Pharyngula

It’s a good day to take a moment to read Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It tells of an oppression I can’t even begin to imagine, and of frustration with complacency and a dream that was always being deferred.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

He finds no virtue in the moderate position that preserved the status quo.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

And at the same time, he rejected violence and the true extremist.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Obviously, he saw the church as a force for good. Well, at least some churches: he sees that the churches that were not part of the civil rights movement were part of the problem.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

King found some strength in his church, and I have to respect that. However, he was also blind to the implications of what he was seeing: that perhaps faith was not a source of wisdom and social justice, but seems to be orthogonal to it. His power did not come from his religion, but from the righteousness of his cause, and it’s unfortunate that he did not see that.

I think also he might be horrified at what has happened to our country, which has diminished the boundaries between the sacred and secular … which has not made us a better place.

Go read it all. It will make you think.

Comments

  1. #1 Alan Millar
    January 19, 2009

    Reading this in South Africa, where this tension is still in the open. Had a good long think about tension vs. order. You can get so sick of the tension that you long for the order – even when it means injustice. Dr. King always reminds you when your priorities are getting screwed up.

    And yes, his morality may have been inspired by the church, like our own Archbishop Tutu. But if the church created that morality, these people wouldn’t have been so few – crying against the bulk of their fellow ministers.

  2. #2 DeadGuyKai
    January 19, 2009

    I remember first reading LFABJ 25 years ago when I was a student. It is powerful, but also derivative. MK Gandhi said it first, and I think better, in From Yeravda Mandir.

  3. #3 Hugo
    January 19, 2009

    This is the first time I’ve read anything of length from Mr. King, and suffice to say I’m very impressed and even a little humbled.

    You can argue it all you like, but I struggle to see much difference between the racial issues of the past and the religious issues of today.

  4. #4 Miko
    January 19, 2009

    Also worth reading is Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, which was MLK’s inspiration when writing Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

  5. #5 NickG
    January 19, 2009

    Hugo @3: “You can argue it all you like, but I struggle to see much difference between the racial issues of the past and the religious issues of today.”

    Actually religion has been the bludgeon to enforce and justify bigotry regardless the era or subject of discrimination. Apparently many of us need someone to despise. Religion happily presents us with the ‘other of the day’ against which to vent our wrath.

    The ‘religious’ arguments for banning same sex marriage are no different from the religious arguments for miscegenation laws. And eventually when society moves enough forward and people realize banning same sex marriage is as ignorant as banning interracial marriage, religions will find another ‘other’ to hate.

  6. #6 africangenesis
    January 19, 2009

    King’s sacrificial nonviolence worked because it appealed to the Judeo/Christian ethos of the society, and it convicted believers of their hypocrisy. He faced down hatred and contempt with love and peace. But the preference for the “positive” emotions and intellectual and moral integrity had to pre-exist in the society. Nonviolence didn’t work in Tiananmen Square or during the Prague Spring.

    But is it in human nature to agree on which emotions are “positive” and which are “negative”. Is there an evolved preference for some over the others? Is there a desire for the emotions that one associates with family? Is there an innate preference for harmony in the family. Can it easily coexist with contempt and hatred for the “other”? Does a preference for harmony get generalized to the “in” group, perhaps even nation/states? Are contempt and hatred ways of unifying such “in” groups against the “others”?

    Even this may be an over simplification, there are other unifying processes and some family systems seem to thrive on ritualized conflict. Robert Ardrey helped popularize a term originated by French ethologist Jean-Jacques Petter for a society of inward antagonism, “noyau”. It has been a few decades since I read Ardrey, so I don’t know if the term is still in vogue. Modern popularizers of evolution seem to have a different focus. I remember that he considered the Italian family and neighborhood culture as a possible example of a human noyau, and that he enjoyed it enough to make Italy his home.

  7. #7 Enshoku
    January 19, 2009

    Wow. I’m truly and honestly astonished. This speech strikes far more powerfully for me than the I have a dream speech ever will.

    copy-paste-save.

  8. #8 Arabiflora
    January 19, 2009

    Thanks for the URL pointer, PZ. I, probably like most, am most familiar with MLK’s “I have a dream” speech but, as powerful as that was, the text of LFABJ strikes a new chord for me and a greater appreciation of King’s logic, methods, and life.

    I am also struck by his allegiance to the Christian church. I am a non-believer in all manner of things religious, but maintain a faith that, when properly espoused and put into practice, the gospels of the New Testament describe a path towards social justice and harmony that we would do well to follow. MLK vividly points out in his letter the hypocrisy of church leaders in his time–Christian and otherwise– and it saddens me deeply that such hypocrisy, built on but abusive of such a hopeful foundation of moral leadership continues, NAY, thrives to this day.

    It seems to me an especially fortuitous confluence of events upcoming early in this new week: MLK Day on Monday and Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday. Wednesday and days to come will surely see a return to the drudgery of mere survival in these trying times but I, for one, will revel in the moments and weep in joy when the occasions merit. Life delivers precious few of these, so let’s all raise a glass and shout “Huzzah!” when they come along.

    Again, thanks for the pointer and for all that you do.

    Scott

  9. #9 africangenesis
    January 19, 2009

    nickG@5,

    We don’t have to look far for the next other to hate, it is polygamy. They already have a head start.

  10. #10 John C. Randolph
    January 19, 2009

    Also highly recommended: Lysander Spooner’s book, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery.

    http://medicolegal.tripod.com/spooneruos.htm

    -jcr

  11. #11 Liberal Atheist
    January 19, 2009

    africangenesis @9

    But when those who support the rights for more than two adults to marry each other will bring that up, surely this time they can count on the support from the Mormons?

  12. #12 Matt
    January 19, 2009

    This is awesome. I’d never read any MLK before, only listened to the sound bites, etc. I really like his repudiation of the 60′s concern trolls.

  13. #13 Sigmund
    January 19, 2009

    There’s a good article on his attitude to church state issues here.
    http://www.onlinejournal.com/TheocracyAlert/html/071605nall.html

  14. #14 skepsci
    January 19, 2009

    I’m a little confused about the title of this post, “There are good reasons to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.” Was there any question about that? Do you just like stating the obvious? To me it reads like you were expecting that some of your readers thought otherwise, but before I make a fool of myself by assuming I know what the intent was, I thought I would ask.

  15. #15 achillean
    January 19, 2009

    Wow, first time reading anything at length from MLK and it’s very impressive. Amazing how much has changed in such a short time frame, albeit there’s still much left to do.

  16. #16 Riman Butterbur
    January 19, 2009

    there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

    I think this was the key to Martin Luther King Jr’s success. Blacks had been protesting, nonviolently, for centuries and the whites laughed in their faces. MLK was finally able to point to Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Elijah Muhammad, etc, and tell the white power structure: If you won’t listen to me, you’ll have to deal with them.

  17. #17 Ramases
    January 19, 2009

    Thanks for posting this PZ.

    Martin Luther King was indeed an incredible person. The fact that he was religious does not change this, even if I disagree with him.

    In that regard I think it shows we should keep our atheist senses of superiority in check a bit. I would like to see a world mature enough to abandon religion, but it is not the only issue. When it comes down to it, respect for human rights is by far the predominant issue.

    I have been involved in campaigning for human rights issues and have notice an interesting thing. Many of us who do are atheists, but there are also some religious people who do. I have worked together with Christians, religious Jews and, yes, Muslims, and met people with all those belief systems with great politics, understanding and commitment to creating a just and fair world.

    A pity they are deluded about religion, but they are still people I hold in respect.

    On the other hand there are clearly atheists who do the opposite, even some who would like to use the atheist movement as a vehicle of intolerance, ignorance, and simple minded bigotry.

    Pat Condell comes to mind as one example.

    The rise of the new atheist movement is a terrific thing, and should make the world a better place. But there are risks, as the likes of Condell clearly demonstrate.

    Let’s hope we can create a rational, intelligent and tolerant atheist movement committed to human rights ? if it is not that kind of atheist movement it is not worth it.

    That is why it is so important strongly reject the Pat Condells and those like him who would hijack the movement for their own bigoted and xenophobic agendas.

  18. #18 Cafeeine
    January 19, 2009

    I can’t say I agree with your assessment of Condell. While he does do more justice to the ‘strident atheist’ meme than Dawkins ever did, but in his videos I have watched he is mainly intolerant (and extremely so) of intolerance. Thats a far cry from xenophobia.

  19. #19 Robert Byers
    January 19, 2009

    From canada
    MR Myers is wrong. There is no moral reason to honour a day for MLK JR.
    There was nothing morally wrong with southern segregation. Yes there was legally but this is a different matter. The blacks were a immigrant people who simply were post civil war not given full immigrant rights. Yet given almost all.
    That they were unsuccessfull was due to thier own inabilities as it is today still.
    This holiday is a insult and injustice to the southern americans and Yankee americans and all ethnic citizens of America.
    Segregation was a minor thing in minor sections of america. The movement against it was not to desegregate but rather to raise the blacks everywhere in America up into the prestige and wealth of America like others.
    MLK Jr said Not by colour but by character should people be judged and advance. yet the election was entirely, for blacks, about colour. This silly ‘celebration” of a black, kinda, president is not about colour blind character but about racial identity, especially since his whiteness is ignored, and racial preferences and and entitlements.
    This election and aftereffects demonstrates the southern segregationist was not morally wrong or in relationship wrong.
    Blacks are not another American of different colour but a different people, African, who happen to have a different colour. They live with segregated hearts and somewhat actions against other people. They insist they deserve, and others don’t, because of what identities deserve. No common citizenship is the big point.
    The blacks confirm the old segregationists and other ethnic citizens that identity is the most important thing in who deserves and gets what.
    They are wrong.
    The contract is that identity is solely on citizenship.
    MLK JR day is unjust in its accusations as made today, though strictly true, and its a fraud of blacks to claim it as a ideal. they just want to move up with others being colour blind.
    it should be revoked as a insult and a fraud to Americans and southern Americans to say they were morally wrong about ideas that the blacks don’t practice themselves.
    they were the immigrants and it was a gift to be in the americans country despite being forced.
    Thats the law and moral law.
    The minute they say our group they have no case.. only a citizenship case.
    Obama is a story of race and not character or ability.
    The Democratic party is about identity and the establishment, media etc, is the same crowd.
    Most true Canadians, no hyphenated identity, would agree with me.
    A humbug and a mess AGAIN.

  20. #20 awer
    January 19, 2009

    I think this is arrogant and insulting: “His power did not come from his religion, but from the righteousness of his cause, and it’s unfortunate that he did not see that.”

    From what I have read on Martin Luther King, whom I like a lot, his faith gave him inner strenght to keep fighting for the cause. You can’t separate the two, and obviously King would not have been the same man were he an atheist. I am an atheist, but you shouldn’t dismiss the power of religion to influence and inspire good in the world. King’s letter is beautiful.

    And you shouldn’t dismiss the power of religion to do bad. Pat Condell points out the latter. He is controversial, but most of what he says, does make sense. You must note that the muslim immigrant population in UK differs greatly from the muslim immigrant population in the US. Muslim fundamentalism in Britain is a serious and growing issue.

  21. #21 Valhar2000
    January 19, 2009

    But there are risks, as the likes of Condell clearly demonstrate.

    Not that clearly. In fact, not in the least. It is interest that you should praise King here and excoriate Condell when in fact what they both say is so similar. But then again, what do I know, right? I’m just an intolerant atheist.

  22. #22 maureen
    January 19, 2009

    Byers,

    The book by which you set such store tells you that god created humans in his own image. There is no footnote, composed by god or anyone else, saying “but I only mean Europeans.”

    Nor do I recall anywhere in that book – I have read most of it more than once – the message that god delegated to some stray Canadian a later decision on who should or should not have the advantage of being regarded as fully human.

    I take it your various ancestors were immigrants to Canada. How come the same thinking does not apply to you?

    To repeat what has been said many times – you are a racist, you are an idiot, you are in the wrong place to deliver that very flawed message.

  23. #23 Matt Heath
    January 19, 2009

    Would it be possible to write a parody of Robert Byers that couldn’t have been written by Byers himself?

  24. #24 Liberal Atheist
    January 19, 2009

    Thanks for posting this, PZ. Very important, and every school child should have to read it.

  25. #25 Mrs Tilton
    January 19, 2009

    Matt @23,

    what you are proposing, of course, is an attempt at experimental falsification of the Poe hypothesis. So I’m afraid it’s a non-starter, because only creationists use the scientific method.

    I jest. This could be fun. Perhaps PZ will institute a monthly Competition, and make your suggestion the first one.

  26. #26 Robert
    January 19, 2009

    To the racist bigot at @19… um, you’re wrong. I’m not even American and I know that.

    Segregation was more than a simple “coloreds to the back of the bus” policy. It was a deliberate attempt to ensure that the slaves freed as a result of the Civil War could never gain the economic clout and security necessary to take up the role of citizen. It was psychological warfare played against a vulnerable minority.

    The plight of African Americans, and their economic difficulties, are not just self-inflicted. I remember a study showing how voluntary migrant Africans, never descended from slaves, don’t show the same economic problems, but follow a more typical immigrant pattern – one or two generations in the working class, bootstrapping into the middle. As a wonderful example, look at Barack Obama; although he is of African descent, he isn’t of slave descent.

    MLK stood up against massive contempt and real threats of violence (and more than threats). He showed society a mirror, reflecting the ugliness of prejudice and fear that motivated the segregation. For that, he deserves true respect.

    But more than that, MLK Day is not about honouring Martin Luther King. MLK Day is about remembering what he fought against. Prejudice and contempt are still alive in the US, particularly in the south. I’m sure that at least 10% of American voters are unhappy with their new President Elect simply because he’s black.

    If there is a God, then I hope MLK is in Heaven giving God an earful; He knows He deserves it for making most of His followers passive sheep.

  27. #27 Vronvron
    January 19, 2009

    Attention: Robert Byers @19

    Most true Canadians would NOT agree with you.

  28. #28 Ian
    January 19, 2009

    I’ve often bragged that Canada is perhaps the least racist, least xenophobic country on earth. This may well be true, but we are far from being in a position to brag, as Robert Byers has reminded us. A while back, when I was beaming with a bit too much nationalist pride, my wife called me on it. Back when she was a little Chinese-Canadian schoolgirl, she had an adult neighbor who was racist enough to have thrown stones at her. That was in the middle class suburbs of Toronto less than 20 years ago.

    PZ, thanks for honoring MLK’s memory. “I may not get there with you,” he said, and we are not there yet.

  29. #29 Vronvron (Canadian)
    January 19, 2009

    Robert Byers #19 “banned at IIDB”

    http://rantsnraves.org/showthread.php?t=7900

  30. #30 John C. Randolph
    January 19, 2009

    I would say that MLK’s greatest achievement was in keeping the civil rights movement from becoming a bloody uprising, which probably would have been crushed. There were riots when he was killed but for the most part, his supporters kept to his program of non-violent protest.

    -jcr

  31. #31 db0
    January 19, 2009

    It is always the case that the struggle from below for equality is blunted and delayed by the “leaders” from above. The people who already have it well and do not see a problem in Waiting. Strangely, just yesterday I read something very relevant by Hal Draper:

    But when dissent and opposition builds up from labor, the little people, or the minority groups frozen out of the ?affluent society? like the mass of Negroes, and there is threat of struggle and conflict, then it is the broker-role of liberalism which comes into play, to advise the concession of sops, in order to blunt the militancy of the struggle. They will plead with the dissenters to go home and disband, and depend on them, the liberals, to deliver. Of course, as soon as they are successful in breaking the militancy of the struggle, they also break the main lever which might have forced real concessions out of the real rulers. They are then sincerely regretful that they cannot Do the People Good, as they would have liked.

    One of those most basic of all social issues, then, is how the fight for immediate reforms and concessions is to be carried on: whether by dependence on ?friends of the people? and ?friends of labor? in the Establishment who chuck us under the chin; or by relying only on the independent organization of popular movements from below in oppo­sition to the Establishment. The first is the line of liberalism and all reformism; the second is the line of any genuine militant socialism. This basic line of demarcation goes right down through the ?kinds of socialism? also.

    and

    This is the fight being waged by the Negro and civil-rights move­ments for ?freedom now,? for complete equality and desegregation. In the course of this fight, white liberal-reformism has reached a new depth of disgrace and revealed its political soul. It is right and proper that ?white liberal? has become a common epithet of contempt among Negro militants. This is not a consequence of their whiteness but of their politics.

    The first and biggest fact is that only on this issue does there exist in this country a movement of militant opposition from below. We are not referring only, and not even mainly, to the established civil-rights organizations, such as the NAACP, CORE, SNCC. There is a fire which burns the insteps of the leaders of these organizations too, and makes them step lively where they might want to drag their feet: that is the fire which burns in the ranks of the Negro masses, sometimes in unorganized or semi-organized forms.

    It was only when the mass of Negro workers in Birmingham, from the lower depths of the oppressed people, erupted into spontaneous struggle that the power structure shook and trembled all over the country. Even before this, the bus-boycott movements and other mass-community fights in the South broke out outside the established organ­izational structures, though in cooperation with popular leaders like Martin Luther King. In the North and West, although the ?official? organizations have fought many valuable battles here and there, the powers-that-be have been shaken up most badly when the fight burst out of the bounds set by them and spilled out in more militant forms – sit-ins; rent strikes, school boycotts, etc.

    Now, it is true that lack of organization and leaderless spontaneity are not always a good thing; far from it. Justified frustration and despair, unguided by experienced militant leadership, have their own dangers that become visible in fruitless riots. Here comes the basic dividing line: On the one hand you have the type who responds to ?wild? rioting by saying, ?Everybody go home-off the streets.? On the other hand, you have the leader who says, ?Let?s turn this energy and enthusiasm into an organized, meaningful, demanding fight for clear objectives!?

    The spontaneous dynamism of the Birmingham demonstrations, or of semiorganized mass actions in Harlem, makes the liberal-reformists (white or Negro) blench because they mean that the Negro masses are out of control-that is, out of their control. It is indisputable that an action cannot be most effective when it is ?out of control,? but it is an even greater truth that an action cannot be effective at all when it is in control-of leaders whose conception of their duty is to restrain and dilute the fighting pressure of Negro militancy.

    If, as we said, ?white liberals? are a by-word, what about socialists? Events have been proving in this respect too what the different ?kinds of socialism? mean. The basic dividing line was drawn when, in the 1964 election campaign, a section of the civil-rights leadership declared a ?moratorium? on the struggle for equality in order not to embarrass the Democratic Party and Lyndon Johnson?s election. This surrender was made not only by the NAACP, which surprised no one, but also by right-wing socialists Bayard Rustin and Norman Hill. When CORE declined to go along with the moratorium, Hill even left the organiza­tion of which he was a leader in order to do what he considered more important: support Johnson.

    What is involved is not just tactics. In every social struggle for free­dom, the questions are raised: Whom can we rely on to achieve the new world we fight for? By what road shall we march there? Who are our allies and who are our enemies?

    This kind of case shows that reformism ranges itself besides white liberalism, when push comes to shove. As the white power structure reacts to elemental Negro militancy with fear and dismay, so these types react with fear and dismay to the fact that the white power structure so reacts; and they cry for moratoriums and restraints. Thus the hostility to Negro militancy by its enemies is transmitted by its would-be friends into the Negro movement itself, or at least into its leadership.

    They counsel: ?Don?t rock the boat; rely on us and on them, but don?t interfere with our relations with them by scaring our ?friends? with your militant struggle.? This is always the wisdom we get from the Social Brokers, who are going to Do Us Good provided we don?t inconvenience them by fighting for ourselves.

    The fact is, however, that even the gains, and tokens of gains, won by the Negro movement so far have been won decisively only insofar as these ?friends? and ?allies? became so scared and worried that they turned to their white-supremacist ?friends? and ?allies? and said: ?Look, men, if we don?t give them something, they?ll tear the walls down. Play it smart. We?ll propose to give them a pittance; you can scream blue murder. The louder you scream, the more they?ll think they?re getting something important. This way, they?ll not only stop pushing but they?ll even resign from CORE to re-elect us to office.?-This is the story of Johnson?s Civil Rights Act

    Sorry for the long quote but I thought it was worth it

  32. #32 africangenesis
    January 19, 2009

    Ramases@17,

    I had seen a couple Condell videos without realizing he was who you are talking about. So I watch several others. He seems quite harmless, not bigoted or xenophobic. He expresses his opinion of any religion that goes out of its way to limit his freedom of speech or threatens or condemns or abuses others, but seem quite content to let religion which isn’t in his face, be.

  33. #33 John C. Randolph
    January 19, 2009

    There was nothing morally wrong with southern segregation.

    That’s probably the most ridiculous thing ever posted on Pharyngula. Starting with the immorality of treating people differently based on what group you might assign them to, racial segregation deprived people of their freedom to travel, their freedom of association, their freedom to marry whom they chose, their right to defense of themselves, their families and their property, their right to petition their government for redress of grievances, and their right to vote (just to name the ones that spring to mind.)

    the election was entirely, for blacks, about colour.

    If that’s the case, then why did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do so poorly when they tried for the nomination?

    -jcr

  34. #34 mayhempix
    January 19, 2009

    It’s time to ban the white supremacist troll Robert Byers PZ.
    His ignorant hateful racist BS does not belong here.

  35. #35 Donnie B.
    January 19, 2009

    Well, wasn’t it nice of Mr. Byers to drop by and take a crap in this forum? His notions are so absurd I almost had to laugh. For instance, calling African Americans “immigrants” is a bit like referring to kidnap victims as “guests”.

    Returning to the original post, I found myself hearing the words of the “Letter” in MLK’s highly distinctive cadence and tone of voice. I don’t know if it was ever delivered as a speech (in whole or part) but it’s remarkable how well the written word conveys that unmistakable voice.

  36. #36 mayhempix
    January 19, 2009

    Great leaders like MLK mention their religious beliefs as a source of personal inspiration and moral guidance relevant to the issues at hand and never proselytize. Ghandi and Desmond Tutu are also examples. Obama is doing the same.

    They do not have to be atheists for me to respect them and support their fights for economic and social freedom.

  37. #37 Bee
    January 19, 2009

    Robert Byers, I am ashamed that you are a Canadian. You offer positive proof that creationism and religion march right alongside bigotry and insensitivity and pure ignorance.

    And very few Canadians will agree with your twisted views and beliefs, so that is an outright lie.

  38. #38 Tabby Lavalamp
    January 19, 2009

    It seems I’m not a true Canadian. Imagine my surprise. That’s not what I wanted to comment on though.

    …who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

    The irony of this jumped off my screen and slapped me on the face. A lot of women were very upset by the misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton from Democrats, upset enough to not just not vote Democrat, but to work against Obama’s campaign. What they were told again and again (when their complaints weren’t being brushed off) is to wait, their time will come and this isn’t the moment to take a stand on this issue.
    Oh, how I wish I knew of this quote then…

  39. #39 awer
    January 19, 2009

    “You offer positive proof that creationism and religion march right alongside bigotry and insensitivity and pure ignorance.”

    Did Reverend Martin Luther King jr’s religion (and possibly creationism) march right alongside bigotry and insensitivity and pure ignorance?

  40. #40 Joel
    January 19, 2009

    What they were told again and again (when their complaints weren’t being brushed off) is to wait, their time will come and this isn’t the moment to take a stand on this issue.

    Yes, and gay men and women are standing in line waiting also. Waiting for their opportunity to serve in the military, because Barack Obama doesn’t think it’s time. Waiting to marry, because Barack Obama personally doesn’t agree with their right to marry.

  41. #41 Joel
    January 19, 2009

    Did Reverend Martin Luther King jr’s religion (and possibly creationism) march right alongside bigotry and insensitivity and pure ignorance?

    Being a Christian, there is a good chance it did.

  42. #42 Holbach
    January 19, 2009

    Could a god have prevented slavery from ever happening? Was the slaver more powerful than this god? Can blatant reality be ever more obvious throughout the course of human history? Will there ever be a time when religion is seen and understood for what it truly is? Will these strickened minds ever come to their senses? Human history unfortunately, not only repeats itself but repeats its mistakes. As long as religion is used to guide the behavior and thoughts of humans there will be misery and enslavement of the mind as well as the body. Can such a condition ever be so simpple to understand?

  43. #43 Matt Heath
    January 19, 2009

    On the subject of “stuff you American types should be proud of”, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing “This Land is Your Land” with the “sign” and “relief office” verses intact at the Obama inauguration shindig= purest win.

  44. #44 awer
    January 19, 2009

    “As long as religion is used to guide the behavior and thoughts of humans there will be misery and enslavement of the mind as well as the body.”

    Partly true, but far from the full story. You could say the human mind is wired to enslave itself and there is an inner drive for a man to identify with a higher cause and belong to a group that shares the cause.

    Marxism is a good example. Global warming is developing similar traits to some. I don’t say we shouldn’t take environmental threats seriously, as obviously we must, but you got people who adopt all the extreme positions, know nothing about the science, and rely fully on their chosen authorities, and react with fury towards people they view as heretics.

  45. #45 Interrobang
    January 19, 2009

    Martin Luther King confuses me, but all African-American Christians confuse me. King speaks of repudiating Christianity as though it is a bad thing. Why anyone would voluntarily remain adherent to the religion that was forced upon their ancestors by the people who had enslaved them is beyond me.

    On the other hand, I’m Canadian and I come from a culture that didn’t have a lot of the same institutionalised racism as the US did — slavery was outlawed here long before Confederation (and most of the slaves here were Native anyway!), and we didn’t have legal segregation. While I’ve heard rumours of covenant deeds in Canada, I’ve never heard of a sundown town. I also, for posterity, think Robert Byers is a toxic nit who needs to take a long walk off a short pier before Canada’s immigration policy causes him to snap and do something else unfortunate.

  46. #46 LotharLoo
    January 19, 2009

    Robert Byers

    There was nothing morally wrong with southern segregation.

    Hahaha, I bet every time Byers looks at Barack Obama he is infuriated with rage.

    Look little incompetent fuck, we all know you live with your parents and no girl is willing to go within a mile of you because of the stench, but we already had enough of your foul odour too so go away and post at your american renaissance forums with the rest of your half-wit racist community.

  47. #47 DaveX
    January 19, 2009

    There are many, many amazing speeches (written transcripts and actual audio) at the American Rhetoric site.

    In truth, I hesitate to do a 1:1 comparison between racial discrimination and the discrimination we often experience as atheists, though there are passages in MLK’s “Letter” that seem appropriate.

    I think a lot of us could find much more of interest in Malcolm X’s “Ballot or the Bullet” speech:

    “Islam is my religion, but I believe my religion is my personal business. It governs my personal life, my personal morals. And my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe; just as the religious philosophy of these others is between them and the God in whom they believe. And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we?d have too many differences from the outstart and we could never get together. So today, though Islam is my religious philosophy, my political, economic, and social philosophy is Black Nationalism. You and I — As I say, if we bring up religion we?ll have differences; we?ll have arguments; and we?ll never be able to get together. But if we keep our religion at home, keep our religion in the closet, keep our religion between ourselves and our God, but when we come out here, we have a fight that?s common to all of us against a [sic] enemy who is common to all of us.”

  48. #48 Joel
    January 19, 2009

    On the subject of “stuff you American types should be proud of”, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing “This Land is Your Land” with the “sign” and “relief office” verses intact at the Obama inauguration shindig= purest win.

    Maybe not so proud.

    No Bishop Gene Robinson On HBO Inaugural Concert Broadcast

    After days of controversy and outrage from the religious right, openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson opened Barack Obama’s inauguration concert on the National Mall today with a request that the nation pray for “understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah.”

    But only the people AT the concert heard that, because HBO did not televise Robinson’s message. Who engineered this blackout of Robinson? I suspect we’ll hear lots about this in days to come.

    UPDATE: It turns out that a lot the people at the concert did NOT hear Robinson either. There were sound “difficulties” and most of the estimated 500,000 in the audience could not hear his invocation. Only those very close to the stage could hear.

    UPDATE II: The 7PM rebroadcast of the show was identical, no Gene Robinson.

    UPDATE III: The full text of Robinson’s prayer is here. If you’d like to express your unhappiness to HBO, you can do that here. My gut tells me the call was made elsewhere.

    UPDATE IV: AfterElton.com has spoken to HBO, who says the decision to cut Robinson was made by the Obama transition team.

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2009/01/no-bishop-gene-robinson-on-hbo.html

    This land is your land, this land is your land…

  49. #49 awer
    January 19, 2009

    The great Frederick Douglass King’s predecessor in the fight for freedom and equality was an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He witnessed first hand the brutality of the Southern slave owners, which he described in his book Narrative of the life of an American slave. And he knew they used the Bible to justify the oppression and brutality. And he was a very intelligent man. And he drew strenght from his Christian faith.

  50. #50 Badjuggler
    January 19, 2009

    Every MLK Day I am forced to remember waking up in north Minneapolis the day after his assassination in 1968 to find a jeep with armed National Guardsmen sitting in it parked in front of my house. That is a powerful memory for an eight year old white kid growing up in a multi-racial neighborhood. He was an amazing man who left a powerful legacy.

  51. #51 michel
    January 19, 2009

    robert byers is probably one of the folks from stormfront, send by john buford.

    pz warned us that the comments would be illiterate.

  52. #52 Eamon Knight
    January 19, 2009

    I’m the Toronto-born, blue-eyed son of English immigrants, raised in lily-white (unless the few Jewish families on my street constitute a disqualifier?) Don Mills during the 60s. If I’m not a True Canadian, then no one is. And I say Robert Byers can go fuck himself. Sideways. With something that has sharp corners.

  53. #53 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 19, 2009

    A lot of women were very upset by the misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton from Democrats

    And a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters accused anyone who didn’t support her of misogyny. Some people in both camps were too zealous and took it way too personal for my tastes. I developed a preference eventually, but would have voted for either candidate in the general election.

    upset enough to not just not vote Democrat, but to work against Obama’s campaign.

    Yes, they decided that their hurt feelings were more important than the Democratic Party or the nation as a whole. They decided to lash out at Obama for things he didn’t do, apparently deciding that a man like John McCain, who dumped his first wife unceremoniously and calls his current wife a “cunt” in public, would be better for women and for America.

    What they were told again and again (when their complaints weren’t being brushed off) is to wait, their time will come and this isn’t the moment to take a stand on this issue.

    What issue, exactly? Nobody that I know of asked Clinton to concede because she was a woman, they begged her to concede because she lost, and her efforts to change the rules of the primary after she’d lost were damaging the campaign against McCain. Clinton eventually did the right thing and conceded, and many of her so-called supporters turned against her for it.

  54. #54 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 19, 2009

    Waiting to marry, because Barack Obama personally doesn’t agree with their right to marry.

    Ah, yes. I remember the fateful day when Barack Obama personally outlawed gay marriage across the entire United States.

  55. #55 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    MLK definitely knew how to turn a good phrase. His eloquence still resonates today.
    I remember growing up in the fifties. Even in the north defacto segregation was the norm. It’s easy to just pick up on those influences. When I was a teenager, my family took a trip to Florida to visit the tourist traps. On the way back we stopped for a bathroom break in a small town, and used the restrooms in the local department store. I saw the allegedly “separate but equal” drinking fountains, which were separate but definitely not equal. That started me thinking, if they lie about that, what else will they lie about? This was about the time I was reading the bible and finding it a horrid book. Too many lies to deal with. Meanwhile I also been reading some of Asimov’s popular science books. The need for being honest in science was a big draw. So this meant unlearning a lot of the early prejudices that were subtlely taught by the society of the time. In the last election I voted against my incumbent state rep. since I consider him an incompetent scumbag, and for the man I considered the best presidential candidate. Both have dark skin. It has been a journey.

  56. #56 michel
    January 19, 2009

    @ #17: “In that regard I think it shows we should keep our atheist senses of superiority in check a bit.”

    you talk as if atheism is just another belief system. it is not. it’s a position on one single issue.

    atheists are part of a bigger group of people who think that to live together, we should communicate in terms we can all understand. and, as the text from malcolm x above shows, those people can also be religious.

    ending religion is not the goal of these people. and it’s not pat condell’s goal either. all they say is that religion should be private. people shouldn’t let the conversation they have with god come in the way of the conversation they have with fellow men.

    it’s not about superiority, it’s about living together as well as possible.

  57. #57 FastLane
    January 19, 2009

    I particularly liked this bit:

    An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.

    I’d like to give a copy of this paragraph to everyone, regardless of race, who voted for any of the various anti-gay amendments and laws around the country.

    Thanks for the link, PZ. I had never read all of the letter before.

    And happy MLK day.

  58. #58 Jag
    January 19, 2009

    awer@#49,

    A few posts have questioned why so many Black Americans were drawn to Christianity, since it was the religion of their oppressors.

    Christianity was and is successful because it is based on the poor suffering on earth while waiting for just rewards in heaven. It’s a friggin brilliant and insidious concept. The greatest of all scams.

    It is easy understand why it was so readily adopted by Black slaves in this country during their enslavment.

  59. #59 Endor
    January 19, 2009

    “Nobody that I know of asked Clinton to concede because she was a woman, they begged her to concede because she lost, ”

    The operative phrase being “that I know of”. If you’d have spent a little time on blogs that openly supported Clinton, you would have seen it. Millions of times.

    And, since the calls for her to conceded start at the start of the primary season and continued throughout, despite there being no clear winner and despite her still receiving millions and millions of votes, one cannot honestly say that misogyny (and Clinton Derangement Syndrome) wasn’t the motivator.

    I say this as an Obama supporter from the start. It was because she is a woman and it’s not women’s “turn”. Back of line with the gays!

  60. #60 marilove
    January 19, 2009

    “they were the immigrants and it was a gift to be in the americans country despite being forced.”

    oh, that’s special. We enslave AN ENTIRE PEOPLE, and all you have to say is that “it was a gift to be in the americans country despite being forced.”?!

    Oh, because we are such a gift to the world. *eye roll* What a pompous, idiotic ass you are.

  61. #61 iRobot
    January 19, 2009

    Rameses: The most important thing to fight for is human equality. Everyone needs to fight for it, no matter if they are theistic or not. That’s what the founders were on to. Everyone is equal before the law and no religions should be given priority. This will generate a society where everyone is safe and free to believe and do what they consider important. With out that society will degenerate into a violent, theocratic wasteland as imagined by the Sarah Palin’s of the world.
    The wolves of darkness will always be prowling outside of the firelight. We need to be eternally on our guard against them.

  62. #62 Feynmaniac
    January 19, 2009

    michel,

    robert byers is probably one of the folks from stormfront, send by john buford.
    pz warned us that the comments would be illiterate.

    Actually Byers has been posting his incoherent racist rants here for months now. As a Canadian I cringe everytime I see him start “from Canada”. I tried to get him to say “from Australia” but the only thing that accomplish was to anger a few Aussies here.

    Why PZ hasn’t sent this fool to the dungeon yet I don’t know. Byers should just go over to Stormfront where he might actually be welcomed. Or perhaps David Duke is afraid he’ll manage gain support and take over the place.

  63. #63 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 19, 2009

    If you’d have spent a little time on blogs that openly supported Clinton

    I was a regular reader of Salon and Americablog, among others, so I’ve followed some of the bigger sites supporting both candidates, and I saw plenty of venom from both sides.

    you would have seen it. Millions of times.

    Millions of times? Really? Or was it the same few dozen people saying it over and over? That’s what I saw.

    And, since the calls for her to conceded start at the start of the primary season and continued throughout, despite there being no clear winner and despite her still receiving millions and millions of votes, one cannot honestly say that misogyny (and Clinton Derangement Syndrome) wasn’t the motivator.

    The calls for Obama to drop out started just as early, when Clinton was still considered the inevitable candidate, and went on just as long, even after there was a clear winner and well after Obama had become the official nominee. I won’t go so far as to call those people racists, though, because there were legitimate reasons to be concerned about Obama’s electability, just as there were to be concerned about Clinton’s.

    *shrugs*

    You know what? I didn’t give a damn about the zealots on either side. I was watching the candidates, not the screechers in both camps. Anyone who judges a person by their most insane fans rather than on their own merits has massively screwed up priorities, as far as I’m concerned.

    Both Clinton and Obama are far too moderate and eager to capitulate to the Republicans in the name of “bipartisanship” for my tastes, but either one was vastly better than McCain/Palin.

  64. #64 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 19, 2009

    I apologize for getting all serious and long-winded, and will now return to making my usual sarcastic comments and poop jokes.

  65. #65 The Observer
    January 19, 2009

    #61

    The Founders didn’t share your belief in racial equality. They only sought to replace a monarchial order with a republican one.

  66. #66 PZ Myers
    January 19, 2009

    With that revolting comment, Robert Byers has earned himself a niche in the dungeon. One that’s dark and damp and windowless, with rats.

  67. #67 Ward S. Denker
    January 19, 2009

    And Libertarians take something away from Letter From a Birmingham Jail too.

  68. #68 kermit
    January 19, 2009

    Byers “The blacks were a immigrant people who simply were post civil war not given full immigrant rights.”

    Jesus, Byers! Do you expect sane people to take you seriously when you spout idiocies like this? Yes, I would consider being kidnapped, chained in a ship with vomit and crap for months, sold into slavery, raped, having a thumb cut off if they found you practicing writing, or half a foot cut off for trying to run… “not full immigrant rights”. WWII German POWs in US prison camps were sometimes taken into town for dinner at restaurants that wouldn’t allow black servicemen to enter. Verbal accusations were enough to get a man (or boy) lynched as late as the 1950s in the US south.

    When I find out who’s been pissing in my genepool, I swear there’s gonna be an accounting…

  69. #69 Tabby Lavalamp
    January 19, 2009

    Naked Bunny With a Whip, you can click on the link I’ve added to my name to a blog that did a great job documenting the misogyny if you want to go back and read her archives (and she ended up voting Green, for the record). Also…

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2004041541_hillaryslurs29.html

    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3407

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/25/keith-olbermanns-idea-for_n_98557.html

    http://blog.julieandcompany.com/2008/05/from-todays-washington-post-misogyny-i.html

    The misogyny was palpable and a very valid reason for anger. I’m not denying Clinton made mistakes, but to discount the sexism from so-called “progressives” on top of that from conservatives doesn’t help to heal the divide.

    Did Obama himself contribute? He certainly didn’t speak out against it, or ask that songs like “99 Problems” not be played at his rallies. He’s not helping now by not having Rick Warren at his inauguration. I keep hearing about Warren’s homophobia, but little is said about his belief that women are to submit to men. Then there is Obama’s habit of calling adult women “sweetie”, not a particular sign of respect, or that he thought it was appropriate for him to go with his wife to her job interview to check out her potential boss.

    But now wasn’t the time to speak up on any of this. This election was too important! Just be patient, ladies, your time will come!
    Ah, if only I had that quote every time I read patronizing crap like that.

  70. #70 The Observer
    January 19, 2009

    #17

    Where do “human rights” come from?

  71. #71 Joel
    January 19, 2009

    Naked Bunny with a Whip, have you forgotten all the good people labeled racist by the Obama camp during the campaign? Of course you have.

    Just FYI, I’ve never been an Obama supporter, it’s hard to support someone who personally doesn’t beleive in me.

  72. #72 Tom
    January 19, 2009

    Unfortunately, all I can think of when I hear MLK is his plagiarized doctoral thesis.

  73. #73 KI
    January 19, 2009

    Many people didn’t support Sen. Clinton because she is a lying opportunistic hypocritical bullshit artist, not because of her gender. Pro-war, Monsanto board member, lawyer, need I say more?

  74. #74 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Ah, the Observer is back, showing a low IQ with his inane posts. After all, human rights come from humans as god doesn’t exist. What a dunce.

  75. #75 Feynmaniac
    January 19, 2009

    PZ,

    With that revolting comment, Robert Byers has earned himself a niche in the dungeon.

    Woo hoo! All of Canada is cheering!

  76. #76 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Woo hoo! All of Canada is cheering!

    And some of your American colleagues too! Woot!

  77. #77 CosmicTeapot
    January 19, 2009

    “And some of your American colleagues too!”

    Here in Germany, I’ll raise a glass too.

    Good riddance Bobby Bubba Byers.

  78. #78 The Observer
    January 19, 2009

    Nerd,

    Are you suggesting that “human rights” are little more than fashionable social conventions? That’s my position.

  79. #79 The Observer
    January 19, 2009

    Tom,

    The Reverend MLK also engaged in serial adultery. This was exposed by his close associate Ralph Abernathy in his book. As for James Bevel, he was a child molestor.

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

  80. #80 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Observer,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights

    Do have have anything of substance to offer other than the trash talk that makes you look illiterate? If not, go away.

  81. #81 marilove
    January 19, 2009

    The Observer, MLK’s sexual history has nothing at all to do with his political history.

    Period.

  82. #82 Mrs Tilton
    January 19, 2009

    Tom @71,

    Unfortunately, all I can think of when I hear MLK is his plagiarized doctoral thesis

    Yes, that is unfortunate.

    It’s unfortunate for you, that is, that the unceasing din of goosesteps in what passes for your mind drowns out the words of, e.g., King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I’d be inclined to dismiss you as a festering dickhead, but then I recall that we should take pity on the handicapped, so instead I’ll dismiss you as a pitiable festering dickhead.

    Hey, PZ, as long as you’ve opened the dungeon to fling Byers in, how about sticking his fellow howler monkeys Tom and the Observer in as well?

  83. #83 Quatguy
    January 19, 2009

    @#72

    I am with you. Her gender had little or nothing to do with her downfall. She can only blame herself (she is who she is), her hubby (major baggage) Mark Penn and her other campaign manager (can’t remember her name) who where incompetent.

    More on topic, MLK was a great man and we are all better for his presence.

  84. #84 The Observer
    January 19, 2009

    MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech was mere rhetoric. King himself was a supporter of racial quotas. He was entirely favor in judging others based on the color of their skin.

  85. #85 Etha Williams, OM
    January 19, 2009

    Also worth reading: Martin Luther King’s Radical Legacy

    First paragraph:

    Ernest Hemingway once wrote that “the dignity … of an iceberg is due to only one eighth of it being above water,” while the rest temains submerged, unavailable to the naked eye. Something of the same might be said for Martin Luther King Jr. Though there are a number of reasons why we should all be grateful for the federal holiday each January honoring the birth of King, we should also recognize that this event helps to promote a shallow understanding of his true intellectual legacy, leading to a misconstrued image of King that he scarcely could have endorsed himself.

    (Hello all…)

  86. #86 Rynaldo
    January 19, 2009

    From another part of Canada, possibly on a different planet:
    Where in my country did that odious Robert Byers grow up (and I use the term loosely)? All of my life I’ve been surrounded by diversity, multiculteralism, and the endless patchwork that makes up this corner of Canada. I love the fact that I can travel around the world using the subway.
    The dungeon is an appropriate place for Mr. Byers and I sincerely hope he represents only a tiny percentage of Canadians. It’s only called the “Great White North” because of all the flippin’ snow and I hope that an understanding or our common humanity will continue to grow until equality is a reality not just an ideal.

  87. #87 The Observer
    January 19, 2009

    Nerd,

    I can declare that I have a “right” to a harem of beautiful women. It would still be nothing more than an empty, baseless, arbitrary assertion. “Human rights” are nothing more than social conventions backed up by force.

  88. #88 marilove
    January 19, 2009

    MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech was mere rhetoric. King himself was a supporter of racial quotas. He was entirely favor in judging others based on the color of their skin.

    Sources and citations, please?

    “Human rights” are nothing more than social conventions backed up by force.

    Aaw. So you’re a LOLbertarian, then? That explains it all.

  89. #89 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 19, 2009

    Bye Bye Observer.

  90. #90 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Observer, (obscene hand wave bye) so long.

  91. #91 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 19, 2009

    Naked Bunny with a Whip, have you forgotten all the good people labeled racist by the Obama camp during the campaign? Of course you have.

    Of course I remember them. Try not to be so stupid. Some of them were racists, just as some anti-Clinton people were misogynists. Who gives a shit? Those people weren’t running for office, nor do they have either candidate’s ear.

    I’ve never been an Obama supporter, it’s hard to support someone who personally doesn’t beleive in me.

    I don’t really care. You’re obviously poorly informed about Obama’s views regarding gay marriage and don’t understand that a gay-friendly candidate has to get elected before he can actually do anything to help you.

  92. #92 BC
    January 19, 2009

    Last year at this time, MSNBC.com put videos of appearances by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Meet the Press when Lawrence Spivak was moderator and there were about 3 other reporters/columnists doing the questioning. If MSNBC has that feature this year, I highly recommend it, since it basically has Dr. King answering questions on the fly. Some of the questions are the same as he answered in Letters from a Birmingham Jail and it is uplifting to hear him use those words. Another thing: you realize what a racist a society we were at that time.

  93. #93 Angel Kaida
    January 19, 2009

    Happy Monkey on Byers’s banishing. Reading that post made my heart hurt. It’s hard to bring yourself to acknowledge that disgusting people like this still exist.

    marilove,
    As a libertarian, I find Observer’s comment there to be antithetical to my ethical positions, so no, that doesn’t explain it all. Despite my opposition to his statement, I’d still be interested in hearing an actual refutation, instead of an ad hominem argument based on his perceived political views. So far, it seems to me to be a valid way of looking at things – it doesn’t mangle observable reality, and it isn’t illogical or based on delusional premises. Could you prove me wrong? I’d much prefer it if such arguments were invalid, because I don’t like them.

  94. #94 pauly
    January 19, 2009

    MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech was mere rhetoric. King himself was a supporter of racial quotas. He was entirely favor in judging others based on the color of their skin.

    I would call this sophistry, but it doesn’t even sound intelligent. It’s true that Dr. King did support aggressive affirmative action policies – as did practically everyone supportive of the civil rights movement, from Lyndon Johnson, who famously declared that “freedom is not enough” to more militant figures like James Baldwin (see Nancy MacLean’s brilliant history of affirmative action and the CRM “Freedom is Not Enough”). That AA has been written out of the movement’s history is a political intervention by the right wing, who want to forget that they were on the wrong side.

    Supporting affirmative action in no way entails judging someone by the color of their skin. To judge that it is worth promoting the fuller integration of oppressed peoples into American society does not reflect a judgment on either their abilities or the abilities of Americans whose ancestors were fortunate enough to be white.

  95. #95 Blake Stacey
    January 19, 2009

    “Human rights” are nothing more than social conventions backed up by force.

    Often, they don’t even have the support of force, as the force in question is on the side of those who wish to take rights away.

    That does not make them less valuable.

  96. #96 Still Observing
    January 19, 2009

    marilove,

    MLK was a supporter of racial quotas. This is acknowledged by his biographers and historians of the Civil Rights Movement.

    pauly,

    AA entails judging others by the color of their skin. It means discriminating on the basis of racial characteristics to reward members of one race instead of another. I wouldn’t say that MLK’s support for AA makes him a hypocrite.

    King simply used the lofty rhetoric of colorblindness to advance the interests of his race. When it no longer suited him, MLK and his followers dispensed with it.

    Blake,

    Who decides which “rights” are valuable and which are not?

  97. #97 dlw
    January 19, 2009

    Orthogonality is at root a geometric concept.

    Faith is not a matter of Geometry, but an evolutionary adaptive thing. The perceptions of science and faith as at war with each other are a byproduct of our specific history, nothing more nothing less. Please don’t associate them w. a commitment to the instrumental use of reason for inquiry/communication.

    dlw

  98. #98 rnb
    January 19, 2009

    It has always seemed quite hypocritical to me to condemn AA as racial discrimination while ignoring other racial discrimination that was ongoing at the same time.

  99. #99 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 19, 2009

    MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech was mere rhetoric. King himself was a supporter of racial quotas. He was entirely favor in judging others based on the color of their skin.

    Sure that makes sense if you myopically ignore the state of the Union at the time and the oppression being dealt to minorities.

  100. #100 pauly
    January 19, 2009

    AA entails judging others by the color of their skin. It means discriminating on the basis of racial characteristics to reward members of one race instead of another.

    No it bloody well doesn’t. A racist who refuses to hire Black people does so because he judges African Americans to be less than human. A boss who is committed to workplace diversity hires people of color in some instances rather than equally qualified white people because he seeks to rectify a historic injustice. Recognizing that someone has suffered oppression based on their skin color is hardly the same as judging someone on the basis of racial characteristics. Nowhere does AA necessitate any judgment about the qualities of any person’s race.

  101. #101 EB
    January 19, 2009

    >”Human rights” are nothing more than social conventions >backed up by force.

    Blake Stacey, I was just about to post something similar to your response.

    To support your argument – yes Human rights are a social idea (actually as a would be sociologist I would say norm, but hey), but a lot of things in the world are just ideas that have become embedded in culture and are enacted in our daily life. That doesn’t make them bad.

    A lot of culture is “real” because we take it for granted. We give our norms and values a priori status and act as if they are real.

    To quote Terry Pratchett in Hog Father – “Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.”

    As someone in a research group which studies the spread of human rights (and its carriers) at the international level, HR is spread more by true believers than by force.

  102. #102 marilove
    January 19, 2009

    I was being more than a little facetious, Angel Kaida, but, and I quote:

    “Human rights” are nothing more than social conventions backed up by force.

    I took from that, and his other comments, that he is implying that humans are responsible for themselves, period, across the board, and that “human rights” are silly and not needed.

    This is a very, very simplified version of Libertarianism. That is, an idiot’s simplistic view of how the world should or does work. You, yourself, might have many libertarianism views and ideals, but something tells me you still believe in the concept of “human rights” — and so, I’d call you and others like you rational libertarians, or perhaps liberal libertarians. I do think Libertarianism isn’t all that rational when you look at it simply (as The Observer so kindly demonstrated), but most intelligent people don’t think in such simplified terms (that libertarianism sometimes asks for; I think that anyone who thinks 100% libertarianism would ever work is pretty much kidding themselves).

  103. #103 marilove
    January 19, 2009

    MLK was a supporter of racial quotas. This is acknowledged by his biographers and historians of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Please see Pauly. You have no idea what AA actually entails, but racists rarely do.

  104. #104 Angie Fran
    January 19, 2009

    One of King’s most central legacies often ignored in holiday remembrances is his stance against global poverty and his encouragement for all Americans to learn about and combat it.

    Download a free 2-page inspirational flyer about Martin Luther King Jr. and what he fought for in this exact regard here:

    http://tinyurl.com/KingFlyer

    Think about the global poverty statistics included in the flyer – those in King’s time – and those in the present – and get that information to others. This would certainly be an excellent way at both honoring King’s vision, and opening your own and others’ eyes to the currently still dreadful state of humanity.

    **Can you take to heart the words King spoke just 4 days before he was gunned down? That’s what this flyer will ask you. Take the King Challenge – in his own words – and see.

    You can also get the flyer by emailing the author at Angie@WhatNewsShouldBe.org

    http://www.WhatNewsShouldBe.org

  105. #105 teammarty
    January 19, 2009

    The comments on Pat Condell made me look him up. I’ve been on his site and I think he’s funny. And right on too.

    We need more Pat Condells and less of the “if we dare stand up for ourselves we might step on some toes so we better start praying so our neighbors think we’re Real Americans” types.

  106. #106 Frank
    January 19, 2009

    I find it most interesting that the Letter was written to a group of clergymen. This gives the lie to the statement promulgated by various religionists that the Civil Rights movement had a religious foundation. Its activists came from many groups, including nonbelievers – for example, Andrew Goodman.

  107. #107 Angel Kaida
    January 19, 2009

    marilove,
    Thanks for the response, and for a new word! I was thinking about it and actually decided to start calling Idiot Libertarians “LOLbertarians” from now on. Plus, I see what you’re saying about what TO said; it’s pretty clear to me now that his statement was pointless and simplistic.

  108. #108 likkledrummabwoi
    January 19, 2009

    dear mr byers

    if it was such a “gift to be in the americans country despite being forced”, you can keep your presents from now on.

  109. #109 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 19, 2009

    1.) Liberals claim that racial discrimination is immoral.
    2.) But in the case of AA, liberals support racial discrimination.

    Strawman and a great display of your willful ignorance of the history of the country.

    3.) Liberals claim that “race doesn’t exist.”
    4.) But liberals continue to make racial distinctions in everyday life.

    Biology vs. cultural distinctions.

    5.) Liberals say that racial consciousness is evil.
    6.) But liberals have no objection to racially conscious negroes.

    More strawmen arguments with an extra helping of your racial idiocy

    7.) Liberals demonize racial pride.
    8.) But liberals celebrate racial pride amongst blacks.

    More strawmen again and a short sighted view point based on the fact that an oppressed group needs to assert themselves after centuries of oppression. White pride isn’t about white pride but about putting down other people.

  110. #110 Qwerty
    January 19, 2009

    Rev. BDC – I am sure that StillObserving also has straight pride.

  111. #111 Teleprompter
    January 19, 2009

    Kl @ #72 said:

    “Many people didn’t support Sen. Clinton because she is a lying opportunistic hypocritical bullshit artist, not because of her gender.”

    Hear, hear! Excellent point. I agree with you.

    And as for all those who think Pat Condell is “strident” or a “racist” or “xenophobic”, that is definitely not accurate. Pat Condell is very funny and often right on target in describing the crazy things people do in the name of religion. He is less intolerant of religion than an avowed opponent of intolerance which stems from extremist religion.

  112. #112 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Still Observing = Observer. Should be banned. Same old stupid shit. And he knows it.

  113. #113 Stygian Lamprey
    January 19, 2009

    @ Robert Byers, Tom, Observer/Still Observing–

    I just took a wet, nutty dump in David Duke’s mailbox.

    Happy Monkey, motherfuckers.

  114. #114 Escuerd
    January 19, 2009

    dlw @ #96:

    Orthogonality is at root a geometric concept.

    Oh, don’t be so obtuse.

    Orthogonal in this sense means that there’s no logical dependence between the two. It’s analogous to two orthogonal vectors being linearly independent.

    Faith is not a matter of Geometry, but an evolutionary adaptive thing. The perceptions of science and faith as at war with each other are a byproduct of our specific history, nothing more nothing less.

    I don’t buy that. Faith can be restricted to a domain disjoint with that of the scientifically observable, but in practice this only seems to happen when science has shown specific faith-based beliefs to be wrong.

    It’s more of a historical accident when they don’t conflict.

    And it’s still not clear why faith ought to be considered a virtue at all.

  115. #115 Escuerd
    January 19, 2009

    Granted, I don’t see anywhere where you indicated that faith was a virtue, so that last sentence didn’t belong.

  116. #116 'Tis Himself
    January 19, 2009

    “Human rights” are nothing more than social conventions backed up by force.

    Leaving aside the simplistic libertarianism, there’s something else to consider about this statement.

    In Eric Flint & Virginia DeMarce’s 1635: The Dreeson Incident a modern American is speaking to a 17th Century Shepardic Jew:

    “I’ve seen it happen in my own lifetime. Well…most of it actually happened when I was still a kid, or hadn’t even been born yet. Americans don’t like to talk about it now, but the truth is that there were as lynchings of black people in America in our not-so-distant past as there as lynchings of Jews and so-called ‘witches’ in Germany in the here and now. Yet by the time I was an adult, the lynchings were over. In a few short years, a social habit and custom that had lasted for centuries and had seemed as deeply ingrained as any had just vanished.”

    He swiveled his head and gave Francisco a fierce, hawkish look. “And you want to know how it was done? Forget all that vague twaddle about changes in so-called ‘social consciousness.’ Yeah sure, those changed did happen and they were both real and important. But it’s what lay beneath them and anchored them solidly that really counted–and that was as crude and simple as it gets.”

    He transferred the hawk glaze to the river. “There was a time in America when you could lynch a black man with impunity. And then the time came when if you did so, you would get your ass handed to you. Often enough, by a black man wearing a badge and carrying a gun.”

    His smile manged to be wry and savage at the same time. “It’s amazing, Francisco, how quickly ‘deeply ingrained attitudes’ will change–when the consequences of not changing are so immediate and obvious and detrimental to your health and well-being. Oh, yeah. It’s really amazing how fast that can happen.”

    I’m 60 and in my lifetime I’ve seen racial discrimination become not only illegal but also socially unacceptable. There are still racists around, viz. Robert Byers and the various Observers. But racism has become intolerable to mainstream Westerners, as the reaction to Byers and Observer shows.

    Note: I’m not going to explain how a modern American ends up discussing things with a 17th Century Jew. If you’re interested, Google “Flint 1632″.

  117. #117 Laser Potato
    January 19, 2009

    So Observer, still think racism didn’t exist as a social problem until it was defined?

  118. #118 Silver Fox
    January 19, 2009

    “His power did not come from his religion, but from the righteousness of his cause, and it’s unfortunate that he did not see that.”

    He didn’t see it because for him it didn’t exist. He saw the righteousness of his cause as rooted in his “God-given rights”. He saw his church as the “body of Christ” and was scandalized by the sacreligious manner in which that body was being abused. He had the faith of a son and grandson of ministers of the “Body”. He had accepted that faith and exercised it in the cause of justice. The righteousness of his cause was not rooted in social equality but rather social equality for him was rooted in the inalienable rights which derived from the fact that he and all of his brothers and sisters were made in the image and likeness of their God. The churches were not protecting those right and this proved a source of extreme disappointment for him.

    If you are going to honor Dr. King, then honor him for what he clearly believed and not try to re-write the passion of his convictions.

  119. #119 Kendo
    January 19, 2009

    What a deliciously ambiguous word is “observer”, in this context. It can mean both one who observes reality as a scientist does, or it can mean one who slavishly follows a doctrine not fully understood, like an acolyte observing his vows. I peg our observer as being in the latter camp, given his refusal to observe the clear refutations of nonsense.

    Observer, in order to support your position, you seem to need mendacious equivocation with respect to ambiguous and controversial terms like “race” and “discrimination”. Judging by my own survey of the comments at Pharyngula, I’m almost certain that most people here see through your nonsense. How is it that you yourself do not observe that?

  120. #120 Laser Potato
    January 19, 2009

    Translation: “I got nuthin.”

  121. #121 'Tis Himself
    January 19, 2009

    You are a curiosity to me.

    That’s because we’re rational and intelligent. That’s a couple of qualifications you’re unfamiliar with.

  122. #122 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Ahh, what’s the matter Observer, your lack of anything resembling intelligence or good sense coming under attack? For us to respect you, you must show both. Apologies for your behavior the last few days would be a start.

  123. #123 'Tis Himself
    January 19, 2009

    I don’t believe in “equality.” At least not the way you believe in racism and inequality. The equality I want is “legal equality.” Everyone is equal under the law.

    I know that people aren’t equal. Some are smarter, some are less smart, some are taller, some are shorter, some more athletic, some not as much, etc., etc., etc. However, the only thing that should keep anyone from going into a restaurant and having a meal is the ability to pay for the meal. The only thing that should send a defendant to jail is being found guilty at a trial, not whether the defendant is black, white, or polka-dotted.

  124. #124 Feynmaniac
    January 19, 2009

    Observer,

    You have condemned to the dungeon. Accept your fate and return there.

    My advice: pick a fight with the biggest kook there (really hard to say who exactly that is). Also, you might be interested to know that the dungeon’s white supremacist prison gang, the Crazy Byers, is recruiting.

  125. #125 Steve_C
    January 19, 2009

    Fuck you Observer you warped ignorant p.o.s.

  126. #126 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    At least Byers was vaguely entertaining, albeit in a barely coherent way. Still, I can’t abide racists so it’s a good thing in that regard.

    As for the Observer, well, he’s still harping on about what happened in 1936; as I mentioned once before that’s probably an indication of his mindset – for him and his ilk those really were the ‘good old days’.

    He won’t be missed.

  127. #127 Blake Stacey
    January 19, 2009

    Ah, the tiresome, morphing troll, ceaselessly iterating to progress toward the perfection of fractal wrongness. It would be sad, if it weren’t so amusing.

  128. #128 Steve_C
    January 19, 2009

    People still celebrate that loser? Poor sods.

  129. #129 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    I just love the ignorant who aren’t afraid to it to the world. One would think that they would want to show the world they are more than slime mold though.

  130. #130 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Observer, you can observe from afar. May I suggest the middle east. Be sure to bring a few bibles to hawk.

  131. #131 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    Man, it must suck to be a racist right now. The heads must just be exploding around the moonshine stills and the bedrooms shared by first cousins.

    When the inauguration’s on I think PZ should close the site down for a few hours – otherwise we’ll be giving these members of the ‘master race’ an excuse to be somewhere other than where they can observe one of their so-called ‘inferiors’ being sworn in as President of the USA.

  132. #132 Steve_C
    January 19, 2009

    You’re an asshole. Most of us agree.

  133. #133 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 19, 2009

    Asshole farted;

    Personally, I don’t believe in equality either. I believe in difference.

    As long as it is not the asshole’s ass being kicked.

  134. #134 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Ahh, he as a degree. I have three of them asswipe, so that makes me three times smarter than you. Time to trundle of to the racist bar of your choice, just somewhere other than here

  135. #135 Blake Stacey
    January 19, 2009

    Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your ability to keep your education so thoroughly obscured, letting nary a photon of your light escape your bushel. Verily, this is a difficult skill, mastered only by an elite few.

  136. #136 Kendo
    January 19, 2009

    Observer @133:

    I’m pleased to hear you don’t believe in equality. Personally, I don’t believe in equality either. I believe in difference.

    There you go again. You fail to observe the explanation that “equality” refers to equal rights and obligations under the law. You claim to be a student of western liberals but somehow this particular distinction, which you’ve undoubtedly encountered before in your studies, still eludes you. You’re not even an observer, let alone the observer.

  137. #137 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Observer, I don’t believe anything you say. Why should I? You have shown yourself repeatedly to be of inferior intellect. You lie and bullshit. What else to I need to know?

  138. #138 Blake Stacey
    January 19, 2009

    Equality 1.0 is Christian in origin.

    Historical ignorance coupled with the genetic fallacy: again, what a marvellous approximation of fractal wrongness!

    The injunction not to be judgmental is also Christian.

    Actually, the Declaration of Innocence in the Egyptian Book of the Dead expresses the sentiment.

  139. #139 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    Actually, the Declaration of Innocence in the Egyptian Book of the Dead expresses the sentiment.

    Yeah, but everyone knows you can’t trust those filthy, unsophisticated Egyptians. I mean, they’re not white

  140. #140 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 19, 2009

    Asshole farted;

    You can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Funny, asshole has no problem with people who use violence to keep the upper hand in a rigged game but disagreeable word? Gasp! The horrors!

  141. #141 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    The Observer with another less than vapid comment. Absolutely no lights on in the house.

  142. #142 Twin-Skies
    January 19, 2009

    I don’t get it – Observer’s been hauled off to the dungeons, and yet the posts just keep coming.

  143. #143 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    He’s morphing. Stupid idiots like tin man and CW do it too. Not a sign of intelligence, just belligerence. All his posts will be wiped out as soon as PZ get back to us.

  144. #144 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    The United States was a nation created by whites and for whites.

    You’ve got to be shitting me. Here’s something you should probably try and grasp: THINGS CHANGE. Just because something was doesn’t mean it always will be.

    What part of that don’t you understand?

  145. #145 scottb
    January 19, 2009

    You’ve expressed your criticism, we reject it, now go away.

  146. #146 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Yeah, he’s pretty stupid all right. Probably married his first cousin.

  147. #147 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    And his brother Rufus makes Meth in his trailer. (Want to keep playing? You can leave at any time you know.)

  148. #148 Qwerty
    January 19, 2009

    Someone commented that Obama said gays and lesbians serving our country will have to wait. This doesn’t mean that Obama approves nor wants the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It is a federal law and it is up to Congress to change it.

    This said, many gays and lesbians will continue to “come out” while serving as often they cannot or will not wait.

    Coming out while in the military is called “making a statement” which can lead to separation. (And yes,oddly enough, it is called separation.) I would call coming out while serving one of the latest manifestations of civil disobedience. The law has failed and should be overturned.

    Let’s hope the current Congress will do this and that Obama will swiftly approve.

  149. #149 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    Thanks again for demonstrating my point

    That implies you have one. And you don’t – well, not any more than a dog turd has a point when it adheres to people’s shoes and offends people with its rank odour.

    Dog turd gets disposed of. As will you.

  150. #150 Kendo
    January 19, 2009

    @156

    Americans distinguished between political, civil, and social equality for generations.

    OK, so you’re aware of the nuances of the word “equality”. That gives you no excuse to misrepresent the comments you reply to, as you do in comment #133. You reply to ‘Tis Himself’ @129:

    The equality I want is “legal equality.” Everyone is equal under the law.

    by saying:

    You repeated the mainstream view of “social equality”

    This is a clear and obvious example of misrepresentation. If I believe as you insist, that you understand the difference between “social equality” and “equality under the law”, it seems that you are simply building straw-men and that you’re aware of that.

  151. #151 PZ Myers
    January 19, 2009

    Just for your entertainment, this same “Observer” who is morphing wildly to get around my ban, and who claims that “liberals think in crude stereotypes”, is using silly email addresses like “pcisamoron@hotmail.com” and “pcisahomo@hotmail.com”. He clearly is one of the gnxp regulars, where they nicknamed me “PC”.

    His comments will be deleted as I run across them. Please ignore the troll.

  152. #152 C. M. Baxter
    January 19, 2009

    “Yeah, he’s pretty stupid all right. Probably married his first cousin.”

    Wrong! His mommy probably married hers. ; )

  153. #153 Rey Fox
    January 19, 2009

    “He clearly is one of the gnxp regulars, where they nicknamed me “PC”.”

    Someone will have to explain how that is funny to me.

  154. #154 Twin-Skies
    January 19, 2009

    Observer’s efforts in making new email accounts just to post here are vaguely disturbing. Wouldn’t that be called an obsession, in which case reflects a disturbed mind?

  155. #155 'Tis Himself
    January 19, 2009

    To me “gnxp” is Gene Expression, another Science Blog.

  156. #156 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Rey, I think they mean PC as in “politically correct”. It’s a buzzword with racists.

    I would like to add an addendum to my post #55 (hindsight is 20/20). I voted differently on two different darker skinned men based upon how I perceived their intelligence and character, rather than just on the color of their skin. I think MLK would like that. I think that was his dream.

  157. #157 Kendo
    January 19, 2009

    PZ Myers #150:

    Please ignore the troll.

    Will do.

    Why would anyone think “PC” is a clever nickname; I wondered. It took me a second to remember that we Ausies hear “zed” when we see “Z”:)

  158. #158 SC, OM
    January 19, 2009

    To me “gnxp” is Gene Expression, another Science Blog.

    That’s where Observer (and I think one of the others) slithered over from. Disturbing, no?

  159. #159 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    Did someone say something? No? I guess it was only the wind.

  160. #160 Wowbagger
    January 19, 2009

    Two of my posts in a row? How is this happening?

  161. #161 Nerd of Redhead
    January 19, 2009

    Two posts in a row. Must be magic. No other explanation.

  162. #162 Qwerty
    January 19, 2009

    Observer – I’d call “human rights” an intangible. Just like love, hate and/or racism.

    Speaking of racism, you may be right in that it didn’t come into the language as a work until 1936, but this doesn’t mean it didn’t exist prior to 1936.

    After all, Uranus was discovered until 1781 as a planet (it was seen as early as 1690 but thought to be a star), but it existed long before then.

    Of course, your anus… Well, you’ve been spilling it all over this website for the last couple of hours.

  163. #163 Twin-Skies
    January 19, 2009

    I’d grown to admire MLK for his “I have a dream” speech, but it looks like I’m learning to respect him, or specifically his ideals, more thanks to this letter. Thanks for the post, PZ.

  164. #164 Observer Returns
    January 19, 2009

    1.) Racial prejudice obviously existed before 1936. The critique of racial theory as “racism” though, in English, first emerged in the 1930s amongst anti-fascist groups. According to the OED, the etymology of “racism” traces back to the French word, “racisme.” Legend has it that “racisme” was coined by Leon Trotsky in the 1920s, which could be true, although that might be an urban myth; the CPUSA was the only political party that opposed racial prejudice in the twenties.

    2.) “Human rights” are figments of our imagination comparable to angels and demons. They are nothing more than social conventions.

  165. #165 j.t.delaney
    January 20, 2009

    My favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. speech was “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”. This one is still painfully relevant today. You can listen to it here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b80Bsw0UG-U

  166. #166 Blake Stacey
    January 20, 2009

    PZ:

    Just for your entertainment, this same “Observer” who is morphing wildly to get around my ban, and who claims that “liberals think in crude stereotypes”, is using silly email addresses like “pcisamoron@hotmail.com” and “pcisahomo@hotmail.com”.

    The Trophy Wife must be sad.

  167. #167 Joe L.
    January 20, 2009

    They played the “I Have A Dream” speech in its entirety on NPRs Talk of the Nation yesterday, isntead of just the clips and soundbites that normally get played. It was nice to hear the whole thing – very, very good speech.

  168. #168 Natalie
    January 20, 2009

    Man, I can’t believe I missed the crazy racist flameout. I knew I should have read this thread yesterday!

  169. #169 Kalirren
    January 20, 2009

    I can, to a certain extent, understand why Observer says what he does. I’ve heard the statement, “I don’t believe in equality, I believe in difference” before. I used to believe that myself. It comes from a certain notion that any social equality must be enforced, and certain types of enforcement can be unjust. Affirmative action notably tends to ride this line. (If you don’t see why this is, apply Rawles’ Veil of Ignorance test to AA. It fails a priori, and only ceases failing when taken into socio-historical context. This implies that the appropriateness of AA is strongly dependent upon said context as viewed in society.)

    This suggests, of course, that Observer comes from a segment of society that is highly privileged in some critical way.

    Re: Kendo #136 Re: Observer:

    You fail to observe the explanation that “equality” refers to equal rights (emphasis mine) and obligations under the law.

    The problem here is that he doesn’t believe in the validity of the notion of “rights”. He has said as much. For what it’s worth, neither do I. It’s a notion as creepily undefined as faith is, and it gives us crap like Lochner v. NY. I think that giving their citizens notions of rights is one of the greatest shams that Western society pulls on its members.

    To elaborate, I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and I think that anything that can be explained by “rights” can be better rooted and more thoroughly explained by reference to agency, power, poverty, and privilege; one therefore ought to discard the notion of rights, in favor of those, which are all directly emergent from individuality (in the case of the first) or social dynamics (in the case of the latter three).

    This doesn’t excuse him from the necessity of recognizing equal social obligations, though I wonder if that’s even clear in this society.

  170. #170 marilove
    January 20, 2009

    I LOVE the “PC” nickname, considering PZ is perhaps one of the most un-PC people in the entire fucking world. Irony. Love it.

  171. #171 Facilis
    January 20, 2009

    Martin luther King is one of the great reasons to reject cultural relativism too.
    Whenever I talked with people in another thread saying that morality is determined by culture or by majority opinion. I have to point them to the Civil Rights movement.Its hard to watch people delude themselves into denying morality so they will not be held accountable.

  172. #172 Nerd of Redhead
    January 20, 2009

    Facilis, you are a proven liar and bullshitter. Your opinion is of no value.

  173. #173 Owlmirror
    January 20, 2009

    Its hard to watch people delude themselves into denying morality so they will not be held accountable.

    Says the guy who thinks that sending bears to kill children is moral.

  174. #174 CJO
    January 20, 2009

    “Human rights” are figments of our imagination comparable to angels and demons. They are nothing more than social conventions.

    Try it this way:
    “The value of a dollar” is a figment of our imagination, comparable to angels and demons.

    Do you agree?

  175. #175 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    I still can’t believe that that moron thinks treating someone badly because of the color of their skin was only considered a bad thing since the 30′s. Like I said in a previous thread, he’s either never read Othello, or didn’t understand what it was about. either way, he’s making shit up. equality has always been a social norm, with exceptions where any given society(or those in control of it) needed/wanted them. In ancient Egypt, class was more important than race, especially among the pharaohs (interesting that on the one hand they’d rather commit incest than dilute “divine” royal bloodlines, but race was not an issue), in Rome, being a citizen and an able general was important, skin-color much less so, to the point where Trajan named an African as his successor. The modern form of race-discrimination only came up when the European nations began their imperial colonization of the non-white continents with the beginning of the Age of Exploration.
    And now we’re getting rid of it again.

  176. #176 Facilis
    January 20, 2009

    Try it this way:
    “The value of a dollar” is a figment of our imagination, comparable to angels and demons.

    Do you agree?

    Do you believe in consensus reality?
    Anyway of course the value of the dollar is just something agreed upon by the government.
    Do you think human rights are decided by the government? what happens if the government wants to deprive certain humans of rights? For example what if the government decided that the jews shouldn’t have equal rights? Is there some kind of objective morality that transcends human societies that we can appeal to, or would it be fine?

  177. #177 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    facilis, GTFO. your idiotic attempts at trying to prove that God is the source of morality have already failed.

    or do you think slavery is ok?
    do you think divorce should be outlawed?
    do you think genocide is ok?

    we already know you think it’s ok to murder children when they’re being insulting….

    your morality sucks. our human morality is better than your “god-given morality”.

  178. #178 Owlmirror
    January 20, 2009

    Anyway of course the value of the dollar is just something agreed upon by the government

    Uh, no. The number printed on the dollar is done so by the government; the value is determined by everyone who uses dollars (which includes, but is not limited to, the government).

    For example what if the government decided that the jews shouldn’t have equal rights?

    You mean like the governments of most Christian nations up until very recently?

    Say, what if the government decided that children who call God’s Holy Prophets “Baldy” should be eaten by bears?

  179. #179 Nerd of Redhead
    January 20, 2009

    Facilis the Fallicious Failure. Anything you say is a LIE. What more do you need to know? Time to go home and lick your wounds, and quit bothering your betters.

  180. #180 Wowbagger
    January 20, 2009

    On the plus side, having facilis on this thread to be laughed at means I don’t have to keep reloading the other, longer thread to either hand his ass to him myself (repeatedly) or watch others do it.

    Hey, facilis – I’ve just had a new revelation: Sideshow Bob says humans determine their own morality.

  181. #181 'Tis Himself
    January 20, 2009

    Anyway of course the value of the dollar is just something agreed upon by the government.

    BZZZZZ! Wrong, thank you for playing.

    Money is essentially a good, so is ruled by the axiom of supply and demand. The value of any good is determined by its supply and demand and the supply and demand for other goods in the economy. A price for any good is the amount of money it takes to get that good. Money has value because people believe that they will be able to exchange their money for goods and services.

  182. #182 Facilis
    January 20, 2009

    do you think slavery is ok?

    Modern era slavery? No

    do you think divorce should be outlawed?

    Yes, except in cases of adultery

    do you think genocide is ok?

    You mean like the Holocaust or Rwanda? of course not
    SO now you answer these questions jadehawk. And please tell me what kind of objective standard which you can appeal to support your claims.

  183. #183 Nerd of Redhead
    January 20, 2009

    Facilis the Fallacious Fool still proving to be entertainment. Nothing of value being said of course.

  184. #184 'Tis Himself
    January 20, 2009

    do you think divorce should be outlawed?

    Yes, except in cases of adultery

    How about abandonment? Or an abusive relationship?

  185. #185 Wowbagger
    January 20, 2009

    facilis,

    What difference does the era make? Slavery is either okay or it isn’t. Which is it?

    And it’s the same thing for genocide. Either it’s okay or it isn’t. So, either what happened in Rwanda and in the Holocaust – and what can be found in your bible, somewhere in the vicinity of Numbers 31 – is okay or it isn’t. Which is it?

    Oh, and on adultery you answered ‘only in the case of adultery’ – what do you think should happen to someone who commits adultery?

  186. #186 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    You mean like the Holocaust or Rwanda? of course not SO now you answer these questions jadehawk. And please tell me what kind of objective standard which you can appeal to support your claims. there is no objective standard, there’s social and evolutionary reasons to think that we shouldn’t go on slaughtering people, but most importantly we as a civilization have agreed upon .

    and what exactly is your point in pointing out those particular cases of genocide?

  187. #187 Facilis
    January 20, 2009

    Anybody have an answer for me human rights thingy?
    As for my position I agree with the founding fathers
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”

  188. #188 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    well, that was a massive HTML fail, compounded by hitting the wrong button. let’s try again:

    You mean like the Holocaust or Rwanda? of course not SO now you answer these questions jadehawk. And please tell me what kind of objective standard which you can appeal to support your claims.

    there is no objective standard, there’s social and evolutionary reasons to think that we shouldn’t go on slaughtering people, but most importantly we as a civilization have agreed upon Universal Human Rights.

    and what exactly is your point in pointing out those particular cases of genocide?

  189. #189 Nerd of Redhead
    January 20, 2009

    Facilis, what creator? There is no creator until you prove one.

  190. #190 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    Anybody have an answer for me human rights thingy?
    As for my position I agree with the founding fathers
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”

    cute. except that that sentence has its base in enlightment(humanistic) philosophy, not the bible. the bible condones both slavery and genocide.

  191. #191 Wowbagger
    January 20, 2009

    Jadehawk,

    I can’t help but amend that somewhat:

    the monstrous god of the bible not only condones both slavery and genocide but demands it – and takes great pride and pleasure in seeing the misery inflicted by such acts.

    Hope you don’t mind.

  192. #192 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    don’t mind at all, it’s after all correct. the nice thing about not being an idiot is that i don’t feel insulted by being corrected :-p

  193. #193 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    Their societies were not race-based.

    no shit. and this defies my point…..how….?

  194. #194 Nerd of Redhead
    January 20, 2009

    SO has no point except stupidity. Very good at that. With a few years practice and hard training he may even get up to slightly deficient.

  195. #195 Wowbagger
    January 20, 2009

    Still Observing, a banned racist troll whose post may well be deleted once PZ notices he’s here, wrote:

    The term “racism” entered the English language in 1936.

    You’ve said this before, several times. So what? The words ‘cognitive’ and ‘dissonance’ probably weren’t used together before recent times; does that mean it didn’t exist?

    Anyway, as I told you once before: THINGS CHANGE. Which of those two words don’t you understand?

  196. #196 Wowbagger
    January 20, 2009

    SO wrote:

    The point is that your moral conviction that “racism” is evil took root in America only a few decades ago.

    Big, fat, hairy deal. Why does our not having a specific word to describe something until recently stop the thing it describes from being wrong?

    What does its recentness have to do with anything? By your rationale we should still be treating diseases as we did in 1936, or using technology that was available in 1936.

    Did you not see what else I wrote in that post? Here is is again: THINGS CHANGE!

    That includes what we consider acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It wasn’t that long ago that if a man raped his wife it was perfectly legal for him to do so; now, not so.

  197. #197 Nerd of Redhead
    January 20, 2009

    There is bad smell on this thread. Sniff. Smells like a bigot. PZ we to air out this thread.

  198. #198 Jadehawk
    January 20, 2009

    1)America is not the center of the Universe
    2)there was no condemnation of racism the same way there is now no condemnation of “heightism”. it was a non-issue. you’re still failing to make a point, or disprove ours.
    3)I shall try to fight SIWOTI Syndrome from now on and not argue willfully ignorant morons

  199. #199 Stygian Lamprey
    January 21, 2009

    “The point is that your moral conviction that ‘racism’ is evil took root in America only a few decades ago.”

    That’s cute. You’re drawing broad, silly conclusions based on attested word origins. I know you paint-huffing Stormfront types generally don’t read (well, other than the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” and the hilariously hackneyed “Turner Diaries”), but just the same, I’m gonna suggest you Wikipedia William Blake, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine.

    By the way skinheads, Skrewdriver sounds the way festering, necrotic baboon-anus smells.

  200. #200 MP2K
    January 21, 2009

    What you’re all ignoring here is that everything from the past is actually morally superior to the present. Let’s take neuroscience for example. Back in the first half of the century, they lobotomized dangerous idiots against their will instead of letting them run free.

    All I have to say is that Still Observing is awfully lucky we don’t forcibly lobotomize the insane anymore.

  201. #201 Rey Fox
    January 21, 2009

    “Modern era slavery? No ”

    So all that slavery in the Bible is presumably okay. Come on guys, facilis the facile just wants to build us a bridge to the first century.

    In fact, that’s sort of the common thread with a lot of our visitors lately. They all want to go back in time. As long as they’re members of the ruling class, of course.

  202. #202 Wowbagger
    January 21, 2009

    As long as they’re members of the ruling class, of course.

    This is true. If, all of a sudden, the decision was made to re-establish slavery, there’d be a certain small group of people jumping for joy – until they read the next line, which goes something like: ‘…with white people to be the slaves’.

    I suspect that the number of family trees found to show recent African descent would suddenly skyrocket.

  203. #203 clinteas
    January 21, 2009

    Jadehawk @ 200,

    )I shall try to fight SIWOTI Syndrome from now on

    Aint going to work,youngling,resistance to SIWOTI is futile…..

  204. #204 Jadehawk
    January 21, 2009

    clinteas, it’s that or starving. I work from home, on the computer no less. SIWOTI will be the death of my career if I don’t learn to resist!!

  205. #205 clinteas
    January 21, 2009

    Jadehawk,

    SIWOTI will be the death of my career if I don’t learn to resist!!

    Try and pick the worthy ones,I dont debate the likes of facilis or Davison here anymore,its just a waste of effort…

    You remind me of another bright star on Pharyngula’s horizon that only shone for a month or 2,Etha Williams,who then retired burned-out lol…
    Career comes first..:-)