Tempests in Teapots Can Be Instructive

I don’t really read much fiction, and very little of that is science fiction.  So I really have no opinion on whether or not Vox Day deserves a Hugo, which I take is some kind of insidery award.  But the nomination process has been oh so revealing.

The best part?  The folks campaigning loudest and longest against Vox take pride in the fact that they’ve never actually read the book in question.

Never. Read. It.

There’s not even an attempt to link the award’s purpose to their criticism of the author.  Not even a feeble “I disagree with him, and therefore his writing sucks.”  It’s just: This man has expressed verboten opinions.  Therefore he must be destroyed, and the earth salted wherever he has passed.  He could be the next Isaac Asimov, but they neither know nor care.  They’d rather their genre — their livelihood — disappear than acknowledge that a writer with Incorrect Thoughts can have fans, too.

No wonder the internet left sucks so hard at arguing.  They refuse to sully the brahminical purity of their eyes by actually looking at the thing they’re condemning.

Dreaming the Unpossible Dream

There’s a civil war on between radical feminists (so-called “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists,” or TERF) and the Trannies.

What, you hadn’t heard?

Well then hie yourself on over to The Other McCain and let him enlighten you.  (Seriously, the dude’s like a pit bull.  Once he’s got it in his jaws, he ain’t never letting go for nothing).

It’s easy to point at this stuff and laugh.  Fun, too.  But maybe, just maybe, this could be what Our Betters like to call a “teachable moment.”  Mr. McCain does something of that here.  Let me add my bit.

I have a lot of sympathy for Q folks (in the standard acronym LGTBQ, the Q stands for “Questioning”).  This isn’t some namby-pamby disclaimer.  Remember your own teenage years, where hormones dictate 99.98% of your behavior and it’s all sex, all the time?  Now imagine you see all your peers going one way, and you find yourself going the other.  How traumatic!  Leaving aside the question of whether gender dysphoria actually exists (personally, I think it does), the all-pervasive alienation of being attracted to the “wrong” sex, especially in the overcharged atmosphere of adolescence, is guaranteed to do some lasting psychic harm.  I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone.

That said:  The key thing here is difference.  Not to get all reductive or anything — the cardinal sin of the TERF, according to the Trannies — but both identities, and indeed every single micro-identity in the glorious rainbow coalition, rest on their possessors being inherently, irreconcilably different from everybody else.  Once they decide on, and embrace, a particular identity, the first thing these folks do is: Start excluding others from it.  That’s why the group names are calibrated down to the micron, and why every group’s self-proclaimed spokesbeing leads off its every pronouncement with a mile-long list of its preferences, like a medieval king reeling off the full list of his titles.  

And yet, the one thing they claim to want above all others is inclusion.

28228-Thats-Unpossible-Ralph-wiggum-PcuIInstead of laughing at this — well, ok, in addition to laughing at this — let’s take the debate seriously.  The TERF — remember, that’s Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists — hold the très conservative view that one’s original genitalia have some bearing on one’s gender identity.  They don’t want “trans women” to attend their radical feminist conferences on the grounds that all “trans women” once had, and many still do have, dicks.

Cathy_Brennan_Feminist_LawyerI’ll give everybody a minute to process the sheer brass-balled effrontery of the “gender is a social construction” folks going all de Gobineau when confronted with this particular social construction.

That said, the radical feminists have a point, though not the point they seem to think they’re making (which, to be honest, I still haven’t quite figured out):  Things are for who they’re for.  But defining membership is different from defining identity.  Members of two different clubs can make common cause with each other in a third realm.  But defining identity by difference alone precludes that. If you define “horse” as “the thing which is left when you eliminate all things that are not horses,” then not only are zebras not horses, but zebras can never relate to horses, can never make common cause with horses, and, yes, can never go to the same radical feminist conferences as horses, because they have nothing in common with horses.  By definition.

That circle cannot be squared.  It’s unpossible.

That’s the lesson here, should any of Our Betters choose to take it.  The radical feminists realize full well that admitting trans women to their club is the end of their club, because trans women have embraced the definition-by-difference at the heart of identity politics more fully than the radical feminists have.  Radical feminists are hung up on defining women / feminists as “not men,” but the trannies have taken the proposition that “gender is just a social construction” one logical step further.  If “gender is just a social construction” is true, then when you eliminate all the socially constructed stuff, your gender is whatever you feel it is today.  You could be male today, female tomorrow, a radical feminist next week, a Westboro Baptist member next month.

This is the rot at the heart of all identity politics.  Perhaps it didn’t start out that way, but these days, every “identity” in “identity politics” is defined negatively:  “liberals” are “~conservatives,” “blacks” are “~whites,” “women” are “~men,” etc.  This is why liberals can say with a straight face that “Sarah Palin isn’t really a woman” and “Clarence Thomas isn’t really black.”  Palin is indisputably female and Thomas is indisputably dark, but it doesn’t matter, because they don’t display the suite of behaviors that define “woman” or “black”…. all of which are defined negatively against “white male.”

Take it on down the line.  This is why liberals react to specificity like vampires to garlic — they say they’re for gassy platitudes like “social justice,” but when you press them to define it, all they’ve got is more gassy platitudes.  There is a definition of “social justice,” of course, on which all liberals would agree:  “Social justice” is “the Koch Brothers ~wealthy.”  Our Betters are quite specific about which rights they’d like taken away from which groups, and the exact dollar amounts they’d like confiscated from the following individuals.  Or, as Morgan put it,

The rule seems to be that you can think whatever you want, but you’re not allowed to have influence unless you think the right things. If you don’t think the right things then you are to be driven out of whatever position you have. Once that’s done, you can go on thinking it, but the important goal is that we have to get our society properly arranged, with these good thoughts entirely saturating the tallest spires, and the bad thoughts entirely relegated down there in the dark alleyways, among the plebes. That is, from all I have seen and all I can figure out about it, the ultimate objective.

And whaddaya know?  Once badthink has been confined to the proles — who have no influence and never will — then we shall have Social Justice.

Of course, at that point, all the goodthinkful will fall viciously on each other like lesbians and trannies at a radical feminist conference, because definition-by-negatives requires it.  How can I be an X, if I’m not locked in a perpetual struggle against ~X?

28228-Thats-Unpossible-Ralph-wiggum-PcuI

Settled Science Update

Science –*cough*cough*– seems to indicate that screeching about “settled science” doesn’t work very well.

But there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.

Ignoring the huge stolen base there — drawing reasonable inferences from evidence is the very opposite of “denial,” you jackalopes — it seems like dawn is starting to break even in the benighted precincts of the New York Times.  Oh, so “science” can’t conclusively prove that this or that hurricane — or the other one that didn’t develop — is due to “global warming”?  And your constant, childish, butt-fuckingly obvious lies about it are backfiring on you?  Knock me over with a feather.

H/t Vox Day, who notes

Another big factor in the mass refusal to buy into the AGW/CC propaganda is the observation that no one who claims to be worried about global warming is living in a sustainable manner in wind-powered tents far away from the sea.

Or, as I like to say, I take “global warming” exactly as seriously as its proponents do.  I’ll give up fossil fuels when they do… and not a minute before.

Even Squirty has a tough time keeping the faith these days.

Even Squirty has a tough time keeping the faith these days.

A Gentleman’s Wager

Even if this proves to be everything the hype says it is — abundant, nearly-free fuel that is almost carbon neutral — the Green Jihadis will still want to ban it, because Global Warming.

It does, after all, involve internal combustion engines, which are conducive to commerce and empower the individual.  And, of course, eeewwww.

I Made a New Word: “Neo-Calvinist”

It’s kinda clunky, and I’m not super-happy with it, but it’s the best I could do.

Hereabouts, we spend a fair bit of time discussing terminology.  Which covers it better, “liberal” or “leftist”?  That kind of thing.  Because definitions are important.

So I’ve tried to come up with a new one.  Not all leftists are liberals, and not all liberals are leftists, but they are all impaired to some degree by the same mindset.  David Stove called it “cognitive Calvinism.”  He explained it like this:

Calvinists believe in the total depravity of human nature: if an impulse is one of ours, it is bad, because it is one of ours.  The argument,

  • Our knowledge is our knowledge,
  • So,
  • It is not knowledge of real things,

could seem valid only to someone who felt that any knowledge we have could not be the real thing, because we have it.

He’s talking about an argument he calls “The Gem,” aka The Worst Argument in the World, which deserves the top link on every conservative blog’s sidebar from now until the end of time.  It’s the one-stop explanation of the Fundamental Contradiction of Liberalism, the fact that there’s no such thing as a fact.

indexBriefly:  A Gem starts from a tautology and ends by presenting some emotionally appealing conclusion as if it followed logically from the premise.  But nothing follows logically from a tautology by definition.  So, Stove argues, we’d easily see that

We can know things only

  • as they are related to us
  • under our forms of perception and understanding
  • insofar as they fall under our conceptual schemes,

is a tautology (“we can only know what we can know”) if we weren’t emotionally wedded to the idea that we cannot know things as they are in themselves.

Stove thinks it’s only “cognitive Calvinists” who find Gem arguments appealing (as opposed to “politically useful” or even “true” (for those of us who don’t recognize that they are Gems)).  And, on the surface at least, “we cannot know things as they are in themselves” is a pretty depressing comment on mankind’s mental powers.  But Stove was a philosopher, and was used to arguing with fellow philosophers (the whole Gem-argument is laid out in a long discussion of Victorian Idealism, one of the driest and deadest relics of that long-vanished era).  Out here in the real world, where the intellectual level is much lower but the self-regard level is somehow much, much higher, people have no problem making the leap from “we cannot know things as they are in themselves” to “I possess the entire Truth.”

Hence, Neo-Calvinism.  Like the original Calvinists, Our Betters have granted themselves a plenary indulgence from the consequences of their theories.  Calvinists knew they were among the Elect, because the one sure sign of Election is an affinity for Calvinism.  And so while all knowledge has heretofore been Western / white / patriarchal / imperialist / whatever, and while of course we are utterly incapable of transcending the cognitive biases of our class situation — so proclaimeth St. Karl of the Holy Dialectic — the light of Divine Grace has descended on Our Betters.  They have been Saved.  They are, in Tom Sowell’s wonderful phrase, the Anointed.

Which is a term that would probably work well enough in context.  But I like “neo-Calvinist” because it calls back to the intellectual roots of Puritanism.  As Max Weber famously argued, Protestantism is not a religion of the proletariat.  Puritan* social histories are full of relatively unlettered, low-status people engaging in recondite theological debates, and one of the reasons the Salem witchcraft trials are so fascinating even to non-lesbians is the intellectual wattage of the judges.  Cotton Mather could produce 500 pages of densely-reasoned, impeccably logical prose to justify putting you on the rack.  As we are well aware, Our Betters love the form and the feel and the sound of intellectual debate, even as they’re “arguing” straight from the amygdala. It’s Cotton Mather logic — of course “spectral evidence” is admissible in court, because the girls are being tormented by witches, and witches use specters to torment.  QED.

“Neo-Calvinist” also gives a shout out to the prissy, moralizing, censorious nature of Our Betters.  In all matters except sex — these days, in all matters perhaps gay sex — they are prigs and scolds.  Bad speech must of course be banned, but also bad cars, bad lightbulbs, bad toilets, bad trash cans, bad songs, bad movies, bad shows, bad channels, bad books, bad websites, bad everything.  The Church of Correct Thought has its liturgies, its rituals, and of course its sacrifices, and participation is not optional.  You are sinners in the hands of an angry God, and since there’s no such thing as God, Our Betters will have to pinch hit for Him.

Once you look for it, you see this kind of thing everywhere.  This post was inspired by yet another takedown of “Vox,” this stupid news-explaining-blog-thing that has gotten the right blogsphere so worked up.  Professional jealousy aside — and what is this, 2002?  Didn’t we go through this “throw zillions of dollars at talking-point-spewing bloggers thing” a decade ago?  and wasn’t it a comprehensive disaster? — I really fail to see how this is any different from anything else the left media do.  How is Ezra Klein pretending to be objective while “explaining” that of course progressives are metaphysically correct about everything any different from any random MSNBC / CNN / ABC / CBS / New York Times knucklehead pretending to do the same thing?  Hell, I doubt if you could get more than a few of Rachel Maddow’s supporters to admit she’s anything but an up-front, straight-talkin’, truth-tellin’, honest-to-Gaia journalist.

Klein’s just an extra-sanctimonious jerkoff, even by the left’s world-class standards.  Which is great for me, I guess — I got a new word out of it — but I don’t see how it needs thousands of words of impassioned “analysis” elsewhere.  He’s just another neo-Calvinist, pretending his prejudices are God’s will.  Same as it ever was.

UPDATE: Just for giggles.  It appears this “Vox” site screwed the pooch on one of the very first stories it reported.  They claimed that Kentucky, which just lost the NCAA men’s basketball championship game, “has a graduation rate of 82 percent” for its ballers.  Except, ummm…. it doesn’t.  Not even close.  That 82% figure is from ten years ago.  Their entire philosophy now is one-and-done, and there’s exactly one senior on the whole team.  Serious you guys, this is top-notch journalism.

 

*I’m well aware that not all Calvinists, much less all Protestants, are Puritans.  But it’s the sense of the word, not precise doctrinal definitions, that matter.

The Irrefutable All-Purpose Civil Rights Argument

I’ve been seeing a lot of predictable chatter in the wake of this Mozilla business.  I even put in my 50 cents (inflation-adjusted) below.  But then I started reading the comments on some of those pieces….

Dudes:  Is the left still comparing “gay marriage” to the civil rights protests of the early 1960s?  And is the right still trying to “argue” with them on those terms?

This is the only “argument” you’ll ever need on that score.  You can thank me later.  Ready?  Two words: Dred Scott.

Since “the Dred Scott decision” is part of the mantra of causes-of-the-civil-war that every schoolkid in America is still(?) required to memorize, it amazes me how few people actually know what it was.  In brief, the Supreme Court argued that Dred Scott was not a citizen, and never could be a citizen, and therefore had no rights the US government was bound to respect.

To give Dred Scott the legal standing necessary to sue in federal court, Chief Justice Roger Taney argued, Missouri in effect made Scott a citizen of the state, and therefore by extension a citizen of the United States.  But this is a power clearly delegated to Congress by the Constitution.

Therefore, Scott has no standing to sue.

Therefore, Scott is not free.

This is the point that all the leftists chirping about civil rights so consistently miss:  The question at law concerned the legal status of one man.  The end result was the nullification of the Northwest Ordinance, the overturn of the Missouri Compromise, and, by extension, the de facto legalization of slavery in the entire United States.  And all because seven guys in black robes made a decision about “standing.”

What Our Betters fail to realize is that the only law that universally holds is the law of unintended consequences.  Here’s Wikipedia:

It was expected that the Scotts would win their freedom with relative ease since Missouri courts had previously heard over ten other cases in which they had freed slaves who had been taken into free territory.  But, in June 1847, Scott’s suit was dismissed on a technicality: Scott had failed to provide a witness to testify that Scott was in fact a slave belonging to Eliza Emerson.

So there was another trial, and another appeal, to the Missouri Supreme Court.  Which resulted in an appeal to the US Supreme Court.  Which was headed by Roger Taney, who took what he saw as a golden opportunity to resolve the slavery question in the United States once and for all.

Live by lawfare, die by lawfare.  Dred Scott is widely considered the worst decision the Supreme Court ever made, but look what it took to overturn it:  That whole “War Between the States” business you may have heard of, plus the 13th-15th Amendments to the Constitution, plus the 1866 Civil Rights Act.

The point is this:  Every step of the process that ended in Dred Scott’s return to slavery, and the de facto legalization of slavery across the whole United States, hinged on the idiosyncrasies of, at most, seven people.

Do you like those odds?

The left, of course, likes to claim they’re waging lawfare because of the principle of the thing, and the right tends to engage them on those terms.  It’s a mistake.  The left doesn’t have principles, only prejudices.  Right now, they feel the prejudices are all running in their favor, and that the likelihood of getting an activist judge is much greater than the likelihood of getting a stodgy old conservative judge.  And recent precedent seems to be firmly on their side in this.  So they sue.

Which is what Dred Scott thought, too.

It’s actually worse in the homosexualist case, since they’re arguing that their favored behaviors are actually rights.  If you actually look at it, Taney’s logic was impeccable — Scott wasn’t a citizen, and therefore he didn’t have the right to sue, and Missouri’s de facto grant of United States citizenship to him for the purposes of suing was a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers.  It took — again — a Civil War, a few Constitutional amendments, and the enactment of positive law to render Taney’s legal reasoning moot.

The doctrine of “I can force you to bake me a cake against your religious beliefs” is, shall we say, a little murkier, Constitution-wise.  To what extent does the Commerce Clause, as I guess the “reasoning” is, trump the First Amendment?

Either way, it’s going to come down to how some judge is feeling that morning.  And those feelings can change.  It never ceases to amaze me how “conservative,” indeed reactionary, the left is about its own peccadillos.  Right now there seem to be more activist, pro-homosexualist judges than there are restrained judges.  And besides, even if we get one of the hoarier ones, we can force him to give in through social pressure.  It worked on John Roberts, right?

It never, ever occurs to them that this can go the other way.  They don’t realize that even if Dred Scott was right, and every judge in Missouri would’ve freed him if they could, court cases can take on a life of their own.  The technicality that voided Scott’s first trial — the one he, and all his friends, and the whole abolition movement, thought would be a slam dunk — ended up legalizing slavery in the whole United States once Roger Taney got his hands on it.  And once you’ve established the principle that “behaviors we like” are now Constitutional rights because some judge got up on the right side of the bed that morning, what possible objection can you make when he gets up on the wrong side?

Justice Breyer Rediscovers the “General Will”

Ace has the lowdown.

You’ll see here that Breyer does not accept that free expression is a natural right. Instead, he recognizes it as a right (or perhaps a “right”) only insomuch as it furthers the end of what he would characterize as a properly-functioning government.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, call your office.  How many people went to the guillotine at the behest of the General Will?

I don’t know why Rousseau doesn’t appear more often on lists of humankind’s greatest monsters.  I don’t know that he appears at all, actually, but he damn well should — between this one and the Noble Savage, he’s at least indirectly responsible for every person murdered by Marxism.

Wait, Wait, Wait… The Jews are Gay Now?

That seems to be the upshot of this Steve Sailer piece.

Siiiiigggh.  As much as I like Sailer, and think he’s spot-on about so many things, the dude just cannot keep his panties untwisted when it comes to the perfidious Joooooooos!.*  This is something of a common denominator among the “dissident right.”  Which is why I find their advocacy of “race realism” so leftish.  Yes yes, by all means let’s acknowledge the gross disparity in crime stats between black and white — we’re just looking at the numbers here — but for fuck’s sake don’t follow that up with “and oh, did you know that the Joooooos! are using flouridated water to sap our precious bodily fluids!?!”

One begins to suspect an ulterior motive.

It baffles me how otherwise bright people get invested in this stuff.  Of course, I have the same questions about leftism, but in the case of the Jooooos! we have something of an evidence base.  Unlike the arguments of the left, which all boil down to “I’m a liberal because I’m a wonderful human being,” the Sailers of the world seem to argue that since

  • there are lots of Jews in the media, and
  • there are lots of Jewish billionaires, and
  • many prominent Jews in the West seem to be at least as fond of Israel as they are of their, ahem, host nation

there’s therefore some vast pro-Israel conspiracy afoot.  They all seem to take it for granted that the Jews** completely control American foreign policy, and that our armed forces are nothing more than the IDF’s uncircumcised auxiliaries.

Where does one begin with this?  Ok, screw Israel; let’s cut ‘em off completely.  Does anyone think our defense posture re: the Middle East would look a whole lot different if the state of Israel ceased to exist?  Other than, you know, our lack of on-the-ground intel and secure airspace and a reliable, militarily effective regional ally?  Would we really pack up our bags in Iraq and hit the road if we kicked out every yarmulke on the Sunset Strip?

The left says our recent Mideast adventures are a war for Oil and Israel.  The “dissident right” says it’s a war for Israel and Oil.  I’m pretty sure that one of those is a legit casus belli and would remain so no matter what happened to the other.  You know, what with our civilization’s complete and utter dependence on the internal combustion engine and all.

Or maybe one should argue thuswise:

  • there are lots of Italian gentlemen in the waste disposal industry
  • lots of those gentlemen are suspiciously wealthy
  • those suspiciously wealthy gents sure do seem fond of their Italian heritage
  • they’re also pretty ostentatiously Catholic

 

therefore the Knights of Columbus are a perfidious Papist front group scheming to bring the US under the Roman heel.

Or like so:

  • there are lots of Han Chinese in the laundry business
  • lots of folks in Chinatown seem to have zero loyalty to the US

therefore you get subliminal propaganda from Beijing every time you get your ties dry cleaned.

Or like so:

  • every single tech support call in the Western hemisphere gets answered in Bangalore
  • Indians, especially Hindus, are quite obviously far more loyal to their cultural group than to the United States

therefore, Bill Gates is in the pay of the BJP.

I really, really, really don’t get this.

 

 

*we really need a ruling here.  Stacy McCain has definitively proven there are five a’s in raaaaacist.  How many o’s are in Joooooos!?

**by which, of course, I mean The Joooooooos!!!  I just get tired of typing all those O’s and exclamation points.  Please take it as read throughout.

The Religious Roots of Liberal Elitism

Good article here.  It’s an update (though the author may not know it) of Michael Walzer‘s The Revolution of the Saints.  It’s common knowledge among those who notice things that liberals are, on all matters except sex, censorious, moralizing, pharisaical little prigs.  That didn’t change when they decided Atheism is Smart.  They just replaced God with “the underclass” or “the earth” or whatever, as the thing your sins — but not theirs; never theirs — offends so heartily.

Science Prison

People who don’t believe in “Climate Change” should be thrown in prison, according to… this guy.  Whoever the fuck “Adam Weinstein” is, he’s gonna rewrite the criminal code:

Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.

But don’t worry — it’s not you and me he wants to throw in jail.  According to Mr. Weinstein (who?), we’re just “idiots” who are

too stupid to do anything other than choke the earth’s atmosphere a little more with [our] Mr. Pibb burps and [our] F-150′s gassy exhaust.

So we’re off the hook.  But it’s off to the gulag for

Rush and his multi-million-dollar ilk in the disinformation business. I’m talking about Americans for Prosperity and the businesses and billionaires who back its obfuscatory propaganda. I’m talking about public persons and organizations and corporations for whom denying a fundamental scientific fact is profitable, who encourage the acceleration of an anti-environment course of unregulated consumption and production that, frankly, will screw my son and your children and whatever progeny they manage to have.

Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.

Because that’s what “science” does, right?  If you can’t convince people with your reason and evidence, you lock ‘em up and throw away the key.  Because Science.

Eppur si muove indeed, Mr. Weinstein.  And is it just me, or does an unhinged screed about a “malicious, profiteering quietist agenda” and the incarceration of its proponents sound a little extra-disturbing coming from a guy named Weinstein?