #600 Bill Dauphin
    November 8, 2008

    PM (@561):

    I’n not a fossil. I’m a real live dinosaur.

    So? Admittedly I haven’t paid much attention to dinosaur taxonomy since I was about 9, but I could’ve sworn “Piltdown Man” was something else….

    In the case of sexually explicit imagery, the evil would lie in the exposure of a properly private act in the public domain…

    Privacy has, as near as I can tell, only two stakeholders: Those whose act would be revealed (in this case, the participants in the sexual acts the imagery depicts) and those to whom it would be revealed. I have already stipulated that one thing (perhaps the only thing) that can make a sexual act “immoral” is lack of consent… and that would include lack of consent to be photographed (or filmed or videotaped or sketched or painted or sculpted in sweet-cream butter) in the act. In addition, my whole point was to recognize the right of the public not to be forced to view them.

    So once again: Assuming the consent of both the subjects and the viewers of explicit sexual imagery, how can it be immoral unless sex itself is immoral? Are you suggesting that privacy has some external moral value independent of the wishes of the involved parties? If so, on what basis? And on what basis do you suggest that this platonic privacy is “properly” attached to sexuality in particular? I say you can’t make your case without reference to the whim of some deity regarding the moral nature of these acts… and my whole point in this conversation has been to reject the validity of such whims (and the existence of their putative author).

    If we could just let the fuck go of this idea that our physical appetites (and the pleasure we get when we satisfy them) are shameful and depraved, half of what makes the world scary and sad and violent would go away with it.

    I would say most people in the Western world let go of that idea a long time ago. What taboos are left intact today?
    [long list "indicting" the general sexual saturation of our culture]

    Two points about your list:

    1. The items you tick off (esp. “[a]t no point is this pervasive eroticism linked to the conception and raising of children.”) aren’t particularly shocking or dismaying unless you think there’s something morally wrong with sex in general, and “recreational” (which is to say, nonprocreative) sex in particular. The notion that religion holds sex per se to be innately depraved has been my point all along. You seem to want to deny that idea, but your arguments always end up (inadvertently, I assume) supporting it rather than attacking it.

    2. The fact that there’s quite a bit of taboo-breaking going on in no way supports your contention that there are no taboos anymore. (Quite obviously, it does support the contrary position.) My position has never been that there’s not a lot of sex in our culture; my position has been that there’s a lot of (IMHO unwarranted) guilt and shame about it. Or haven’t you noticed that people often do things despite taboos, and then feel guilty, or are subjected to shaming by their fellows? Your solution is to stop the taboo-breaking; mine is to stop thinking of it as taboo, and stop the shaming.

    Look, human sexuality is a wonderful thing (and remains so even when it’s used “merely” for physical pleasure)… and yet… those people in Somalia believed that a single sexual act — even one cruelly forced on her against her wishes — so irredeemably stained that girl that they could not suffer her to continue living. They believed that because they had internalized, both culturally and as individuals, a taboo born of mystical hogwash that demonizes the “things of the flesh” in contrast to a perfect (albeit illusory) supernatural realm.

    And you want to argue that those taboos are good? Really???

    [shakes head in some combination of disbelief and disgust]

  599. #601 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 8, 2008

    If you could hold your nose, and fork it into the trebuchet basket I would be ever so grateful!

    OH Flinging poo!!! Something I’m intimately knowledgeable about. This time with engineering!!

  600. #602 Patricia
    November 9, 2008

    Oh thank you Rev. BigDumbChimp, I’m always happy to sail a cow chip or two myself, but Pilty left such a huge pant load that a lady couldn’t handle the job alone.

    Just the smell makes a girl head for the fainting couch.

  601. #603 RobW
    November 9, 2008

    Posted by: Patricia | November 8, 2008 10:44 PM

    Oh please, what kind of idiot are you?
    This is a thirteen year old girl that has been RAPED by THREE men.
    She is the victim.

    Do you get this idiot? She is the victim.

    Exactly. All this chatter about religions, morality, and sexuality is interesting, but it’s a distraction.

    The point I was trying to make (at #568) is that she is not the only victim here (her family, neighbors, everyone who had to watch) and that this was only superficially about religion and sexual propriety- this was a terrorist act, intended to enforce obedience to the militia, who represent a particularly vile strain of religious fundamentalism.

    It’s about political power, and the religious authority’s hold on it through terrorist violence. The message is: “Adhere strictly to our prescription for your behavior, do not deviate and do not complain, or you and your loved ones will be horribly killed. If we are willing to do this to an innocent little girl, imagine what we’ll do to you if you cross us.”

  602. #604 Walton
    November 9, 2008

    …this was a terrorist act, intended to enforce obedience to the militia, who represent a particularly vile strain of religious fundamentalism.

    I completely agree, and it is indeed a horrifying act. I don’t think it can be ascribed to the influence of a specific religion; rather, there’s something deep and dark within humanity which drives people to elevate an abstract belief above human life, to the point that capricious killing becomes not merely acceptable, but a duty. Virtually all religious traditions have at some time or another been used to justify murder, as, indeed, have secular doctrines such as Marxism.

    What all of us need to remember, IMO, is that human life is precious; and it is not justifiable to murder someone in pursuance of an abstract ideal, whatever that ideal may be. If there is a God who wants little girls to be murdered for the “wrong” of having been raped, then I certainly would not choose to worship such a sadistic deity.

    Rather, IMO, the better path is to follow the innate sense of right and wrong which inheres in all of us; to value and respect human life above all else. If there is no God, then we can die in the knowledge that we have done right and made the world a better place for everyone. Conversely, if there is a benevolent God, then I would hope that he would reward those who have done right and shown mercy, rather than those who have killed in His name. If not, then He is not worth worshipping.

  603. #605 John Morales
    November 9, 2008

    Walton,

    … and it is not justifiable to murder someone in pursuance of an abstract ideal [...] Rather, IMO, the better path is to follow the innate sense of right and wrong which inheres in all of us; to value and respect human life above all else.

    Indeed, it’s a better path, but to claim human life should be “respected above all else” is itself ideology. That path leads to horrible outcomes, too (e.g. there are times when euthanasia can only be seen mercy, the denial of which is cruelty).

    Better, I think, to use that innate sense to which you refer and rationality and our knowledge base, and to not have iron-cast inflexible opinions, but to judge each case on its merits.

  604. #606 John Morales
    November 9, 2008

    Walton, further to “… value and respect human life above all else.”, this is in contradiction to your earlier claim

    Any coherent and rational theory of ethics has to allow for killing in self-defence or in defence of the weak and vulnerable; if all decent, ethical people were entirely pacifist, the good would simply be defeated by those who were willing to use violence for personal gain.

  605. #607 Walton
    November 9, 2008

    That path leads to horrible outcomes, too (e.g. there are times when euthanasia can only be seen mercy, the denial of which is cruelty).

    I agree, but I don’t see euthanasia in itself as a lack of respect for human life. An informed adult of full capacity is ultimately entitled to choose when his or her life will end; and when someone is terminally ill and has few or no remaining worthwhile life prospects, I wouldn’t condemn them for making that choice, nor those who assist them in dying. So euthanasia is not murder, IMO.

    (This is why I think it’s a mistake, as so many do, to lump euthanasia and abortion together as “life issues”. One is the voluntary and informed choice of a consenting adult, faced with terminal illness and no prospects, to end his or her life. The other is the killing of a foetus, which has no capacity to make choices of any kind, for the benefit of another person (the mother). Hence why I am pro-life, albeit with exceptions, but in favour of voluntary euthanasia.)

  606. #608 John Morales
    November 9, 2008

    OOT
    Walton, sorry, I can’t continue this now; I’ll check back and respond, though.

  607. #609 clinteas
    November 9, 2008

    The other is the killing of a foetus, which has no capacity to make choices of any kind, for the benefit of another person (the mother)

    *facepalm,on so many levels*

  608. #610 Nerd of Redhead
    November 9, 2008

    Walton, as you have indicated before, your expertise is politics and economics, although many of us question your real expertise versus regurgitating ideology there. When you get into other threads, your youth and black/white way of looking at the world becomes very apparent. Your prudishness and semi-fundamentalist background make you say things that appear to be just ignorance to those of use who have debated the issue of abortion for thirty years. So here’s a word of advice. Stick to the politics and economics. Just read the other threads and try to expand your knowledge base.

  609. #611 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 9, 2008

    I agree, but I don’t see euthanasia in itself as a lack of respect for human life. An informed adult of full capacity is ultimately entitled to choose when his or her life will end; and when someone is terminally ill and has few or no remaining worthwhile life prospects, I wouldn’t condemn them for making that choice, nor those who assist them in dying. So euthanasia is not murder, IMO.

    Funny you take that stance yet you think that those same informed adults making choices about how they have sex can be immoral.

  610. #612 Piltdown Man
    November 9, 2008

    Owlmirror (586):

    That’s got to be the least pious tune I’ve seen in a while.

    … even in [Thackray's] most secular songs, religion is an intrinsic part … and in most of his songs some mention of his religion comes up. … It’s the writing of a man for whom faith is a part of life, but an everyday part, and a faith that’s secure enough that it can be mocked.

  611. #613 Holy Mary, Mother of God
    November 9, 2008

    I cocked a pious ear as the Mother of God began.
    Well she went on again, on again, on again,

    I am actually rather terse.

    Do not think that either he or you will be forgiven for spreading this blasphemous calumny.

    It’s the writing of a man for whom faith is a part of life, but an everyday part, and a faith that’s secure enough that it can be mocked.

    Open your Holy Bible and read Galatians 6:7, you filthy little man.

  612. #614 Piltdown Man
    November 9, 2008

    Bill Dauphin (600):

    The fact that there’s quite a bit of taboo-breaking going on in no way supports your contention that there are no taboos anymore. (Quite obviously, it does support the contrary position.) My position has never been that there’s not a lot of sex in our culture; my position has been that there’s a lot of (IMHO unwarranted) guilt and shame about it. Or haven’t you noticed that people often do things despite taboos, and then feel guilty, or are subjected to shaming by their fellows? Your solution is to stop the taboo-breaking; mine is to stop thinking of it as taboo, and stop the shaming.

    Comrades, it has been nearly fifty years since the Glorious Sexual Revolution and much progress has been made in that time. Taboo after taboo has fallen. But we must not be complacent, comrades. Much remains to be done. Sinister counter-revolutionary elements of “guilt” and “shame” continue to impede the onward march of human bliss. Our next Five Year Plan of compulsory sex re-education will root out the fascist fifth columnists and usher in the new dawn. Forward comrades! Forward as one!

  613. #615 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 9, 2008

    Over reaching strawman comment for 1000 Alex.

  614. #616 Nerd of Redhead
    November 9, 2008

    Ooh, Ooh,
    Why fundies can’t do humor/satire?

  615. #617 nanu nanu
    November 9, 2008

    Daily Double!

  616. #618 Piltdown Man
    November 9, 2008

    Posted by: Holy Mary, Mother of God

    I think not.

    I am actually rather terse.

    I wouldn’t call the Magnificat “terse”. Nor the Secret of La Salette.

    It’s the writing of a man for whom faith is a part of life, but an everyday part, and a faith that’s secure enough that it can be mocked.

    Open your Holy Bible and read Galatians 6:7, you filthy little man.

    The reviewer used that word; I wouldn’t say mockery is quite the right expression. Familiarity, perhaps. In any case, the reviewer referred to “faith” not “God”.

    Do not think that either he or you will be forgiven for spreading this blasphemous calumny.

    Ecce Crucem Domini,
    Fugite, partes adversae,
    Vicit Leo de Tribu Juda,
    Radix David, alleluia.

  617. #619 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    November 9, 2008

    Cum homine de cane debeo congredi

  618. #620 Nick Gotts
    November 9, 2008

    Hence the rules for the discernment of spirits. – Piltdown Scumbag

    You fool, Scumbag, don’t you realise those rules are the work of Satan, designed to deceive the stupid, such as yourself. Go directly to Hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200!

  619. #621 SC
    November 9, 2008

    Don’t believe him, PS! That’s Zebulon talking!

  620. #622 Holy Mary, Mother of God
    November 9, 2008
    Posted by: Holy Mary, Mother of God

    I think not.

    Consorting with atheists has resulted in a liberal corrosion of your faith.

    I wouldn’t call the Magnificat “terse”. Nor the Secret of La Salette.

    Impudent damned whelp.

    I wouldn’t say mockery is quite the right expression. Familiarity, perhaps. In any case, the reviewer referred to “faith” not “God”.

    And a damned captious legalist as well.

    Ecce Crucem Domini,
    Fugite, partes adversae,
    Vicit Leo de Tribu Juda,
    Radix David, alleluia.

    INSUFFICIENT.

  621. #623 Piltdown Man
    November 9, 2008

    Consorting with atheists has resulted in a liberal corrosion of your faith.

    I fear you might be right.

    Impudent damned whelp. … damned …

    Such language!

    INSUFFICIENT.

    If you were who you say you are, “inappropriate” would have made more sense.

    Vade retro.

  622. #624 'Tis Himself
    November 9, 2008

    I notice ol’ Pilty didn’t respond to my comments on Augustine in #579. Not that I’m surprised, mind you. Logic and rational discourse do not appear to be his strong points.

  623. #625 Nerd of Redhead
    November 9, 2008

    Logic and rational discourse do not appear to be his strong points.

    Those qualities aren’t to be found in the True BelieversTM. Now if they got sane by discarding the final god……

  624. #626 John Morales
    November 9, 2008

    Logic and rational discourse do not appear to be his [Piltdown's] strong points.

    For Godbots, the superficial appearance of such is sufficient.

  625. #627 Rey Fox
    November 9, 2008

    “Ecce Crucem Domini,
    Fugite, partes adversae,
    Vicit Leo de Tribu Juda,
    Radix David, alleluia. ”

    Humperdido!

  626. #628 John Morales
    November 9, 2008

    I think the first line went something like this: “en hic mentitus sum”

  627. #629 Owlmirror
    November 9, 2008

    Now that’s an interesting question. Unfortunately it’ll have to wait — it’s getting late and I really must have some rampant sex with my good lady wife.

    Where is your sense of priority?

    Is fucking around really more important than addressing the reality or unreality of God’s alleged presence?

    I’m satisfied God exists.

    And I am satisfied that God, as defined by all religions, cannot exist.

    If you wish to remain lost in your errors, that’s entirely your affair.

    Oh? The Church teaches you to have such utter apathy towards unbelievers?

    I don’t believe that you did experience God’s presence, but given your indifference, it certainly looks like you don’t really believe that you did either.

  628. #630 Bill Dauphin
    November 9, 2008

    PM:

    Comrades, it has been nearly fifty years since the Glorious Sexual Revolution…[blather]

    Yeah, because wishing for a future in which people can “pursue happiness” without guilt or shame and our politics can get on with dealing with true public concerns instead of getting itself into a twist over what’s going on in everyone’s bedroom… yeah, that’s so similar to a Leninist revolutionary cabal.

    Just bite me, won’t you?

  629. #631 Piltdown Man
    November 10, 2008

    Owlmirror (629)

    Where is your sense of priority?
    Is fucking around really more important than addressing the reality or unreality of God’s alleged presence?

    Absolutely. Rendering the conjugal debt is a Christian duty as well as a pleasure. For a married layman like myself, it takes priority over arguing with infidels over the internet, thank God.

    I am satisfied that God, as defined by all religions, cannot exist.

    Fair enough, it’s a free cosmos. We are all free to believe what we choose and are all responsible for what we choose to believe.

    If you wish to remain lost in your errors, that’s entirely your affair.

    Oh? The Church teaches you to have such utter apathy towards unbelievers?

    It’s not apathy or indifference, just a realistic awareness of the limits of what one can achieve, particularly via such an unsatisfactory medium. (There’s a very entertaining talk by Bp Williamson in which he makes a pertinent remark about “dialogue” with moderns.)

    +++

    Bill Dauphin (630):

    Yeah, because wishing for a future in which people can “pursue happiness” without guilt or shame and our politics can get on with dealing with true public concerns instead of getting itself into a twist over what’s going on in everyone’s bedroom… yeah, that’s so similar to a Leninist revolutionary cabal.

    The obvious difference is that Leninism subscribes to the rationalistic belief that happiness can be achieved through massive regulation, whereas you subscribe to the romantic/antinomian belief that it can be achieved by sweeping away regulations.
    But it’s the same utopian impulse — the delusion that individual and social happiness can be attained by a reorganization of society without reference to supernatural reality.

  630. #632 Owlmirror
    November 10, 2008

    just a realistic awareness of the limits of what one can achieve, particularly via such an unsatisfactory medium.

    “Unsatisfactory”? Do you mean that you could satisfactorily provide evidence of God via some other medium?

    But it’s the same utopian impulse — the delusion that individual and social happiness can be attained by a reorganization of society without reference to supernatural reality.

    But “supernatural reality” is an absurdity. Indeed, it is essentially the absurdity that, as Voltaire pointed out, belief in which leads to atrocities.

  631. #633 Bill Dauphin
    November 10, 2008

    [sigh]

    I promised myself last night that I had written my last comment on this, but I feel compelled to take just one more turn around the dance floor.

    Rendering the conjugal debt…

    You’ve been disputing my claim that religious folk, and the Catholic church in particular, treat sex as if it were innately depraved, but your language belies your position: Nobody would use language like “conjugal debt” if they thought of “servicing” the “debt” as an intrinsically positive, joyful thing.

    The obvious difference is that Leninism subscribes to the rationalistic belief that happiness can be achieved through massive regulation, whereas you subscribe to the romantic/antinomian belief that it can be achieved by sweeping away regulations.

    Well, you’ve got me entirely wrong: I’m all for rational regulations (ones that seem “massive” to folks like Walton and Scott from Oregon; those guys would laugh out loud at your characterization of my “belief”) that serve the public good. But I also believe that people have rights, and that it requires a truly compelling public interest to justify legal infringements to those rights. I just don’t see where there’s any compelling public good served by a system of regulations and (mostly unenforced and unenforceable) criminal laws that have the aggregate effect of preventing people from enjoying their sexuality in ways that make them happy or making them feel guilty when they do.

    I mean, is there really any public good served by stigmatizing gay relationships that are every bit as enduring and enriching as the best “traditional” marriages? Was there any public good served by labeling (until as recently as 1998) those people in Georgia who enjoy anal or oral sex (including, no doubt, quite a few straight Christian people in traditional marriages) criminal sodomites (even though they were almost never prosectued)?

    More broadly, is there any public good served by the fact that concern about what’s happening in people’s bedrooms (and on their bookshelves and in their DVD players) often completely overwhelms discussion of economic policy, foreign policy, public infrastructure, etc., in our political discourse? Personally, I don’t think so. When “culture wars” (which are essentially all about sex)blind us to the truly important shared problems we face as a nation, there’s no public good being served.

    But it’s the same utopian impulse — the delusion that individual and social happiness can be attained by a reorganization of society without reference to supernatural reality.

    Ahhh, now I see how you can compare my POV to Leninism: You’re asserting that all godless ideas are equivalent; thus, a secular approach to public policy around sex is obviously similar to Leninism. Right. Got it.

    But (and leaving aside the obviously oxymoronic character of the phrase “supernatural reality”) I’ll point out that our society, as codified in the Consitution, is already organized “without reference to supernatural reality.” I’m not looking to reorganize society at all; I’m hoping our public culture will evolve to reflect the true, extant organizing principles of our society.

  632. #634 Piltdown Man
    November 10, 2008

    Bill Dauphin:

    You’ve been disputing my claim that religious folk, and the Catholic church in particular, treat sex as if it were innately depraved, but your language belies your position: Nobody would use language like “conjugal debt” if they thought of “servicing” the “debt” as an intrinsically positive, joyful thing.

    Surely sex, like all aspects of human existence, is multi-faceted? To say it is intrinsically good is fine; to say it is always and everywhere an unalloyed joy in all its manifestations is an assertion as silly as the contrasting puritanical attitude.

    Well, you’ve got me entirely wrong: I’m all for rational regulations (ones that seem “massive” to folks like Walton and Scott from Oregon; those guys would laugh out loud at your characterization of my “belief”) that serve the public good.

    I accept your position is more nuanced than my simplistic and somewhat facetious characterization of it.

    is there any public good served by the fact that concern about what’s happening in people’s bedrooms (and on their bookshelves and in their DVD players) often completely overwhelms discussion of economic policy, foreign policy, public infrastructure, etc., in our political discourse? Personally, I don’t think so. When “culture wars” (which are essentially all about sex)blind us to the truly important shared problems we face as a nation, there’s no public good being served.

    Actually, I think sex is far more important than economics, politics or the infrastructure. It is one of the primordial human experiences. Tell me — why do you think people have historically hedged it around with so many and so fearsome taboos? Was it simply a question of elites exercising social control? Can you be sure they didn’t know something we’ve forgotten?

    You’re asserting that all godless ideas are equivalent; thus, a secular approach to public policy around sex is obviously similar to Leninism.

    That’s basically it. “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.”

    I’ll point out that our society, as codified in the Consitution, is already organized “without reference to supernatural reality.”

    True enough. Novus Ordo Seclorum and all that …

    I’m not looking to reorganize society at all; I’m hoping our public culture will evolve to reflect the true, extant organizing principles of our society.

    So you would pit the Enlightenment current that runs through the history of the United States against the Puritan current?

  633. #635 Owlmirror
    November 10, 2008

    I accept your position is more nuanced than my simplistic and somewhat facetious characterization of it.

    I keep wondering if you will ever respond to my characterization that you like the idea of death and/or re-education camps for non-Catholics; “Convert or be killed”.

    And you never do. Indeed, you continue to support those who in the past did use that blood-soaked binary.

    So much for nuance…

    “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.”

    Which, taken to the extremes that religion so often does, leads to setting people on fire over which fiction and fan-fiction they support.

    So much for… what was it you said above? “Peace, forgiveness and redemption, charity”, and so on?

  634. #636 Bill Dauphin
    November 10, 2008

    Tell me — why do you think people have historically hedged [sex] around with so many and so fearsome taboos?

    Ignorance and superstition, rooted in our prescientific past (i.e., before we correctly understood the causes of pregnancy, disease, genetic defects, etc.).

    Was it simply a question of elites exercising social control?

    Yeah, quite a lot of that, as well.

    Can you be sure they didn’t know something we’ve forgotten?

    I can’t possibly root for a future based on nothing better than blind hope our forebears weren’t as stupid about this stuff as they appear to have been. If that’s the best you can imagine, I pity you.

    And now I’m done with this.

  635. #637 Piltdown Man
    November 11, 2008

    I can’t possibly root for a future based on nothing better than blind hope our forebears weren’t as stupid about this stuff as they appear to have been.

    Instead you cling to the back of a runaway horse in the blind hope it’s heading in the right direction.

  636. #638 John Morales
    November 11, 2008

    @637, boy that was malapropos. Heh.

  637. #639 Piltdown Man
    November 11, 2008

    Er, why?

  638. #640 Owlmirror
    November 11, 2008

    Because you’re still being simplistic and somewhat facetious?

    Not to mention being more than a little hypocritical.

    Remind me again how you reconcile your stance against modernism and secular liberal society when you live in a modern secular liberal society, enjoying its benefits and using its tools.

    Or don’t.

  639. #641 John Morales
    November 11, 2008

    @639, this should be good :)

    Tell you what, Piltdown, you tell me, regarding your idiomatic allegory purportedly addressing his claim:

    * what does the horse represent?
    * in what sense is it runaway?
    * in what sense is he clinging to it?
    * in what sense is he blindly hoping?

    and I’ll elucidate.

  640. #642 Piltdown Man
    November 12, 2008

    John Morales:

    * what does the horse represent?

    The ever-increasing cultural pansexualism described above. It could also represent the wider cultural revolt against Christianity of which the sexual revolution is part.

    * in what sense is it runaway?

    It’s progress is fast and it’s out of control.

    * in what sense is he clinging to it?

    He says he approves of it. He gives his intellectual assent to the revolution.

    * in what sense is he blindly hoping?

    He insists it will all be for the best in the end. He subscribes to the liberal narrative of progress.

    “Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.”

  641. #643 Wowbagger
    November 12, 2008

    The ever-increasing cultural pansexualism described above. It could also represent the wider cultural revolt against Christianity of which the sexual revolution is part.

    Is anyone else turned on?

  642. #644 Walton
    November 12, 2008

    Is anyone else turned on?

    No. Noooo. A world of no.

    On a more serious note: I think we may be drawing a false dichotomy here.

    I shouldn’t think anyone is seriously arguing that sex is an activity with no special moral consequence, from the standpoint of human beings. If that were so, then one’s sexual preference would be no more consequential than what flavour of ice cream one prefers. And sexual fidelity in a relationship would be unnecessary, since, if having sex were not considered an activity with emotional and moral ramifications, having sex with a person other than one’s partner would be no more significant than playing a game of cards with them.

    In reality, we all know that human psychology doesn’t work like that. Sex is, regrettably, so fundamental to human nature that it is one of the basic driving forces behind human interaction; and we accord a special significance and importance to the sexual act, which we do not ascribe to any other everyday activity. Even in the absence of religious strictures, relatively few people have “open relationships”; fidelity in a long-term relationship is still instinctively prized. Ask the average (non-religious) person on the street whether they’d attach any moral and emotional significance to the fact of their partner cheating on them. Most would say yes. And the reason for this is not religious, or social, or cultural; it’s because human beings instinctively know, or feel, that sexual activity is something of great importance and significance. Indeed, this makes sense, given that sex is a procreative act, and the proper raising of children in a stable environment is vitally important to the future of our species and our society.

    So I don’t see that there’s any serious point being argued here in the ongoing saga of Piltdown vs. everyone else.

  643. #645 negentropyeater
    November 12, 2008

    Ask the average (non-religious) person on the street whether they’d attach any moral and emotional significance to the fact of their partner cheating on them.

    Define “cheating”

    it’s because human beings instinctively know, or feel, that sexual activity is something of great importance and significance.

    Define “great importance and significance”

    Indeed, this makes sense, given that sex is a procreative act

    Only ?

    and the proper raising of children in a stable environment is vitally important to the future of our species and our society.

    Define “proper”, “stable”, “vitally important”

  644. #646 Walton
    November 12, 2008

    Define “cheating”.

    The act of, when in a long-term committed relationship, engaging in sexual intercourse with a person other than one’s partner.

    Define “great importance and significance”

    In this context, I’m talking about the fact that it has inherent emotional and personal significance beyond that of other physical acts. As I said, if this were not so, one’s sexual preference would be no more consequential than what flavour of ice cream one prefers. And sexual fidelity in a relationship would be unnecessary, since, if having sex were not considered an activity with emotional and moral ramifications, having sex with a person other than one’s partner would be no more significant than playing a game of cards with them.

  645. #647 John Morales
    November 12, 2008

    Fair enough – I was wrong: it’s not particularly good (amusing), but your explanation matches the allegory.
    If you meant what you said, it’s not malapropos – so I was wrong about that, too.

    Still, a promise is a promise.

    Let me review the comments leading to your response to Bill, far enough back so as to provide context.

    BD:You’ve been disputing my claim that religious folk, and the Catholic church in particular, treat sex as if it were innately depraved
    PM:Surely sex, like all aspects of human existence, is multi-faceted?
    [...]
    Tell me — why do you think people have historically hedged it around with so many and so fearsome taboos?
    BD:Ignorance and superstition, rooted in our prescientific past.
    PM:[...] Can you be sure they didn’t know something we’ve forgotten?
    BD:I can’t possibly root for a future based on nothing better than blind hope our forebears weren’t as stupid about this stuff as they appear to have been.
    PM:Instead you cling to the back of a runaway horse in the blind hope it’s heading in the right direction.

    Let me now apply the key you’ve helpfully provided, yielding:

    BD:I can’t possibly root for a future based on nothing better than blind hope our forebears weren’t as stupid about this stuff [sexuality and its biology] as they appear to have been.
    PM:Instead you approve of a fast-progressing, out of control, ever-increasing cultural pansexualism, insisting it will all be for the best in the end.

    Of course, now I consider the response a failed attempted witticism, inasmuch as it requires an explanation for it to be understood.

    And, of course, your response’s claim that cultural pansexualism is ever-increasing, fast-progressing and out of control is totally at odds with the reality (remember Proposition 18?).

    So you’re still making a ludicrous claim, only now it’s not obscured. And you still haven’t addressed BD’s claim regarding the Catholic Church.

  646. #648 John Morales
    November 12, 2008

    My previous was rushed, but it should be clear it’s responding to Piltdown, that I mean Proposition 8 (also there’s Florida Amendment 2 etc). There’s probably other minor errors, but I’m too tired to continue tonight.

    (And I’d better get some sleep.)

  647. #649 negentropyeater
    November 12, 2008

    The act of, when in a long-term committed relationship, engaging in sexual intercourse with a person other than one’s partner.

    So if said person is dating someone else, but there’s no “sexual intercourse”, that’s not cheating ?
    And if said person has had “sexual intercourse”, but that both partners have established that such an occasional event is not a threat to their relationship which is based on trust and mutual respect, that’s cheating ?

    “great importance and significance”

    Walton, not all relationships are based mainly on sexual fidelity. I’ve been with my partner for the last 15 years, and sexual fidelity doesn’t rank amongst the most important and signifcant aspects of our relationship.

  648. #650 Bill Dauphin
    November 12, 2008

    Walton:

    I shouldn’t think anyone is seriously arguing that sex is an activity with no special moral consequence…

    Well, I think I agree that I’m not making precisely that argument. Virtually all human activities have consequences of some kind, and many of those consequences have moral dimensions.

    That said, I am saying that I don’t believe there is anything inherently morally negative about sexual pleasure, per se, in any form. Reckless, coercive, or abusive expressions of sexuality may be immoral because they are reckless, coercive, or abusive; IMHO, no expression of sexuality is immoral because it’s sexual. IMHO, immorality is almost about doing harm to others; sexuality may be used in harmful ways, but it is not itself inherently harmful.

    That is, I think, where I part company with the religionists and moralists in this conversation, who seem to think that any expression of sexuality outside of narrow God-approved channels is intrinsically immoral. That is, I don’t think there’s anything two (or more) people can do sexually that’s immoral (no matter how bizarre or perverse it seems to outsiders), as long as they’re happy about it and they don’t harm anyone else. The opposite side of the argument, with which I profoundly disagree, is that pre- or extra-marital sex, or gay sex, or any other sort of sex that’s not straight, “normal,” and within marriage is always immoral, even when there are no objectively negative consquences for anyone.

    You pays yer money and you takes yer cherce…

    neg:

    So if said person is dating someone else, but there’s no “sexual intercourse”, that’s not cheating ?

    No!! Don’t go there! Don’t you remember the last time we got into this territory, when we argued over whether cybersex counted as “cheating”? It’s not worth it!

  649. #651 Bill Dauphin
    November 12, 2008

    One correction/clarification:

    That is, I don’t think there’s anything two (or more) people can do sexually that’s immoral (no matter how bizarre or perverse it seems to outsiders), as long as they’re happy about it and they don’t harm anyone else.

    It dawns on me that I shouldn’t have included the words “two (or more)”; I didn’t mean to exclude autoeroticism or any other sorts of solo expressions of sexuality (e.g., private enjoyment of erotica) from my expansively perverse approval! ;^)

  650. #652 Emmet Caulfield
    November 12, 2008

    I shouldn’t think anyone is seriously arguing that sex is an activity with no special moral consequence.

    What “special moral consequence” does sex have?

    You’ve said that there is (at least) one, I’d just like to know what it is.

  651. #653 Walton
    November 12, 2008

    What “special moral consequence” does sex have?

    This is what i was trying to answer in my post.

    Bill Dauphin and others seem to be, essentially, arguing that sexual conduct is not by its nature any different, morally, from any other kind of physical conduct. Thus, coercive or violent sexual activity is wrong solely because it is coercive or violent, not because it is sexual; and any consensual, mutually enjoyable, non-harmful sexual activity, provided it doesn’t impact on any third parties, is not immoral.

    This is certainly a rationally defensible viewpoint, but I don’t see it as consistent with the reality of human interaction and behaviour. If it is accepted that sex has no special moral dimension in and of itself, making it distinct from any other physical activity, then it would necessarily follow, for instance, that it is irrational to insist on fidelity within a relationship. One wouldn’t usually complain about one’s partner, say, playing a game of cards with someone else; but most people, except the small minority who are in consensual “open relationships”, would not tolerate their partner having sexual intercourse with another person, and would treat this as grounds to end the relationship. Thus, if your view were one which accurately reflected human nature, then monogamy and fidelity in relationships would be rare. But in reality, this is not the case; nor is it only religious people who, generally, expect fidelity from their partner. It is in our instinct to expect such fidelity.

    Likewise, if your view were accepted, one’s sexual preference would be no more significant than, say, what flavour of ice cream one prefers. People do not identify as being part of the “vanilla-ice-cream-eating community” in the same way as they identify as being part of the “gay community” or the “transgender community”. Sexual identity is, for most people, a crucial part of one’s personal identity and one’s life, much more so than any other preference for a physical activity. You don’t get adolescents agonising and questioning themselves because they can’t decide whether they prefer strawberry or mint-choc-chip ice cream. You don’t get people proposing constitutional amendments to ban raspberry ice cream from being called “ice cream” on the grounds that it’s “a threat to the traditional definition of ice cream”.

    Like it or not, sex is fundamental to the human psyche and the way that we define ourselves, in a way that no other physical activity is. And surely it follows from this that it must have a special moral dimension in and of itself?

  652. #654 Bill Dauphin
    November 12, 2008

    Walton:

    Your argument seems to be that our personal and cultural hangups about sexuality prove that it must have a “special moral dimension.” That is, it goes…

    Walton: Sex is morally special.
    Rest of Us: No it’s not; prove it.
    Walton: Well, it must be morally special, because we act like it’s morally special.

    Me, I think we act like it’s morally special because we’ve spent all of recorded history telling ourselves (and being told by priests, all falsely IMHO) it’s morally special.

    Before we knew any better, we attached a great deal of superstition and fear to a natural biological function. The fact that we continue to be bedeviled by the social residue of that superstition, in the form of guilt and shame and the utter distortion of our political discourse, does not constitute proof that the superstition is either objectively true or socially useful.

    I can almost hear you wondering, “well, if sex weren’t morally special, why would folks get so worked up about it, in either direction?” The answer is deceptively simple: It’s fun. Have you failed to notice the general antipathy of religious leaders to anything that people derive pleasure from without reference to God(s)? Living as you do in a relatively secular modern society, it may be easy to neglect the vast percentage of human history (all over the world) during which “religious leader” and “leader” have been precise synonyms. It’s no surprise that sex is almost universally (as PM would put it) hedged around with fearsome taboos.

    You mention food:

    …if your view were accepted, one’s sexual preference would be no more significant than, say, what flavour of ice cream one prefers. People do not identify as being part of the “vanilla-ice-cream-eating community” in the same way as they identify as being part of the “gay community” or the “transgender community”.

    Leaving aside the fact that people self-identify as part of the “gay community” or the “transgender community” because they’re ghettoized as persecuted minorities (if California had just passed a constitutional amendment denying basic civil rights to vanilla ice cream eaters, you can bet they’d become a “community” right quick), I suggest you ask observant Jews, Muslims, or Hindus about this. They may not use the terms “non-pork-eating community” or “non-beef-eating community” but they certainly do define themselves, in part, by how they eat.

    Eating and sex have some enlightening commonalities:

    * Both are essential to survival (of the species, if not of individuals)
    * Both can give intense physical pleasure
    * Both can make people ill in ways difficult for pre-scientific cultures to understand.

    Those facts alone are, IMHO, sufficient to explain all the taboos and cultural/religious angst around eating and sex, without any reference to any absolute external moral categorization.

  653. #655 Walton
    November 12, 2008

    Interesting. So would you, then, argue that it actually would be a positive thing if open relationships, rather than monogamy and fidelity, became more prevalent? Don’t you think this would run the risk of further precipitating the decline of the two-parent family, and therefore be detrimental to the raising of children?

  654. #656 Bill Dauphin
    November 12, 2008

    So would you, then, argue that it actually would be a positive thing if open relationships, rather than monogamy and fidelity, became more prevalent?

    No, I would argue that if we just stopped worrying about what kind of sex people are having, that would be a positive thing.

    Don’t you think this would run the risk of further precipitating the decline of the two-parent family, and therefore be detrimental to the raising of children?

    I suspect that the benefits of living in a sane, rational, secular culture would outweigh any hypothetical decline. “It takes a village to raise a child,” after all [Walton's head explodes], and it helps if it’s a sane village.

    Actually, I doubt the removal of cultural shaming around sexual preferences would result in any decline in two-parent families. It might actually go the other way, if you’re willing to accept gay couples as “families.” Pairing off seems to be a comfortable arrangement for most people; why should that change just because we stop scolding folks about sex?

  655. #657 Walton
    November 12, 2008

    Pairing off seems to be a comfortable arrangement for most people; why should that change just because we stop scolding folks about sex?

    Exactly my point! My argument was, in general terms, that the desire to achieve monogamy and fidelity (albeit often failing to do so) are natural to human beings, and that these particular sexual mores are to some extent inbuilt and not merely culturally defined.

    Btw, I agree completely that stable, monogamous gay partnerships can be treated as families; indeed I think this is a trend that should be encouraged. (On that level, gay marriage is a positive good for society.) I also have no problem in principle with gay couples adopting children; there are many, many children requiring adoption – more than existing systems can adequately deal with – and it’s certainly better for them to be placed with a gay couple than with an abusive or incompetent straight couple.

    “It takes a village to raise a child,” after all [Walton's head explodes], and it helps if it’s a sane village.

    My cranium appears to remain intact; but I will say that I disagree in principle with this maxim. The people principally responsible for the raising of a child are that child’s parent, parents or legal guardian. Studies show time and time again that the behaviour of a child’s parents, in early childhood, is a very significant factor in that child’s mental and emotional development. There is, in other words, no substitute for good parenting; and few excuses for bad parenting. It is not the proper role of the state to raise children.

  656. #658 Emmet Caulfield
    November 12, 2008

    Walton,

    #653 evades the question. The answer to “what colour is the sofa?” is not “it’d be bad if the sofa weren’t coloured” or “everyone agrees that the sofa is coloured”.

    You’ve asserted that sex has “special moral consequences” and I want to know what they are.

  657. #659 Wowbagger
    November 12, 2008

    “It takes a village to raise a child,” after all [Walton's head explodes], and it helps if it’s a sane village.

    My cranium appears to remain intact; but I will say that I disagree in principle with this maxim.

    Walton, I’ll hazard a guess that this refers more to the indirect influences on a child’s life – other children, radio, television, books, the internet etc. – than anything ‘socialist’.

    No parent can control 100% of what their child has access to; ergo, they’re going to have to rely to an extent on the ‘village’ of society – unless you raise a shut-in home-schooler and prevent any access to the outside world.

  658. #660 D
    November 12, 2008

    Hmm, I wonder what Walton would think of Bitch, PhD . Also, naturalistic fallacy applied to social construct, to repeat others.

  659. #661 D
    November 12, 2008

    Lets try that link again.
    Bitch, PhD

  660. #662 CJO
    November 12, 2008

    Studies show time and time again that the behaviour of a child’s parents, in early childhood, is a very significant factor in that child’s mental and emotional development. There is, in other words, no substitute for good parenting; and few excuses for bad parenting. It is not the proper role of the state to raise children.

    “Village” here =/= “State.”

    The meaning of the maxim is that, while pair-bonding has always been a feature of human family life, the modern ideal of a self-sufficient nuclear family in a single family dwelling far from the influence of the larger social world of extended family is drastically far removed from the social environment in which we evolved. “A village” here is aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws, etc.

    Many social scientists have identified this emphasis on the health of the nuclear family to the exclusion of a larger social world of kin relationships as a significant factor in the alienation and disaffection that plagues so many of us moderns in childhood and adolescence. There is, in fact, if not a substitute for good parenting, then a neglected supplement to it: good grandparenting, or uncling or what have you. Kurt Vonnegut wrote eloquently on this theme.

  661. #663 John Morales
    November 12, 2008

    Walton:

    My argument was, in general terms, that the desire to achieve monogamy and fidelity (albeit often failing to do so) are natural to human beings, and that these particular sexual mores are to some extent inbuilt and not merely culturally defined.

    Have you any anthropological basis for this belief?

  662. #664 Walton
    November 13, 2008

    What “special moral consequence” does sex have? You’ve said that there is (at least) one, I’d just like to know what it is.

    I really meant internal consequences for the human psyche. Since we attach a lot of emotional importance to sexual activity, sex that is formally consensual may, nevertheless, have a damaging impact on the other person’s mind, emotional health and self-worth. (Of course, so can being permanently involuntarily celibate; I can attest to that.) The point I was trying to make is that sex is not just like any other activity; it can change a person’s life and the way they see themselves. That could just be the result of culturally-imposed guilt and shame, but I doubt it.

    Bill Dauphin: The fact that we continue to be bedeviled by the social residue of that superstition, in the form of guilt and shame and the utter distortion of our political discourse, does not constitute proof that the superstition is either objectively true or socially useful… I would argue that if we just stopped worrying about what kind of sex people are having, that would be a positive thing.

    As I understand it, there is a Judeo-Christian response to this. Genesis teaches that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were unashamedly naked, and seem to have been uninhibited about sex. The implication is that sex was intended to be a shame-free, normal part of daily life, no different from eating or other physical activities – just as you are suggesting that it should be. But with the fall from grace, Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness and made clothes to cover themselves. And the narrative also claims that it was at this point that childbirth was made difficult and dangerous for women (and it’s reasonable to presume that the danger of childbirth, in the absence of modern medicine, is one of the major reasons why primitive cultures were so concerned about sex, and why they often had so many rules governing women’s behaviour).

    This, if true, would seem bizarre: it would suggest that the guilt, shame and risks surrounding sex are a kind of punishment on us for Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s commands. I’m not suggesting that this teaching is any use as an guide to historical fact; like most rational people in this day and age, I don’t believe in a literal Garden of Eden, or in the Genesis creation narrative as any more than metaphor. But from an anthropological perspective, the underlying idea perhaps tells us something about why human sexuality is how it is, and why we, whose culture is founded in major part on the Abrahamic religious tradition, have such a strong inbuilt sense of guilt and shame about sexual matters.

  663. #665 maureen
    November 13, 2008

    Walton,

    I don’t give a toss about what happened to Adam and Eve because, like you, I don’t believe they ever existed. If they can teach us anything it is only how limiting it must be to use an ex post facto rationalisation made by one particular – hierarchical, patriarchal – society to guide our thinking on what may or not be natural.

    From both historical and anthropological perspectives the nuclear family to which such attention has been paid in a few countries and for only a few decades is an aberration. It is abnormal. it is odd.

    A short excursion into neuroscience would soon demonstrate that the human brain and the personality develop in response to multiple stimuli. The growing child needs more than two people from whom he can learn, with whom he develops relationships, who are there to provide an alternative viewpoint and to offer support through any minor crisis. Hence the phrase “it takes a village.”

    Those who promote the nuclear family with such zealotry never stop to tell us either of the much poorer quality of life nor the much greater damage suffered when something really goes wrong within an enclosed nuclear family for a child who may find himself without social skills, without confidence, literally without anywhere to turn.

    Even worse if the child has been taught to reject and be suspicious of all those “outsiders”.

  664. #666 Emmet Caulfield
    November 13, 2008

    Since we attach a lot of emotional importance to sexual activity, sex that is formally consensual may, nevertheless, have a damaging impact on the other person’s mind,

    Huh? What’s this “we” business? It’s you who attaches the bizarrely disproportionate emotional importance to sex. What does “formally consensual” mean? That sex can be “formally consensual”, but “informal rape”? What kind of horseshit is that?

    Some people are very emotionally attached to winning at cards (to use your example), and get very upset when they lose. Do the rest of us, then, have to be sensitive to the possibility of “internal consequences for the human psyche” and always try to lose to avoid “a damaging impact on [their] mind, emotional health and self-worth”, or do we just play cards, on the assumption that everyone at the table has a reasonable perspective on winning and losing?

  665. #667 Walton
    November 13, 2008

    What’s this “we” business?

    “We” as in “humanity at large”, as I was trying to explain. The fact is that most human beings will attach a lot of emotional importance to, say, their spouse or long-term partner having sex with another person. If sex did not carry any more emotional importance for them than playing a game of cards, why would they care?

    What does “formally consensual” mean? That sex can be “formally consensual”, but “informal rape”? What kind of horseshit is that?

    An example would be where a naive 17-year-old, from a sheltered background, is sweet-talked by a much older man into having sex. She consents. It is formally consensual; it is not rape and she is over the age of consent. But she has been cynically exploited, and the emotional and psychological consequences for her are likely to be very damaging (especially if she conceives a child, and has to either give birth or have an abortion).

    So it’s not a simple case of “all consensual activity between legal adults=OK”.

  666. #668 Emmet Caulfield
    November 13, 2008

    Walton, you’re projecting.

    The importance that people attach to sex is personal and influenced in the same way as any other emotional reaction: by our parents, our families, our society, and by our own musings and experience. In this respect, it really is no different from winning and losing at cards. Some people are so attached to winning that they’ll murder an opponent; others don’t care. Similarly, some people attach no significance to sex whatsoever, others think that people who deviate from their (often religious) notions of “the right kind of sex” should be stoned to death. Social norms differ from place to place and from person to person. The fatuous cliché that you present as an example reveals only your own prejudices and hang-ups.

  667. #669 Bill Dauphin
    November 13, 2008

    Walton (@various):

    Pairing off seems to be a comfortable arrangement for most people; why should that change just because we stop scolding folks about sex?

    Exactly my point! My argument was, in general terms, that the desire to achieve monogamy and fidelity (albeit often failing to do so) are natural to human beings…

    Not exactly your point. My comment that people “seem comfortable” organizing themselves in pairs as a social subunit has nothing to do with any “natural” desire to achieve “monogamy and fidelity.” It’s typical of this whole conversation that you automatically assume a socially useful partnership must be accompanied by a narrow interpretation of sexuality.

    My point was actually something close to the opposite of yours: I was speculating that if they were freed from concern about conforming to sexual orthodoxy and lifelong exclusivity, more people might form socially useful pair bonds (and other small partnerships). I’m guessing (and it really is just a guess) that even if we somehow managed to abandon all our taboos and superstitions about sex, a large majority of us would still form fairly traditional looking families, because pairs (within “larger” small social units like extended families and local communities) are convenient and most of us are naturally heterosexual. But evidence suggests that for large numbers of us, lifelong monogamy is not so natural, nor is the narrow orthodoxy of “traditional” sexuality… so I speculate that removing them as moral requirements for forming social/domestic partnerships might make those partnerships more appealing… and more enduring once formed.

    As I understand it, there is a Judeo-Christian response to this. Genesis teaches that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were unashamedly naked, and seem to have been uninhibited about sex. The implication is that sex was intended to be a shame-free, normal part of daily life, no different from eating or other physical activities – just as you are suggesting that it should be. But with the fall from grace, Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness and made clothes to cover themselves.

    So you agree with me that the only reason we humans (at least, those of us who live in cultures dominated by the legacy of “Abrahamic” religions) feel shame about sex is prescientific religious mythology? Glad we got that straightened out.

    Also, keep in mind that the alleged original sin of Adam and Eve had nothing to do with their sexuality (titillating descriptions of their original nakedness notwithstanding). It was all about a jealous God concerned that they might get to similar to him in power and knowledge.

    An example [of "informal rape"] would be where a naive 17-year-old, from a sheltered background, is sweet-talked by a much older man into having sex. She consents. It is formally consensual; it is not rape and she is over the age of consent. But she has been cynically exploited, and the emotional and psychological consequences for her are likely to be very damaging…

    The fundamental problem with this is that you assume that having (presumably nonmarital) sex is invariably emotionally and psychologically damaging to a 17 year old young woman. This is the essential circularity that pervades your comments in this conversation: You keep trying to prove sex has a special moral dimension that makes it immoral outside a narrow orthodoxy by assuming that sex is shameful and immoral outside a narrow orthodoxy.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine a particular case in which the 17 year old really does suffer some emotional, social, economic, or even physical harm. I agree that’s not OK (I’m assuming we’re talking about a jurisdiction in which a 17 year old can legally give sexual consent)… but is it any less OK, just because it involves sex, than it would if the same older man had “sweet talked” her into some other (nonsexual) decision — an ill-advised purchase, for instance, or perhaps joining the military — that ended up causing her a similar amount of distress? I say what’s “not OK” (aka, immoral) here is that one person abused another’s trust and inexperience, and that’s immoral regardless of whether the activity is sexual or not.

    The world is full of older people who sometimes try to talk younger, more naive people into doing things that are not in their best interest; does that make all those potential activities fundamentally immoral, or put all those activities in some special moral category? I think you can see how ridiculous it would be to put eating, drinking, buying things, signing contracts, volunteering for things, taking jobs, skydiving (as an example of possibly dangerous recreation), etc., all in the same sort of special moral category you want to put sex in… and yet, all of those (and other too numerous to list) are things you might be talked into doing, and that might (but, like sex, are by no means certain to) cause you harm.

  668. #670 Walton
    November 13, 2008

    … but is it any less OK, just because it involves sex, than it would if the same older man had “sweet talked” her into some other (nonsexual) decision — an ill-advised purchase, for instance, or perhaps joining the military — that ended up causing her a similar amount of distress? I say what’s “not OK” (aka, immoral) here is that one person abused another’s trust and inexperience, and that’s immoral regardless of whether the activity is sexual or not.

    Fair point – you are of course right that exploitation of the naive is just as bad when it’s financial, for instance, as when it’s sexual.

    All in all, I’m going to have to concede defeat on my attempt to demonstrate, without referring to religious authority, that there is some special objective moral quality associated with sexual conduct. All I can say is that I’m instinctively inclined to believe that there is such a quality, and that sex outside of a stable monogamous relationship is a bad thing – but I have no way of proving that this particular ethical inclination is the result of inbuilt fundamental human nature rather than cultural conditioning. The only way to test this would, presumably, be by raising a child in a cultural and social vacuum, without imparting any prior socio-cultural influences, and see how s/he grew up to view sex and relationships (and such an experiment would clearly be grossly unethical).

  669. #671 Bill Dauphin
    November 13, 2008

    Walton:

    Sorry to backtrack a bit, but I didn’t want to leave this unanswered:

    I disagree in principle with [the] maxim [that "it takes a village to raise a child"]. The people principally responsible for the raising of a child are that child’s parent, parents or legal guardian. Studies show time and time again that the behaviour of a child’s parents, in early childhood, is a very significant factor in that child’s mental and emotional development. There is, in other words, no substitute for good parenting; and few excuses for bad parenting. It is not the proper role of the state to raise children.

    I didn’t mean to suggest (nor do I think the maxim means) that the “village” (nor, certainly, the “state”) should replace parents. Of course parents are principally responsible for raising their children; “the village” here refers to the social context required to enable and support good parenting. Partly that means (as others have said) extended families… but I also mean to include the support inherent in neighborhoods, schools, and local communities. In addition, it refers to the health of the larger societal matrix in which those institutions exist.

    Even people of exceptional personal quality struggle to achieve “good parenting” when they live in dysfunctional or failed communities. At first glance, that may seem like a point in support of the idea that we should police up all the “perversion” in communities and media, but that’s not my point. Instead, I mean that all our superstition, fear, guilt, and shame around sex tends to conflict our social decision-making processes and drive social dysfunction (e.g., people who withhold their support — and their kids — from public schools because of irrational fear of sex education). This is by no means the only thing driving societal dysfunction, but IMHO it’s a nontrivial part of the problem.

    The bottom line is that parents will be better able to provide “good parenting” if they’re attempting it in a more rational, less fearful, cultural matrix.

  670. #672 D
    November 13, 2008

    The only way to test this would, presumably, be by raising a child in a cultural and social vacuum…

    Or you could just take a brief look at societies over the world and through history and see that your view is actually the aberrant one.

  671. #673 Bill Dauphin
    November 13, 2008

    Walton:

    Thank you for your gracious addition (@670) to this conversation, and for the conversation in general. While I still disagree with your position, you have argued it cogently and patiently, and you have evidently listened to the arguments of others… all of which is more than some other posters [cough]Piltdown Man[/cough] can say.

    I appreciate conversations like this one, because arguing with you has forced me to regularize and put into clear words my previously inchoate ideas on this subject. Because I’ve had to explain (and defend) my ideas to you, I now understand them much better myself.

    One last thing: At the risk of sounding paternalistic, I urge you to mentally bookmark this conversation and make a point of thinking about it again in a decade or two: I know my own ideas on a wide range of things — almost all of the broad subjects we discuss here, in fact — are radically different now than they were when I was your age. You might be surprised at how your own thinking will evolve.

  672. #674 John Morales
    November 14, 2008

    I’m in full agreement to Bill Dauphin above @673.

    Walton, I find you unusual (in a good way).

  673. #675 Piltdown Man
    November 14, 2008

    John Morales (647):

    Of course, now I consider the response a failed attempted witticism, inasmuch as it requires an explanation for it to be understood.

    OK it was a pretty clumsy metaphor (I stole it from a half-remembered episode of Babylon 5).

    And, of course, your response’s claim that cultural pansexualism is ever-increasing, fast-progressing and out of control is totally at odds with the reality (remember [Proposition 8]?).

    A setback for the forces of the revolution perhaps but too early to say whether it heralds a turning of the tide. Time will tell.

  674. #676 John Morales
    November 14, 2008

    Piltdown, that was gracious.

    Remember too the USA is not world culture, there’re countries that consider its sexual mores loose and libidinous. (Much of Asia, for instance, not to mention Muslim states).

  675. #677 Piltdown Man
    November 14, 2008

    Walton, I agree with you that there are strong instinctive and emotional forces favouring aspects of traditional sexual morality. If you want to posit a naturalistic explanation of traditional taboos, that seems a far more plausible basis than paranoid fantasies of killjoy elites ever on the lookout for new ways to stop the masses having a bit of harmless fun.

    The problem is that there are other, equally powerful instinctual forces working against traditional sexual morality — the lust for immediate gratification at the expense of long-term considerations, the lust for ruthless or sadistic domination, and the lust for irresponsible free-wheeling liberation from social or emotional constraint.

    One doesn’t have to believe in the Fall to perceive this inherent disorder in the human psyche. Instinct alone cannot serve as a guide to behaviour because our instincts are not unified; they war with themselves. How are we to choose between them? Only by appealing to something that transcends them.

    And I wouldn’t put too much faith in the ability of the unaided human intellect to reason out a solution to the problem. As subsequent responses to your post have demonstrated, there are no shortage of intellectual justifications for a wholly anti-traditional morality. That obviously intelligent people can see no problem with incest or infidelity, or no essential difference between the sexual act and a card game, only proves the need for divine revelation to act as a plumb-bob for the intellect.

    As an aside, I find it curious that apologists for the revolutionary morality accuse traditionalists of uncritically accepting culturally conditioned intellectual or social constructs as universal natural norms – yet never pause to consider whether their own ‘self-evident truths’ might not be culturally conditioned …

  676. #678 Piltdown Man
    November 14, 2008

    CJO (662):

    … while pair-bonding has always been a feature of human family life, the modern ideal of a self-sufficient nuclear family in a single family dwelling far from the influence of the larger social world of extended family is drastically far removed from the social environment in which we evolved. “A village” here is aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws, etc.
    Many social scientists have identified this emphasis on the health of the nuclear family to the exclusion of a larger social world of kin relationships as a significant factor in the alienation and disaffection that plagues so many of us moderns in childhood and adolescence. There is, in fact, if not a substitute for good parenting, then a neglected supplement to it: good grandparenting, or uncling or what have you.

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s very frustrating when zealous advocates of “family values” assume the nuclear family is the traditional family, whereas in fact it is the mutilated remnant of the traditional extended family – mutilated by the economic and social pressures of modernity!

    It’s equally frustrating when liberal zealots seize on the aberrant nature of the modern family in order to further their own agenda – to supplant natural families of any sort with an army of state hirelings brainwashed by the destructive ideologies of rationalistic busybodies and crypto-perverts.

  677. #679 John Morales
    November 14, 2008

    Piltdown, traditional sexual morality, eh? ;)

  678. #680 Piltdown Man
    November 14, 2008

    John Morales (676):

    Remember too the USA is not world culture, there’re countries that consider its sexual mores loose and libidinous. (Much of Asia, for instance, not to mention Muslim states).

    Indeed. And currently the Enlightenment/Masonic ideals of the American & French Revolutions are locked in combat with a resurgent Islam determined to restore the Caliphate. Whoever wins, it’s the catacombs for us Christians.

  679. #681 John Morales
    November 14, 2008

    Piltdown, “The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century, in which Reason was advocated as the primary source and basis of authority.” – not quite what you seem to advocate. Really, Islam sounds like it should appeal to you – it’s monotheistic, abrahamic and theocratic, and it sure as heck opposes pansexualism!

  680. #682 Piltdown Man
    November 14, 2008

    John Morales (679):

    traditional sexual morality, eh? ;)

    Here’s a traditional Roman Catholic perspective on polygamy:

    “Polygamy, though definitely not willed by God and not looked up to by the Jews as an ideal, was certainly permitted, as was divorce in certain circumstances. … Some latitude could be allowed the Jews and mankind in general before the Incarnation, as our Lord put it, ‘because of the hardness of your hearts,’ but now no longer. Now [the sacrament of] marriage represents and draws its life from the union of Christ and His Church, which is a monogamous marriage. Sacramental marriage today must be monogamous to be at all between Christians. …
    “Are primitive peoples who still practice [polygamy] today hopelessly depraved? Hardly. Outmoded as it is under the New Dispensation, polygamy cannot be dismissed as simply ‘unnatural’, as a sexual perversion. Theologians and Christian jurists are quick to warn us against trying to defend monogamy by any specious appeals to natural law, as if the evils of polygamy were self-evident among all peoples.
    “God did permit polygamy, but not in the same way He permits sin, for He countenanced it. Why? He certainly never countenanced polyandry. … What’s the difference? There’s a big difference. … Polygamy reflects a truth in the spiritual order; polyandry does not. The latter is unnatural, a real perversion in itself. Although polygamy among the baptized, clothed in flesh and living in Christian society, has become impossible both sacramentally and practically, the great truth it mirrors is still true. … Members of the Bride of Christ [the Church] are themselves wedded to Christ. All of us who are in a state of grace are so many wives in a polygamous union with Almighty God. Because there is only one God, polyandry has been rooted in falseness from the beginning. Polyandry could only reflect a union between a human soul and several gods. These could only be devils.”

  681. #683 Piltdown Man
    November 14, 2008

    John Morales (681):

    “The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century, in which Reason was advocated as the primary source and basis of authority.” – not quite what you seem to advocate.

    From the American Atheists site.

  682. #684 Walton
    November 14, 2008

    Piltdown Man at #682:

    He certainly never countenanced polyandry. … What’s the difference? There’s a big difference. … Polygamy reflects a truth in the spiritual order; polyandry does not. The latter is unnatural, a real perversion in itself. Although polygamy among the baptized, clothed in flesh and living in Christian society, has become impossible both sacramentally and practically, the great truth it mirrors is still true. … Members of the Bride of Christ [the Church] are themselves wedded to Christ. All of us who are in a state of grace are so many wives in a polygamous union with Almighty God. Because there is only one God, polyandry has been rooted in falseness from the beginning. Polyandry could only reflect a union between a human soul and several gods. These could only be devils.

    Doesn’t this rest on a presumption of the identification of God with the biological male gender? My understanding was always that the identification of God as “male” was purely metaphorical; surely God, not having a physical body, is beyond human concepts of gender?

    Surely there’s an easier explanation for why God allowed polygamy for the early patriarchs? In a primitive, nomadic desert society, without modern medical care, most women died in childbirth; so polygamy might well have been a more efficient mode of ensuring the survival and perpetuation of the species. Furthermore, since society of the time was inevitably violent and lawless, women needed the protection of men. Centuries later, in a settled and civilised society, polygamy was no longer necessary or appropriate.

    It’s rather like the dietary laws, I would think. God’s prohibition on the eating of pork, shellfish etc. made a lot of sense in an early society; those foods, if not cooked properly, can carry many diseases dangerous to humans, and the eating of wild pigs in particular is known to be dangerous. But as human civilisation and knowledge advanced, the dietary laws were no longer relevant; hence God’s dispensation to Peter, in the book of Acts, to eat any animal, clean or unclean. That, at least, would be my interpretation; God gave His people the laws which were best for them in the context of the time, but those laws can change when they are no longer the best thing for society, the context having changed.

  683. #685 John Morales
    November 14, 2008

    Piltdown,
    @682, you don’t provide sources for your quotes.
    I, however, point you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican – it doesn’t get any more official:
    “Other offenses against the dignity of marriage
    The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law.” [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive.” The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.”

    @683, that article is interesting, but, as it says (my emphasis), “While there are many currents to this period, one of the fascinating and little-explored backwater eddys of particular interest to Atheists and libertarians is the role of Masonic lodges and “secret societies” during this time.”
    Surely you see the progression of Renaissance -> Age of Reason -> Enlightenment -> Secularism/Humanism.

  684. #686 John Morales
    November 14, 2008

    Walton, you have an enquiring mind.

    I’m certainly no scholar, but over the years I think I’ve pieced together some understanding of the origins of Judaism, which is syncretic and hardly a newcomer. Its singular achievement seems to have been the invention of monotheism. The Old Testament is essentially the “Cultural Epic” of the Jewish people.

  685. #687 Bill Dauphin
    November 14, 2008

    I promise this will be my last post in this thread; I’m getting tired of paging back to find it.

    Instinct alone cannot serve as a guide to behaviour because our instincts are not unified; they war with themselves. How are we to choose between them? Only by appealing to something that transcends them.

    But what if that transcendent “something” doesn’t actually exist? It might be useful to have a Sky Daddy to serve as a final authority in resolving our inner conflicts over social behavior, but if the universe actually contains no such authority, what then? Might we not invent such a God? In fact, I think that’s exactly what happened in the prehistoric and ancient worlds. But if God is actually a human invention, wouldn’t He ultimately reflect, rather than resolve the sort of conflicts you refer to?

    That obviously intelligent people can see no problem with incest or infidelity, or no essential difference between the sexual act and a card game, only proves the need for divine revelation to act as a plumb-bob for the intellect.

    This comment only makes sense if you presume that that there is a (moral) problem with incest or infidelity or an essential (moral) difference between the sexual act and a card game… things you’ve been singularly incapable of demonstrating without reference to an arbitrary external authority figure that most of us here believe to be fictional.

    And note my parenthetical insertions there. Nobody’s been claiming that there’s never any problem with incest or infidelity, or that there’s no practical difference between the sexual act and a card game. Instead, we’re saying (or at least, I am) that the rightness or wrongness of those things depends on situations and outcomes and social context, rather than on some arbitrary external morality. You don’t have to believe that, for example, “infidelity” (a less prejudiced term might be “sexual nonexclusivity”) is fundamentally (and invariably) morally wrong in order to understand that it can sometimes be wrong depending on the impact it has on those involved (e.g., what promises have been made and whether anyone has been betrayed or ill-used). The opposite position (i.e., yours, unless I misunderstand you) is that nonexclusivity is always wrong, even if everyone involved is happy with it. That, I find hard to credit.

    As an aside, I find it curious that apologists for the revolutionary morality…

    Presumably you see it as “revolutionary” because it’s so different from your own conception of morality, but what I’m actually hoping for is less revolutionary than evolutionary: I see sexual moralism (and belief in absolute, divinely given moral rules in general) as a trait that was pro-survival for prehistoric and prescientific ancient human populations, but is no longer pro-survival in any important way. If such a trait gradually falls away, and is eventually extinguished… well, “think of it as evolution in action.”

    …accuse traditionalists of uncritically accepting culturally conditioned intellectual or social constructs as universal natural norms – yet never pause to consider whether their own ‘self-evident truths’ might not be culturally conditioned …

    Nope. I think certain things are “self-evident truths” in that they are, so far as we can tell, universal… much in the same way that the theory of evolution is fact because the (vast amount of) evidence universally fails to falsify it. But I don’t believe anything, no matter how self-evidently true it appears to be, has been handed to us by an external, supernatural, omniscient/omnipotent authority. Some of what you’re calling “cultural conditioning” may be so universally accepted as useful that it will never change; I don’t believe our cultural hangups about sexuality are in that category… but even if they are, it’s not because God said so.

    PS: Any of you evolution experts out there can feel free to enlighten me if my use of evolution as a reference point is off base. I may be pretty opinionated, but I’m educable.

  686. #688 Owlmirror
    November 15, 2008

    And currently the Enlightenment/Masonic ideals of the American & French Revolutions are locked in combat with a resurgent Islam determined to restore the Caliphate. Whoever wins, it’s the catacombs for us Christians.

    Rubbish and nonsense. Ridiculous, pearl-clutching, vaporous panicking, and fearmongering.

    If Islam “wins”, which it will almost certainly not, the historic respect of Muslims for the prophet Isa will ensure that Christianity will be allowed to continue as is, albeit perhaps with financial penalty.

    If secular liberal society “wins”, well, the whole point is that religions will have no restrictions placed on individual and group practice. The only way Christianity will enter the “catacombs” is through volitional mass suicide (and why would you commit yourselves to damnation?), or through volitional abandonment by young people disgusted by your hypocrisy and irrelevancy, in which case you have only yourselves to blame.

  687. #689 Owlmirror
    November 15, 2008

    He certainly never countenanced polyandry.

    Sure he did. Is God not 3 persons? Is Mary not the spouse of God?

    Therefore, Mary did marry 3 guys, which is polyandry.

    QED.

  688. #690 Nick Gotts
    November 15, 2008

    Therefore, Mary did marry 3 guys, which is polyandry. Owlmirror

    And gave birth to one of them! Now that’s what I call kinky!

  689. #691 John Morales
    November 15, 2008

    Did I hear kinky? Giving birth to one’s husband?

    –All You Zombies– by Bob Heinlein beats that hands-down.

  690. #692 Nick Gotts
    November 15, 2008

    Polygamy reflects a truth in the spiritual order; polyandry does not. The latter is unnatural, a real perversion in itself. Although polygamy among the baptized, clothed in flesh and living in Christian society, has become impossible both sacramentally and practically, the great truth it mirrors is still true. … Members of the Bride of Christ [the Church] are themselves wedded to Christ. – Piltdown Scumbag

    Good grief, you have some filthy thoughts, Scumbag. I’d really rather not know any more about them. Have to reinstall the killfile, I think.

  691. #693 Piltdown Man
    November 16, 2008

    Owlmirror:

    Is God not 3 persons? Is Mary not the spouse of God?
    Therefore, Mary did marry 3 guys, which is polyandry.
    QED.

    Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father!
    Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son!
    Hail Mary, faithful spouse of the Holy Ghost!

    – St. Louis de Montfort

  692. #694 Owlmirror
    November 16, 2008

    Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father!
    Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son!
    Hail Mary, faithful spouse of the Holy Ghost!


    – St. Louis de Montfort

    We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the begotten of God the Father, the Only-begotten, that is of the essence of the Father.
    God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten and not made; of the very same nature of the Father, by Whom all things came into being, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.

    — The Nicene Creed.

    So it is a kinky incest-fest as well as a polyandrous marriage.

  693. #695 Piltdown Man
    November 17, 2008

    One substance, three persons.

    It’s not rocket science, just unfathomable mystery.

  694. #696 RickrOll
    November 17, 2008

    this is an important chunk of the story: http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/2008/11/only_population_size_really_ma.php?utm_source=networkbanner&utm_medium=link
    I know the link is at the top of the page, but this is a permanent part of the comments now, so it will be easy to go back to. I think navigating this site to be amazingly cumbersome, simply because it is so massive. If any of you guys have helpfull hints, i would be glad to have them! Oh and to put the link inside of a word, so that i don’t have to continue to paste unweildy addresses in the middle of my comments all the time! it sucks to be n00b

  695. #697 John Morales
    November 17, 2008

    @695, so what. One substance, 6+ billian humans.

    Not very profound.

  696. #698 Zarquon
    November 17, 2008

    “unfathomable mystery” = complete bullshit.

  697. #699 RickrOll
    November 17, 2008

    That one substance Pilty, is information. Which, the last time i checked, was androgenous, unsympathetic, and, completely deviod of meaning. Nothing you say about your God is unfathomable, just excessive.

  698. #700 Owlmirror
    November 17, 2008

    One substance, three persons.

    Yawn. Yes, I know.

    Not just incest, not just polyandrous, but also conjoined triplets. Kinky cubed.

    It’s not rocket science, just unfathomable mystery.

    Because primitive logic-choppers who had no empirical or logical demonstration of their arguments came up with something insane and incomprehensible, and demanded that people say they believe it or be kicked out of the club.

    Or be set on fire.

  699. #701 RickrOll
    November 17, 2008

    Indeed owlmirror. Have you read Alper’s The “God” Part of ther Brain? very enlightening i should say….

  700. #702 Kitty
    November 17, 2008

    Polygamy reflects a truth in the spiritual order; polyandry does not. The latter is unnatural, a real perversion in itself.
    Tell that to the Buddhist, Lama people of Nepal you parochial git.
    A woman marries the eldest brother in the family and takes all younger brothers as husband too. This effectively controlled population in a land-poor country while giving the family enough manpower to support them in a harsh environment.
    Seems hugely more sensible than one man fathering lots of mouths to feed in order to reflect some misogynistic idea of ‘spiritual order’.

  701. #703 Wowbagger
    November 17, 2008

    It’s not rocket science, just unfathomable mystery.

    When even the most facile christian sophists can’t, with all their twisting and turning and ducking and weaving, come up with an answer then it must be that ‘god just doesn’t want us to know’.

    How convenient.

  702. #704 Zarquon
    November 17, 2008

    Don’t forget if Jesus is the son of God and Jesus is the same as God then Jesus is his own father, and therefore a motherfucker.

  703. #705 Anton Mates
    November 17, 2008

    It’s not rocket science, just unfathomable mystery.

    Props for linking to a picture which denies that equality is transitive.

  704. #706 Walton
    November 17, 2008

    On the topic of polygamy and polyandry, I don’t think that either is inherently “a perversion of the natural order”; rather, such things depend on context. As I said, for the ancient Israelites polygamy made a lot of sense; for nomads wandering in the desert, in an era with no modern medicine in which most women died in childbirth, polygamy may well have been necessary and appropriate in order to ensure that women could be protected and to assure the continuance of procreation. But in a modern civilised society, it became unnecessary – which, for those who believe in God, would be why He no longer approved of it in later parts of the Bible. (Conversely, a sceptic could simply argue that as social needs changed, so did the social rules which people ascribed to divine authority. It makes sense either way.)

    Likewise, as Kitty pointed out at #702, there are some historical contexts in which polyandry was useful and necessary. Since my conception of “God” is not limited to the Judeo-Christian God – I believe that God, as the embodiment of universal good, can manifest Himself through many different religious traditions – I have no difficulty in assuming that God was probably happy with that practice in its original context. It is not for me to condemn other peoples’ way of life, unless such way of life is manifestly harmful or unethical.

    But I do think that in our modern Western society, the traditional two-parent family is a model which is positive and effective in the raising of children; this is borne out by much social science research. I do therefore think that marriage should be encouraged. (I should make clear, though, that when I talk about “traditional marriage” and “stable relationships” I’m not, unlike some who use those terms, trying to exclude same-sex couples. Gay and lesbian couples have loving relationships too, and I have no problem whatsoever with gay marriage – so long as traditionalist religious sects are not compelled to perform such marriages contrary to their moral beliefs – or with the adoption of children by gay couples.)

  705. #707 John Morales
    November 17, 2008

    Anton, you’ve lost me.

    Surely equal things are by definition transitive, and equality as a relation only applies to equal things.

    Are you saying things that are only “equal” regarding some set of criteria need not be equal by different set?

  706. #708 John Morales
    November 17, 2008

    Walton,

    [1]But I do think that in our modern Western society, the traditional two-parent family is a model which is positive and effective in the raising of children; this is borne out by much social science research. [2] I do therefore think that marriage should be encouraged.

    1. That it’s positive and effective is is no argument that other forms of families aren’t, anymore than saying apples are nice is saying oranges aren’t. Are you trying to imply that this is so?
    2. I have a friend (now a widow) who was partnered for 32 years, had a child with, and inherited the possessions of her partner upon his death. The child now has grandchildren of her own, and they have a “granny”.

    They never “officially” married, but in every sense but a ceremony, they were one of the purest and “marriages” I know of, utterly devoted and faithful.

    Does that count as a marriage to you? No ceremony, not even a civil one.

    PS you keep referring to God. I don’t recall you ever addressing my question of why you consider monotheism superior to polytheism. I have asked it of you at least twice; are you avoiding it, is it unmeritorious, or what?

  707. #709 Walton
    November 17, 2008

    They never “officially” married, but in every sense but a ceremony, they were one of the purest and “marriages” I know of, utterly devoted and faithful.

    I think it all depends on their personal beliefs. It’s not for me to judge whose relationship is a “marriage”, in moral terms, and whose isn’t. Obviously, for a devout Catholic the ceremony of marriage is a sacrament and is significant in itself; conversely, for people of no faith, or from some more liberal faith traditions, the ceremony may not be particularly important, and it is the nature and quality of the relationship which counts. Not knowing the people in question, I wouldn’t presume to make any comment.

    But from an objective social science perspective, the relationship you describe is not qualitatively different from a marriage, and is just as good, naturally, for the purposes of raising children.

    That it’s positive and effective is is no argument that other forms of families aren’t, anymore than saying apples are nice is saying oranges aren’t. Are you trying to imply that this is so?

    It’s self-evident that other forms of families can also be positive and effective. I know plenty of people raised by single parents who’ve turned out just fine. The most important thing is to have a loving and caring family. However, at the same time, I would contend that being a single parent is not easy (a statement which I’m sure most single parents would agree with) and it’s probably easier overall to be a good parent if you’re in a stable two-person relationship. And I do think children benefit, to some extent, from having both male and female role models in their lives.

    …you keep referring to God. I don’t recall you ever addressing my question of why you consider monotheism superior to polytheism. I have asked it of you at least twice; are you avoiding it, is it unmeritorious, or what?

    I think the dichotomy you’re trying to draw here is too simplistic. I believe in a God, in terms of a benevolent force beyond our understanding which is inherent in the universe itself. I would say that different faith traditions have different paths to God (albeit that most faith traditions also contain much which is misleading and intolerant, due to the fact that they are limited by the flaws in human nature). Although I don’t have much knowledge of polytheistic religions, my understanding is that Hinduism, for instance, while outwardly appearing polytheistic, does in fact accept the idea of a supreme being or supreme spirit. And as regards the truly polytheistic religious traditions, I think they can perhaps be interpreted more as metaphor or allegory. But I don’t have sufficient understanding of non-Abrahamic religious traditions to have a meaningful or definite opinion; I prefer to be open-minded for the time being.

    At the same time, I’m also open to the idea that there are malevolent supernatural forces (indeed perhaps this follows naturally from the idea of a benevolent God; if God is benevolent, while the universe in which we live is not perfect, then there must be some force of evil at work making it other than perfect). I couldn’t be sure whether concepts of “the Devil” and “demons” in various religious traditions represent real beings of any sort, or are simply allegories for the malevolence in human nature itself. Again, I’m largely open-minded.

  708. #710 John Morales
    November 17, 2008

    Thank you, Walton, for responding.

    I note your terminology:

    I believe in a God, in terms of a benevolent force beyond our understanding which is inherent in the universe itself. [...] At the same time, I’m also open to the idea that there are malevolent supernatural forces.

    Specifically, the singular vs. the plural in the converse, leading me to infer that you’re utilising unexamined assumptions unknowingly.

  709. #711 windy
    November 17, 2008

    As I said, for the ancient Israelites polygamy made a lot of sense; for nomads wandering in the desert, in an era with no modern medicine in which most women died in childbirth, polygamy may well have been necessary and appropriate in order to ensure that women could be protected and to assure the continuance of procreation

    Why would polygamy be necessary for procreation when many (not likely most) women died in childbirth? Please show your work…

  710. #712 Anton Mates
    November 17, 2008

    Walton,

    As I said, for the ancient Israelites polygamy made a lot of sense; for nomads wandering in the desert, in an era with no modern medicine in which most women died in childbirth, polygamy may well have been necessary and appropriate in order to ensure that women could be protected and to assure the continuance of procreation.

    That seems backwards to me. If many women die in childbirth, and the remainder need to be protected, then it would make sense to have a polyandrous system where multiple men could care for a single woman.

    Women get less attention in a polygamous marriage.

  711. #713 Anton Mates
    November 17, 2008

    John M,

    Surely equal things are by definition transitive, and equality as a relation only applies to equal things.

    You’d think, but that’s not what’s implied by the picture to which Piltdown linked.

    Apparently, God is the Father and God is the Son and God is the Holy Ghost, but the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost is not the Father.

    It’s an unfathomable mystery, you see.

  712. #714 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    @713: D’oh.

    Of course! And unfathomable mysteries are inscrutably ineffable. What was I thinking!

  713. #715 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    John Morales @685:

    you don’t provide sources for your quotes. I, however, point you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican – it doesn’t get any more official

    The quoted passage is from a book by the Catholic author S. Hertz. Published in 1961 (pre-Vatican II vintage), it carries the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

    The excerpt from the Catechism makes it clear that polygamy is not an option for a baptized Christian, reaffirming what my original passage said.

    The Catechism passage is written in mushy humanistic Vatican II-speak (“the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive”). By contrast, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which is arguably more authoritative, speaks plainly:

    “Thus under the law of nature we read of many of the ancient Patriarchs that they had several wives at the same time; while under the Law of Moses it was permissible, should cause exist, to repudiate one’s wife by giving her a bill of divorce. Both these concessions have been suppressed by the law of the Gospel … Though some of the ancient Patriarchs are not to be blamed for having married several wives, since they did not act thus without divine dispensation, yet Christ our Lord has clearly shown that polygamy is not in keeping with the nature of Matrimony.” … Hence it is that when an infidel who, following the customs of his country has married several wives, happens to be converted to the true religion, the Church orders him to dismiss all but the first, and regard her alone as his true and lawful wife.

    @683, that article is interesting, but, as it says (my emphasis), “While there are many currents to this period, one of the fascinating and little-explored backwater eddys of particular interest to Atheists and libertarians is the role of Masonic lodges and “secret societies” during this time.”
    Surely you see the progression of Renaissance -> Age of Reason -> Enlightenment -> Secularism/Humanism.

    I do see the progression, although I would expand it to Renaissance -> Reformation -> Age of Reason/Enlightenment -> Revolution.

    And I would say that Masonic and para-Masonic groups did play a significant ‘networking’ role in this process – just look at the Franklin-Voltaire axis!

  714. #716 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Walton @684:

    Doesn’t this rest on a presumption of the identification of God with the biological male gender? My understanding was always that the identification of God as “male” was purely metaphorical; surely God, not having a physical body, is beyond human concepts of gender?

    Yes, it is a metaphor, as God is an incorporeal spirit. However, it is a divinely inspired metaphor (for those of us who believe Scripture to be divinely inspired). So while the occasional mystic might be allowed the latitude to em[ploy maternal metaphors when speaking of the divine, it can never be normative for Catholics.

    Surely there’s an easier explanation for why God allowed polygamy for the early patriarchs?

    But the fact that a particular custom might have benefits in the natural order doesn’t in itself mean that those benefits are the root cause or “explanation” of that custom. Natural benefits are only to be expected from a practice which reflects, however imperfectly, supernatural reality – just as natural harm is the inevitable result of practices which deviate from it …

  715. #717 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Piltdown @715, both Catechisms make it clear that polygamy is not on*, so you’re arguing against your own claim that “Polygamy reflects a truth in the spiritual order”.
    Besides, as far as the Patriarchs go, it’s a classic Christian excuse that the “New Covenant” excuses the differences between religious obligations between the old and new testaments.

    Re your second point: To speak of Enlightenment/Masonic ideals is misleading; masonic ideals invariably include a mandatory belief in “a Supreme Being” (the Societies will not accept members who do not so swear), whilst enlightenment ideals include free-thinking (and therefore atheism).

    * “Christ our Lord has clearly shown that polygamy is not in keeping with the nature of Matrimony.”

  716. #718 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Bill Dauphin @687:

    Instinct alone cannot serve as a guide to behaviour because our instincts are not unified; they war with themselves. How are we to choose between them? Only by appealing to something that transcends them.

    But what if that transcendent “something” doesn’t actually exist? It might be useful to have a Sky Daddy to serve as a final authority in resolving our inner conflicts over social behavior, but if the universe actually contains no such authority, what then?

    Then, in theory, “everything is permitted”. Leaving aside the question of God’s actual existence, I would simply say that a sufficiently widespread and sustained lack of belief in the Christian God would lead to the collapse, not of society, but of morality — Christian morality, that is. You might think that a good thing now, but I suspect you might change your mind when the full consequences become clear.

    Might we not invent such a God?

    Of course! Which is why atheism is doomed.

    But if God is actually a human invention, wouldn’t He ultimately reflect, rather than resolve the sort of conflicts you refer to?

    A ‘god’ that is a purely human invention would certainly do that — indeed, it would exacerbate them.

  717. #719 Nerd of Redhead
    November 18, 2008

    Pilty, any god is a purely human invention. Your god exists only in your mind. You have not shown any physical proof for a god. Philosophy doesn’t make god real, just allows one to pretend that god exists.

  718. #720 Owlmirror
    November 18, 2008

    Natural benefits are only to be expected from a practice which reflects, however imperfectly, supernatural reality – just as natural harm is the inevitable result of practices which deviate from it …

    Looks like you want it both ways. Polygamy reflects supernatural reality so it’s OK, except it’s also wrong and to be rejected.

    Remind me again where Jesus speaks out against polygamy? He’s down on divorce, thus directly contradicting the Word of God as he so casually did, but never says that a man can’t marry again while still married to his first wife — as long as he does not “put her away”, he should be OK. Especially since he’s “reflecting spiritual reality”…

  719. #721 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Owlmirror @688:

    And currently the Enlightenment/Masonic ideals of the American & French Revolutions are locked in combat with a resurgent Islam determined to restore the Caliphate. Whoever wins, it’s the catacombs for us Christians.

    Rubbish and nonsense. Ridiculous, pearl-clutching, vaporous panicking, and fearmongering.

    If Islam “wins”, which it will almost certainly not, the historic respect of Muslims for the prophet Isa will ensure that Christianity will be allowed to continue as is, albeit perhaps with financial penalty.

    I doubt those Christians who were enslaved by the Barbary pirates, or whose children were abducted for Janissary service, would have agreed with you.

    If secular liberal society “wins”, well, the whole point is that religions will have no restrictions placed on individual and group practice.

    That assumes secular society will remain liberal. What if, in order to defeat militant Islam, it becomes more militant itself, while remaining secular?

  720. #722 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Piltdown @718, you address your comment to Bill’s comment where he wrote “I promise this will be my last post in this thread”, so I’m taking the liberty of addressing it.

    [Bill] It might be useful to have a Sky Daddy to serve as a final authority in resolving our inner conflicts over social behavior, but if the universe actually contains no such authority, what then?
    Then, in theory, “everything is permitted”.

    In the sense that people can do what they can do, that’s trivially true. I can drive at 100 km/h in a 60 k zone, I can go and mug my neighbour and steal his wallet, etc.
    But, see, there’s this thing called “conscience”, not to mention this thing called “consequences”.
    So, either both from an utilitarian or ethical basis, that something is permitted does not imply that something is desirable.

    You are indulging in specious sophistry.

    I would simply say that a sufficiently widespread and sustained lack of belief in the Christian God would lead to the collapse, not of society, but of morality — Christian morality, that is. You might think that a good thing now, but I suspect you might change your mind when the full consequences become clear.

    Yes, Japan is a horrible place to live, as are other first-world non-Christian counties… :)

  721. #723 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    John Morales@717,
    “Masons” is just one of Piltdown Scumbag’s code words for “Jews”.

  722. #724 Owlmirror
    November 18, 2008

    Then, in theory, “everything is permitted”.

    And under Christianity as well. All you Catholics need to do is proclaim that “God permits it”, and you do it.

    “Deus lo vult!”

    Leaving aside the question of God’s actual existence, I would simply say that a sufficiently widespread and sustained lack of belief in the Christian God would lead to the collapse, not of society, but of morality — Christian morality, that is. You might think that a good thing now, but I suspect you might change your mind when the full consequences become clear.

    Since “Christian morality” has included the permissible murder of (and theft from) those accused of not being Christians, or not being Christians in the right way, the “full consequences” are probably not too bad, as long as some system of humanistic ethics is present.

    And if you bring up Stalinism and Maoism again, I will again have to point out that they made rabid cults out of their ideologies which specifically rejected humanistic ethics.

  723. #725 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Piltdown @721, Christians were slavers par excellence. Very moral.

  724. #726 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Nick, if P really uses “Masons” thus, then I’ve been giving him too much credit. Hm.
    Surely he’s not anti-Semitic… Jesus was a Jew, after all! :)

  725. #727 Owlmirror
    November 18, 2008

    I doubt those Christians who were enslaved by the Barbary pirates, or whose children were abducted for Janissary service, would have agreed with you.

    Which has what to do with today?

    And if you want to talk about slavery, consider that “slave” comes from “Slav”, who in the past were eagerly and gladly sold by Christians, never mind the African slave trade. You hypocrite, even the Popes dealt in the slave trade!

  726. #728 Owlmirror
    November 18, 2008

    Surely he’s not anti-Semitic… Jesus was a Jew, after all!

    That didn’t stop John Chrysostom, Martin Luther, or Hitler…

  727. #729 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    John Morales @717:

    Re your second point: To speak of Enlightenment/Masonic ideals is misleading; masonic ideals invariably include a mandatory belief in “a Supreme Being” (the Societies will not accept members who do not so swear), whilst enlightenment ideals include free-thinking (and therefore atheism).

    My understanding was that the Enlightenment was characterized by deism rather than atheism – and deism has obvious affinities with Masonic notions of the Supreme Being.

    Moreover, even that attenuated belief is “mandatory” only for Anglo-American Freemasonry, not the Continental strain.

    Nick Gotts @723:

    “Masons” is just one of Piltdown Scumbag’s code words for “Jews”.

    Really? What are my other ones?

  728. #730 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    John,
    If you can face it, look back through Pilty’s entire oeuvre here. I’m afraid I can’t point you to the thread(s) concerned, but it was pretty clear he had a considerable animus against Jews. He’s a “traditionalist” Catholic, and it is a traditional Catholic belief that the Jews “murdered Christ”. I think the first pope to repudiate this was John XXIII, whom the traditionalists loathe.

  729. #731 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Nick Gotts:

    I’m afraid I can’t point you to the thread(s) concerned

    Then stop hurling accusations if you can’t back them up.

    it was pretty clear he had a considerable animus against Jews.

    Fiddlesticks and flapdoodle.

    He’s a “traditionalist” Catholic, and it is a traditional Catholic belief that the Jews “murdered Christ”. I think the first pope to repudiate this was John XXIII, whom the traditionalists loathe.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many grotesque oversimplifications and outright distortions in one sentence.

  730. #732 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Piltdown,

    My understanding was that the Enlightenment was characterized by deism rather than atheism – and deism has obvious affinities with Masonic notions of the Supreme Being.

    I agree with that, but consider why freethinkers advanced to Deism in a culture steeped in Theism – they did their best given knowledge at the time.
    I refer you to this comment in a past thread:

    Kant in particular disposed of all of the traditional arguments for the existence of God, save for one, including the cosmological and ontological arguments. (Darwin killed the other one, which is why modern philosophers are mostly atheists. Kant knocked most of the legs out from under theism, and Darwin axed the last one. Kant + Darwin = atheism.)

    Deism is the last stage inculcated yet free-thinking theists reach before achieving atheism, and it’s how I’d characterise Walton’s belief.

    Nick, I’ve no wish to review Pildown’s corpus – but if he wishes to he can outright deny the claim – which I note he’s been careful not to do.

  731. #733 Owlmirror
    November 18, 2008

    but if he wishes to he can outright deny the claim – which I note he’s been careful not to do.

    He’s been careful not to deny the claim that he supports setting people on fire.

  732. #734 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    A look at “That Explains Something” from September is interesting with respect to Pilty’s attitude to the Jews. Oh, he’s not so crude as to come out and say “I hate Jews”, but he carefully never repudiates the traditional Catholic teaching that they are God-killers who insolently rejected the Messiah God sent them, despite numerous opportunities to do so. He’s concerned to claim that the Church never preached a racial anti-semitism (Oh dear me no – not like those vulgar Nazis), and to distinguish between “anti-semitism” and “anti-Judaism”. Basically, it’s the sort of stuff you’d expect to find from any Christian antisemite when he’s not in “safe” company.

  733. #735 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    but if he wishes to he can outright deny the claim – which I note he’s been careful not to do.

    For the record — I deny that I harbour any feelings of hatred or contempt for the Jewish people.

    And when I say “Mason” I mean “Mason”, not “Jew”.

    (Just don’t get me started on those Jewish Masons …)

  734. #736 Owlmirror
    November 18, 2008

    (Just don’t get me started on those Jewish Masons …)

    I think you and Jackie Mason would get along like a house on fire.

  735. #737 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    We must also remember Pilty’s love for the Inquisition, one of who’s favourite pastimes was killing Jews; and of the medieval Catholic theocracy, with its denial of equal rights to Jews, and events such as the sanctification of “Little St. Hugh of Lincoln”, who was at the centre of one of the outbreaks of the “blood libel” against Jews. Pilty says the Catholic Church never endorsed this libel, but in this case Hugh’s sanctification was an absolutely clear endorsement. It’s abundantly clear that if Pilty had his way and “Christendom” was restored, the Jews would have plenty of reason to regret it.

  736. #738 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Nick Gotts:

    He’s concerned to claim that the Church never preached a racial anti-semitism … and to distinguish between “anti-semitism” and “anti-Judaism”.

    Sigh.

    As I recall, that distinction was merely intended as an entry point into a more in-depth discussion with Owlmirror on the subject which unfortunately never quite materialized. All the same, even though it doesn’t exhaust the issue by any means, it’s still a valid and important distinction — the fact that I consider Islam to be a false religion doesn’t mean I harbour a racial antipathy toward Arabs. And, yes, I maintain that the Church has never preached such racialism.

  737. #739 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Owlmirror @733:

    He’s been careful not to deny the claim that he supports setting people on fire.

    Cue Babylon 5 quote:

    “Oh, I’m an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth kind of guy, Ambassador.”

    “So you support a system that would leave everyone blind and toothless?”

    “Not everyone. Just the bad guys.”

  738. #740 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    You notice how Pilty can’t quite bring himself to make a straightforward denial? Oh of course he can say “Don’t get me started on those Jewish Masons” was just a joke – but jokes are very revealing.

    By the way Pilty, do you deny that the Jews bear collective guilt for the death of Christ? What would be their place in your restored Christendom? Do you regard “Little St Hugh of Lincoln” as a genuine, honest-to-goodness saint?

  739. #741 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Piltdown @735, I’ve been reviewing the “That explains something” thread, and I don’t see you being anti-Semitic (in an overt sense) therein. What I see is you being anti-anti-Catholic, inasmuch as I consider that you consider (religious) Judaism to be recalcitrant against the New Covenant*, and ignore ethnicity.

    So, I’m not convinced by Nick’s claim that you’re using “masonic” as code for “judaic”, however I am even more inclined to consider that, overall, what you’ve written is “the sort of stuff you’d expect to find from any Christian antisemite when he’s not in “safe” company.”

    Regardless, I’d find it odd that you so harshly condemn Islam (in particular) and Judaism, given they’re such close spiritual/ethical cousins to your own beliefs, were it not for human nature.

    Christianity is just a heretical version of Judaism, as is Islam – which is why Muslims refer to “People of the Book” and give them preferential treatment. Which is more honest than Christianity.

    * I note that Covenant was made between God and the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah – i.e. with Jews. If you abide by that “covenant”, you are de-facto putting yourself in their place. Another instance of double-think.

  740. #742 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Nick @740, Yeah, I noticed.
    And I further noticed he’s quite capable of so doing should he choose to (e.g.from the September thread:)

    First, let me unequivocally say (in case you were in any doubt) that I regard the sexual abuse of children by priests as a monstrous evil. Ditto for those bishops who covered up their crime.

    An evil that priesthood doesn’t preclude, by the way, the significance of which Piltdown didn’t acknowledge.

  741. #743 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    John@741,
    A more accurate way to put my hit at Pilty about “Masons” being code for “Jews” would be to note that “anti-Masonism”, like “anti-Judaism” is “code” in the sense that it allows a denial of antisemitism, while giving a hefty nudge to any fellow antisemites around. There has, historically, been a very close association between anti-Freemasonry and antisemitism: the text of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion assumes that the reader already “knows” about the Masonic conspiracy, and introduces the idea that Freemasonry (like liberalism) is really just a front for the Jews, who form a conspiracy within the conspiracy. This will of course be well-known to any educated antisemite.

  742. #744 Piltdown Man
    November 18, 2008

    Nick Gotts @740:

    You notice how Pilty can’t quite bring himself to make a straightforward denial?

    What the hell do you call this @735:

    I deny that I harbour any feelings of hatred or contempt for the Jewish people.

    Or is that antisemitic code for its opposite?

  743. #745 Nick Gotts
    November 18, 2008

    Scumbag,
    I meant you couldn’t bear to leave that denial alone, could you? You had to put in the “joke” about “Jewish Masons” – who were, of course, precisely the subject of the best-known antisemitic work in history, as a nod and a wink to your fellow antisemites, which others would see as a bit of harmless humour. I’m on to you, Scumbag: you’re a lying, hate-filled, sadistic, antisemitic monster, without a truthful or compassionate bone in your body.

  744. #746 Wowbagger
    November 18, 2008

    Nick,

    Previously I might have considered describing Pilty as such to be a little harsh, but now I know better; on the Chumbawamba thread he dismissed my description of conquistadores – ‘catholics who raped and murdered thousands for the glory of their bloodthirsty god.’ with this quote:

    “History is a collection of lies statesmen have agreed upon.” – Napoleon.

    Not only a scumbag, but a lying scumbag at that.

  745. #747 John Morales
    November 18, 2008

    Piltdown,

    I deny that I harbour any feelings of hatred or contempt for the Jewish people.

    Fair enough, that’s clearly a denial of anti-semitism regarding Jewish people per se, and thus, ordinarily, tantamount to a repudiation of professed anti-Semitism.

    Thing is, such a denial is not definitive – after all, I don’t “harbour any feelings of hatred or contempt for the Catholic populace”, yet I am unashamedly anti-Catholic, because of the harm* this ideology does.

    Nick, I must note the claim I suggested Piltdown could deny was that he equated “masonism” with “judaism”**, in the sense of an influential, conspiratiorial agenda, and I think this he has done. I still think he’s basically anti-anti-Catholic, and I am wary of attributing unexpressed opinions to others.

    * without denying the good, but noting the harm exceeds the benefit.

    ** Zionism?

  746. #748 Owlmirror
    November 19, 2008

    Cue Babylon 5 quote:

    “Oh, I’m an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth kind of guy, Ambassador.”

    “So you support a system that would leave everyone blind and toothless?”

    “Not everyone. Just the bad guys.”

    Oh, for pity’s sake. J. M. Straczynski is an atheist.

    You know the line that demonstrates the extremes that God-fearing conservative Catholics will go to in condemning the “bad guys”. You know it, I know it, and you’ve seen it before, and you’ve been very, very careful not to deny that you agree with it completely.

    Cue Abbe Arnaud Amalric quote:

    “Kill them all, God will recognize his own!”

  747. #749 John Morales
    November 19, 2008

    And I’ve just read an interesting post by Jack Carlson, which I think is most apposite to the above:

    Rabbi Sherwin Wine:
    There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in th