Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Game bloggers only

If you're a blogger who games - electronically - fire me an email with GAMEZ in the subject. One of the Volk is making an important announcement this Friday, and I'd like to request your help in publicizing it.


Media Whores - Chapter Two

Eman asked for a definition of a media whore a few days ago. Here, as promised, is one. This is only a partial definition, however, and it is related to the variant I describe as the courtesan, as opposed to its charlatan counterpart.

The Courtesans
Cogliendo le rose.

Aristotle insists that in the process of rhetorical discourse, it is necessary to define one's premises. The media brothel exists, of this there can be no doubt, but what defines the whores who inhabit it? For just as not everyone to be found within a brothel is a prostitute, not everyone in the media – not even everyone on camera – is a media whore.

Not all whores are created equal. I was once acquainted with a girl, who, a few years later, happened to find employment working for a certain infamous Hollywood madam. As we had remained friends, when the media pressure got too intense, she took refuge with me in Minnesota, which is the geographical equivalent of Stealth technology where the media's radar is concerned. This girl might have shared a profession with the local hookers working Hennepin Avenue, but the difference between them was both immediately obvious and deeply profound.(1)

Whereas the street hooker is employed solely to provide momentary gratification for a man's physical needs, the call girl is primarily called upon to stimulate his ego.(2) But in either case, all principles are sacrificed in favor of one over-riding principle, the pursuit of the almighty dollar by any means necessary. In the same way, one can distinguish between the two primary sub-species of media whores: the courtesans, or those who are in service to others, and the charlatans, those who are in service only to themselves.

During the Renaissance, the courtesans of Venice were famous throughout Europe. They were confused with the noble ladies of the day, just as today's media whores are often mistaken for public intellectuals. Georgina Masson, the author of “Courtesans of the Italian Renaissance”, writes, “it was a public shame that prostitutes were to be seen in the streets and churches, and elsewhere, so much bejewelled and well-dressed, that very often noble ladies and women citizens [of Venice], because there is no difference in their attire from that of the above-said women, are confused with them; not only by foreigners, but by the inhabitants [of Venice], who are unable to tell the good from the bad.”

In the case of the courtesans of the mainstream media, their devotion to the lofty ideals of their would-be profession(3) is entirely absent, regardless of whether they belong to the nominally objective reporting class, or the openly biased commentary class.(4) This can be best demonstrated by investigating the standards set by the professionals themselves. According to the Society of Professional Journalists, a journalist should at all times be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.(5) Furthermore, a journalist must:

1. Seek Truth and Report It. Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
2. Minimize Harm. Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
3. Act Independently. Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
4. Be Accountable. Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Some of the specific points of journalistic conduct are as follows:

● Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
● Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
● Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
● Show good taste.
● Never plagiarize.

As anyone who has read a newspaper or watched a news broadcast lately will recognize, these points of journalistic conduct are honored mainly in the breach. Take the latter, for instance. The Associated Press is nothing but one gigantic mass of plagiarism, as it is standard practice for reporters to take a story that has been written by someone else, move a few words around, then publish it under their own byline. If the standards for fictional plagiarism were this loose, one could publish a fat trilogy about a short, but stout-hearted little fellow travelling across Terra Media to Nordor destroy the Singular Ring in the fires of Mount Death without fear of the Tolkein estate dropping a battalion of paratrooper-lawyers armed with flamethrowers on your front lawn.

Here's a shining example of AP-approved plagiarism from when the Swiftvet controversy first exploded, when the Saint Paul Pioneer Press ran an article from the Dallas Morning News that bore an eerie resemblance to another article that had run the day before in the Star Tribune.

The first similarity I noticed was this description of Swift Boat Vet John O'Neill. As written by Bob Von Sternberg on Saturday in the Star Tribune: “In the book, longtime Kerry nemesis John O'Neill accuses him of distorting his war record for political gain.” And as written by Bob Tarrant in the Dallas Morning News: “The book, "Unfit for Command," is co-authored by longtime Kerry nemesis John O'Neill, a Houston lawyer who followed Kerry as commander of Patrol Craft Fast 94.”

I suppose it's possible that's a coincidence. When you're trying to subtly undermine a man's credibility, there are only so many words in the English language to use for a particular set of facts. Although I think using "chronic Kerry cat caller" works even better than "long time Kerry nemesis". My charitable instincts faded when I came across these characterizations of chronic Kerry cat caller George Elliot. First, Von Sternberg in the Star Tribune:

“One, retired Capt. George Elliott, reportedly recanted his accusation that Kerry did not deserve his Silver Star. But after the Boston Globe published a story quoting him as saying he withdrew the charges, the Swift Boat Veterans released an affidavit in which Elliott swore he stood by his accusation. But in 1996, Elliott had been quoted in news reports praising Kerry's actions as courageous.”

Now, Tarrant in the Dallas Morning News: “One member in the ad, retired Capt. George Elliott, reportedly recanted his accusations that Kerry did not deserve his Silver Star. But after the Boston Globe published that, the Swift Boat Veterans released an affidavit in which Elliott swore he stood by his accusation. But in 1996, Elliott was quoted in news reports praising Kerry's actions as courageous.”(6)

Of course, mere thievery does not a courtesan make. Other moral lapses are required, preferably those involving a supine position. Here, too, the modern media does not disappoint, as the distinction between advocacy and news reporting has not so much been eroded as obliterated entirely, not only on the cable television networks, but also in more traditional institutions priding themselves on their celodurismo.(7) That the media has abandoned reporting in favor of advocacy would not be so worrisome, were it not for the fact of the john for whom it has reliably and monolithically chosen to whore itself. This, then, leads us to a formal description of the most common subspecies of Scortus medius, the Big Government Courtesan.

Scortus medius washingtonia

Description Pasty white to dark brown, often with white-tipped hairs, giving grizzled appearance. Dark suit with white shirt and red tie. Facial profile usually clean-shaven. In some areas, individuals may appear brownish or blackish, rarely bronze. Single pair of prominent incisors. Ht about 6' 0" (130 cm); Wt 175–250 lb (77–112 kg); some individuals to 300 lb (133 kg). Female has blonde hair, usually dark at the roots. Ht about 5' 4" (130 cm); Wt 115–135 lb (147–680 kg)

Breeding After 4-7 year gestation in elite Ivy League university, young attach themselves to internship programs and entry level positions at media institutions or Congressional offices.

Habitat Urban centers. Favors television studios, newspaper offices and law firms.

Range Most of U.S., except less common in rural Texas, n Idaho, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Concentrated most strongly on the coasts. Also s British Columbia east to Toronto.

Scortus medius washingtonia is as common as Blattella germanica, and appears to serve much the same purpose. Day after day, in broadcast after broadcast and newspaper after newspaper, it infests American homes and spreads disease by forcing the American people to submit to its deluge of its pro-government propaganda. This is the case at every level, local, state and federal, and in those very rare cases when the coverage is negative, it is almost invariably focused on criticizing the government concerned for failing to act in an appropriately expansive manner. One will wait in vain to hear washingtonia suggest that any matter, public or private, is not an appropriate concern of government.(8)

If the crisis of the day is a slowing economy throwing people out of work, the only answer, according to the courtesan media, is to turn to government to solve the problem. If the problem is precisely the opposite, an overheated economy driving up prices, the solution is, again, government action. If a global ice age and the threat of rampaging glaciers is imminent, the government must act. If, on the other hand, global warming is about to cause the polar ice caps to melt and drown the coasts, the government must act. The courtesan media is not unlike the man with the proverbial hammer, who perceives every problem as a nail in need of hammering.

In fact, it is almost impossible to conceive a problem for which washingtonia does not recommend expanding the seize and reach of government. Strangely enough, this holds true even if the problem with which the media is concerning itself was caused by government in the first place. This may be because the concept of accuracy is entirely foreign to the news media, as no other industry, not even the telephone psychics industry, has recorded such a poor predictive record on matters great and small.

Greg Easterbrook of the Brookings Institute has kept track of the New York Times quixotic quest to predict the final score of an NFL game. Over four seasons, from 2000 to 2003, the Paper of Record went 3-1,085, an accuracy percentage of less than one-tenth of one percent. And even that was the result of a blazing hot 2003 season, wherein the Times racked up two of its three correct predictions in going 2-270. These wildly inaccurate sports predictions are harmless enough, but the effects are not so innocent where more serious matters of politics are concerned.

For example, when the Minnesota state legislature debated a proposed gun carry law in 2002, the Minneapolis Star Tribune dredged up the same dire predictions of imminent bloodshed that the Dallas Morning News and other Texas newspapers had promulgated prior to the passage of Texas' concealed-carry law in 1995. The Star Tribune did so despite the fact that the Texas papers were proved to be completely wrong, as Texas murder rates dropped 50 percent from 1995 to 2000(9), 1.58 times faster than the decline in the national murder rate. The Star Tribune repeatedly used these hysterical and baseless predictions to justify its editorial opposition to the proposed carry law, which finally passed in 2002 despite the Minnesota media's bitter jihad against it.

Nor did the Star Tribune change its tune even after it became clear that the cornucopia of shootouts it predicted simply were not occurring with any degree of regularity, or indeed, at all. Of the 15,734 carry permits issued by the state in 2003, only 20 were suspended, revoked or canceled, and none for serious crimes.(10) One could almost feel their disappointment at not being able to break out the giant MURDEROPOLIS headline they'd been saving for the incipient Wild Midwest stories they were so eagerly anticipating.

In like manner, the courtesan media is repeatedly and woefully inaccurate in its economic coverage. This is partly unavoidable, because the vast majority of commentators, aside from Dr. Thomas Sowell, (Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University), Dr. Walter Williams, (Professor of Economics, George Mason University), Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, (former assistant secretary, U.S. Treasury), and, despite his muddle-headed Keynesianism, Dr. Paul Krugman, (Professor of Economics, Princeton University), could not tell you what M3(11) was to save their life. Unfortunately, complete ignorance seldom prevents paperboys and talking heads from opining regularly on the subject once known as political economy.

This ignorant advocacy invariably insists that increasing government revenue through taxes and increasing government spending will strengthen the economy, despite the fact that the two actions are mutually contradictory in mainstream economic terms.(12) Not only that, but economic history is very clear that the lethal combination of increased taxation and government spending inevitably ends badly in the long term.(13) Given that the Congress has already managed to destroy 94.71 percent(14) of the value of the U.S. dollar in 91 years, there is no reason to believe that things will end up any differently this time.

But the long term manifestly does not concern medius washingtonia, as it is usually impossible for the species to recall anything said or written the day before. A short-term memory is an identifying marker key to spotting any media whore, but particularly one of the courtesan class. For example, every estimate provided by the Washington Post predicting the results of income tax cuts for the last 20 years has significantly overestimated the subsequent net loss of government revenue. And by the same token, every prediction it has made about the expected results of income tax hikes has significantly underestimated the net increase of government revenue.

This is because the Post's economics writers use a static model of revenue analysis. In other words, their model assumes that no one's behavior will change as a result of their taxes going up or down. This is, of course, not only completely illogical and wholly unrealistic, but contrary to every economic model developed since Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776. Although guaranteed to be inaccurate, the Post, along with almost every major newspaper, continues to use this static scoring model because the Joint Tax Committee of Congress and most state governments do.

And why do these governments insist on using such a broken analytical tool? Because from their point of view, anything with an inherent bias towards exaggerating the positive impact of tax increases and the negative impact of tax cuts is, by definition, not broken. Accuracy be damned, in the tangential world of the government bureaucrat, anything that increases budgets is good and anything that decreases them is bad. The fact that the estimates for 2002, 2003 and 2004 were all errant with the same bias is no more relevant to these bureaucrats making estimates for 2005, or the courtesan media obediently passing these hopeless predictions on to an unsuspecting public, than the past phases of Jupiter.

Another example is the coverage of the Commerce Department's revision of U.S. Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2004. Originally calculated at 3.0 percent, the number was revised to 2.8 percent on August 27, 2004. The Associated Press reported that this was “slightly better than the 2.7 percent growth rate that some economists had forecast.”(15)

The problem is that earlier in the year, the Wall Street Journal's Monthly Survey was reporting the consensus estimate to be 4.5 percent, with some economists predicting as high as 6 percent in May. First, in a $10 trillion economy, this is a whopping miscalculation of between $170 and $320 billion. That's tremendous, but then, economics is more of an inexact art than a science. More troubling, however, is the Associated Press's disregard for the economists' actual historical estimates in what appears to be an attempt to provide cover for the consensus view, especially when reminders of earlier optimism would likely have had negative effects on the stock market in the leadup to a November election.

A short-term memory is not the only identifier of a big government media whore. Other important identifying characteristics include the following:

● The ability to turn on a dime. Prior to the Iowa primaries, Howard Dean was the foremost beneficiary of mainstream media love. As soon as the Democratic elders realized that he might actually win the nomination, the love for Howard ended faster than a Jennifer Lopez marriage.
● An eagerness to take the government at its word. For some reason, it is standard practice to assume that the credibility of a government agency always trumps that of a private individual, even if there is no evidence in support of the government's position. The typical no-holds-barred investigation runs as follows: a) an individual makes a charge about a government agency and provides evidence. b) the reporter asks an individual in the employ of the government agency if the charge is true while ignoring the evidence. c) the employee of the government agency denies the charge. d) the reporter reports that the charge is not true.(16)
● A distaste for independent thinking. One need only look at the flocks of reporters that wait breathlessly upon the press releases issued by the White House, the Federal Reserve and other government institutions before turning around and regurgitating them for the public without even reading them to realize that most reporters are not so much reporting news as they are acting as de facto publicists for whatever agency or politician they are covering.
● A servile attitude towards government officials. In discussing PBS Jim Lehrer's moderation of the 2000 presidential debates, Jeff Cohen, the executive director of the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting(17), said “The debates have become sort of like poll-tested posturing and rhetoric that never gets pierced by Lehrer. The style of interviewing that he's perfected is civil, though a more accurate term might be servile.”
● A cheerleader mentality. Gary North writes of just such a mindset: “A cheerleader seeks attention. He wants to be seen. It is not clear to him or anyone else why he should be seen. His means of gaining attention is to attach himself to a team. He wants to be on the winning side. He wants to be seen on the winning side. Cheerleaders pretend that they control the crowd. The crowd pretends that their organized cheers in some way help their team or thwart the opposing team. They stand, they sit, they cheer in an organized way. They do what the head cheerleader tells them to do. These efforts have no effect. The team pays no attention. The outcome of the game is not influenced by organized cheers. This is boola-boola in action. This is a system of pretense: layers of pretense. The cheerleader thinks of himself as part of the team effort. He isn't. The individuals in the crowd think of themselves as part of the team effort. They aren't.”

The significant difference here, though, is that big government's cheerleaders in the media do play an important role in the team effort. It is no accident that as the corporate media has gotten larger and its relationship with government more incestuous, the old tradition of the Fourth Estate providing a check on the other three has faded away. The list of those who've gone from government service straight into the media is a long one and extends to both sides of the factional aisle, including luminaries such as George Stephanopolous, Pat Buchanan, Peggy Noonan, David Frum, David Gergen and James Carville, to give a few of many possible examples.

This is why the word “cheerleader” fails to do justice to those who have so richly earned the title of Scortus medius washingtonia, big government courtesan.

(1)I am speaking of variances in comportment and purpose, you understand.

(2)Paying $1,500 a night to have sex is morally reprehensible. Paying $1,500 to NOT have sex would seem to suggest rather strongly that the money would be better spent on a psychiatrist than a high-class prostitute.

(3)Journalists like to consider their occupation a profession, but as the late Michael Kelly of the Washington Post explained to Hugh Hewitt, a true profession requires a license and a governing body, both of which are lacking in the case of journalism. Hairdressers have a better case.

(4)There is supposed to be a nominal difference between the two, not that you'd know it by listening to disgruntled liberals fulminating about Fox News Channel's editorial commentators lacking journalistic integrity. Or by reading the “objective news reporting” of the New York Times, for that matter.

(5)Sorry, that's the Boy Scouts, isn't it. I was just a little overwhelmed by the raw fumes of moral purity and journalistic integrity emanating from the Society.

(6)I didn't actually write any of that. I just cut and pasted the entire thing, beginning with “The first similarity...” from my man Saint Paul of the Fraters Libertas blog. But I manifestly did not do anything questionable because I am the proud owner of a license to steal, that is to say, a Press Card from Universal Press Syndicate. I am journalist, hear me roar!

(7)i.e. the hardest of the hard news.

(8)Unless the future of a prominent Democratic politician is at risk. In which case, everything must be considered a private matter and we should all pretend it never happened. Sex is the one subject beyond government purview, unless you happen to need a condom, a birth control pill or an abortion, in which case the government is expected to provide it for you.

(9)The National Center for Policy Analysis, May 26, 2000.

(10) “Of 15,873 who applied for the permits in 2003, 139 were denied, according to a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report released Monday. Another 20 permits were suspended, revoked or canceled. In three cases, they were taken away because permit carriers were under the influence of alcohol. In two other cases, holders were under restraining orders for stalking or threatening people. In one case, a permit was suspended over the reckless discharge of a gun. Another wrote a bad check.” Star Tribune, March 2, 2004. Note that this is quoted from an editorial written by former Minnesota governor Arne Carlson arguing AGAINST the Minnesota Personal Protection Act.

(11)The broad measure of money supply, not the BMW. It is now being phased out, so the proletariat don’t immediately realize the implications of Ben Bernahnke’s printing press philosophy.

(12)The mainstream Keynesian formulation is C+I+G+(x-m) = GDP. Increased taxation reduces C and I, while increased government spending increases G. So, the two tend to cancel each other out, leaving only the question of which is more efficient, Consumer spending + business Investment or Government spending. As history suggests that government efficiency is inherently oxymoronic, the answer should be obvious.

(13) Hence John Maynard Keynes most famous quote: “In the long run, we are all dead.” Our problem is that John Maynard is dead and the long run is now.

(14)According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In the unlikely event you know anything about hedonic adjustment and the fiction known as the Consumer Price Index, then you understand the real situation is actually worse.

(15) “Economy More Sluggish Than First Thought”. Jeanine Aversa, Associated Press, August 27, 2004. Despite the title, only the earlier official 3.0 percent estimate by the Commerce Department is mentioned.

(16)I once spoke with the editor of a large metropolitan newspaper about this sort of thing. He refused to believe that his reporter could possibly have been played so badly by a state government employee until I emailed him the story his reporter had written, the misleading statements about the state law by the state employee and the actual text of the state law. It was immediately evident that the reporter had never bothered to so much as glance at the law.

(17)The Associated Press, 10/18/2000. For a former senior producer of Donahue and founder of a leftist media organization to call you servile, you've got to have an awful lot of shoe-black on your tongue.

Actually, I'm all for it

Air New Zealand and Qantas have banned men from sitting next to unaccompanied children on flights, sparking accusations of discrimination.

The airlines have come under fire for the policy that critics say is political correctness gone mad after a man revealed he was ordered to change seats during a Qantas flight because he was sitting next to a young boy travelling alone.

Auckland man Mark Worsley says an air steward approached him after take-off on the Christchurch to Auckland flight and told him to change seats with a women sitting two rows in front. The steward said it was the airline's policy that only women were allowed to sit next to unaccompanied children.

Just to be safe, let's put ALL the women and children in the front half of the plane. We can call that First Class so they don't feel bad about it. Then put a pole in the back, two widescreens showing nonstop ESPN and keep the beers and Blue Hawaiians flowing in Economy.

Vox Air: the Volvo of airlines.

The moral imperative of the Rape Master

Anansi is all but gagging for it:

Wow, implying that you raped Renee, how classy and Christian of you. Really, your integrity astounds. Again, you're acting like a sociopath and these people commenting are doing nothing but supporting behavior that most of society would condemn and would be right in condemning.

Hey, she asked for it! Didn't you see what she was wearing? Amandagon said no at first, but then she said yes, and then she said no, so I just stuffed her teddy bear in her mouth and got on with it. Wonkette, well, you know how she wanted it...

Thank Society, as we learned yesterday from the philosophical masters of Pandagon, that morality turns out to be democratic. Free at last, free at last, thank Society Almighty, I am free at last! So, if Anansi can just keep her pants on for the nonce, I'll take a quick poll of everyone in my social circle, after which sanction I shall see about committing an act of moral goodness for her spiritual edification.

Mailvox: I lift therefore I am

It's amusing how we are so often assumed to be uneducated hayseeds untainted by the occult knowledge of Higher Education simply because we are a) Christian, and b) reject the ideological and historical propaganda instilled by the local children's day-gulag. But then, as soon as we reveal that we are sufficiently familiar with the works of Marx, Kant, Keynes, Darwin, Chomsky, Foucault or (insert academic idol of choice here), we are immediately accused of being wealthy and arrogant elitists whose exotic views are the result of insulation from the Real World of the proletariat.

Following the White Buffalo's one-man trampling of Pandagon's philosophical poseurs, (with a 15-yard flag for unnecessary overkill on Nate) Antagony responds to the WB here:

Sounds like he has some attitude, too. Like Vox. Nothing like a philosopher with attitude. I have some attitude of my own. A person doesn't need a good reason to have attitude. This place reeks of attitude. So I've humbled myself because the kid with the big brain sounds like he has something interesting to say....

And tell the kid from the rich, uppity schools that if he needs a personal aid who'll work at poverty wages, I have connections. I suppose an expensive, big-name, Catholic university with a good philosophy program is a whole lot better place for a kid with a big brain than a relatively unknown, expensive Catholic university with a good philosophy program.

Actually, I think I kind of like this guy. WB, does the kid with the big brain and the fro to match need a valet? Maybe he could lift his weights for him; the last time I saw the Philosopher King it looked as if whatever time he was spending on my old bench was spent in contemplation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Theys all my bitches now

It's like the telephone game in kindergarten:

Is November “National Blame The Victim Month” or something? No, I mean seriously. First it was Nick Kiddle’s post on hir near-rape experience and the discussions that followed it, then there was the McDonalds thing, and the British poll, and now some idiot who I’ve never heard of before now (Vox Day) believes that rape is a man’s right because women are his property. No joke.

This just keeps getting better. At this rate, within a week there will be frightened women bloggers sending out email alerts (!) warning of how I brutally raped Amandagon, Wonkette and Me So Michelle. Not to mention Renee, of course, but that really didn't count since she volunteered.

In another two weeks, catladies across the country will be frantically switching to battery-operated machinery for fear of being molested by an uploaded superintelligence possessing their "massagers" through the current.

"Near-rape experience". Ah yes, isn't that what it's called when a man glances up and a nearby feminist thinks he may have been looking at her? Scary stuff!

UPDATE: These Strong Independent Women aren't just "sick" and prone to "puke" and wet themselves before the awe-inspiring terror of an alien idea: I'm still thinking about something I was reading last night that actually moved me to tears. Vox Day has been holding forth that there is no such thing as date rape.

Well, if you're going to cry about it, it's obvious that I must modify my thought processes. I myself am feeling on the verge of tears... of laughter.

A stampede of two

The Blogger Blaster joins the White Buffalo in trampling the sheep:

BB:The introduction of God solves one crucial thing. It provides an objective measure of right and wrong.

Let me give an example..

Says the Moral Relativist: "Rapist... what you do is evil."

Says the Rapist: "No. What I do is good. For I define good as that which pleases me."

Says the Moral Relativist: "But you are harming another."

Says the Rapist: "A living things seeks to discharge its strength. I am strong. It is my purpose to use that strength. The weak are here for the strong to use as they so choose."

Says the Moral Relativist: "ummm..."

While it may be distastful... it is simply obtuse to claim that "Because God said so." cannot be a useful tool in controlling the masses.

Rumblelizard:That's an awfully stupid moral relativist your Rapist is talking to, BB.

Christopher :Let's try another dialogue:

Moral non-reletivist: Rapist, what you do is wrong, god said so.

Rapist: No, god has said that women are to be subordinate to men. I'm acting out my divine right.

Moral etc.: Ummm...

Bloggerblaster:Depending on which god you're referring to that could be correct, or incorrect. Certainly the God of Islam would agree. Which is why in moslem countries rape victims are either forced to marry the rapist, or they are killed. Interestingly... Nations with Christian influences handle rape much differently. Wonder why that is?

RumbleLizard, But you are not a stupid moral relativist... so please... enlighten me. I honestly do not know what basis a moral relativist has for justifying the belief that his belief that rape is wrong, is in anyway more correct than another's view that rape is right.

I know what I believe... Like Buffy the White, I'd like to know what you believe. Is it all just Might Makes Right?

Christopher: Um... BloggerBlaster, you didn't address my point, which is that essentially the one conception of god isn't any more convincing or true then the other. Instead of me arguing personally with the psycho, it's the psycho's idea of god arguing with my idea of god. And whether it's us or our gods that are arguing, the method for resolving the argument remains the same; The person with more power prevents the person with less power from acting on their version of morality…. Like I said, I don't have an answer for you on how to objectively prove that goodness is good. But the idea of god doesn't help.

Rumblelizard: Well, first off, BB, a *real* moral relativist wouldn't even get so far as to tell the Rapist that what he did was "evil." "Moral relativists" make no moral judgements, because it's all "relative," remember? Refuting the argument of the Rapist really only needs some observations along the "there's always a bigger fish, and how would you like being the rapee" plus "complying with the golden rule = pragmatic good for all" line.

I'm not surprised that the response of the Pandagonians boiled down to Might Makes Right - a pro-rape argument if I've ever heard one - combined with some feeble hand-waving that wouldn't convince a two-year old. "How would you like it?" Yes, that's a powerful foundation for an objective morality indeed. The heart of the Left is always a dark one, hidden beneath its posturing pretense to moral superiority

I am, however, deeply shocked that the Blogger Blaster managed to remain within shouting distance - okay, whistling distance - of conventional spelling and capitalization.

Mailvox: someone needs a dictionary

The Jade Knight is not exactly studying for the bar:

Vox, mind posting a blog explaining to some of your hangers-on a little about the Public Domain? A few of them seem to have the (quite erroneous) idea that anything to be found on the Internet is automatically in the public domain.

And this seems to be some of the more "benevolent" of their errors.

Truly, you should pick your champions better. They do anything but uphold your intelligence to a neutral observer.

I was unaware that any of the Volk were wrongly profiting from the intellectual property of your friend with the LiveJournal. Are they selling t-shirts with the trademarked phrase "I'm Going To Puke Now"? Are they scraping the collective output of the Feminist Mormon Housewives, printing it and selling it at Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores?

If so, I'd encourage you to tell your friend to hire one of the lawyers here - The Perfect Aryan Male is a trademark and copyright law specialist - and have him write them a cease-and-desist order.

As for champions, the fact that there may be a few other big dogs lurking about the premises doesn't mean I can't take care of myself. They're not mine, I don't feed them, they simply enjoy making a snack of the odd sheep passing by. And when they do, I seldom bother to chime in as there's little point in picking through the remains and chomping them again.

Now run along, little boy, run along.

UPDATE: Jade Knight helpfully explains that he's not the one who needs a dictionary. His comment quoted above was made here in response to an inaccurate remark made elsewhere that I did not see. I am sorry for ripping him instead of the party who rightly deserved it. By way of apology, I'll explain what Jade was hoping I'd point out: public domain is intellectual property that is no longer copyrighted. Copyright extends for the life of the author plus (X) years - Congress changed it recently at Disney's behest request and I'm not sure what it is off the top of my head, 70 perhaps - after that time, a work is considered to be in the public domain and can be used by anyone.

This is why, when you go to Barnes and Noble, you'll see numerous different versions of Pride and Prejudice or The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe. Anyone can publish a book that is in the public domain, and publishers like this because they need not share any royalties with the copyright holder or his heirs.

Blogs, LiveJournals and personal correspondence are not in the public domain. They are considered to be a form of copyrighted material, use of which is governed by the Fair Use law. So, you can freely quote from another blog or a newspaper, so long as you do it within reason and don't claim the work as your own.

Stacer's objection, as I understand it from a friend of hers who emailed me, was that she thought a LiveJournal was private. This is, as she has discovered, not true, it is public. It is not, however, in the public domain.

Contact request

Could whoever had the military officer on tap with regards to executing Armageddon shoot me an email, please? I can't remember if it was Salt, Soup or someone else. Grazie.

The moralist in spite of himself

Dr. Eco comes to Chesterton:

Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest....

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything." Whoever said it - he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

Eco, a non-Christian but a great humanist in the best sense of the term, herein expresses the essence of Voltaire's point regarding the fundamental necessity of religion. Human beings are not capable of maintaining a spiritual vaccuum and they will fill that void with faith in something. In some cases, they will fill it with something harmless, in others, something silly, in still others, something actively evil.

I see Eco's article as tangentially related to yesterday's discussion, which demonstrated again how decent atheists and agnostics raised in a Christian culture parasitically and irrationally latch onto the greater part of the morality they reject as a whole, causing them to react in horror as their fellow disbelievers not privy or more resistant to such moral indoctrination behave rationally in the manner exhorted by Nietzsche and accepted with sardonic resignation by the existentialists.

The essential point that continues to evade most of these decent disbelievers is that regardless of the ethical structure he erects to rationalize his subscription to traditional morals imposed on his consciousness by society, he has no logic beyond simple utilitarianism to offer anyone else. His definition of good and evil - assuming he even accepts such things - is his alone. He can say to the rapist "what you do is evil", but he has no effective response when the certainly rapist says to him "what I do is good, because I define good as that which pleases me" or " A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength" nor does he have a legitimate grounds for preventing or punishing the rapist.

Even the ethical arguments based on utilitarianism can fail here. In a demographically declining West, the rapist can quite reasonably argue that he is committing an act for the good of society, even for the good of humanity, in forcing himself on a woman who intends to remain childless. Indeed, an honest devotee of "the greater good" would have to at least consider supporting a policy of forcibly impregnating the most intelligent women, accompanied, of course, with a revivial of the historical eugenicism aimed at sterilizing the least intelligent.

This is, of course, abhorrent to the Christian morality, which Nietzsche rightly viewed as a defender of the weak. But on what grounds does a utilitarian object?

There is no dearth of philosophical systems of ethics, and they are all useless because they make no logical claim on those who do not voluntarily accept it. This is why the atheist, the agnostic and the pagan so readily resort to force as a substitute for ethics, because their arguments are toothless. To be fair, one must admit there is no shortage of Christians who do the same in their confusion of government-mandated legality with Biblically-mandated morality.

Eco quotes another lapsed Catholic, Joyce: ""What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" I would add: what profits it an individual to forsake a morality which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical, incoherent and inapplicable to others?

17 guys you can't get mad at

Speaking of being philosophically resigned:

Brad Pitt - If the last two women a man had sex with were Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, and the women he chooses for his next conquest is your girl, there is no way you should feel upset about this. You should feel both honored and privileged. Your woman must be among the hottest 3 girls on the planet.

The Rock - Seriously what are you going to do? He is bigger than you, stronger than you, and most likely funnier than you too. Just chalk this one up as an L and move on with life. Besides, too many years of steroid abuse have most likely shriveled his crank to the size of a golf pencil.... or at least you can keep telling yourself that.

Doug Flutie - Never before has one man brought an entire team as well as their legions of fans to their knees. Flutie did this to "The U" ... why should your girl be any different.

Hmmmmm... Spacebunny does seem to perk up a bit when Tom Selleck makes an appearance on a Friends rerun....

Kant and the Buffalo

The White Buffalo runs rampant at Pandagon:

White Buffalo: What is the intrinsic worth of all human beings derived from sans a higher creator? That's VD's point. There is no accepted, logically defensible standard that atheists/agnostics agree on. You want everyone to play nice so you say people have intrinsic worth, but at the same time you say people evolved by accident over millions of years from pond scum. Since when did accident's have instrinsic worth? And if they don't, why should one not violate them?

Pandagonian 1: Buffy, go read some philosophy. I'm not trying to be nasty; there are literally dozens of introductory-level philosophy books that introduce ideas like Kant's Universal Imperative, which is just one of the many ways to get a non-deistic ethical system off the ground.

Pandagonian 2: I second the Kant recommendation; read up. God won't smite you with lightning, I promise. I've done it myself and it's perfectly safe.

White Buffalo: Kant's Categorical Imperative (He doesn't have a Universal Imperative) does not assign intrinsic value to humans. It asserts that one should act only in ways that one could will that action to become a universal law. So pretty much Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Nothing particulalry original there, and not a formula for determining special value for humans, which is what I asked.

Pandagonian 1: Buffy, I apologize for messing up my terminology. I tossed off my comment during a slow spell at work. Correcting me, though, is definitely not the way to continue a constructive argument. If you want to flame, I can do that too, but I'd prefer to stick to one or the other.

CORRECTING ME IS DEFINITELY NOT THE WAY TO CONTINUE A CONSTRUCTIVE ARGUMENT. That is beautiful, simply beautiful. It could serve as the motto for the entire left-wing of the blogosphere. When caught with your pants down - notice that this is the guy who thinks he can get by with a naked argument from authority - clearly the correct solution is to criticize the person who notices.

It's generally a bad idea to try pulling a philosophical fast one on a guy whose brother-in-law is getting a PhD in philosophy. When you've got one of those around, everybody gets to hear more Kant than they want.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mailvox: "try" being the operative word

JS actually decides to give reason a whirl:

You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. All this talk of 'reason' and 'moral choices' makes me want to puke. These are not your strong points. But instead of yelling obscenities at you I'll try and be reasonable, even though I can tell I'm wasting my time. These are not your strong points. But instead of yelling obscenities at you I'll try and be reasonable, even though I can tell I'm wasting my time.

1. Your statement that all victims of crimes bear responsibility for their victimhood is clearly wrong. Does the victim of a serial killer bear responsibility for his crime? Should he have stayed at home behind locked doors in case a serial killer tried to kill him? Was a slave captured in Africa responsible for her capture because she didn't run away fast enough?

Strike one. I never made any statement about all victims of crimes bearing responsibility for their victimhood. I stated that victims of crimes can bear partial responsibility for their victimhood. Is it an individual's fault if his house is destroyed by a hurricane? If you say no, then how about those people who are rebuilding their homes below sea level in New Orleans? Are they more or less responsible for future hurricane damage than someone building a home in Iowa? (Hint: check their insurance premiums.) If you wish to argue that no victim can ever bear any responsibility for their victimhood, then please do so, as ascribing things I have not said to me and then attacking them only makes one look like an intellectually dishonest fool. My actual words are right here on this site.

2. You say that "he said-she said is no basis for a system of justice". This is why, you argue, date-rape does not exist. Because the justice system cannot tell if the woman consented to sex or not, the rape did not happen. You argue this either a) because the woman, in agreeing to a date with a man, thus consents to have sex with him or b) no rape occurs without written proof of consent. I hope you discard a), because it is nonsense. By discarding it, you are also forced to discard your argument that date-rape is not rape. If you believe b) (which you seem implicitly to disagree with) then no sex is rape, unless a consent form has been signed. By arguing that disagreement over whether a rape took place, without concrete evidence of consent, meant that there was no rape, you are arguing that disagreement proves that events did not take place. This is clearly untrue: there is disagreement over whether the Holocaust took place, but those that deny it wilfully ignore clear evidence. They are hardly advocates of the "reason" you so admire.

Strike Two. JS conflates two different aspects of the topic and manages to thoroughly confuse himself. Neither (a) nor (b) apply because you incorrectly describe my argument. You should have written: "Because the justice system cannot tell if the woman consented to sex or not, there is no possibility of a just conviction of a crime". His confusion becomes evident when he talks about the Holocaust; my entire point depends on there being no evidence other than sexual contact taking place. If there is sufficient evidence of force or violence, then obviously the justice system CAN tell that a crime took place.

3. Moral relativists do not necessarily reject the notion of private property. This is in fact an anarchist and Marxist idea. Moral relativists deny the existence of clear hierarchies of moral values. Do not mix terms.

Strike Three. Again, JS demonstrates an inability to describe accurately what I have written. First, I wrote "those moral relativists who reject the notion of private property", thereby indicating a subset of all moral relativists. Second, the thief does not require an adherence to an economic ideology in order to violate the moral precept against stealing, indeed, most thieves who by definition of their profession obviously reject the concept of private property - what is mine is not yours - have likely never heard of Marx. They steal due to their denial of a specific moral value, not on behalf of the proletariat.

4. Most people do not use strict logic. Your argument that "responsibility is not a zero sum game" is not how most people think; blame is shifted implicitly in you argument from the rapist to his victim. By arguing this, you mirror the moral relativists you claim to despise. In your rationale all crimes are the products of unstoppable social or organic urges. A man rapes because he is lustful; therefore a woman who gives him the opportunity to rape her is culpable for that rape. Leave your keys in the car; it'll get stolen. Blaming the perpetrator is mitigated, because everything is pre-determined. Blaming the rapist is relative to the opportunity given to him - if the woman is wearing a miniskirt, he is relatively less to blame for his rape.

Strike Four - and it's a complete whiff! What does the failure of others to use strict logic have to do with me and my use of it? Here JS demonstrates that he can't even follow the point well enough to mischaracterize it. Since responsibility is not a zero sum game, blame does not shift at all from anyone to anyone. The rapist is still 100 percent a rapist regardless of whether the woman is 0, 10 or 20 percent responsible. That's precisely what NOT ZERO-SUM means! The bits about social urges, organic urges and pre-determination are simply debris left over from his failure to understand the point.

5. A fundamentally idealistic argument to counter your depressing determinism; we should all try collectively to create a society where a woman can walk down a street naked and not be raped. By arguing that a woman is "responsible" and "stupid" for being raped, you accede to the view that rape is inevitable.

Rape is inevitable. It has occurred in every human society, regardless of class and culture. It even occurs among animals. It occurs in free societies and rigidly totalitarian societies alike. It requires either complete innocence or willful ignorance to even attempt to argue otherwise. The fact that a woman is not necessarily responsible or stupid for being raped does not mean that a woman can never be responsible or never be stupid.

I don't know why talk of reason would make JS want to puke. He doesn't seem to have much experience with it, one way or the other.

You are property, girls

Stacer needs someone to explain the dark mystery of my appeal to her:

I was reading a post on Feminist Mormon Housewives that led me to a link on Hugo's blog that led me to another of Hugo's posts that led me somewhere else, can't remember, which led me to this disgusting diatribe. Basically, the guy says that women are property and rape doesn't exist. And I have friends who think this guy is great?!

So please, those of you who read him, please, please, please tell me why you think he has any sort of redeeming qualities. I'm going to go puke now.

Perhaps this is because they can actually read. Stating that date rape is a myth and cannot possibly be considered a crime is not tantamount to stating that rape doesn't exist. And why do women think that anyone cares if they "feel sick" or "can't breathe" when exposed to an alien idea? Do they think this expressed incapacity to survive exposure to diverse modes of thought makes people take them more or less seriously? What's funny is how some of them will then proceed to assert my narrow-mindedness, completely unaware of the irony.

As to the matter under discussion, you can choose your poison, girls, but one way or another, you are property. Deal with it. And don't feel so bad. In most cases, the guys are property too.

As a libertarian, I consider an individual, male or female, to hold the property title to himself; as a Christian libertarian, I would further assert that a woman does not hold the property title to an unborn child that happens to be present in her body, based on the distinct DNA. But in general, I believe that you have the perfect right to put, or not put, as many chemicals, bullets and penises in yourself as you like.

Now, the wisdom or the morality of doing so is another matter entirely, and in any case, there is no shortage of those who disagree with my take on the concept:

1. The US federal government, which engages in a little legal sleight-of-hand confusing the juristical person (YOUR NAME) and the natural person (Your Name). If you happen to confuse the two and go along with the charade, well, that's really not their fault, now, is it? You may not be de jure property, but you certainly are de facto.

2. Left-wing ideology holds that the individual is the property of the state, as everything belongs to the people via the state prior to its inevitable and inexplicable withering away. Hence the state-owned brothels that are a feature of most communist nations, where the loftiest ambition of a majority of schoolgirls is to become a hard currency hooker; from each according to her ability, right? On a related note, you may recall that the socialist-run Bundesrepublik was recently on the verge of requiring women on the dole to work as prostitutes. And as Mussolini famously said: "Tutto nello stato, niente al di fuori dello stato, nulla contro lo stato." Do you see any exception for individuals there? I certainly don't.

3. There are no shortage of Muslim and African countries where women are the property of their fathers and husbands. The fact that Stacer doesn't like this doesn't change the legal reality. And unless she is a cultural bigot, how can she possibly object to a cultural tradition held by over a billion people? In these countries, some men are property, others are not.

4. The United Nations purports to grant a list of basic human rights, but then goes on to declare that none of the rights therein may be exercised to the detriment of the interests of the United Nations. Ergo, the UN position can be legitimately extrapolated to conclude that individual humans are the property of the United Nations, which makes sense considering that many of the member states which make up the UN subscribe to property concepts 2 and 3.

5. A feudal monarchy presupposes most property, including lands, buildings, rents, crops, animals and people, belongs to the king. Such property could be held on the king's behalf, but the monarch still ultimately held title. The intrinsic link between the historical notion that title to all property and persons belongs to the king as head of state and the revolutionary concept that all title is held by the collective people through the vehicle of the state itself is why Hayek's famous critique of the Left is entitled "The Road to Serfdom".

6. The Christian believes that he belongs to God. He believes that everything else belongs to "the prince of this world".

You are property. The only question is: who owns you?

UPDATE: Amandagon, much to my surprise, reveals herself to be an unexpected champion of firearms ownership: But this is the very best example of how biology is misunderstood by the Vox Day crowd--they seem unable to understand that women are in fact fully functioning, muscular animals who can do things like, for instance, lift a gun and shoot it.

Right, it would NEVER occur to a bunch of right-wing libertarian extremists and conservative Constitutionalists who probably own several million rounds of ammunition between them that women can shoot guns. I own assault rifles of which most people have never even heard, Space Bunny has a laser on her Glock nine and the mere mention of a preferred caliber can spark disputation to rival that of evolution, abortion or the Civil War... so, what do you shoot, Amanda? As if the various feminist groups aren't almost as anti-gun as they are pro-abortion.

And speaking of massive Pandagunk in your synapses, check out this beauty from Mildred: But the most essential part of all libertarianism is moral relativism! If he calls himself a libertarian and then says "from a moral relativist's view..." how is that.... how can he... what the...Oh my God... Argh! The Stupidity! The Stupidity! *nose bleeds*

This is the flip-side of what we usually see from conservatives, conflating legality with morality. Libertarianism is a political ideology relating to governments, not a religious or ethical ideology relating to individuals. It's not surprising that the mere act of thinking should cause Mildred's brain to swell and bleed, as she also managed completely misread my earlier post and believed I was championing the notion of a Nietszchean claim on any desirable bodies in my vicinity.

Would she not look beautiful in chains? Just call me Tarl.

CS Lewis and the problem of religion in science fiction and fantasy

This essay was published earlier this month in the anthology "Revisiting Narnia", from BenBella Books.

In the center of Oxford, there is a brass sign indicating the proximity of The Eagle and Child, the pub in which the informal group known as the Inklings used to gather on Thursdays. Three of these Inklings eventually became fantasy writers of some reknown, one of them, J.R.R. Tolkien, stamped an image on the genre which, sixty years and three movies later, is arguably more powerful than ever.

These three writers, Tolkien, Lewis and Charles Williams, were not only Oxford men - Tolkien and Lewis were dons while Williams was an editor at the university press - but also devout Christians. Ironically, while Lewis is now considered to be the more recognizably Christian figure thanks to works of Christian apologetics such as Mere Christianity and Miracles, it was Tolkien who played a major role in the atheist Lewis' conversion to Christianity in 1931.

The Christian themes in both Lewis' fantasy and science fiction are undeniable. Even a child conversant with both "The Chronicles of Narnia" and the Bible will readily recognize that the lion Aslan, who voluntarily lays down his life in exchange for the life of a criminal condemned to death in "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe", is a barely disguised metaphor for Jesus Christ. And this diaphanous veil disappears entirely six books later when the link between Aslan's country and Heaven is disclosed upon the death of the Pevensey family at a railway station in "The Last Battle".

The religious themes are even more overt in Lewis' "Space Trilogy". From the name of the protagonist - Ransom - to the replay of the Edenic temptation in Perelandra, Lewis consciously provides a fictional retelling of vignettes straight from the Bible. Indeed, the very title of the first volume, "Out of the Silent Planet", refers directly to Lewis' concept of God's divine invasion(1) of nature, which he lays out explicitly in "Mere Christianity".

The Christian foundation of the other famous Inkling's work is less blatant, yet almost as obvious to all but the most willfully blind. While there have been a few brave souls foolhardy enough to attempt to deny the self-evident,(2) even those with no discernible Christian agenda freely acknowledge the powerful religious elements integral to "The Lord of the Rings".(3) For the Secret Fire of which Gandalf is a servant, as Tolkien explained for the benefit of those too unfamiliar of the book of Acts to recognize the symbolism, is nothing less than the Holy Spirit whose flames were first seen at Pentecost, and in case things were not perfectly clear, the author once described his landmark trilogy as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."

Thus, it is not the fantasy elements - which are actually not very similar in the particulars - but the Christian themes running through both that tie Lewis' and Tolkien's works together in our minds. Nor are these themes the only relationship. Tolkien, Lewis and Williams were all influenced to varying degrees by the same literary and spiritual mentor, a Scottish minister and prolific author by the name of George MacDonald.(4) MacDonald is largely forgotten now, but he was a well-known author of the late nineteenth century; among other things, he corresponded regularly with a certain American writer he had befriended by the name of Samuel Clemens. In one letter, Clemens even mentioned to MacDonald how his daughter Susy had worn out her copy of MacDonald's "At the Back of the North Wind" and requested that MacDonald send her a replacement.(5)

It is interesting to note that while Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are generally considered to be the fathers of science fiction, as far as the literary historians are concerned, modern fantasy is imagined to have leaped like Athena, fully accoutered, into the pulp magazines of the 1920s. And yet, George MacDonald's claim to paternity is difficult to dismiss. His first work of fantasy fiction, the aptly named "Phantastes", was published in 1858, six years before Jules Verne published "Journey to the Center of the Earth", seven years before Lewis Carroll published "Alice in Wonderland" and before H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft or Lord Dunsany were born.

This failure to recognize MacDonald's influence on the genre(6) appears to stem primarily from the radical secularization of the science fiction and fantasy genres dating from science fiction's Golden Age. While the short stories and novels of the Golden Age are fondly recalled by many, and are rightly known for many good things, one must admit that character development was not among them. This is unfortunate, because the Golden Age preference for plot over personalities and for ideas over individuals(7) played a significant role in the relegation of science fiction to a literary ghetto disdained by The New York Times Review of Books and others too self-consciously erudite to take seriously what is still too-often dismissed as juvenile space opera and futuristic twiddle-twaddle. While character development in science fiction has improved dramatically of late, it is still only the exceptional work that manages to transcend the genre and break out of the ghetto.(8)

This disdain for character left a mark on the genre which lasts to this day. Almost to a man, the writers of the Golden Age were secular humanists, and they felt as strongly about the deleterious effects of religion on collective human development as did Sigmund Freud with regards to the individual. Their antipathy towards all forms of traditional religion in favor of a dogmatic faith in the scientific method cast science fiction into an artistic ghetto from which it has not yet even begun to escape.

Fortunately, science and religion need no longer be at war, as developments in modern physics have shown, (especially those relating to the significance of the fundamental constants), which may indicate that the time for hostilities may finally be over. It is interesting to note that the 'multiple universes' concept which has inspired so many short stories in the past decade is a purely hypothetical theory developed without any experimental basis in an attempt to answer the 'anthropic principle' which not only has a solid foundation in current scientific method, but threatens to demolish the entire notion of a random, mechanistic universe. The concept does not, of course, provide the least bit of evidence for the legitimacy of the Prophet's revelation, the infallability of the Pope, or the likelihood of the Second Coming; what it does demonstrate is that what has been long considered an antagonistic dichotomy between science and religion may not actually exist at all.

Still, this distaste for all things religious has been a costly one, both in artistic and financial terms.(9) While sufficient evidence exists to reject the idea that only a true believer is capable of writing accurately about his faith, it is true that presenting a reasonable and believable image of a religious individual presents a greater challenge to one who has no experience of such strange beings and therefore lacks even the most basic information about them. One would not expect one who knows nothing of math beyond addition and subtraction to write a convincing portrayal of calculus, after all. And while one may no more believe in aliens than in Jesus Christ, a survey of the current literature suggests that far more thought typically goes into depictions of the former than into those who profess to believe in the latter.

Compare, the vast difference between the guilt-racked seducer of Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" and the foam-flecked fundamentalists that haunt mediocre short stories in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine like clockwork cartoon bogeymen. Is it any wonder that the science fiction and fantasy writer's pretense to literary status is scoffed at by those familiar with Dostoevsky, Goethe, and Tolstoy?

Lewis himself almost appears to have been on the verge of contemplating a similar question when he wrote to a gentleman by the name of Warfield Firor regarding the limits of Mark Twain as an author.

"I have been regaling myself on Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I wonder why that man never wrote anything else on the same level. The scene in which Huck decides to be 'good' by betraying Jim, and then finds he can't and concludes that he is a reprobate, is unparalleled in humour, pathos, and tenderness. And it goes down to the very depth of all moral problems."(10)

This passage should suffice to demonstrate that one's personal belief or disbelief in God, even in morality, is no bar to successfully creating deep and convincing moral characters, given that Twain, a self-proclaimed atheist, succeeded admirably. Like Twain, C.S. Lewis populated his fictitious land with moral characters, as diverse as the noble, but flawed Caspian, the once-traitorous Edmund, the self-absorbed Eustace and the arrogant Rabadash. His character studies are necessarily less deep for the most part, given the broader scope of his stories, but the most significant attributes of his characters are almost always their moral qualities.

As with individuals, cultures, too, require some element of religious faith to be convincing given that the overwhelming majority of historical cultures were centered, at some level, around faith in something, from the Roman founder legends to the Judeo-Christianity of the Western tradition. In the faithless storyscapes of science fiction, the implacable Fremen of Frank Herbert's Dune stand out as a chillingly believable vision of a galaxy-spanning Islamic culture while Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos is unique in presenting an unusual, but compelling projection of the Vatican hierarchy into a dark and ominous technological future.

These varying examples prove that while it is not necessary to kowtow before the icons of any religion, for the sake of the writer's art, it is imperative to pay enough attention to the details in order to get them right! Many writers go to great lengths to "get the science right", but for those who harbor any literary pretensions at all, the same must be done with regards to the beliefs and behaviors of their fictional characters as well as the structure of their organized religions.

While it's hardly surprising that a field dominated for decades by self-professed secular humanists should prove hostile to religion - any honest reader will admit that Asimov was far more fascinating for his ideas than his character development or his infamous naming conventions - the fact that this artistic flaw transcends genres demonstrates that the problem is more widespread than one might think, to the great detriment of literature in general. It is, it seems, more a cultural defect than one easily laid at the feet of individual writers.

For example, Wendy Shalit criticized the tendency of Jewish writers she calls "outsider-insiders" to make fundamental errors about Orthodox Judaism in the Sunday New York Times Book Review:

Consider, for example, Nathan Englander, a talented writer whose collection of stories, ''For the Relief of Unbearable Urges,'' brimmed with revelations of hypocrisy and self-inflicted misery: a fistfight that breaks out in synagogue over who will read from the Torah; a sect whose members fast three days instead of one and drink a dozen glasses of wine at the Passover seders instead of four; a man whose rabbi sends him to a prostitute when his wife won't sleep with him. Of course, the Orthodox don't actually brawl over who reads the Torah, no rabbi is allowed to write a dispensation for a man to see a prostitute, and even extremely pious Jews can't invent their own traditions for fast days or seders.(11)

These basic errors are as ludicrous to the haredi as lowbrow Star Trek science is to the astrophysicist. Worse, they are used to paint what are necessarily false characters, based as they are on an erroneous foundation.

Still, for all that religion in science fiction may be shallow, more often than not it is simply absent. Fantasy, for all that its early masters were usually Christian, tends to go more horribly awry. It frequently embraces a form of what on the surface appears to be religion, for what is a fat fantasy trilogy without a token cleric or priest, but nearly always warps the concept into something wholly unrecognizable. For example, there is not a single traditional religion, including Taoism, which revolves around the concept of a precarious Balance maintained between good and evil, and yet a religious structure built around some form of the Balance cliche is ubiquitous in modern fantasy. This mythical Balance-centered religion is a nonsensical concept wherein too much Evil is bad and too much Good is bad, a notion which tells the reader more about the writer's inclination towards political moderation than about morality, the problem of evil, the nature of the divine, or any other question with which nearly every historical religion attempts to address in some way.

Another oddity is the fantasy genre's strange treatment of the medieval era. Most modern fantasy fiction is based in a medieval time period, often with readily identifiable historical societies, and yet the most quintessentially medieval institution, the Catholic Church, is noticeably absent for the most part. Even more strangely, it is not unusual to recreate a divine right of kings without any reference to a Divine which would presumably be providing that right to rule.

The list of modern fantasy authors who have committed one of these bizarre literary crimes against historical and religious versimilitude reads like an SFWA honor roll:

Piers Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality", Terry Brooks' Shannara series, Glen Cook's Black Company novels, David Eddings' Belgariad, Raymond Feist's Riftwar Saga, Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Stephen King's Dark Tower series, Michael Moorcock's "Chronicles of Corum", Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance series, and last, but by no means least, Roger Zelazny's excellent "Chronicles of Amber".

Now, it is no crime to envision a world that is free of Christianity, for science fiction is the art of the conceivable while fantasy is the art of the inconceivable. But one can legitimately question why this fascination with a world without faith, with characters without souls, with what Lewis called men without chests, should so thoroughly pervade modern literature.

Lewis himself provides the answer, indeed, he predicted the likelihood of just such a result, (though in a more general sense), when he reviewed an English textbook written for schoolboys back in the 1940s. In "The Abolition of Man", he could be writing of either today's authors or their flawed, cardboard characters when he writes:

It is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all. Stepping outside the Tao,(12) they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts. Man's final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.

In abolishing faith and morality from their characters, the heirs of CS Lewis' literary tradition have not only failed themselves, but more importantly, they have failed their readers. For it is not that they are bad observers of the human condition, it is that they are not observers of the human condition at all, chronicling instead an imaginary inhumanity that never existed, does not exist and will never exist.

(1) Philip K. Dick, of all people, appears to have been familiar with the concept, as it provides the title for one of his more esoteric novels, "The Divine Invasion".

(2) For all that his portrayal of Gandalf was flawlessly informed by the book, the deeper aspects of his character appeared to have escaped Sir Ian McKellen when he said: "Despite being a Catholic, [Tolkien] was not trying to write a Catholic parable.... "The Lord of the Rings" is just part of the mythology that he wrote, and I'm not familiar with the rest of it, but I do know it isn't very helpful in this story to refer to a deity. Because there are vague higher powers who send Gandalf back to finish off the job, and there seems to be something that might be mistaken for heaven as the boat sails into the sunset. But it ain't very specific, is it?" - Sir Ian McKellen, interview with Hollywood Jesus, August 2004.

(3) "But again, to understand Tolkien, one must return to his Christian roots. While at Oxford, he and C.S. Lewis would discuss at great length and critique each other's writing. They were also both members of a literary group that performed the same kinds of evaluations from the same Christian foundation. So at every step of the way, Tolkien had a Christian perspective guiding his writing. This is abundantly apparent in his finished works and even comes through in the recent movie release of "The Fellowship of the Ring"." - Lord of the Rings: Christian Myth at Work, Ali Assadullah, IslamOnline

(4) Lewis and Williams openly acknowledged their debt to MacDonald, while Tolkien was rather less enthusiastic. Tolkien once described MacDonald's "The Golden Key" as "illwritten, incoherent, and bad, in spite of a few memorable passages". Of course, Lewis would be hard-pressed to deny it, as the first paragraphs of "The Princess and the Goblin" will be shockingly familiar to anyone who has ever read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".

(5) "All these things might move and interest one. But how desperately more I have been moved to-night by the thought of a little old copy in the nursery of "At the Back of the North Wind". Oh, what happy days they were when that little book was read, and how Susy loved it!" - Mark Twain, letter to William Dean Howells, 1899.

(6) There 125 science fiction and fantasy writers listed on the SF Site's M page, including four MacDonalds. Despite his enormous contribution to the genre, George MacDonald is not one of them.

(7) This is not to say that a religious writer such as Lewis lacked ideas, but the essence of religion in general and Christianity in particular requires a focus on individuals in order to demonstrate the transformative power of faith or the lack thereof. Technology, on the other hand, requires no such focus. This is why there is, as yet, no Dostoevsky of science fiction, or arguably, modern literature.

(8) And when they do, we have a terrible tendency to disown them. Neal Stephenson is arguably the finest science fiction author writing today; I happen to be a member of the SFWA's 2005 Nebula novel jury and there's actually a discussion as to whether The System of the World qualifies as science fiction or not! No doubt this is why a sufficiently literary author of fantasy, such as Italo Calvino, is known to the world as a fabulist.

(9) No doubt we science fiction and fantasy authors are far too pure in art to allow petty pecuniary matters to ever enter our minds, but the fact that the Christian publishers of the 50 million-selling "Left Behind" series have gone out of their way to ensure their books are not confused with science fiction and fantasy might give pause to even the most staunchly secular SFWA writer.

(10) William Griffin, "C. S. Lewis: A Dramatic Life" (San Francisco: Harper, 1986), p. 314.

(11) The Sunday New York Times Book Review, January 30, 2005

(12) Lewis uses "the Tao" to refer to the concept more often described as Natural Law.

An unexpected Hindu synchronicity

A leading Hindu hard-liner has angered women and Muslims by pressing Hindus to have as many children as they can to avoid being swamped by Muslims. K.S. Sudarshan, who heads the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party which led India until last year, said a higher Hindu birth rate was vital to check a "population imbalance".

"Whenever new people come to me for blessings, I tell them: 'Not less than three (children)'. The more you can, the better," he said at a function broadcast on television recently.

Women's groups in Asia's third-largest economy, with a billion-plus people, said they were insulted and one group labeled the Sudarshan's stand an "agenda of hatred".

"It is implied in his statement that a woman's reproductive faculties are to be employed solely to fulfil the agenda of a Hindu nationalist state -- like a reproductive machine," said Malini Bhattacharya, a leading activist. "As if the question of a woman's right does not even arise -- her right over her own body and health."

The RSS holds considerable sway among the large, conservative Hindu population, especially in impoverished northern India.

It's intriguing to see how women's groups in India are every bit as stupid, short-sighted and demographically-challenged as they are here in the West. Math is hard! Only three generations removed from setting themselves on fire as their first act of widowhood and already there's a female leadership bent on cultural suicide. Apparently Miz Bhattacharya hasn't read up on what life was like for women back when her part of Dodge was known as the Moghul empire.

Cluelessness knows no cultural bounds.

Mailvox: SAT and IQ

Russell sees an apparent contradiction:

I was wondering if Peter Charnley could clear something up for me? He states that a new British study shows that men outnumber women at higher I.Q. levels. How does this conclusion mesh with the results of widely tested entrance exams like the SAT which show some difference between men and women on the math portion of the test, but nothing nearly as dramatic as suggested by the recent British I.Q. test. For instance, boys out number women by 2:1 in the higher reaches of the SAT math section (scores over 700). If this new study were true I would expect a much greater difference in male/female numbers than 2:1.

Renee gave it a good effort, but the answer is actually much simpler. The SAT is no longer an IQ test and it has not been for over a decade. In 1994, the tests were changed to focus on measuring achievement instead of raw cognitive ability, which is why Mensa will no longer accept SAT scores as evidence of the 132 IQ that is the required minimum on most of the IQ tests it accepts.

There is, of course, still some correlation between SAT success and IQ, it simply isn't particularly strong.

"In the June 2004 issue of Psychological Science, Meredith Frey and Douglas Detterman of Case Western Reserve reported... that the mean correlation between SAT scores and IQ scores was .76."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

NFL Week 12

Last week: 10-4. Season: 107-51, .677. Fantasy 8-3.

W-Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens
W-Seattle Seahawks over New York Giants
Indianapolis Colts over Pittsburgh Steelers
W-St. Louis Rams over Houston Texans
L-New York Jets over New Orleans Saints
W-Minnesota Vikings over Cleveland Browns
W-Jacksonville Jaguars over Arizona Cardinals
L-Oakland Raiders over Miami Dolphins
W-Carolina Panthers over Buffalo Bills
W-Tennessee Titans over San Francisco 49ers
W-Kansas City Chiefs over New England Patriots
L-Detroit Lions over Atlanta Falcons
W-San Diego Chargers over Washington Redskins
L-Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Chicago Bears
L-Green Bay Packers over Philadelphia Eagles
L-Dallas Cowboys over Denver Broncos

This week is shaping up like a Lemony Snicket book. Dallas gave it a good shot - now I'm wishing I'd started Bledsoe - but the Detroit game was simply gruesome. I can't believe Matt Millen still has a job there; I'm not saying that Mariucci is working out well, but I don't think he is the fundamental problem either.

Dr. Catlady clarifies... or something

Yeah, the Chiefs-Patriots game blows. So, I'm typing this up while watching Brady do his best McNabb impression as he overthrows everything by a foot.

It has come to light that my last post has been taken astray as me being a brainless little twit....After the tattoo was finished, we had dinner at Applebee's, went back to my place, harrassed my wonderful man and had a conversation about people who express opinions that can not back them up. Vox Day was on that list. So, upon urging I looked up Vox Day. What I read appalled me and angered me. I have serious issues with someone who decides that women should not write science fiction because they can not handle, and do not understand, the hard sciences. And yes, biology is not a hard science. Of course, this can not be backed up. I have other issues with a person who declares that "Real Rape" is different than "Date Rape" because Date rape isn't really rape. (someone help me with the logic here. Please?)

Regardless of why Dr. Catlady posted that, or her presumed ability to surmount the low bar set by it, it nevertheless served to nicely highlight the essential silliness of Amandagon's expectation that feminist bloggers would change antifeminists' minds about feminism through their brilliance and diversity.

And she continues to highlight it here, albeit less beautifully. Her errors in that single paragraph are as follows:

1. I almost always back up my opinions. Regardless of whether you consider the support offered to be conclusive or not, I seldom fail to provide something, and have been reasonably accused of going completely overboard on occasion. This is something very few of my critics ever bother to do, including both Dr. Catlady and her fiance.

2. I have never said women should not write science fiction. Given that the SFWA's recent NAR report shows how I have nominated numerous women for science fiction's top prize, the Nebula, the accusation is demonstrably absurd. Virtually no women write hard science fiction - I note that this is not my assertion - and what I have stated is that I believe the primary reason for this is the very small number of women capable of writing it due to women's disinclination to pursue the advanced degrees and professional careers in the hard sciences which are possessed by most male hard science fiction writers and are presumably required to successfully write hard science fiction.

3. I have never made any comment about biology being a hard science or not, in fact, I have never said anything about biology at all. Dr. Catlady's fiance claimed that the mere possession of a bachelor's degree in biology was sufficient to make one a "scientist". I assert that this is ludicrous, especially when the "scientist" in question is a professor in the U of M's Women's Studies department teaching feminist history and the philosophy of feminism.

4. If date rape was rape, there would be no need for the adjective. The adjective modifies the noun. If this is truly beyond Dr. Catlady, I recommend F.A. von Hayek's excellent essay on social justice in the book THE FATAL CONCEIT wherein he demonstrates that the concept of social justice inherently obviates the concept of justice. The concept of date rape is an effort on the part of hard core feminist ideologues to expand the definition of rape as broadly as possible; in the same vein, some have famously asserted all sex to be rape.

With that out of the way, I now invite Dr. Catlady's fiance to back up his own opinion on my supposed inability to back up my own. He can pick the subject, I will either provide the opinion, or, if it is a topic on which I have already opined, stand by it, and he can see if he is capable of demonstrating how I have failed to back it up to everyone's satisfaction.

If he's correct, then this should be no sweat for him. And if he's simply full of it, then I'm sure he'll have a very credible excuse for why he's too busy or can't be bothered. After all, those china patterns won't get picked out on their own!

Meet Mrs. Dr. Catlady

What a delightful surprise! Dr. Catlady's fiance turns out to be one of the lovely and charming minxes from Electrolite! Now, first read how he characterizes our exchange, then note the minor bit of information he omits:

"Jigna Desai, associate professor. BA in Astrophysics from MIT.

She's the second core professor on the list.

Jacquelyn Zita, BA in Biology from Washington University.

She's the ninth core professor on the list.

Two "lab science" degrees in just thirty seconds of research, Vox. Now, if you didn't know this, it means you didn't do any research before you started tossing out "facts" in public. If you did know this, it means you'll lie to preserve your caricature before you'll incorporate contradictory evidence honestly into your arguments. A third and possibly more charitable interpretation is that you're just a really, really sloppy reader."

His response was (in addition to noting that I had mistakenly written 'BA' for one of those degrees which was actually a 'BS,' which of course negates my response in its entirety):

"Yeah, real scientists, those two. Feeble, Scott, very feeble."

And my final words:

"No, truthful, Vox, very truthful. Your exact words, easily disproven, were "not a single scientist in the bunch." I suppose, of course, that the fact these women merely earned degrees in hard science disciplines isn't enough to fit the Vox Day Conveniently Adjustable Definition of a scientist. But then, you can special-plead your way out of anything if your streak of intellectual cowardice is wide enough. Yours is an eight-lane highway."

Oxford would also appear to disagree, as it defines a scientist as "a person who has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences". Is a bachelor's degree sufficient to grant "expert knowledge"? I certainly don't think so, as the linguistics suggest that one would require at least a "master's" to fit this dictionary definition.

The colloquial understanding of a scientist is one who researches science and, to a lesser extent, teaches it in a university setting. So, let's see what those two "scientists" are researching and teaching, shall we? By the way, this aspect is something I pointed out at the time, but Mrs. Dr. Catlady somehow doesn't see fit to mention it in his "very truthful" account of the exchange.

"You could probably count on one hand the number of M.I.T. astrophysics alumni who do research in Hindi cinema. Actually, there may be only one. Her name is Jigna Desai, and she's at the University of Minnesota.... While earning her bachelor's degree in astrophysics at M.I.T., she says, she realized that "teaching physics wouldn't get at the social justice issues that were important to me." So instead of a physics lab, she opted for the University of Minnesota, where she could get a minor in feminist studies while she earned her doctorate in English.

As a part of her scientific exploration: "From a feminist and queer perspective, Jigna Desai explores the hybrid cinema of the Brown Atlantic through a close look at films in English..."

As for our other "scientist", Jacquelyne Zita, she is busily engaged with feminist theory and philosophy, gender, lesbian/gay studies as an associate professor of Women's Studies.

No wonder women scientists have such a hard time developing new technologies and receiving patents. Perhaps if they spent less time researching queer Hindu cinema or "giving students a map of feminist history" and more in the laboratory, they might actually get somewhere. I have a BS in economics and a BA in Asian studies, that doesn't make me an economist any more than it makes me Asian.

Umberto Eco comes to Chesterton

Umberto Eco shows himself to be a moralist in spite of himself:
Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest....

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything." Whoever said it - he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.
Eco, a non-Christian but a great humanist in the best sense of the term, herein expresses the essence of Voltaire's point regarding the fundamental necessity of religion. Human beings are not capable of maintaining a spiritual vaccuum and they will fill that void with faith in something. In some cases, they will fill it with something harmless, in others, something silly, in still others, something actively evil.

I see Eco's article as tangentially related to yesterday's discussion, which demonstrated again how decent atheists and agnostics raised in a Christian culture parasitically and irrationally latch onto the greater part of the morality they reject as a whole, causing them to react in horror as their fellow disbelievers not privy or more resistant to such moral indoctrination behave rationally in the manner exhorted by Nietzsche and accepted with sardonic resignation by the existentialists.

The essential point that continues to evade most of these decent disbelievers is that regardless of the ethical structure he erects to rationalize his subscription to traditional morals imposed on his consciousness by society, he has no logic beyond simple utilitarianism to offer anyone else. His definition of good and evil - assuming he even accepts such things - is his alone. He can say to the rapist "what you do is evil", but he has no effective response when the certainly rapist says to him "what I do is good, because I define good as that which pleases me" or " A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength" nor does he have a legitimate grounds for preventing or punishing the rapist.

Even the ethical arguments based on utilitarianism can fail here. In a demographically declining West, the rapist can quite reasonably argue that he is committing an act for the good of society, even for the good of humanity, in forcing himself on a woman who intends to remain childless. Indeed, an honest devotee of "the greater good" would have to at least consider supporting a policy of forcibly impregnating the most intelligent women, accompanied, of course, with a revivial of the historical eugenicism aimed at sterilizing the least intelligent.

This is, of course, abhorrent to the Christian morality, which Nietzsche rightly viewed as a defender of the weak. But on what grounds does a utilitarian object?

There is no dearth of philosophical systems of ethics, and they are all useless because they make no logical claim on those who do not voluntarily accept it. This is why the atheist, the agnostic and the pagan so readily resort to force as a substitute for ethics, because their arguments are toothless. To be fair, one must admit there is no shortage of Christians who do the same in their confusion of government-mandated legality with Biblically-mandated morality.

Eco quotes another lapsed Catholic, Joyce: ""What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" I would add: what profits it an individual to forsake a morality which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical, incoherent and inapplicable to others?

(In case it is not readily apparent, I did not translate this for The Telegraph.)

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Christmas shopping at the adult store

Pharyngirl engages in a little romantic fantasy:

I was thinking of his pretentiously macho self-image and that photo of him in a snug black t-shirt with a big sword, and I was wondering…isn't Vox Day just begging to be raped?

I didn't know it was possible for a confessed player of soccer and computer games to be macho, pretentiously or otherwise, but apparently Pharyngirl thinks about such things - and the fit of my clothes - more often than I do.

And while I thank her for her kind offer, I am afraid I shall have to respectfully decline. I hope she won't be too disappointed.

Mailvox: strawman city

Eman willfully ignores the adjective:

So you argument is that it was okay to call her "Me so Michelle," which insinuates she is a vietnameese and not asian prostitute, because you thought she was a media whore. I don't see how that answers Paula's accusation that it was not something a christian/gentleman/whatever should use to refer to a mother of two. Perhaps you just call all women whores or maybe you think that any man is justified in calling your wife a whore in front of the internet/united states/whatever?

"It's called a metaphor, and this is a particularly apt one, being doubly applicable and spiced with a dash of alliteration, no less. And as long as we're on the subject of metaphors, I should note that a gentleman is not supposed to treat a whore like a lady, he is merely expected to pay her according to the services rendered."

But the fact is that Michelle Malkin is not a street whore and you are treating her as one. She hasn't rendered you any services. It seems to me that you're referring to her as a whore to discount any credibility she may have left and not alluding to her media whore tendencies. I say this because when you call her a whore you don't refer to anything she has done or said to show she is a whore.

It's clear that Eman is having some serious difficulties with understanding the difference between metaphorical and literal reality. I have not treated Me So as a street whore in any way as I am neither engaging in sexual contact with her nor am I paying her any money. So, what's it going to be, literal or metaphorical? Make up your mind.

I have not called Malkin a whore or a street whore; I have, on the other hand, labled her an egregious media whore, a concept with which all the regulars here are familiar, which I have detailed at some length and which I shall post here later this week.

I have already noted that as Jesus Christ used similarly harsh rhetoric when criticizing other lovers of legalism and state authority, so the idea that it is somehow inherently non-Christian to do likewise is at least arguable. And even if we posit that one is, in fact, in error to do so, I see no reason to pay any attention to those who wish to hold me accountable while simultaneously ignoring Me So Michelle's blatant and public lies as well as her own habit of hurling insults around.

The reason that people get so upset about the Me So Michelle appellation is that it is such an effective dismissal of Malkin, her lack of intellectual character and her prediliction for self-promotion. It is perfect because Malkin can't even whine about it lest she highlight her own hypocrisy on ethnic issues and few who encounter it can see her or read her without it coming immediately to mind.

If Malkin wanted substantive criticism, she had the option of addressing it. She rejected that option because what would come out was bound to harm her career somewhat, and being a media whore, she valued career and the illusion of credibility over the real thing. She made her choice and so she will continue to silently endure the open contempt directed her way.

As to how I would react if a man called my wife a whore, I imagine would react in much the same way as if he had called her Asian or a picture frame, as the one is as accurate as the others.
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