Monday, April 30, 2012

Army replaces band who says bad things about Obama with a band that says good things about the Devil

After anathematizing Ted Nugent for saying bad things about Obama and cancelling his concert appearance at Fort Knox, the libertarian bad boy now finds his home in the politically correct darkness. He was here, but now he's gone.

The Army has now replaced him with a band that can usually be found giving the Devil his due: Blue Oyster Cult.

Out with the Motor City Madman, in with Buck Dharma.

I saw both bands live when I was in High School, and BOC was far better. That was at a time, of course, when my musical tastes were in the Pleistocene Epoch and when my criterion for a good song had almost exclusively to do with volume level. Makes me wonder on what grounds I discriminated between the two.

The Army now apparently agrees with my teenage judgment, even though the criterion is somewhat different.

It's comforting to know that there will be no one saying bad things about the President at Fort Knox, but a wholesome group that sings songs about death and the Devil.

Lawrence Krauss: The new poster child for scientism

We hereby declare this week "Lawrence Krauss Week" here at Vital Remnants. Krauss is fast becoming the poster boy for modern New Atheist scientism by engaging in an adolescent triumphalism about science that is now making even some of his atheist colleagues uncomfortable.

I mean, when you force Jerry Coyne to distance himself from you, you know your becoming radioactive. It would be sort of like having Jerry Springer disassociate from you on grounds of bad journalism.

Krauss, for those of our readers unfamiliar with the more exotic specimens of scientism, is a physicist at Case Western Reserve whose new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing (which we will be reviewing later this week), marks a new low in a New Atheist literature characterized by not being very high.

Krauss' most recent flight from rationality occurred in a recent interview with The Atlantic, in which he goes after the discipline of philosophy. At least the old atheists knew better than to dismiss a whole field of study simply because they didn't understand it.

Here is Krauss, from the Atlantic interview, displaying his utter lack of understanding of what he is criticizing:
Philosophy is a field that, unfortunately, reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke, "those that can't do, teach, and those that can't teach, teach gym." And the worst part of philosophy is the philosophy of science; the only people, as far as I can tell, that read work by philosophers of science are other philosophers of science. It has no impact on physics what so ever, and I doubt that other philosophers read it because it's fairly technical. And so it's really hard to understand what justifies it. And so I'd say that this tension occurs because people in philosophy feel threatened, and they have every right to feel threatened, because science progresses and philosophy doesn't.
Boneheaded Statement #1: The "only people who read philosophy of science" are "philosophers of science"? First of all that's a completely inaccurate statement. I happen to have on my mp3 player at this very moment two series of lectures published by the Great Courses on the subject. Not only am I not a philosopher of science, but the company that produces them makes money from people buying them, and I cannot imagine that there are enough philosophers of science out there to constitute a market if that is the only people purchasing them.

But why should it matter? Maybe Krauss could inform the public who else besides particle physicists read the complicated journal articles that appear in physics journals in that particularly specialty. How many do you think are cosmologists? If the legitimacy of a specialty in a discipline is going to be judged by how many people outside that specialty read in it, then what is fate of cosmology?

Boneheaded Statement #2: "It has no impact on physics what so ever, and I doubt that other philosophers read it because it's fairly technical. And so it's really hard to understand what justifies it." Huh?  Is this even an argument? Why does philosophy of science have to have an "impact on physics"? And how would having an "impact on science" justify the philosophy of science? The point of the philosophy of science is not to have an "impact on physics" in the first place. It's supposed to offer a rational critique of science. If no scientist wants to listen (in fact, many of them do), then that's not the problem of the philosophy of science; it's problem with science.

Boneheaded Statement #3: "And so I'd say that this tension occurs because people in philosophy feel threatened, and they have every right to feel threatened, because science progresses and philosophy doesn't." What evidence does he have that people in the philosophy of science are threatened? How does he know what their motives are?  Why shouldn't we believe instead that he feels threatened by the philosophy of science? And in what way has the philosophy of science not progressed? Does he really think there is not a greater understanding the what criteria should and shouldn't be employed in demarcating science from non-science today than 100 years ago? Or about the way science explains? Or about causality? Or about probability? Has he never heard of Leibniz? Berkely? Hume? Bayes? Whewell? C. S. Pierce? Bertrand Russell? Rudolf Carnap? Kurt Gödel? Karl Popper? Thomas Kuhn? Karl Hempel? Nelson Goodman? Ernest Nagel? Saul Kripke? Paul Feyerabend? Bas van Fraasen? Have these people really have made no contribution to any progress in the understanding of science--what it is, how it explains, and how it justifies itself?

This is just one paragraph folks, and it doesn't get any better. If Krauss isn't careful, he's going to give intellectual incompetence a bad name.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The gays' Final Solution to the problem of bullying

Dan Savage is the head of the "It Gets Better" Campaign (owned by "Savage Love, L.L.C."--surely that's not a double entendré) and a sort of Oberstürmfuhrer of the Tolerance Police, which is trying to intimidate religious people into abandoning their religiously-based moral beliefs and threatening them with legislation that would restrict their Constitutional right to free speech.

Here is Mr. Savage (there is a Mrs. too, only he's a Mr.) at the podium eggsplainink how ze Bible iz evil und how ze üntermenschen (in ozer verds, ze Kristians) should be dealt vis.

Mr. Savage is very clear on what he thinks is the Final Solution to the problem of bullying.

As you can see, it's punctuated by some of the high schoolers that were there at the National High School Journalism Conference, sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association, leaving during his speech, apparently out of protest.

Zey vill be dealt vis later.

Among other things, Savage writes a sex advice column called "Savage Love." Here is an account of Mr. Savage's message (From the Wikipedia article):
The openly gay author uses the column as a forum for his strong opinions that reject conservative views on love, sex, and family. He generally encourages advice-seekers to pursue their fetishes, so long as activities are legal, consensual, safe, and respectful. The tone of the column is humorous, and Savage does not shy away from using profanity. The cornerstone of his sexual ethics is consent; he is thus strongly opposed to bestiality, child molestation, and rape. He speaks out against incest and social inequality, too. Though Savage encourages sexual experimentation, he does not encourage carelessness. He frequently uses his position to promote safer sex and awareness of AIDS.
We're so glad he speaks out against incest. We're just wondering what he thinks of consensual incest.

I'm sure we can all agree that this is just the man we need speaking to the nation's schoolchildren. They won't know how to read and write, but buddy, they'll know how to pursue their fetishes.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Are religiously informed public policy proposals legitimate?

Christian philosopher Francis Beckwith analyzes the claim that the claim "of courts and legal theorists who argue that religiously informed policy proposals have no place in a liberal democracy because the religious worldviews from which they herald are at their core unreasonable, for they are dependent on irrational beliefs."
The judicial opinions, most of which affirmed or implied the irrationality of religious belief, did not surprise me, since the jurists who wrote them are often unacquainted with the sort of literature on the rationality of religious belief that has been the staple of Anglo-American philosophy for nearly five decades. 
What did surprise me were the legal theorists. Their ignorance was embarrassing ...
... The legal theorists I read all claim to be experts in law and religion, and their works appear in law reviews published by prestigious universities. And yet, I could not find in them a hint that they had even a superficial acquaintance with the vast literature on religion and rationality produced by religious (and some non-religious) thinkers (mostly philosophers) over the past fifty years. 
... It should not surprise us, then, that when political conflicts between church and state arise that academic and media elites treat the church’s point of view as if it were an irrational outlier to contemporary culture. As I have come to reluctantly realize, they simply do not know any better, since their education insulated them from views contrary to the unquestioned secular hegemony that was ubiquitous in their intellectual formation.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How the liberals keep us distracted

A neo-Nazi group marched in Frankfort Saturday, which provided the liberals with yet another way to convince the rest of us how badly we need them in order to fight the dangers that threaten the Republic.

Events like this are largely imaginary. There is no real right-wing threat. So what the liberal media do is use every little insignificant crackpot gathering, no matter how small, to rally the liberal troops to the defense of democratic values and to show the rest of us how brave they are in fighting off the extremist hordes.

Of course, liberals have a different definition of "horde." All they need is Billy Jo Bob and his two illiterate brothers to put on sheets and stand on a street corner in Hooterville and mumble a few incoherent racists slogans through their beards and, presto, there will appear a cover story in the Courier-Journal's Section B on the coming Right Wing Apocalypse.

This is what the Southern Poverty Law center does every year when it releases a report purporting to show high numbers of "hate groups" around the United States. Of course, it's list includes groups that are functionally non-existent and groups that are run by some college drop out with a laptop from his mother's basement. And then it expands its definition of "hate group" to include groups that disagree with its left-wing political agenda and announces in increase in the number of hate groups.

And of course the big city liberal newspapers dutifully write their stories to further establish their legitimacy.

All of these things serve the same purpose as Emmanuel Goldstein in George Orwell's 1984. Emmanuel, the reviled enemy of the Party, is, of course, purely fictional. But he serves to distract the attention of the society away from outrages the Party is perpetrating on them. Party members are gathered together to watch Goldstein's speeches as they scream and yell maledictions at the television screen in what is called the "Two Minutes Hate."

The small and insignificant neo-Nazi rally in Frankfort Saturday provides the liberal in the media with the perfect opportunity for its own Two Minutes Hate: While they divert our attention with images of Billy Jo Bob and his two brothers making fascist salutes, the liberals themselves continue to goose step through our institutions, undermining the culture themselves.

Our government puts more and more people on public assistance every year; the quality of our schools continues to deteriorate at the hands of teachers unions and university education departments; and the institution of marriage, the only institution standing between many women and children on one hand, and poverty on the other, is being continuously undermined.

But no matter. There are neo-Nazis. And they are dangerous.

Of course, one of the groups at the Frankfort rally there to protest and mug before the cameras was the Fairness Campaign, whose director Chris Hartman, who went Medieval a few weeks ago in the Capitol hallway when a gay rights bill masquerading as a bullying bill was voted down in committee. Hartman went haywire, shouting and pointing his finger threateningly in the face of an opponent of the bill (who undoubtedly felt bullied).

Did the liberal media report on the intimidating tactics of their left wing friends? The CJ made brief mention, but downplayed the incident. And there was not even a passing remark in the Herald-Leader.

They were too busy shouting at Emmanuel Goldstein on the screen in front of them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A call for more gridlock in Frankfort

When people who you agree with do the right thing politically, your general response ought to be, oh, I don't know, to cheer them on. The last thing you should do is to lump them in with the people who are the problem.

In the case of the recent fight over the transportation budget in Frankfort, David Williams and the Senate Republicans have balked at Gov. Steve Beshear's attempt to pass the budget, which provides $4.5 billion in money for roads in the state, without passing the Road Plan, which contains the directions for what the governor is to do with the money.

Without the Road Plan, the governor has a blank check on what he can do with the money.

And because Williams wouldn't consent to something no one is really able to defend, Beshear called the Legislature back into session the very next week so that he could have his transportation money.

So now people are up in arms about the fact that we are paying something over $60,000 per day to call legislators back to Frankfort because they couldn't agree during the regular session.

And who gets the blame? Why even ask? David Williams.

I can understand why liberals would want to blame David Williams for everything bad that happens, including legislation they don't like, inclement weather, and large scale natural disasters. What I can't understand is why conservatives would want to join in.

Instead of standing up and cheering for elected officials who will put their foot down when the governor or the Democratic House want to do things that they shoudn'ta oughta do, we criticize them for doing it.

David Williams and the Republicans are now taking fire from some conservatives themselves for trying to hold the governor responsible for how money spent, and being criticized for obstructionism and intransigence. Instead of talking about what a great job our guys are doing and how we should elect them to do it again, we talk instead about how we need to throw all the bums out and impose term limits.

Whereas founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson had an enthusiasm for checks and balances, modern conservatives, despite portraying ourselves as Jeffersonians in many ways, have a singular impatience for them. Some of us seem surprised that the legislative tools you have to use to obstruct bad policy are all obstructionist tools. But if bad policy should be obstructed, and you do what needs to be done to obstruct it, you shouldn't have to face charges from your own supporters that you are being an obstructionist.

Folks, this is the way it's supposed to work.

It's like having your army invade the enemy only to have the folks back home criticize you for having to actually use weapons.

The liberals don't do this to themselves. When Democrats kill things they don't like, their liberal friends in the media slap them on the back and call it a job well done. They stand together. They know who they think the good guys and the bad guys are, and they identify them and level blame on the bad guys. They target their fire.

But when conservative legislators do the right thing, they're never sure whether they're going to have the support of their own people. When we see things happening that we don't like in Frankfort, we fire into the crowd, hitting both our enemies and our friends.

When liberals succeed in stopping something by bringing everything to a halt, they throw a party. When conservatives do it, they all put themselves into therapy.

The last argument conservatives should ever make is that elected lawmakers are "not getting anything done." Why would conservatives ever buy in to the liberal idea that the more legislation we have, the better? In every other case, conservatives want government to do less. So when it comes to legislation, why would any conservative want them to do more? The vast majority of legislation is bad. Most bills in legislatures expand government or do other things that conservatives generally oppose.

That's why conservatives shouldn't lament gridlock, they should celebrate it.

The only legitimate criticism is that, since we now have yearly, rather than bi-annual sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly, we are paying more money to have legislators in Frankfort and that they still aren't getting things done.

Well, some of us conservatives opposed going to annual sessions for just this reason: it would either make government more efficient or it would only allow government greater opportunity to aggrandize itself. So what are conservatives now to do? Help increase the scope and power of government?

That's essentially what some conservatives are saying. They should think about it a little more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do researchers who live by the sword have to die by it?

"Individuals who identify as straight but in psychological tests show a strong attraction to the same sex may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves," explains Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex and the study's lead author.

The next study they should do is on people who come out with reports that back up gay claims about the people opposing them really being gay themselves to see if their findings have anything to do with the fact that they may feel threatened by people who disagree with them on this issue.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Jefferson County schools redefine "diversity." Maybe they can redefine education too

Jefferson Count Public Schools has figured out a way to become more "diverse" by changing the definition of "divsersity." By simply saying that diversity means something different now than it did before (it now includes, for example ESL students), the district has raised the percentage of schools complying with the district's diversity standard from 53 percent to 89 percent.

Of course, modern public school systems like Louisville's are all about diversity. It saves them the trouble of having to think about how bad the education they are offering is. If you can't meet meaningful academic standards, you can set up diversity standard that you can meet. And if you can't even meet those, you redefine diversity until you can.

Which makes me wonder. If redefining your goal is an acceptable way for the JCPS to meet its diversity standards, then why can't they simply redefine education so they can meet their academic standards too?

Maybe I shouldn't give them any ideas.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

More First Amendment nonsense

"The first amendment of the United States Constitution forbids state-sanctioned religion," says Robert Asher of the Huffington Post, "yet guarantees the right to its expression."

Uh, no. Sorry.

The First Amendment does not forbid state-sanctioned religion. It prevents the U. S. Congress from establishing one. Five states who ratified the Constitution with this language in it had established churches.

Just because people keep making this claim doesn't make it true.

The Book of the Future

As a follow on to my somewhat controversial post in which I said that the demise of the print edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica meant the end of Western civilization as we know it, I am posting a different vision of the future, after electronic devices have taken over our lives.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The decline and fall of the Louisville Courier-Journal

The Monday Afternoon Massacre claimed 26 casualties as the Louisville Courier-Journal announced yesterday that it was letting 26 more employees go.

"Buy-outs," they call it (these are people who know how to do things with words, that's for sure).

Also, firing squad executions will also now be called "target practice," detonations of large explosives will be called "chemical reactions," and major forest fires will be called "cook outs." Just so you know.

Probably the most significant departure will be Keith Runyon, who worked for the paper for 46 years, starting when he was 18 years old. In fact, the "buy-outs" all targeted long-time employees. This practice of letting go employees who have worked at the paper for many years is called "company loyalty."

I've said this before, but as liberal (and sometimes ruthlessly and unethically so) as the CJ has been over the years, I think the demise of the big city papers is a bad thing. A community paper is one of the things that helps a community be a community. The decline and fall of these papers is a sign of the deterioration of community, which is never a good thing.

Can you just imagine the old days, when the editors met in one big, smoke-filled room, with a window looking out on the city, discussing and arguing the next big editorial? I was an editorials editor on my college daily paper with a circulation of 20,000. The energy and excitement of these sessions was infectious. I can just imagine what there were like on a newspaper the likes of the CJ.

Those were the glory days of journalism.

With the "buy-outs" of Runyon and Steve Ford, there is only one editor of the editorial page left. It must seem like a ghost town.

It seems to me that part of the problem with papers like the CJ--along with the technology revolution itself, the biggest problem--was the purchase of the paper by a syndicate in 1986. I have heard (I don't know that it's true) that the CJ actually makes money--it's many of the other papers owned by Gannett that are the money holes. If that is true, then the CJ is being cannibalized by the very company that owns it.

The Binghams, who had owned it since 1918 were Kentuckians. But once a newspaper is run by the out-of-towners, the decisions made regarding the paper are not made in the interest of the paper; they're made in the interest of the syndicate.

This process of slow death the CJ is experiencing is called "restructuring."

Easter and its fashionable detractors: A response to Andrew Sullivan

Well, it's that time of year again. Time to fill Easter baskets with chocolate and candy, break out the eggs and food coloring, and ... respond to the cover stories on news magazines questioning the credibility of Christianity. It has become a customary part of the season.

Every year at precisely this time, Time or Newsweek or U. S. News & World Report (or all three of them) trot out a story discussing whether, in fact, Jesus rose from the dead, or whether he existed at all, or just what, in fact, Christianity really is, anyway.

Can you even imagine any of these periodicals doing an exposé on Judaism on Rosh Hashanah? Or on Islam during Ramadan?

Every year we are treated to the same, lame kind of piece which questions the veracity of Christianity's claims and, partly by giving a one-sided picture of the debate, fails to deal with the real historical arguments.

This frequently takes the form of a report on the most recent doings of the "Jesus Seminar," a group of "Bible scholars" who engage in the highly erudite procedure of taking a vote on whether various Biblical passages are historically authentic by dropping different colored balls into a box. If there are more black balls than pink or red, then the passage is rejected.

If such a procedure commonly used by fraternities to accept or reject new members were to be attempted in any other academic setting, the event would be laughed off as a ludicrous example of the trivialization of scholarship, but since it confirms a popular secularist prejudice, it is treated as a legitimate form of scholarship by journalists, who studiously write it all down in their little notepads and report it as if this is what responsible people in the academic world really do.

Clearly the standards one is required to meet in order to criticize Christianity are appallingly low.

Andrew Sullivan's piece this week in Newsweek, called "Christianity in Crisis," is not a full-scale assault on the Faith; it does not quite hit journalistic bottom like many of these kinds of pieces. But it isn't for lack of trying.

He begins with an admiring account of Thomas Jefferson's treatment of Christianity, which consisted in literally excising the miracles passages, leaving, says Sullivan, "the purest, simplest, apolitical Christianity, purged of the agendas of those who had sought to use Jesus to advance their own power decades and centuries after Jesus' death." These unfortunate supernatural claims, Sullivan continues, "fused with politics and power, gave successive generations wars, inquisitions, pogroms, reformations, and counterreformations."

Perhaps the reader can be excused for wondering what the exact connection is between the Virgin Birth, and, say, the Thirty Years War; or how Jesus opening the eyes of the blind contributed to, for example, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre; or what precisely the Resurrection has to do with, oh, I don't know, the Pogrom of Lisbon?

And what is the argument for saying it was specifically the beliefs in supernatural events, rather than Christianity's ethical beliefs, that spawned any of these violent events?

He doesn't say.

Sullivan is too insignificant a character to usefully be called a heretic; in fact, he is nothing more than a garden-variety theological liberal. But like every heretic throughout history, he tries to found his own version of the faith on one or two things that happen to appeal to him, while dismissing the rest as apocryphal or irrelevant. Instead of letting his own beliefs be conformed to Christianity, he has conformed Christianity to his own beliefs. Religion, in such cases, is not an exercise in transformation, but an adventure in autobiography.

Like every other heretic, he talks of the "essence" of Christianity, and this "essence" is always some reductionist version of the faith founded on a favored doctrine. "[T]he liberal theologian," wrote Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machan in 1923, "seeks to rescue certain of the general principles of religion, of which these particularities [the supernatural beliefs of Christianity] are thought to be mere temporary symbols, and these general principles he regards as constituting 'the essence of Christianity.'"

Machan was the great conservative champion in the so-called "Liberal-Fundamentalism controversy" of the 1920s and 30s, which pitted him against the great liberal theologian of the time, Henry Emerson Fosdick. He was one of the two great enemies of the theological liberalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries (although its influence, as Sullivan's piece demonstrates, has never entirely abated). The other was John Henry Cardinal Newman, a Catholic convert from Anglicanism. "Liberalism in religion," said Newman:
is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another ... Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy.
The two men cleverly and capably tagged the Sullivans of their time, and they have been under observation by the orthodox ever since.

Sullivan says that he himself accepts Jesus' divinity and resurrection, but he makes it pretty clear that, to him, these things really don't matter. Like Jefferson, Sullivan believes it is only Jesus' ethical teachings that really matter. But not every ethical doctrine: just the ones that happen to strike his fancy.

Sullivan wants to go "back to Jesus." Only the Jesus he wants to go back to looks surprisingly ..., well, like Andrew Sullivan. Like most modern theological liberals, he reduces the whole teaching of Christianity to the Gospel accounts. Why? Because they seem (at least at first blush) to comport with his preconceptions:
The issues that Christianity obsesses over today simply do not appear in either Jefferson’s or the original New Testament. Jesus never spoke of homosexuality or abortion, and his only remarks on marriage were a condemnation of divorce (now commonplace among American Christians) and forgiveness for adultery. The family? He disowned his parents in public as a teen, and told his followers to abandon theirs if they wanted to follow him. Sex? He was a celibate who, along with his followers, anticipated an imminent End of the World where reproduction was completely irrelevant.
Of course, the Old Testament and the Apostle Paul have plenty to say about these things, but they don't count in the religiously reductionist view propagated by Sullivan. If it was the Apostle Paul or the writer of Leviticus whose teachings were closer to 20th century secular morality, it would be the Gospels being thrown in the scrap heap.

In fact, as Machan pointed out, St. Paul is the first obstacle the liberal seeks to remove:
Many attempts have indeed been made to separate the religion of Paul sharply from that of the primitive Jerusalem Church; many attempts have been made to show that Paul introduced an entirely new principle into the Christian movement or even was the founder of a new religion. But all such attempts have resulted in failure.
To try to separate Paul--or any of the apostles--from Jesus would be something like trying to separate Socrates from Plato.

It's not that some of Sullivan's criticisms are without plausibility; the problem is that he keeps getting in his own way, and refuses to apply them impartially. While he repudiates the social activism unique to religious conservatives, the social activism acceptable to religious and secular liberals are somehow still obligatory:
This doesn’t imply, as some claim, to the privatization of faith, or its relegation to a subordinate sphere. There are times when great injustices—slavery, imperialism, totalitarianism, segregation—require spiritual mobilization and public witness.
Abortion and the family are not relevant because they are not discussed in the Gospels, but slavery and segregation are? Of course, the Gospels say nothing about these things either, so all of this turns out to be a not particularly sophisticated case of special pleading.

Sullivan's version of Christianity is certainly simple: all oversimplifications are. It could also be called pure, if by purity we meant unsullied by fact and history. But it certainly is not apolitical.

The Religion of Sullivan hasn't found the real Jesus, and separated him from the corrupt church. What it has found are "those elements in the teaching of Jesus--isolated and misinterpreted--which happen to agree with the modern program." That's Machan again, writing about Sullivan 89 years before Sullivan proclaimed his new religion.

The liberalism of Sullivan and his ilk sees Christ as a good example to be imitated rather than as a divine person to be worshipped. In this view, wrote Machan, "Liberalism regarded [Christ] as an Example and a Guide; Christianity as a Savior."
But the essential thing can be put almost in a word--liberalism regards Jesus as the fairest flower of humanity; Christianity regards him as a supernatural person.
Even in Sullivan's abridged Bible--a product of his own set of theological scissors--there is no purely ethical religion to be found. The chief subject of the Gospels is not the acts of Christ, but Christ Himself. The supernatural aspect of the Gospels is far from a sideshow, as Sullivan would us to think. It is, in fact, the main event.

Sullivan gives lip service to the supernatural aspect aspect of Christianity in one brief sentence, and it comes as a concession, not a confession.

Sullivan argues that Christianity is "in crisis." Christianity is always in crisis. As long as there is a church trying to do what it is supposed to be doing and Andrew Sullivans criticizing it for doing it, it will be in crisis. Crisis is what happens when the supernatural impinges on the natural--and does it through fallen men.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Tolerance Police, Lexington, KY Chapter

In yesterday's Lexington Herald-Leader,  Tom Eblen cheered on the witch hunt currently in progress over a Christian businessman's refusal to print T-shirts with a message that contradicts his religious views.

The man is being hauled before the Lexington Human Rights Commission, which is being called upon to throw him into the political water to see if he floats.

Taking up his torch, Eblen adds his voice to those of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, and now the University of Kentucky (an institution increasingly on the forefront of left-wing activism, on campus and off), which are chanting the political equivalent of “burn him!”

Eblen and the rest of the mob are arguing that the business, Hands on Originals, has violated the Lexington Fairness Ordinance, an ordinance which added “sexual oriention” to race, religion, gender, and national origin to anti-discrimination laws governing housing, employment, and public accommodations.

The ordinance prohibits a business from refusing to serve a person on the basis of his sexual orientation. But this is not what happened in this case.

In a famous scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a woman is accused of being a witch. The reason? “She looks like one.” To Eblen and the rest of the witch hunters, Hands on Originals looks like it’s discriminating, even though, if you actually look at the law, it’s not.

What Eblen and the mob haven't noticed in midst of their frenzied denunciations (“He’s a witch!”) is that Hands on Originals did not discriminate against any customer on the basis of sexual orientation. In fact, the business has an express policy against it. What it did do was refuse to print a T-Shirt with a message that went against its religious convictions.

It didn't refuse to print the T-shirts because of who was asking it to print them; it refused to print them because of what the T-shirts said.

The ordinance only prevents businesses from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation; it does not require businesses to agree with their customers.

Ironically, the people really discriminating are the University of Kentucky and any other organization that pulls its business from the T-shirt company, since they are doing so on the basis of the owner’s religious beliefs. If they were providing the service rather than receiving it, they would be the ones violating anti-discrimination laws.

It used to be witches who contorted themselves into strange positions, but now gay activist groups, marching under the banner of “tolerance,” are twisting themselves into the Tolerance Police, intent, not on preventing discrimination against individuals, but using the power of government to force others to agree with the politically correct views of certain favored groups like themselves.

But in their increasingly intolerant crusade, they have apparently failed to take note of the consequences.

Imagine that you ran a T-shirt business and a White supremacist group came to you to print T-shirts that said, "Down with N______s! According to the reasoning of Eblen and the mob, anti-discrimination laws would require you to print them. Not to do so would be to discriminate against a racial group: in this case, Aryans.

It's not often you see gay rights activists--and liberal journalists--spouting views that would benefit the Aryan Nation. Ideology makes strange bedfellows indeed.

But Eblen’s bizarre reasoning doesn’t end there. He ventures into the issue of what Christianity actually says about homosexuality, saying that, the way he reads it, the Gospels aren’t against it. Notice the subtle avoidance of the rest of the New Testament, in which Paul leaves little doubt about the issue. Or the Old Testament, which doesn’t exactly read like a gay rights tract.

Then, as if to amuse those of his readers who have actually read the thing, he charges those who disagree with him with selectively reading the Bible!

Might as well burn the Bible along with the witch.

I’ve got a new slogan for a T-Shirt: “Down with the Gay Thought Police!” I’ll take it to a gay-owned T-shirt company and point out that, according the groups who say they represent them, they have no choice but to print it.