Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Suppose The Massachusetts Case Has To Be Addressed

Several of my grade school classrooms had a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence on the wall.   I'm pretty sure I read at least the first few paragraphs in at least one of them, I am sure a few of those with better eyesight and more of a toleration for Jefferson's prose read the whole thing.  We were required to read it, as I recall in the fifth grade.   In the course of that all of us read:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

It wouldn't be a bad thing if more people shared the idea that rights are equally distributed endowments of God instead of unequally distributed privileges.  It would have been good if the signatories of the Declaration had acted as if they believed it.   But I don't see a lot of evidence that most of those millions of school children who read those words over the course of the last two hundred plus years have been decisively moved by them. I've come to the conclusion that anything less than the belief that the rights of other people are a supernatural endowment is unlikely to sustain a societies' respect of those, equally, to the least of those, the people who need those rights the most.  As someone once succinctly put that,  "He don't need no rights, he's got a BMW"

Note that we were REQUIRED to read those words at a rather tender age, they were mounted on the wall.


The Massachusetts Supreme Judiacal Court  decision in favor of the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, which didn't remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, apparently has some blog atheists in the same kind of tizzy that the earlier case on prayer at town council meetings did. As is often the case in the "rational" community, some unintentionally hilarious histrionic declarations were made.   Reading the decision it is obvious that the parents and those who brought the case for them failed to make any kind of case. They showed no singling out of their children, they showed no kind of harm done to them, their claim of "stigmatization" was found to be "not cognizable" under the state law that was the basis of the suit.  What the opinion said about that is a good example of how legal decisions are a lot more complex in their relevant consequences than ignorant blog blatherers would spend their time even reading, never mind processing.

The fact that a school or other public entity operates a voluntary program or offers an activity that offends the religious beliefs of one or more individuals, and leaves them feeling "stigmatized" or "excluded" as a result, does not mean that the program or activity necessarily violates equal protection principles. If we were to accept the plaintiffs' theory, numerous programs and activities that are otherwise constitutional would be scuttled under the rubric of equal protection. For example, in Curtis v. School Comm. of Falmouth, 420 Mass. 749, 750, 760 (1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1067 (1996), we upheld a program adopted by the town of Falmouth school committee that made condoms available to students in the junior and senior high schools in Falmouth. We rejected the claims of parents and students that the program violated their constitutional rights to familial privacy and parental control of their children's education and upbringing, as well as their right to the free exercise of religion. Id. at 751, 763. If we were to accept the plaintiffs' equal protection theory in this case, the Falmouth program would be vulnerable for essentially the same reason: the plaintiffs in that case could claim that the implementation of the program in the schools--the dispensing of condoms by the school nurse and the presence of condom vending machines in the restrooms--sends a daily message to them that the school accepts and even promotes values that do not comport with their religious views, and therefore publicly renders them "outsiders" based on their religious beliefs. The school condom availability program, which passes muster under the religion provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions, would be struck down under art. 106. A host of other school programs would likewise be vulnerable.

From what I can gather, it would seem that the plaintiffs wasted tens of thousands of dollars that the school district could have spent on something to do with education on a frivolous lawsuit.   As is so often the case, the case was part of a legal strategy.   Part of that is due to a huge overreach, claiming a level of discrimination comparable to that under Jim Crow law

Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America said the outcome was a disappointment, because of its potential to assert the rights of nonbelievers via Equal Protection and nondiscrimination.

 The Equal Protection clause was cited in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) to fight racial discrimination, and has also been the basis for many other decisions rejecting discrimination against people belonging to various groups. This was the first time the Equal Protection clause was argued on behalf of nontheists.

“This would have been a groundbreaking case for atheists and humanists, but the Court’s decision today simply reaffirms the status quo,” Rogers said. “Today’s decision tells our children that love for our country must be linked to a god belief, and that in and of itself is discriminatory.”

Considering the plaintiffs showed no evidence of discrimination to any of the courts that heard the case, that is an absurd and irrational claim*.   The claims of atheists that they are victims of massive discrimination in the United States are almost always unsupported by evidence.  And, as I have to repeat, again, if they can show discrimination they are covered under the Civil Rights Act.

I have problems with the Pledge of Allegiance and would be happier if it wasn't recited.  The first of those is religious.  Even as a child it seemed idolatrous to me to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth.  All of these decades later, I still don't think it can be seen as anything else but idolatry that you would think religious folks would object to.  I certainly don't think that the United States is a nation "under God" unless you are a Mammonist.

There is hardly a phrase in it that isn't open to debate or rejection.  "One nation" "indivisible" is certainly not how right wing federalists and nullificationists see it.  "With liberty and justice for all" is far more an aspiration, not universally shared, that has yet to be achieved. No, I don't like the pledge for a lot of reasons but I am also able to see that it is largely an empty recitation with no more meaning than the lyrics of a pop song in almost every instance in which it is recited.  In short, there is nothing important about it.

The motive in bringing the suit, in the absence of any demonstration of harm, would seem to be exactly what Edwina Rogers said,  "This would have been a groundbreaking case for atheists and humanists"  it would be a propaganda coup, mostly.  Though if it would be at the cost of condom distribution in schools, its damage would have been real.   This case was a publicity stunt and I think the plaintiffs should pay costs when they bring publicity stunt lawsuits.

* Justice Lenk's concurring opinion said that he thought it would have been a different matter if they had shown discrimination.

To be sure, as our holding makes clear, the plaintiffs here did not successfully allege that their children receive negative treatment because they opt not to recite the words "under God," or that the inclusion of that phrase in the pledge has occasioned "the creation of second-class citizens." Goodridge v. Department of Pub. Health, 440 Mass. 309, 312 (2003). Absent such a showing, the plaintiffs' claim must fail. See Matter of Corliss, 424 Mass. 1005, 1006 (1997), citing Murphy v. Commissioner of the Dep't Indus. Accs., 415 Mass. 218, 226 (1993), S.C. 418 Mass. 165 (1994) (differential treatment is "[o]ne indispensable element of a valid equal protection claim"). But our holding today should not be construed to bar other claims that might rely on sufficient indicia of harm. Should future plaintiffs demonstrate that the distinction created by the pledge as currently written has engendered bullying or differential treatment, I would leave open the possibility that the equal rights amendment might provide a remedy.

I agree that if actual discrimination could be shown it would make a real difference, though you'd have to hear the specifics of the case to guess what that difference would be.  In the absence of incidents of discrimination to the plaintiffs in this case,  I wonder if they ever considered that if their children were going to be discriminated against, the chances of that would be enhanced by this lawsuit.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Frank Bridge : Three Improvisations ( for the Left Hand Alone )

Takeo Tchinai


Materialism Inevitably Destroys Feminism It Destroys Human Freedom and Dignity

Last month Katha Pollitt got around to the immoral and most definitely illiberal acceptance and promotion of prostitution on the alleged left, an issue that was the topic of a line of posts I did last year.  She said

On the left, prostitution used to be seen as a bad thing: part of the general degradation of the working class, and the subjugation of women, under capitalism. Women who sold sex were victims, forced by circumstances into a painful and humiliating way of life, and socialism would liberate them. Now, selling sex is sex work—just another service job, with good points and bad—and if you suggest that the women who perform it are anything less than free agents, perhaps even "empowered" if they make enough money, you're just a prude. Today's villain is not the pimp or the john—it's second-wave feminists, with their primitive men-are-the-enemy worldview, and "rescuers" like Nicholas Kristof, who presume to know what's best for women.

The hot new left-wing journals are full of this thinking. Right now on the New Inquiry website, for example, you can take a satirical quiz called "Are You Being Sex Trafficked?" Of course, if you are reading the New Inquiry, chances are you're not being sex trafficked; if you're a sex worker, chances are you're a grad student or a writer or maybe an activist—a highly educated woman who has other options and prefers this one. And that is where things get tricky. Because in what other area of labor would leftists look to the elite craftsman to speak for the rank and file? You might as well ask a pastry chef what it's like to ladle out mashed potatoes in a school cafeteria. In the discourse of sex work, it seems, the subaltern does not get to speak.

I will begin with the most obvious point,  the porn-prostitution industry has exploded in the last two decades with the introduction of the internet.  It was always filthy rich it has become Big Bank level rich and, as a media business, is even better situated to hire scribblers, both professional and blog troll level, to push its messaging.   There is no area of writing more susceptible to that kind of push than those anxiously eager to be in line with the up and coming, the very kind of folks who write for the trendy sites and magazines.  The media is in the business of getting attention to sell itself, it has that much in common with both of the major forms of turning people into objects of commerce.

That Pollitt is mystified by the attempt to turn women into objects of commerce AS A LEFTY CAUSE CÉLÈBRE is bizarre, considering her position in the promotion of atheist materialism.

What the hell does she think it means to believe that people are material objects?   Does she think that her ideology doesn't really mean it when they promote the idea that people are objects?   I doubt that at her age, with her investment in that ideology that she is likely to seriously address the problem of trying to locate where women are supposed to find rights to demand and the moral obligation of men to respect those within materialism.  But that same materialist milieu is what pervades today's scribbling class which is the source of her puzzlement.   When I saw her mention of "The New Inquiry" I had to go look to see if it was yet another of the Paul Kurtz organizations, perhaps related to the "Center for Inquiry" that is sponsoring the conference she's participating in. Maybe, while she is at it, she should contemplate the non sequitur  of "free thought" being applied to an ideological position that typically denies the very possibility of free thinking.  She could get into that with several of the participants who, I seem to recall, have said that there is no such thing as free thought due to materialist determinism.

Perhaps she should seriously consider all of the implications of her ideology for feminism. Materialism is a monist ideology that doesn't allow for exceptions.   And if people are objects then they are objects that can be used.   When materialism is the ideological basis of any political action then the inevitable identification of people as objects, of minds as determined and morals as the product of social consensus without objective reality, there will always be a reversion to the kind of vulgar materialism that is the basis of all human oppression.   It is the way animals have been treated, as objects and the history that feminism arose to fight was an opposition to that view of women.   For crying out loud, Katha, didn't you take the struggle against the objectification of women seriously enough to recognize that it is an inevitable result of the very ideology you are promoting later this month?  That was one of the greatest lessons of second-wave feminism, it had a profound effect on my thinking.  Do you think its truth is mitigated by the drift of social consensus under the influence of porn money?

I am pressed for time today but here's what I had to say a year ago, January.

The Curious Blind Eyed Liberal Acceptance of Objectifying People

There's really nothing complicated about it,  prostitution turns the bodies of prostitutes into a commodity for sale and since the body of a living person is inseparable from the person,  it turns people into object of commerce.   Prostitution turns people into a thing that is rented out to be used by men - almost always - and like any rental appliance, the prostitute is injured in use.   Pornography is just prostitution filmed or photographed, sometimes paid for by the photographer, sometimes not.   That isn't when it's not actually filmed rape or gang rape, which it so often is.

But people are not objects.  Unlike furniture or appliances you can use through Rent-a-Center, prostitutes can be infected with pathogens that will injure and kill them.  Prostitutes also feel pain, which makes more than a few of those who rent them able to find sexual satisfaction by hurting them.   This is, of course, gratifying to the customer because it is related to a feeling of power over another person,  something that in our incredibly twisted sexual culture is a predominant trait of a large number of people.   That twisted sense of entitlement to treat people as objects, to dominate them and to use them, especially against their will,  is what prostitution is really all about.  You can use a prostitute without any obligation to care for them or risk legal obligations to them.  Men who use them not infrequently lie to them and cheat them, refuse to pay the agreed to rental fee and prostitutes are usually powerless to do anything about it.

If a boss in a factory or  on a farm treated workers like objects for use, exploitation, abuse, and disposal like that, liberals would be expected to see exactly what the situation was and they would champion the workers.   The objectification of prostitution and pornography isn't restricted to mental cruelty and disrespect, it turns people into objects as surely as the Nazis did the harvested hair of those it murdered or the corrupt officials of the Chinese government does those from whom it kills to sell their organs.  When it's prostitutes and porn actors turned into objects for use and sale, they go all libertarian, pretending that prostitutes are in some position to set the terms of rental. They might point out to some accounts, generally unverifiable, of elite prostitutes who claim to have had that kind of power but the vast majority of women, children and men who are prostitutes, that story is a total fiction.  That is the case in countries where prostitution is illegal, it is the case in countries where prostitution is legal.   The claims made about legal prostitution being some kind of guarantee of the safety and dignity of prostitutes is dependent on the most careful of choices of stories to tell and, in some cases, is based on leaving a lot of that story out.

What is it about prostitution and its flip side, pornography, that makes liberals go all stupid, supporting industries that violate their most basic metaphysical foundations, equality, an assertion of inherent rights and dignity, and the moral obligation to respect rights equally and entirely.   Without those liberalism is meaningless, it devolves into something little different from right wing libertarianism pretending to be liberalish.

I've thought about that question a lot over the past decade as the gay porn it's impossible to avoid online has grown increasingly a celebration of all of those things mentioned above and more.   Online porn is an open invitation to use and destroy women, children and men in increasingly violent and destructive ways, to rape them and degrade them, to turn them into objects to be used like a bratty little boy would gleefully destroy a doll and deface an image.   And liberals, championing that feel a sense of virtue due to their superior free speechiness.   That idiotic, preening sense of virtue at enabling some of the most degrading and destructive use of real human beings is a symptom of a fatal flaw that was introduced into post-war liberalism.  As it has taken hold liberalism has become ineffective and has failed at the polls.   We are in a time when the the liberal presidents,  Clinton, Obama, have been less liberal than President Eisenhower was.  That is more than a symptom, it's a crisis of liberalism that has destroyed it.

There is something downright prissy about the demonstrations of virtuous free speech absolutism on the left today, an inversion of a theatrical stereotype of a purity campaigner as seen in comedies of the 1950s.    There is an unthinking assertion of an official virtue, a self-righteous demonstration of an opposition to any kind of criticism of the industries of prostitution and pornography that would be comical in itself it it wasn't such a serious lapse of morality and reason.  It is a bizarre thing to recognize for what it is.  The insistence among the self-appointed free-thinkers that everyone ignore what they can see clearly and get in line with the official line.

A lot of it is based in a rejection of traditional morality, it being sex, blinds liberals.   They idiotically miss that the "sex" involved with prostitution and pornography comes with an objectification and commodification of people, something they can usually not miss when "sex" isn't a part of it.   Many liberals have an easier time seeing the moral atrocity of the abuse of animals in farming than they can of people as horribly abused in porn and prostitution.   The secret videos of chickens and pigs released by the animal rights people get a reaction that the thousands of times more numerous videos and photos of women, children and men that they can hardly avoid in a day of google searches don't.

This is a situation that can't continue if there is to be a left.  There is no coexisting with an industry that does what porn and prostitution do,  the championing of the "rights" of those industries is destroying the left.  The pornographers buy off the left at times with "free speech" awards.   They co opt the media which sees the benefit to them of the same "free speech" language and legal framework.

Either the left acts as if people are more than merely objects of commerce, or it doesn't exist.  It can't pretend what is really happening in pornography and prostitution isn't real.  Today, online and off, "liberals" conform to a rigid line of free speech absolutism that sees the use and destruction of women, children and men by industries that destroy them as a price worth paying so they can ply their trade without having to wonder if they're crossing a line hardly any of them ever would cross, anyway.   They see any restrictions on the most extreme and depraved pornography, of prostitution as it really is in the real world instead of in their fantasies,  as a slippery slope.   Well, there's another side of that slope from the inability to use casual profanity in a feature story or showing a married couple with a double bed on TV and it is into the kind of pit of depravity that is a websearch away.   The pro-porn, pro-prostitution side, which has developed into an industry in itself, will mock the phrase "pit of depravity" but that's what so many of the pornographers advertise their product as being.   The same people would jocularly gloat in the same terms if someone hadn't brought up these issues and ruined their boy bonding fun, delighted in their puerile wickedness.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Frank Bridge Piano Sonata

Kathryn Stott  Piano

The teacher of Benjamin Britten and, I have to say, his music moves me more than his famous pupil's.


Words Don't Work If They Aren't Read

Apparently some of those who object to my posts about Greece v Galloway haven't read the dissents written by Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor and the separate dissent written by Justice Breyer because none of them contained the opinion that a complete ban on prayers at town council meetings was required by the Constitution.   Justice Kagan said:

I respectfully dissent from the Court's opinion because I think the Town of Greece's prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality-the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian. I do not contend that principle translates here into a bright separationist line. To the contrary, I agree with the Court's decision in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), upholding the Nebraska Legislature's tradition of beginning each session with a chaplain's prayer. And I believe that pluralism and inclusion in a town hall can satisfy the constitutional requirement of neutrality; such a forum need not become a religion-free zone. But still, the Town of Greece should lose this case. The practice at issue here differs from the one sustained in Marsh because Greece's town meetings involve participation by ordinary citizens, and the invocations given-directly to those citizens-were predominantly sectarian in content. Still more, Greece's Board did nothing to recognize religious diversity: In arranging for clergy members to open each meeting, the Town never sought (except briefly when this suit was filed) to involve, accommodate, or in any way reach out to adherents of non-Christian religions. So month in and month out for over a decade, prayers steeped in only one faith, addressed toward members of the public, commenced meetings to discuss local affairs and distribute government benefits. In my view, that practice does not square with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government.

To point out the passage relevant to my point, she said:

And I believe that pluralism and inclusion in a town hall can satisfy the constitutional requirement of neutrality; such a forum need not become a religion-free zone.

In his dissent, Justice Breyer, who blog atheists were claiming as their representative on the Court last year, said:

The Court of Appeals further emphasized what it was not holding. It did not hold that "the town may not open its public meetings with a prayer," or that "any prayers offered in this context must be blandly 'nonsectarian.' " Id., at 33 . In essence, the Court of Appeals merely held that the town must do more than it had previously done to try to make its prayer practices inclusive of other faiths. And it did not prescribe a single constitutionally required method for doing so.

In my view, the Court of Appeals' conclusion and its reasoning are convincing. JUSTICE KAGAN's dissent is consistent with that view, and I join it. I also here emphasize several factors that I believe underlie the conclusion that, on the particular facts of this case, the town's prayer practice violated the Establishment Clause.

Which is an entirely reasonable stand to take, though one that is at odds with the position that no prayer is allowable at any government function.   That position would seem to have no support on the court at all and as a political issue it has been a consistent loser for the left that has been or been made to be associated with it.

A town council meeting is quite a different thing from a public school classroom where minor children are required to attend and where they would be subject to bullying and coercion so a different standard of what is allowable should be maintained.

Apparently a lot of the people who have been blabbing on the blogs over this haven't bothered to read the things they think they are agreeing with because the dissenting Justices didn't say what people think they said.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Left Is Addicted To Setting Itself Up To Get Sucker Punched

The way that the nominal left loves to throw the real left on the sword over the most ephemeral and pointless issues would almost make you believe that they don't really care about taking power to put a real leftist agenda into effect.   And there are few issues more clearly illustrative of that than the pandering to the tender feelings of the anti-religious fringe over issues such as the recent Greece v. Galloway ruling.

I certainly don't like it when a bunch of politicians get up and make a display of religiosity that their actions and private lives seldom live up to.   There is something distasteful about the hypocritical use of religious display, especially in politics, there is every reason for a religious person to oppose it.  But this is not an especially important issue as compared to what politicians do in the course of their official duties.  The plaintiffs in the case said that they were "uncomfortable" with the prayers at the beginning of the town council meeting, which I get.  But, really, this issue isn't what's important, what they do after that is what is important. If the price of avoiding Republicans in office is tolerating a minimal amount of that display, it is certainly worth it.   If atheists are offended, well, join the club.  I'm a lot more offended by cuts to general assistance, tax giveaways to the wealthy and just the other genuinely important actions of government than I am the thirty seconds of meaningless gesture at the start of the meeting.   I care about that entirely more than I care about your or my discomfort for thirty seconds at the beginning of the meeting.  For the record, the Pledge of Allegiance they say as they don't pray, around here, makes me uncomfortable but not enough to make me mistake the empty gesture as an important issue.

The ruling on allowing prayer at the beginning of a town council meeting has nothing, whatsoever, to do with religion as religion but, as with just about everything this court does, it has everything to do with the use of religion as a political tool.  And, I'm sorry to have to point it out again, the right's use of religion has been far more effective than the dogmatism of the left has been.   A lot of the blame for that success is due to the corporate media's reporting of those issues, but that will get me onto the fact that the left has been the media's sucker as well, even as it delivers the punches.

If the left had decided to spend its resources wasted on unimportant stuff like this on pushing economic justice, it would have a lot more success.    We have not only wasted our time on marginal issues like this one, we have enabled the right to portray the left as being anti-religious.  Which is a problem in a country where the vast majority of people are religious, religious belief pervades the country.

If the five conservative Catholics on the Supreme Court are as influenced by what the Pope says as the anti-Catholic blog babblers claim, they would have abolished the death penalty instead of being its greatest supporters.   They would have supported the right of effective collective bargaining and social justice, on which even the conservative Popes of the last century and a quarter are down right radical by the standards that prevail in the United States today.   Only, that hasn't happened, has it.  The sixth Catholic on the court, Justice Sotomayor, has been far more in tune with the Vatican in her decisions on those issues than the right wingers have but on issues of reproductive rights and GLBT rights, she hasn't been.

As I said, yesterday,  I remember Catholic bashers complaining that Sotomayor would be another Catholic on the court.   I have to say that reading comments at Eschaton,  Hullabaloo,  and other leftish blogs that sounded like Southern Baptists c. 1960 was another clue that they weren't the liberals they believed they were.   It was about the same time I realized a lot of them were actually just a different variety of libertarians who really weren't much interested in the central agenda of the kind of liberalism that was once successful.   I don't think people who focus on issues like this do, actually, care about that agenda, their ilk were the same kind who ruined the Democratic coalition in the 1960s.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Short Interview With Judi Dench On Being a Quaker and a Peacenik

I love her and wish I could see the play, it sounds so much more interesting than the premise would seem to be.

The Genteel Bigotry Of the Fashionable Leftish Libertarains Is In Line With The Ass End of American History

Liberalish blogger Duncan Black's anti-Catholic scribble was the topic of a post I tossed off yesterday on my non-serious blog, but it needs to be gone into a bit more than I did.  Here's his post, verbatim.

It takes an atheist, or perhaps even a Protestant, to get why this stuff matters.

There are no Protestant supremos. In my experience even hard core US Protestants tend to have a greater understanding that even Christianity, let alone religion generally, isn't all the same thing.

I can't account for what Duncan Black's experience is but his idea of Catholicism is a throw back to the 19th century Knownothings  and, as I pointed out yesterday,  the Klu Klux Klan of the 1920s.   I noted how the future justice Hugo Black participated in anti-Catholic activities as a member of the Klan,  being paid by them to get off Edwin Roscoe Stephenson (a species of Episcopalian minister) for murdering Father James Coyle, whose great crime was officiating at the marriage of his daughter to a Puerto Rican man who she had fallen in love with.   It being the Klan ridden Alabama of the 1920s, as anti-Catholic as the comment threads on Duncan's blog, you won't be anymore surprised to hear that Stephenson got off than you have been if he'd murdered Coyle for being black.   

Or, if you want to talk about the proud history of anti-Catholicism on the Supreme Court, you could go right back to the start with John Jay, who advocated banning Catholics in New York from holding public office but had to settle for a provision that deprived Catholics from citizenship unless they renounced the authority of the Pope in, not only civil matters, but ecclesiastical matters, as well.  That law stayed on the books until the 1820s.   

I doubt Black has ever read much about the deeply embedded history of Protestant anti-Catholicism in the British colonies and the American states created out of them but it is a history full of murder, violence, attacks on institutions and even mob burning of churches and even convents and girl's schools by protestant nativists whose water he is still carrying as an atheist today.   Here's a brief description of one of the better known incidents, the burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown Massachusetts.  

August 11th was an oppressively hot night. An unruly, drunken mob of laborers, sailors, apprentices, and hoodlums gathered at the gates of the convent. They demanded to see one of the sisters who figured in a number of the rumors. When the Mother Superior refused, the men began to tear down the convent's fence and used the wood to feed a roaring bonfire. The fire alarm was sounded, but Charlestown's Protestant firefighters did nothing to fight the blaze.

The rioters shattered the convent's windows, broke down the front door, and burst into the building. They went on a rampage, destroying furniture, musical instruments, books, and religious items, and then set the building on fire. The nuns gathered their terrified students and barely escaped out the back, fleeing through a hole that the Mother Superior ripped in the back fence. Dressed only in their nightclothes, they ran through the fields to a farmhouse a half-mile away, where they watched the convent burning. By daybreak, it lay in smoldering ruins.

The next day, a committee of respected citizens was formed to investigate the rumors and the riot. The nuns were cleared of any illicit activities; 13 men were arrested for rioting. When the case came to trial, the jury convicted only one man, and the governor later pardoned him.

The convent was never rebuilt. Its charred remains stood for the next 40 years as a reminder of the virulent prejudice against Catholics. The site was leveled in 1875, and the bricks were incorporated into Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Perhaps Duncan could rouse himself from his stylish ennui to look into another famous incident in the city he lives in, Philidelphia, where an anti-Catholic riot included the burning of St. Augustine's church.  

A number of historians, including Arthur Schlesinger Sr. have noted that anti-Catholicism is one of the deepest entrenched and most potent of the bigotries that have afflicted the United States,  “Anti-Catholicism is the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people.”   While I'm not entirely in agreement that it is any deeper than the hatred of black people or the native population, it certainly runs deep.   It can even survive and thrive when the nativist Protestantism, one of the diseases the new nation inherited from the British establishment, is abandoned for the fashionable atheism that Black tried to inoculate himself with.   As I noted, he seemed to get cold feet in the comments.

i'm not asserting that protestants are more tolerant, just that they (broad brush) tend to have greater awarenesss that not all christianity is the same.
i wasn't raised with any religion. it's all weird to me.

I would recommend that  the boy would like to do a tiny little bit of research into the topic of Catholicism, which contains a number of separate churches with quite distinct traditions and which recognizes the apostolic succession of any number of non-Catholic denominations, even some of those quite anti-Catholic in their history.  But he doesn't seem to be able to be bothered to do much in the way of background research.   

Maybe he could have noticed that in those dissenting to the ruling he complained about Justice Sotomayor is listed.  As I recall some of his Eschatots complained that they were putting another Catholic on the court when Barack Obama nominated her.   He might even discover previous rulings in the same line in which the quite protestant Rehnquist and O'Connor proposed that such prayer isn't really religious but constitutes some bizarre form of "civic religion".   Which is an idea that my Catholic childhood would lead me to think was an institutionalized practice of taking God's name in vain.   Or he might want to see how various protestant groups came down in the amicus briefs filed in the case.   But that would be something like work, the results of which would not run up his flagging hit counts and which I'm sure his remaining readers would ignore as booorrrrring!.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Art Blakey Lee Morgan Theme For Stacy

I believe the musicians are

Lee Morgan - trumpet
John Gilmore - tenor sax
John Hicks - piano
Victor Sproles - bass
Art Blakey - drums

Though my eyes aren't what they used to be.  

And this is incredible,  Buhaina's Delight

Though I know there are those who don't think Blakey could hold a candle to Keith Moon.  I know because I had a huge fight with a paid music scribbler on just that point.

Hate-Talk Doesn't Work For The Left The Way It Does For The Right

Even with a very long lifetime you have, at the most, only about 200,000 hours of time to accomplish your plans.    Lothar Seiwert  La Aboco de Temploplanado (my translation) 

Just how much time does the left think it has to waste?   In a recent Nation blog post by Reed Richardson (scroll down the page) he talks about the ubiquity of angry outrage as the predominant form of right-wing discourse by way of reviewing a book by  Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj on that topic.  I would recommend reading Richardson's post because he makes some important points about how democracy is, in fact, endangered by the promotion of hate-talk.  He began with this:

Find out what a society gets angry about and you’ll find out what it thinks, who it cares about, and how fairly—or not—it functions. Does its anger dwell on isolated actions or does it challenge systemic ideas? Is it mostly directed at individuals or institutions? Is it driven from the bottom up or the top down? Does it seek change or simply retribution? Make no mistake, public anger is a necessary element of civil society and can be a public good, but not if it never does any good—if it’s only ever about settling scores, gathering scalps, documenting gaffes, and calling on others to apologize.

Richardson does criticize the authors who, presented with the oceans of right wing hate-talk media, concentrate far too much on the pint or so of left-wing hate talk in the broadcast and cabloid media.  But if he had included leftish blogs and websites, he could have found quite a bit of angry hate talk.

It goes without saying, if he'd considered neo-atheism he would have been able to talk about the enormous amount of that which pours fourth as polluted waters from the would-be temple of reason, the alleged left.   Curious to see what I might see on Alternet's front page after I read Richardson's blog, it was covered with the angry, unhinged hate talk of Valerie Tarico, Dan Arel, Katie Halper, C. J. Wereleman, Greta Christina and at that I decided to stop counting.  And that is just on Alternet. The Nation and other old line leftish media regularly carries anti-religious invective and mockery, saying things about, almost exclusively, Christians that if they were said about Jews or Muslims or Hindus, Buddhists, animists by conservatives would make any honest list of hate talk.  

Richardson is right that the anger the media sells to people does have a real life effect, a real life, POLITICAL effect.  And he notes the reason that there is so much hate talk in the media, hate sells.  I strongly suspect that anti-religious hate-talk accounts for most of Alernet's traffic.  I strongly suspect that is true whenever a blog or online magazine spouts it.  The choice by leftish media to do that means that they are not featuring other content that might have more of an effect than attracting the mighty 2.4% of atheists (less, actually, considering that many atheists are right-wingers) to badmouth the well over 90% who are either religious or don't share their addiction to several 2-minute-hates every day.

He quotes the Berry and Sobieraj to make that point:

Outrage discourse and programming may be effective at increasing advertising revenue and political support, but our research suggests that the mainstreaming of outrage in American political culture undermines some practices vital to healthy democratic life. […]

In this arena, issues of import to fans are used for maximum emotional impact, such that tiny niche issues are reshaped into scandals and significant developments that are less ideologically resonant are dismissed as trivial or ignored

The resources of the left, notably lacking lavish support from billionaires and ownership of the American media, are absurdly wasted on servicing the enthusiasm for conceited hatred and the eternal angry teenager music that is the lyric of neo-atheism.

If anti-religious invective were going to work for the left it would have reaped its greatest success in the former Soviet Union where entire generations grew up being constantly exposed to the neo-atheist line of propaganda with the full force of the state and the state media.  But, as soon as that anti-democratic regime fell - neither a democratic-atheistic paradise nor a more democratic religious society resulted.   The atheist paradise froze things in place, solidly in the past.   The religion-based reform movements that rose in liberal Christianity in the 18th and 19th century, which were the force behind what liberal reform that has been accomplished, doesn't seem to have happened there.   I know members of what are considered conservative denominations here who are decades ahead of the post-Soviet states and certainly far more morally obligated to respect democracy than any atheist state is.  Considering how much of the allegedly leftist anti-religious impetus comes from the remnants of the absurd romanticization of Marxism*, in all of their hypocritical counterproductivity,  the continuation of it, in the face of the century and a half of its failure,  constitutes an enduring psychosis.   Why would they expect it will produce anything else?  It has always tried to power itself into a majority position on the assertions of its sciencyness, just as it does today.   But the only thing it has ever really had was its impotent ridicule.

I think that the enormous amount of anti-religious hate-talk on the left is a symptom of why the left doesn't win, and it isn't merely because that hate-talk distracts from important things like wining elections and changing laws.  Though it certainly has worked against the left and has been an enormous help for the right.  I think it is a symptom of a fatal refusal of the left to actually be a real, egalitarian, left instead of a lazy, self-centered leftish libertarianism.

The gospel of Jesus is hated by the pseudo-left because it constitutes a far more powerful program of far more proven success than the various materialist contenders for what comprises a "real" left.  It is hated on an individual basis because it imposes requirements of self-sacrifice on believers that are not welcome by the affluent on the would-be left anymore than a rigorous assertion of his gospel is to the pseudo-Christian right.    It was no more welcomed by royalty and the nobility of the middle-ages,  the oligarchic aristocrats of the later ages when the hereditary rule of them gave way to elected governments or the aspiring members of today's elites, not even in those just hanging on to the lower levels of that in academia.  

The gospel of Jesus, based in the Jewish Law, in regard to how human beings are to act to each others, is radically egalitarian in a way that no proposed, allegedly scientific, successor is.  If you treat others as you would have them treat you, you cannot enslave people, you cannot subjugate them, you cannot allow them to starve or linger in misery of material necessities.  You can't even merely placate your conscience that you have made some theoretical provision of subsistence for the "deserving poor" in the manner of the aristocratic British socialists - who Marilynne Robinson noted were obsessed with reducing the poor to absolute destitution before they provided any assistance.   You must provide them with what you would be provided with.  Which is entirely more radical than anything Marx or any of his materialist colleagues require.  And it is a requirement for believers because it is more than merely a position of intellectual ideology, it is a commandment of God.

*  Isn't it time for the left to face the fact that Marx was not a democrat and that Marxism was merely a different kind of dictatorship, one that proved to be as capable of all the same corruptions of every other form of dictatorship, as anyone who had experienced even limited democracy, could have predicted a dictatorship would become?   The absurd pursuit of Marxism by the anti-religious left should have long ago been considered a sign that they weren't really any alternative to the far right, they would just produce a different form of serfdom.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Art Blakey Jazz Messangers Yama

Tenor Saxophone - Wayne Shorter
Trumpet - Lee Morgan
Piano - Bobby Timmons
Bass - Jymie Merritt
Drums - Art Blakey

Incredible playing.