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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

"Fawning" is bad. Biblical social norms are bad. Economic justice is good. Not that complicated.

I think the key nonsense here is "fawning." No, no one should be "fawning" over a Pope. Or any religious leader. Or any political one. I think everyone here could agree immediately that there is no basis for overwhelming, unadulterated praise and love for the leader of the Catholic Church.

So we could all be done right there. No fawning. No one's pro fawning. That's ridiculous.

But that's a bit of a straw man argument, and what's really being suggested is that it's wrong to acknowledge the leader of the Catholic Church saying or doing anything right, which is frankly kind of insane and smacks of the weird American religious bias against Catholics.

First off, OUR crazy homophobes and misogynists are Protestants. There are all kinds of polls lying around showing American Catholics are not only more progressive than other religious people, but on the actual issues for which the Catholic Church takes so much righteous blame. Abortion. Birth control. Gay rights. Your basic American abortion doctor killer or gay club bomber will be a Baptist or some other Protestant sect. So let's not get all fuzzy about where the core of insanely regressive social theory lies amongst ourselves. It ain't the Vatican, and it's always a bit off when people charge in and attempt to blame Catholicism for all of the stupid ideas contained in Christianity.

Secondly, we routinely acknowledge steps in the right direction from bad institutions and the leaders of the same. All kinds of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders are applauded for making worthy comments about tolerance or peace or taking care of the poor. All of them subscribe to holy books that say gay people and women are subject to savage mistreatment in the name of "God." It's nice that some talk around the Old Testament, and never mention the horrible stuff, but if we're going with institutional crimes, no Western religion gets a pass.

Obama, for example, is a Christian, and therefore subscribes to a Bible that has all the nutty Catholic crap in it too. And, he is the leader of a racist, sexist, homophobic country. Within recent memory, he expressly opposed gay marriage on religious grounds. He "evolved," whether out of conscience, public pressure, political expedience, or (most likely) a combination of the three. But we do not say he is therefore lying when he says something good or makes a change for the better because he is the leader of a country with a lot crimes to answer for and a lot of horrible ideas still on the books.

Thirdly, the Pope giving mere "lip service" to a better idea like economic justice over a worse one, like homophobia, is a real thing with real value. He may be the theoretical "king" of the Church, but he can no more erase every intolerant Catholic policy with a wave of whatever that stick is he has than Obama can open Guantanamo tomorrow, or tell the states to stop preventing gay people from adopting children.

Finally, if we propose that we need to tell the Catholic Church that it is not okay until it starts rejecting the horrible ideas embedded in Christianity and embracing the good ones, the way you do that is to DO THAT. Just like any leader of any screwed up organization with a mountain of sins and anti-progressive policies, we recognize an improvement, or a faint nod in the right direction, while continuing to condemn the abominable.

And yeah, the racist, creepy, horrible Paul family is right on drug laws and right on getting out of wars in the Middle East, for Jesus' sake. We don't have to lie and pretend they're wrong about everything because they're wrong about a lot of important things, because we are not robots or children. No one is buying that noise, and it doesn't look any smarter or sound more convincing when it is dragged out over and over again. People are not all one thing. No one thinks that. If Michele Bachmann says something smart someday, we should all say, "Hey, that was pretty smart." Because otherwise you end up lying to try to support or attack a person, and right and wrong become superfluous.

Economic justice is good, whether it's coming from the mouth of the Pope or a Senator or god-forbid-a-Republican. We can acknowledge good without "fawning" over someone, or forgetting that they are completely, unforgivably wrong about drone strikes or abortion or same sex marriage. If we want leaders to do better things and stop doing worse things, we acknowledge when they get it right, even a little bit.

The rest is a lot of hot air.

Thank you.

No one thinks the First Amendment is absolute.

I "get" the First Amendment. I think most people do. But most people also understand that "free speech" is a complicated right that can't be trotted out to short-circuit all discussion of every kind of expression there could ever be. It doesn't work that way, and never has.

If we are once again plunging into the "Nasty Porn, Freedom or Threat?" waters, the general principle of free speech just isn't enough to conclude anything.

We we need a little nuance here.

First, the First Amendment is great. It IS a core a principle that America is rightfully proud of, but

No one thinks it's an unfettered right. It's not.

There are, and always have been, limits based on actual HARM.

- Can't make certain threats.
- Can't expose certain state secrets.
- Can't print or speak false statements harmful to reputation (and not be sued for it)
- Can't incite imminent violence.
- Can't speak so as try to start a fight (and claim it was free speech)

So, respectfully, the Very Bad Porn vs. The First Amendment dumbs things down way too much. Unless you have people actually making the "ban whatever I don't like" argument, which I don't recall seeing here much.

Here's what's going wrong with this debate.

1. The "critics" aren't all talking about bans and censorship.

That's the same stupid conflation the extremes of gun control debate keep coming down on. No right is unlimited, and every regulation or limitation on a right is not a high-speed slippery slope to a ban. We limit EVERY RIGHT.


Backing up though, Constitutional protections mean absolutely zero if you're talking about

- Criticzing
- Protesting
- Shaming
- Labeling / warning

2. When you do get to actual regulation, we have mountains of it already, on theories that some "artistic" or entertainment expressions can do actual harm to either the participants in creating it, or the consumers of it. Largely this has to do with children, but the PRINCIPLE is not, and never was, that expression in all its forms, and no matter how "dangerous" cannot be touched.

We can, do, and should regulate porn. Sorry. And it's not -- necessarily -- authoritarianism or "censorship" or any of that.

No one thinks that.

Everyone understands -- right? -- that one of the issues with "rape porn" is the problem with determining whether an actual sex act is consensual or not once it's being filmed for profit, right? So it's not an aesthetic issue, but more like child porn, where the people being filmed are being hurt BY the production. Not okay, and not free speech under any rationale.

I had thought fully realized physical depictions of rape were already illegal here, for just that reason, but apparently that's not the case. I don't think a ban would be the slightest bit inconsistent with the First Amendment.

But the rest of this discussion is really where the meat is -- the parts about gender privilege and exploitation -- It's not possible to reduce that to Censorship -- Yes or No?! There's more being raised than aesthetics or prudery, and there is more that might be done than bans or censorship.

If we have to have 10,000 threads about this stuff, let's bear in mind it's much more complicated than Free Speech vs. Dirty Stuff on the Internet, and reducing it all to that just shows an unwillingness to think past knee-jerk poo-flinging.

The real crackpottery here is reducing ever discussion of the possible harms of any form of expression to "They're comin' for your pornz!" as though that were the only conceivable thing to be discussed.

We're smarter than that.


Carry on.

Eh. No one agrees on what "chivalry" is. For good reason.

Just one take on the whole thing, which seems to get a lot of people tangled up for some reason:

- As for actual "chivalry," it's kind of a myth to begin with. Sure there was a "code," but knights were arguably kind of dicks. Rich guys in armor (and only rich guys could afford armor) fighting wars for kings, killing Muslims for Jesus and likely with no particular compunction about hurting people they weren't obligated to protect. They were a privileged part of a class system. Sufficiently worthy damsels get rescued; dirty peasants get ridden down.

So, what knights said they were about -- honor, loyalty, etc. -- was just the same kind of window dressing every powerful group assigns itself. We are Spartans! Heroes! Righters of wrongs! So say we all. Take, America, for example. We say we mean well, and often do live up to that, but at the end of the day we claim to be the good guys whether we actually act that way or not.

We dare anyone to question our intentions because we are heavily armed.

- Then there is not inconsiderable patronizing element of the whole thing. It's implicit that the "strong" who protect the "weak" are actually better, sort of, and the weak therefore better be pretty freaking grateful ... or else. Noblesse oblige and all that.

People have suggested with good reason that implicit in the need to protect women in particular (who notably weren't eligible to be part of the warrior class) is that women occupy a lesser place than "the strong." And likely need to ... reciprocate by being submissive or sexually available. The crude modern take on this has always been the expectation that buying a woman dinner and opening the doors entitles a man to sex. Not too hard to see the objection to that framework. And it's still unquestionably part of our culture. See sugardaddies.com or whatever. I remember arguing with some Internet Dude about his belief that his wife taking his surname was some kind of righteous payment for his "protection."

And then there is the whole backlash you see from offended men who think they are getting some kind of double standard where they are at once expected to be protective and courteous, but then may also be accused of being patronizing or sexist. I think that's mostly deliberate obtuseness.

My take is that kindness and courtesy can always be freely given, so long as people don't screw it up with rigid "rules" or expectations or judgments. Do for others what you can, what makes sense, what makes both parties feel good. Don't turn it into an obligation or a downpayment on future favors or dominance issue.

As long as it's given and received in good faith, by and from either men or women, kindess is just kindness.
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