"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
I have had to take a job for the summer in my old age. No, you won't see me burning like a potato chip too long in the oil in a life guard stand or slinging ice cream or greeting people at minimum wage. I will certainly not be a greeter. Getting a lifeguard job is probably more likely. That means I will be writing new pieces less often, a three day a week schedule might even develop, though I'm too undecided to announce one. I will continue to post Richard McBrien's pieces on Fridays, something which is popular if the numbers of hits on the blog stats are any indication. I may re-run some pieces, especially some I thought were more important from a period when not as many people read this blog and from the other blogs I've written for. The two blogs which I took down will not be among those. I may also post more podcasts and online videos of interest, links, excerpts. More ragtime too, probably. I took down my Scott Joplin, James Scott, etc. books and have been impressed again by what good music it is, bless Dover Books for reissuing those. And there may be clavichord, the poor person's instrument of its time, one simple enough that even many relatively humble homes ran to one, despite what a couple of ignorant people seem to believe about it. Also one of vast expressive powers that attracted some of the greatest composers to it. And Jazz. Always new. I won't post this weekend but will try to post on Monday.
and Duncan Black's stable of rump regulars still are reading deficient or just can't stand to be accurate. Normal programming will now resume. Update: Only proves what I've always said, a life spent in scribbling about pop culture is equivalent to voluntary dementia. Only in his case it's probably gone from hack to plaque by now. The geezer simply has no reading comprehension at all.
I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible. St. John XXIII My mother didn't say it as such but I know she wanted to see two things before she died, a good, liberal woman as president of the United States and women ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. She wouldn't have wanted any conservative to be president, no matter what gender or other symbol of equality moving forward. She, as I, never voted for a Republican in a partisan race. As it is she had to settle for seeing women ordained in churches with officially recognized valid apostolic succession, the Episcopalians, etc. and to see Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. She loved Nancy Pelosi, as do I.
Here is another of his articles which you think would have gotten Fr. Richard McBrien in hot water of the type he mentions in it because he pointed out that, even though a pope claimed John Paul II's statements against the possibility of women being ordained was an infallible teaching, it didn't meet the official qualifications defining an infallible teaching according to the church's official Cannon Law and so it couldn't be an infallible teaching. Apparently Fr. McBrien knew more about church law than the pope, which is probably why no one in the Vatican was willing to take him on. It is possible to be "more Catholic than the Pope", or at least know what you're talking about more than one.
Infallibility in Question
One of the most perplexing aspects of the sacking of William Morris, bishop of the Australian diocese of Toowoomba, Queensland, is Pope Benedict XVI’s claim that the Catholic Church’s prohibition of the ordination of women to the priesthood is the product of an infallible teaching. In 2006 Bishop Morris issued a pastoral letter before the beginning of Advent in which he called attention to the alarming decrease in the number of active priests who will continue to serve the needs of the diocese by Easter 2014. He urged that alternative strategies be considered if the Eucharist is to remain available to the Catholics of the diocese. These alternative strategies include: ordaining married, single, or widowed men who are chosen and endorsed by the local parish community; welcoming former priests, married or single, back to active ministry; ordaining women, married or single; and recognizing Anglican, Lutheran, and Uniting Church Orders. Bishop Morris did not advocate any of these alternatives, but argued only that the Church be “more open” to them. At the same time, Bishop Morris emphasized that he remained “committed to actively promoting vocations to the current celibate male priesthood and open to inviting priests from overseas.” However, if it were not for the constant drumbeat of criticism on the part of ultraconservative Catholics, most or all of whom have had no formal education in theology, Scripture, liturgy, or canon law, and the appointment of another ultraconservative as Apostolic Visitor, Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, Bishop Morris would not have been removed from his diocese. The criticism from the far right and their connection with powerful individuals in the Vatican gave the “investigation” all the impetus that it needed, and the selection of Archbishop Chaput as Apostolic Visitor rendered the final result inevitable. Bishop Morris revealed portions of the letter from Pope Benedict XVI informing him of his removal from office. In that letter, the pope insisted that his predecessor, John Paul II, had defined the teaching on the ordination of women as priests in his 1994 apostolic letter, Ordinatio sacerdotalis. In other words, the teaching was infallible and, as such, irrevocable. It could not be considered, as Bishop Morris had suggested in his 2006 Advent pastoral letter, with a view to a possible change in practice. Such a change, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, had been rendered impossible by John Paul II’s infallible teaching on the subject. This teaching had also been so described in a 1995 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed. Cardinal Ratzinger, of course, is now Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Ratzinger noted that the teaching on women’s ordination “has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium,” as well as by the 1998 apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem (“For the defense of the faith”), accompanied by a commentary written by Cardinal Ratzinger, who said essentially the same thing as he is now saying as pope. But canon 749.3 stipulates that if there is any doubt about the infallible nature of a teaching, it is not infallible. The canon reads: “No doctrine is understood to be infallibly defined unless it is clearly established as such.” Therefore, even if then-Cardinal Ratzinger concluded that Pope John Paul II’s teaching on women priests in Ordinatio sacerdotalis was infallible, it could not be considered infallible because it was not “clearly established as such.” And even if a pope, such as Benedict XVI, wished to argue that a specific teaching of one of his predecessors was infallible, canon 749.3 would also seem to preclude such an argument. Moreover, individual Catholic theologians, major Catholic theological organizations in the United States, and the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland have expressed serious doubts about the claim that the Church’s current prohibition of the ordination of women to the priesthood is grounded in an infallible teaching.
Therefore, if this was the decisive reason for the sacking of Bishop Morris, his removal seems to have been without sufficient warrant. As such it would constitute a grave injustice to him, to the diocese of Toowoomba, and to the Church in Australia.
Most people, even some popes, aren't aware of just what the meaning of papal infallibility is. I always thought it was kind of illogical that it took a bunch of late 19th century Cardinals to vote that popes could issue infallible teachings, you'd have thought that was an important enough issue that a pope would have to define it as an issue, after all, the Cardinals didn't declare themselves infallible and they could have been mistaken about that. And, in line with what Fr. McBrien pointed out, it hardly met its own requirement
"if there is any doubt about the infallible nature of a teaching, it is not infallible"
The fact is there was not only considerable doubt about it, there was open dissent from it and it caused a number of Catholics, laypeople, even Bishops to leave the Catholic church, some formed The Old Catholic Church, and a lot of people who remained in it doubting that popes were able to speak infallibly. I think it's one of those things which stand a good chance of being set aside, as any close reading of the very, very long history of the Catholic Church, its doctrines and, even more so, dogmas will know. Anyone who pretends that some things that are as basic to the Catholic Church didn't change radically, sometimes completely, is either ignorant or they're dishonest.
And in the wider culture, most of the snarky stuff about "papal infallibility" is totally a product of even more ignorance as to what the phrase means.
I will never, ever download a free utility from the internet again, this is the second time I've gotten a putrid, parasitic malware program from one, the horrible Yahoo! browser hijacker. It's almost as bad as the horrible Sweetpacks one I got last year. And while I'm at it, I've never known anyone who didn't hate Windows 8. I think DOS was less annoying. Heck, I think Windows 95 was less annoying. Anyone who can tell me how to get rid of the Yahoo thing, I'd be grateful.
I came late to cabloid TV and left early. I hated it and I never watched what I though were probably the worst of the scores of channels on the thing. I never watched "Spike" or almost any of the hundreds of creepy looking channels. Eventually I got rid of my TV because the incredible idiocy that was almost every program on the thing made me realize life was short and I wanted to spend more of it not looking at a screen. What will probably lead me to eventually give up the internet, someday. Maybe.
And tying those two tubes, the all the time and the almost all of the time boob tubes, Salon had one of its growing myriad of articles for those who want to click on multiply to hate on the Duggars. It does one thing right, it goes after the TLC channel, the source of the Duggars fame and fortune and political utility. The ever fecund scribbler, Mary Elizabeth Williams in asking "how much lower can one network sink" lists a number of lowest brow and other shows on TLC which does seem to have more than its share of their promoted families turn out to be dysfunctional. In the case of the Duggars, dysfunctional in a way that Oprah wouldn't touch, much to her credit. Here's a roll call:
This, after all, is the network that was still airing a Duggars marathon Thursday, as the Josh Duggar revelations were coming to light. It has now yanked “19 Kids and Counting” from its current schedule, replacing it with “Little People, Big World” — not to be confused with its other similar reality shows “Little Couple” or “Our Little Family” or “7 Little Johnstons.” In a statement, the network says only, “We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.” And while the continuation of the Duggar’s reality show seems highly unlikely, as of Wednesday, the network is still prominently promoting “19 Kids and Counting” on its Web site — along with other fare like “The Willis Family,” about “a musically gifted family of fourteen,” “My 600-lb Life,” “OMG! EMT!,” “Sex Sent Me to the ER,” “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” “My Strange Addiction” and “My Five Wives,” a series about “progressive polygamists”that promises “a fresh, honest look at a controversial lifestyle” and should not be confused with TLC’s “Sister Wives,” which only features four wives. While I've never seen the show, just from her description of it, I'm wondering what's objectionable about "a musically gifted family" even one of, I'm guessing, a dozen children and two parents. If I were the Willis Family, I'd get out of it and steer clear of politics and such political groups as The Family Research Council, which apparently didn't do its homework before they hired Josh Duggar or, more likely, didn't really care what was behind the reality show-biz surface as-seen-on-TV anymore than TLC did.
But the list on what, I also learn is to be taken as "The Learning Channel" is a lesson in what you get with unregulated TV and the political tie ins a dead giveaway on the likely deleterious effects that filling many millions of American's mind with that kind of stupid trash will have on democracy.
The contention that what people think doesn't have that effect on democracy is one of the most absolutely stupid things about the pseudo-liberal libertarianism that took over about fifty years ago. And also the disconnect between what is called the information they take in hour after hour every day and their ability to understand and navigate reality. That it was the previous entertainment industry that promoted that libertarianism, fiction writers, movie industry hacks, TV writers* and the lawyers who served the publishing industry and, later, the same right wing corporate hacks that such junk as 19 And Counting stand in as a cover for. The liberalish-libertarians were stupid suckers. They were dupes, or they never really cared all that much about liberalism, something I've come to see in the past several years of reading them online. They handed the Rehnquists, Scalias and Roberts style of Supreme Court Justice the langauage and tools to finish off both the American mind and along with that democracy.
It is more than a smidge hypocritical that Mary Elizabeth Williams slams TLC for "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" on Salon when her online mag has profited greatly, with seemingly scores of well clicked on articles about the spectacle of its Mama June Shannon dating a convicted sex offender and other sundry aspects of the spectacle. Not to mention other junk from TLC such as The Duggars. Not to mention a lot of those titles and, I guess, their content is matched and at times exceeded in depravity by some of the life-style articles Salon posts about sex. Unless TLC is promoting anal-oral sex, hooking up with multiple partners, adultery, (I don't really get how that's supposed to be better than polygamy), the commercial sex industry and any number of other things promoted by Salon and such other webloids as Alternet, they have little room to maneuver these topics in without running smack into their own wall of for-profit hypocrisy. Not that their audiences, trained by TV in the simple skill of overlooking, will mostly notice that. The ones who don't notice when their minds are leaking away they watch or read or read the headline and skip the text before playing comments like an unskilled, unchallenging video game.
* Who were too stupid to realize that the system they were promoting would lead to TV producers and directors realizing they could do unscripted shows and forego writers and trained actors. An interesting number of whom have their own personal, at times familial motives in normalizing kinky sex. Though I think it's mostly the kind of financial incentive that selling things with sex provides and an indifference uninhibited by a sense of morality that enables inequality and calls it "liberal". Crappy writers are always shoving in a sex scene when their skills in plot and character catch up with them, copying the style, not of Tolstoy, but 1930s-50s pulp writers. None of which should ever have been mistaken as a cause for liberals to spend their time on. They weren't promoting liberal thinking.
It's no surprise to me that there are lots of right-wing sex scandals, if they don't believe in justice, they have no problem setting double standards that allow them to do things that they condemn others for and to take advantage when they are in a position as the stronger person. It's what being a conservative is all about. What being a libertarian boils down to, as well.
It is impressive how you can see how much the would be left blog babblers disapprove of the rude boring kind of Texans who gloated over weather based misfortunes befalling "Yankees" and the French and their rude gloating by adopting it when the weather based misfortunes befall Texans. Somehow, I think it would be a lot more impressive to NOT mimic the rude boring kind of Texans or, for that matter, the rude boring kind of "leftists" in that behavior. Even if only the basest goal of asserting you behaved better than such people and are, therefore, better than they are. I don't get the people who figure they can prove that by sinking to the same level of behavior. Do they figure they're going to make the boring, rude Texans ashamed enough to change their thinking? Though that seems to have been their general plan for, Oh, certainly more than a half a century, probably more than a century. Winning people over with insults and assertions of superiority. Really works, does it NOT?
As entire classes of people are still subjected to destructive inequality and the protest against that inequality has been made to seem passé, the far easier to assert equality of words seems to have become entrenched as an assumption. This is, to not mince words, stupid.
Words aren't enumerated as a class having rights under the Bill of Rights, The Civil Rights amendments or the Civil Rights Act, they are not all created equal. They are not all “perfectly good words”. Some of them should be suppressed. Some should be hunted to extinction, remaining only as mounted, academic specimens.
Achieving the suppression of the language of bigotry is straight forward, you suppress it. You make the use of the words uncomfortable and an invitation to be hassled. For example, the blog boys use the word “cunt”. The way to make them uncomfortable is to constantly call them on it when they use it. It’s simple as that. They refer to women in that way, you make that uncomfortable for them, you harass them whenever they say it. You make it not worth their wile to use the word. When they whine about your calling them on it, you just do it anyway. They pout about you ruining their fun and boy bonding, you ignore it and keep calling them on it while taking pleasure at their discomfort. Their discomfort is a sign your plan is working, I see nothing wrong with enjoying it, privately. Of course, you've got to give up using language like that yourself, you've got to have credibility.
Whenever you propose something like this you can count on two things happening. The first is the invocation of “freedom of speech” or “The First Amendment”. I’m happy to report to you that we are not bound in our personal lives to uphold the “speech rights” of bigots. As I never tire of pointing out, we are not the government. You’d think the left has been out of power long enough to not suffer from that mistaken idea. If a commercial establishment can suppress the use of profane language on its property, individual people certainly have that right in the common ground of life. Those we target for this kind of coercion have no recourse to constitutional relief from us. When it comes to bigots, it’s a mistake to worry about their right to promote the violation of other peoples’ rights. Let them do the worrying. And it gets better, there is no reason for us to treat bigotry as equal to other modes of human interaction. It intentionally hurts people, it has no rightful place in the world. And, let it not be forgotten, strident objection to hateful words is just as much an expression as bigotry, only it doesn’t try to harm entire groups of people on the basis of who they are.
The second thing brought up is whether or not it is the most important issue, the matter of priorities. Who knows what’s “most important”? This election season has certainly shown that it isn't a little problem, IT HURTS MEMBERS OF OUR CAUCUS. If the protection from harm to our members isn't a priority for us then we have got to rearrange our priorities. It also divides the left, it harms our efforts to make progress. This is a big deal, as well, because it prevents other important things from happening. This is a fact to use against blog bigots as well. Calling Ann Coulter sexist names doesn't hurt her but it hurts her opposition which then has to deal with the division of the left due to the childishness of these jerks. It’s not as if we have got a rip roaring huge majority to work with as it is and can spare the members or time spent trying to patch things up. If anyone wants to be on the left, the minimal requirement is that they not divide and distract those who are doing the real work and so enable our opponents. If they choose to run their mouths at our expense, kick them out. It’s not as if the Coulters of the world aren't vulnerable on the basis of things they say, themselves, many of those on the grounds of bigotry. Being a bigot in response weakens your position against someone like her.
Those words and similar ones shouldn't be tolerated no matter what comedian or pop star has used them in their act, no matter how gratifyingly transgressive they make the user feel. People using them have to be made to feel too hot to mistake it as ‘cool’. The soft-handed, man-talkin’, tough guys who, in reality, risk nothing in life more serious than repetitive stress should be derided and made to feel the fools they are.
Not using those words is a part of removing bad habits of thinking from the common discourse. If I was planning a strategy I’d say go after the clear cut offenses first, the easiest ones to target. Just getting rid of those annoyances would be worth the effort, I’d think. I don’t want people thinking in those terms and I do think that is important. I don’t think pay equity or Title Nine or the equal right to public accommodation would have ever become law if those terms were an acceptable default way to think about the covered classes in the voting public. It was certainly no coincidence that gay rights legislation finally started making it out of committees as it became less acceptable to target us with bigoted language and that those reforms fail in those places where verbal gay bashing is still tolerated It really matters.
I've never been much on adopting the language of the enemy. I never believed that it would subvert the intentions of the ones who really meant it. You can’t redeem a term of hatred in common use by using it yourself, you can’t capture it and change its meaning. Words obtain their meaning by their history and their contemporary common use. Words of bigotry are defined by bigots who use them. No matter what the language-pop-sci folk would lead you to believe.
The use of bigotry in “comedy” isn't funny, even when used by otherwise funny comedians. Though it will get you a cheap laugh from other schmucks. Hearing bigotry freely expressed makes it seem acceptable and it influences the thinking of those who might go either way. It gives permission.
It certainly snowballed on the blogs of the left in ways I’d never have believed before last year. It was a real shock that even anti-gay invective is less accepted than the most revolting terms of misogyny. But I've also seen real racism, religious bigotry, ethnic bigotry and other forms of expression destructive of the effort to promote real equality and freedom. It all has to be called, it’s not as if we don’t have real ideas and problems that need to be addressed. Making all forms of bigotry out of bounds is helpful to making any form of bigotry unacceptable. The partial acceptance of bigotry is a stupid blunder.
I am just about certain that the real names of the ideals of liberalism, freedom, equality, yes, especially, love, would be considered more outré than the words of real, explicit, misogyny on some blogs of the left. And racism on others, While that might be due to their overuse in some rather gooey contexts, their intrinsically negative context doesn't seem to have rendered the hateful words unfashionable in the same way. Though they have certainly gotten old.
It is one of the more irrational aspects of this that those words, the sure sign of childish, lazy thinking, are, somehow, mistaken to be a sign of adulthood. I don't know what you can do about that except to refuse to go along with that stupid idea.
So feel free to be inventive, be clever, be scathing in your suppression of the “c” word and others worthy of destruction. If you don't like it, you have every right to say so. And do it every time.
Addendum: There is a third thing that can happen in this kind of effort.
I firmly suspect that there is a constant temptation in people to be as bad as they figure they can get away with, though some people regularly seem to be able to resist. This effort can’t be seen as a license to do another stupid, divisive and time wasting* thing, inventing convenient, imaginary implied slights.
In our pop-psych addled age, the temptation of those on the losing end of an argument is sometimes to go from what’s explicitly stated to conveniently asserting things like “body language” and “unconscious intentions”, which are not stated explicitly. Usually it is the minutia of nuance beloved of some leftists that elicits that response rather than in the important, commonly agreed to, difference. Occult, interior motives are asserted to be the unseen taint, the mark of the bad seed, in otherwise sound leftists, asserting their otherwise reasoned arguments to be functionally unsound for the vaguest of reasons. I’d say that splitting those hairs should wait until the explicit expression of bigotry is effectively eliminated. That’s going to be a big enough job to start with. Effectively targeting those who are explicit bigots might help to eliminate those in the second tier of bigoted expression without spending time on them.
As anyone who has ever played cards knows, it’s a hallmark of the unexpressed idea that you really don’t know what it might mean or even if it’s there to begin with. Maybe it exists only in your imagination. If it’s really there it will find explicit expression, if it doesn't you are free to assume that the interpretation more favorable to you is what was intended all along and to act accordingly. I have found that assuming that sometimes has the gratifying result of avoiding a pointless argument and sometimes actually turns things in a more productive direction than angry confrontation over the imagined slight. On many occasions, when the assumed interior intention becomes clear, it was quite harmless anyway.
* I have noticed in meetings of non-profits something like this often takes the form of “not wanting to set a precedent”. Who hasn't sat though twenty-five minute of loftily vicious and absurd argument about just such a “precedent” issue? Well, unless explicitly stated, non-profits can pick and choose on the basis of individual merits and their own contemporary situation without worrying about precedents of that kind. I have never yet seen the bylaws of one that forbids that.
Researching these posts, I'm always coming across interesting and potentially useful curiosities. One which I found this week, I'd never known before, and that is in the frieze above the, uh, "Justices" in the Supreme Court, along with such lawgivers as Moses and Charlemagne is a representation of Muhammad. While that was he object of a request by some Muslims to have it removed, this article claims that other Muslims, previously, saw it as an honor. This article goes on to point out that attitudes and beliefs among Muslims dealing with images of Muhammad have not been monolithic or set in stone.
I have to wonder if Pam Geller and Franklin Graham know about this, as well as those who are all whipped up into a swivet about sharia law being foisted onto us. It is a fact that is ripe for promoting their kind of paranoid conspiracy filled thinking, the kind of stuff I heard some of the nuttier people around here firmly believed, like the little teensy "JS" under Roosevelt's image on the dime stood for Joseph Stalin. Yes, we have those kind of right-wing nut cases in "liberal" New England, too, no area of the country is exempt from right wing insanity.
Also downright weird, or maybe weird or maybe confirmatory are some of the others in the frieze - which I won't post an image of - such repulsive figures as Lycurgus who made Sparta a brutal, violent military despotism, Draco whose brutal, vicious, homicidal legal code is probably the fondest dream of some of our worst "Justices", Augustus, whose rule decisively ended the Roman republic and began the empire which carries the lesson that a non-democratic, non-egalitarian republic will probably always end up a corrupt, massively violent and depraved empire. Considering that one of the roles in real history instead if sanctimonious declaration of the Supreme Court in most of its history has been to prevent democracy happening, to prevent its necessary prerequisites like people being accurately informed about political and other aspects of reality, maybe they were winking and nodding when they approved of those things. I think the building would have been bad enough, with its kind of creepy neo-classical style, without those decorations.
And over at his piece of shit blog, you know who is making the case that we should be more outraged over dead pedophile Gore Vidal -- who was a great artist -- than we are about the living Duggars, including the one who was diddling his sisters for Jeebus and the ones who enabled him, who have no talent whatsoever, and who are currently in our face all the time on TV.. Vidal, of course, was an atheist, so obviously you know who is right about this. OK, I give up. If people are going to insist of telling me about things like this being said, I'm certainly going to use them. "Don't fight forces, use them" and the clueless ignorance and amorality of such folk is certainly a force that has a negative effect in the world.
Considering what I've been told in the last several days is not important, the massive British child pedophilia scandal, the wider European pedophila scandal, Thailand's massive child rape industry with its world-wide network of sex tourism servicing the worlds wealthier pedophiles, several famous and semi-famous men who either were known to be active pedophile rapists for decades or who advocated making child rape legal, I think the internet has officially gone entirely off its rocker. But that massive hypocrisy, drawing a double standard based on who is doing the raping, has always been with us. Various sides have always been willing to overlook what their pedophile rapists do, especially when you can call them "artists" or when what they do involves "art" and, especially especial, when the children being raped are poor or not white.
Update: Well, it's impossible to know what people will continue reading in the future but I suspect that, other than some of his essays he won't keep. Gore Vidal's novels will end up being as dated as the work of other authors who knew how to write, like Laura Z. Hobson or Howard Fast. As the internet proves all the time, we are in a post literate culture which doesn't remember such writers for very long, unless one of their books gets made into a movie, generally botched by a script writer and further damaged by the director and others. The movie of Gentleman's Agreement, even with Gregory Peck, is abysmally bad as compared to Hobson's book, and even that's dated. I don't think Vidal's writing is as good as hers, but that's a matter of opinion.
With the Oscar Peterson Trio - You Don't Know What Love Is
Update: With the Marty Paich's orchestra. Arranged by Marty Paich -
I recently read that she retired from performing when she was 29. Amazing singer, she pretty much had it all. No idea why she'd choose to stop. Glad we've got her recordings. Wish this one had less echo but still great, pretty great arrangement, too.
Maintaining a double standard of judgement really means, you get to be held to a standard of behavior, we don't. Double standards are what aristocracies, oligarchies, dictatorships, slave societies, patriarchal societies, etc. practice. Double standards are the opposite of a liberal position. Equal responsibilities, equal treatment are among the defining practices of liberalism, to the extent those are not practiced, to that extent the people violating that are pseudo-liberals.
The Supreme Court building has a lie carved over the entrance:
Imagine what society, economics and politics would have been like if they'd enforced it. Equality, that is. It would be a liberal society. I have to say, I think the Roman fasces over the "D" is a dead giveaway.
The question of which sex scandals get taken up as the focus of a general online hate fest is ripe with potential to show us something more about various online communities*.
The current one is focused on a pretty unattractive guy raised in a pretty awful milieu of the "Quiverfull" patriarchal cult and promoted by cabloid TV as some kind of beacon of virtue. Of course I'm talking about the accusations made against Josh Duggar that when he was 14 years old, a child, or at least a young teenager, he fondled five girls, at least some of them his younger sisters, sexually.
I will interject here that I'd never heard the name Josh Duggar before last week, I never saw the now cancelled TLC cabloid show promoting his parents and their ginormous family of 19 children and their right-wing, anti-LGBT, would-be "Christian" cult and their right wing politics.
Though I was somewhat aware of the Duggars from noticing what was already being said about them online. I am not predisposed to think well of them, apparently they pretty much are everything I'm engaged in struggling against.
That doesn't mean they are not due to be judged by the same standard used to judge the behavior of someone I like and agree with, something which would seem to be rejected in online discourse and in the general culture of, at least, my country. Pretty much the entire culture has been cabloidized, the practices of FOX "news" generalized.
The various details as to the scandal of this as-seen-on-TV paragon-of-virtue's teenage sin, the handling of it by his parents, the timing of his father dropping a dime on him, his encounter with the police due to that, the "counselling" venue he was brought to as "treatment" are all over the internet just now, all of them an occasion for postures of outrage and anger and group hatin' on and, as could be predicted, since it is a politically charged, culturally stereotypable (if that's a word) made for cabloid TV scenario, also his defenders.
I will, also, note that there have been reasonable people who are discussing this pointing out such things as the focus being on Josh Duggar, his father, to a lesser extent his mother, the policeman who interviewed him and the "counselling" he got while the girls he fondled are seen as an afterthought. Which is certainly a valid point but which, I contend, is also symptomatic of what the nature of this current sex scandal mania is and it isn't about what's wrong with young girls being groped by a 14 year old boy. Josh Duggar in this discussion is a stand in for other and larger group identities, resentments and hatreds on one side and as the opposite of those for another side. A lot of the online babble over this has insisted that you have to be in one or the other side of this when no one has to be. And I would say no one should be.
That can be seen by comparing other accusations and documented pedophile sex scandals which have not resonated in the same way.
The first of those which came to mind the first time I realized this was going to be, as they say, "a thing" was, of course, the ongoing revelations of massive, organized pedophile rape in Britain, the documented police and government cover up of that and the massive evidence of that being released on an ongoing basis. I am certain that the reason that massive scandal has failed to take much of a hold on the attention spans of those online is that it is largely secular figures involved with a minor tie-in with religious figures. Which would seem to be the major attraction the issue has for the online babblers.
Famous people and rich people, the reason for the British governments covering it up, because they're "people like us", entertainment figures, businessmen, etc. none of them from the American South, none of them members of an odd political-religious, patriarchal cult, though some of them on the lower brow venues of pop entertainment. But the sheer size of that pedophile scandal, the evidenced, documented certainty of it, the horror of the abuse which includes imprisonment, sadistic torture, the group rape of very young children, the deaths of children abused, shows that the relatively little attention it has been given in the online outrage machine is not really concerned with the victims of such crimes but the identities of those who raped, tortured and murdered them. And it's hardly confined to Britain. I don't recall this story of a massive international pedophilia operation involving the rape of hundreds of children being busted getting as many pixels as the Josh Duggar story. Or, for that matter, Lena Denham's publicity confession, only that one was concentrated on by the right, the pseudo-left's outrage being confined to the outrage of the right making hay on it.
The second venue of child rape that came to mind is, of course, the abundant evidence available to view at will of child rape by the porn industry, much of it incest themed, presented as fathers, uncles, grandfathers and, yes, brothers, raping smaller, younger relatives. If even 5% of those presented as such are actually being raped by their male relations are actually as presented, online porn, available with a google search, is certainly as worthy of being discussed than the crimes of Josh Duggar. The size of the pedophile porn industry and the related trafficking, marketing and destruction of children by the sex industry dwarfs even the British pedophile and universally discussed Catholic priestly pedophile sex scandals, yet it is entirely ignored in the discussion, never to my knowledge the focus of the outrage fixed on the sins of a young teenager. I would go so far as to say that, today, the porn and even the prostitution industries are held to be sacrosanct by the inverted morality peddled by, first the "free speech" industry and, as they realized they could game it to damage the right of people to accurate information and, so, effective self-government, the right wing of the Supreme Court and others on their ideological side. That such "free speech" includes massive advertising in porn to encourage pedophile rape is certainly relevant to this discussion, though a forbidden topic. So, naturally, I will commit that thought crime.
Also ignored are the accusations made by his half-sister and nephew, that a man who I used to admire and agreed with on many things, Gore Vidal, was an active pedophile who had sex with rent-boys, one of whom he is accused of beating up along with Stephen Spender. And it was an ongoing thing for decades, apparently.
And he (Vidal's nephew) added, pointedly: ‘Gore spent a lot of time in Bangkok, after all.’ The Thai capital is infamous for child prostitution and Gore would visit every year. Friends say he had sex there with young male prostitutes. Mr Steers said Gore appeared to condone child abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests: ‘He would say that the young guys involved were hustlers who were sending signals.’ He added that when Vidal’s half-brother, Jamie Auchinloss, was caught with child pornography, ‘Gore would not condemn him’.
In the Seventies, Vidal even spoke out in support of paedophiles who formed a notorious group set up to campaign for legalised sex between adults and children called NAMBLA, the North-American Man/Boy Love Association.
That last one is something which is fully documented, I heard a recording of his speech on that occasion and it was covered in the Boston media, back when they actually did reporting. I seem to recall that he made a joke in response to a question that he didn't know of anyone who would want to kill Anita Bryant other than music lovers. Which I thought was, actually, funny, at the time.
And, interjecting, again, the Thai sex industry is a decades long and massive example of the international hypocrisy on this issue, one with clear racist overtones as the children raped in their sex-tourism industry are considered to not matter. It is an industry which extends around the world in its promotion and enablement but which is relatively little discussed and seldom the focus of the kind or outrage that is being focused on what one 14 year old boy did. If Vidal was in the habit if visiting Thailand as often as that, given his public statements, the suspicion that it was for sex tourism is a reasonable one.
Still there was no trial, no evidence presented to be tested. The blackmail file which his arch enemy William F. Buckely is believed to have kept on him, though it was not revealed or examined for veracity. Christopher Buckley has admitted to have destroyed a file his father kept on Vidal, I don't believe he's ever said what was in it. What is known is that Gore Vidal certainly supported organized pedophilia before it became a hot-button issue as did many others who misidentified as liberal when they were merely libertarians.**
Mr Steers says he ‘doesn’t know for sure’ whether his uncle had sex with underage men and doesn’t want to know - but it is clear he suspects it. Vidal himself revealed in his memoirs that he was ‘attracted to adolescent males . . . like most men’. [Speaking for myself, let me say that Vidal speaks for himself on that one.] One of his friends admitted he was astonished when Vidal once told him: ‘You know I’m a pederast.’ Was he being serious? Or was he once again trying to shock?
When I brought up some of these issues in the online discussion, even though I stipulated that I certainly had no admiration for the Duggars or the "counselling" method he was "treated" by, and that I thought he had probably done what he's accused of, I was accused of defending him because I asked why the massive and documented British sex scandal, the scandal of online porn with sadistic rape of children - with the evidence being peddled, massively online, and the rumors about Gore Vidal were all mostly or entirely ignored. If you want to see excuses being made for someone, you can read this article from The Guardian by Mark Lawson, asking a question that, as far as I have seen, no one proposed, in effect "Must We Burn Vidal". Of course not, unlike the sex degenerate that Simone de Beauvoir asked that question about, Vidal's likely peodophile inclinations didn't figure highly in his published work, though, as mentioned, any complete edition of his speeches would have to include it. It does, though, need to be considered when analyzing his thinking in other areas, the misidentification of his libertarianism as liberalism and any accurate thinking about his character. I know I didn't see him the same after hearing his speech. But that's not my goal in raising the issue.
Most interesting about this is what it shows about the intellectual and moral nature of online and offline culture, how the most massive crimes are routinely covered up because we like who committed those or which are focused on because we despise them. Libertarians, as opposed to liberals, generally end up making allowances for those who they favor, whether as individuals or representatives of a class of people they favor, covering up or excusing what they do. The acceptance and practice of that kind of double standard will end up favoring the rich, the famous and powerful, that's one of the advantages gained by joining those group. As the British pedophile scandal proves, yet again, even a nominal democracy dominated by an aristocratic class can cover up the worst and most depraved of crimes targeting the most powerless and vulnerable people. I don't think the United States can expect to do any better than that with the nominal liberal side of things adopting that practice. If liberals don't insist on a single standard in justice and in society, I can guarantee you conservatives won't take up the slack, creating and maintaining double standards is one of the real life features of their ideology in practice, no matter what their pretensions are.
As to the public persona of Josh and the other Duggars, well, his father is the one who, eventually, dropped a dime on him. I can believe that lots of parents wouldn't do that, so I can't fault the Duggars on that count. As to how else it was handled, that would depend on whether or not the behavior or behavior like it continued. I haven't read anywhere that it has. But if I were a member of such a family, I would concentrate very hard on the verse in which Jesus said that if someone corrupts a child it would be better that a millstone be put around their neck and be drowned. What he did is certainly not consistent with following the teachings of the man they claim to believe spoke with divine authority. Maybe they need to take their profession more seriously, though the guy was 14 years old when he fondled girls. If the girls he did that to ever want to speak for themselves and give their side of what happened, that is their choice to make. If he can't be shown to have done anything else like that, the controversy concentrating on that, full of wild, unevidenced accusations, stereotypes and assumptions, would be better spent focusing on the facts about other crimes done by adult men.
* When I say "online communities" I don't mean like a well ordered, rational and just polity, I mean more like a clique terrorized jr. high school or a gang bullied neighborhood. The platitudes often asserted about the internet are as hypocritical as any and, considering the degenerated standards allowed by anonymity and the ability to assume multiple personalities for the purpose of slandering and brow beating, potentially as bad as the worst of those. The internet has promoted the worst in us just as TV has.
** Since a lot of those I'm hearing from on this are blog atheists, the last time I looked, even within the last few years the prominent "skeptic" and academic Vern Bullough's high status in the pedophile promotion group Paidika was still listed as among his "accomplishments". He never to my
knowledge was denounced for it by any of his atheist colleagues or those who admire them. James Randi's shady activities with what are believed to be underage hustlers, documented on tapes that were found admissible in a law suit, are considered untouchable when discussing him. That includes his public and documented shifting claims about the tapes, starting by claiming they were forgeries, to saying they were made as part of a sting operation he and the police set up, to, apparently, claiming he was "blackmailed" over them, all in a clear cover up of a kind that is ubiquitous in Randi's career. Clearly who is being accused matters more to such blog babblers than what they're being accused of doing.
Joshua Rifkin, a stickler for following the composer's stated intentions got Scott Joplin pretty near right on. This is one of my favorites. I don't know if it's what Joplin intended or if it's just that it's his last published rag but there always seems to be a valedictory feeling to it, like it was his farewell to the world. It was written as the horrible disease that killed him was taking hold. It just suddenly seemed appropriate for the day.
IT is Sunday afternoon, middle of summer, hot and oppressive, and very silent through the ward. I am taking care of a critical case, now lying in a half lethargy. Near where I sit is a suffering rebel, from the 8th Louisiana; his name is Irving. He has been here a long time, badly wounded, and lately had his leg amputated; it is not doing very well. Right opposite me is a sick soldier-boy, laid down with his clothes on, sleeping, looking much wasted, his pallid face on his arm. I see by the yellow trimming on his jacket that he is a cavalry boy. I step softly over and find by his card that he is named William Cone, of the 1st Maine cavalry, and his folks live in Skowhegan.
Ice Cream Treat.—One hot day toward the middle of June, I gave the inmates of Carver hospital a general ice cream treat, purchasing a large quantity, and, under convoy of the doctor or head nurse, going around personally through the wards to see to its distribution.
An Incident.—In one of the fights before Atlanta, a rebel soldier, of large size, evidently a young man, was mortally wounded top of the head, so that the brains partially exuded. He lived three days, lying on his back on the spot where he first dropt. He dug with his heel in the ground during that time a hole big enough to put in a couple of ordinary knapsacks. He just lay there in the open air, and with little intermission kept his heel going night and day. Some of our soldiers then moved him to a house, but he died in a few minutes.
Another.—After the battles at Columbia, Tennessee, where we repuls’d about a score of vehement rebel charges, they left a great many wounded on the ground, mostly within our range. Whenever any of these wounded attempted to move away by any means, generally by crawling off, our men without exception brought them down by a bullet. They let none crawl away, no matter what his condition.
I don't write things for people who don't read what I write and who are obviously not used to thinking beyond the surface presented to them by the common received wisdom of their clique. I stopped posting their comments, even the ones I chose not to delete, when I realized they inevitably chose not to argue with anything I'd actually said. Then I noticed how much of online chatter, just about everywhere, fit that description. The Unlightenment, the product of an "Enlightenment" that never really lived up to its PR. They've got a lot more in common with the Duggars and Duck Dynasty than they'd ever want to believe possible. Update: Apparently Eschaton has gone all hate on me all the time today or something. Please, I don't care what people there say about me. I don't want any more updates. I suspect someone got turned down last night or something.
The evolutionary psychologists and others have turned natural selection into the magical creative force in biology and, in some hard cases such as Daniel Dennett, into a universal force to explain everything. That is beyond dispute. At least it is if you think out the real meaning of what they're saying to its conclusion.
Since they inevitably depend on the major modification of Darwin's major idea by gluing it to Mendelian genetics, done in the 1930s, and with DNA being identified in the 50s of the last century, and especially since H. D. Hamilton, E. O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins published their ideas, when they talk about "natural selection" they're really talking about DNA. The same, when they say "evolution".
And I think it is with Hamilton and Dawkins that it's necessary to begin to talk about their turning the object, "DNA", into a creator god. as they attributed to it far vaster magical, creative potency than more careful geneticists I'm aware of ever did. Today, when you hear or read the words "DNA" "genetics" "natural selection" or even, and most damaging of all to science, "evolution" most of the time it is to the magical creator god to which is attributed the most enormous powers of creation. In the claims that all of our behavior is, ultimately, the creation of this deified "DNA", is literally the claim that we are made in its image, that it is the origin of our entire being.
And, as I've noted, in the hands of Daniel Dennett, its creative powers are claimed to extend far outside of mere biology but to all of nature, which is why he entitled what is certainly his most famous book, Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. In that title, he merely restates the claims made for Darwinism by Ernst Haeckel, who was more honest about his motives, when he said that in Darwinism was the final triumph of materialist monism. When I talk about materialist monism, I am merely using the right term for what they're talking about, without the typical slippery avoidance of it. And in that I think lies the real motive of the entire effort of the entirely slippery and, I think quite naive and wrongheaded effort.
Think about what their apotheosized version of "DNA" is claimed to do by them and its powers rival those of the creator gods of classical paganism. In their presentation it creates us, quite literally, it imbues us with all of our capabilities and faults, it determines our fate, it even controls our thoughts and actions. It causes our crimes, it is the source of our virtues and even, in that line of thought, is the real and quite selfish motive that is the real explanation of our most noble acts of self-sacrifice, transforming that into a service for that, their most selfish of all gods which only cares about its own survival. If you think that is a grotesque exaggeration, consider that the major proponent of the idea, Richard Dawkins, famously said:
“Was there to be any end to the gradual improvement in the techniques and artifices used by the replicators to ensure their own continuation in the world? There would be plenty of time for improvement. What weird engines of self-preservation would the millennia bring forth? Four thousand million years on, what was to be the fate of the ancient replicators? They did not die out, for they are past masters of the survival arts. But do not look for them floating loose in the sea; they gave up that cavalier freedom long ago. Now they swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.”
― Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
What I have said, which is held to be outlandish and ridiculous is merely to restate the claims of these people, letting the cat out of the bag, revealing what it is that they're doing. They're inventing a fantasy version of DNA as a god* substitute, providing Haeckel's magical force, the thing that led to claims of God being dead, with a physical form. Since their religion is a materialist one, of course their god would have to have a physical form. As I've already mentioned before, when Dennett tried to remove the force, natural selection, from its physical form he unwittingly made it logically impossible, natural selection requiring the inheritance of discrete entities to avoid everything being turned into a chaotic and homogeneous soup, perhaps what would happen if some of those famous finely tuned constants were slightly different and the basic physical structures that gave rise to our bodies and our putative intelligence were made impossible in the universe. Though I think there really is no way to know all of the ramifications of such universes or even if they are an actual possibility in reality, our only knowledge of something we use that term for comes from this actual universe we inhabit and know.
What I wrote in the past few days was misidentified as a claim of a proof for the existence of God, which it wasn't. I have never been in the business of trying to provide a proof of the existence of God, I don't think such a "proof" is available to us, the impossibility of defining, of delimiting the meaning of the immaterial God I believe in would definitively make such a proof impossible. You can only prove things which are defined and delimited. To ask to prove of the God I believe in would make even less sense than a quest to prove that reality is real, since you would have to do so within the reality you are trying to prove. The attempt of materialists to debunk the reality of consciousness in service to their material gods runs into a quite similar problem as their attempts rather convincingly demonstrate the reality of the thing they are using to enforce their will on reality. Their effort disproves the case they are making by debunking the reality of what they are using to make their arguments. Now THAT is something worth pointing out, which is what I have been doing.
* Dawkins is sophisticated enough, though most of his fellow neo-atheists are not, in that he realizes that the creation of one godly "DNA" is insufficient as there is on one molecule that is DNA. But he does create the largest of all pantheons in his attribution of powers to DNA, warring gods which are engaged in competing and killing each other off, using us and our macroscopic scale to determine the winners. Though I think even he can't turn such entities into more than limited deities in that they are dependent on the physical environment. As I indicated their gods are henotheistic, with potency within a certain locus of influence, other gods having sway in other regions. I've mentioned other gods of those efforts, "quantum gravity" "quantum vacuum" and, in an earlier post, what might be the current and reigning and likely all-time(s) champion creator god, "probability" with which these atheists have made, not only immaterial, enormous brains, but a stupendous number of imaginary universes, created out of nothing else. As they really do talk about such imaginary, unevidenced things, and use them in argument - something they mock religious folk for doing I think it's only fair that we be allowed to take them as serious about it and to make logical observations about just what they're doing. Atheists have their own theology in which they talk about such stuff, only they're touchy about admitting that's what it is. I'm more interested in the logical consequences and the proper identification of what they're doing than in the anger caused by pointing those out. As the widespread and naive belief in such things as evolutionary psychology is a major danger to liberalism and democracy, I think it's important for a political blogger to address it. The claims of evolutionary psychologists are used to attack everything from gender and ethnic equality to economic justice. David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan love such things for a reason, after all.
San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas conductor
Back when I was growing up in the back waters of inland Maine, Memorial Day hadn't yet turned entirely into another occasion to promote the adoration of the military but was a general memorial of all those who had died. I liked it better.
Americans have a bad habit of ruining holidays. Ives seems to have thought so, too.
Rupert Sheldrake is one of my very favorite heretics, the best that Britain has to offer to counter the common received wisdom of Brits as old line materialist-atheist stereotypes.
I don't agree with everything he says, I think he's far too charitable to those who are merely dishonest hucksters and fundamentalists in many cases, for example, but I always appreciate his calm, reasonable manner.