Unchecked righteousness

Charles Lane of the Washington Post comments on the electric car fiasco, discussing the multiple failures of government investments and the disappointing performance and sales of the vehicles. The occasion is the disastrous roadtrip in a Tesla described by John M. Broder in the New York Times.  What interests me is not electric cars but the category of error that Lane identifies:

I accept the president’s good intentions. He didn’t set out to rip off the public. Nor was the electric-car dream a Democrats-only delusion. Several Republican pols shared it, too.

Rather, the debacle is a case study in unchecked righteousness. The administration assumed the worthiness and urgency of its goals. Americans should want electric cars, and therefore they would, apparently. [Read more…]

Liberals are not relativists (unfortunately)

Conservative intellectual and Princeton Professor Robert George points out that liberals are not relativists at all. Rather, they are moralistic dogmatists:

Contemporary left liberals are hardly relativists! I often wish they were. They are moralists—moralists on a mission. The mission is to shape political and social life, and, to the extent possible, individual belief, in line with their passionately held moral convictions. [Read more…]

Destroying the Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts are caught between Scylla and Charybdis–or, as more of them might put it less classically, a rock and a hard place.   The organization has had to deal with scandals involving gay scoutmasters and some incidents of child sexual abuse.  So it tightened its standards and its scrutiny.  Now the organization is under fire for being anti-gay.   The organization has announced that it is reconsidering its policies banning openly gay leaders and scouts.  Barton Gingerich (a former student of mine) has some inside information about what is going on. [Read more…]

Having a Neanderthal baby

A Harvard geneticist is seeking a woman to be the surrogate mother of a Neanderthal baby.  From the London Daily Mail:

They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.

So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?

Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.

Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago. [Read more…]

The sexual revolution reconsidered

You have GOT to read A. N. Wilson’s article in the London Mail entitled ” I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history, the damage it’s done appalls me”.  An excerpt, with my emphases:

“I have been divorced. Although I was labelled a Young Fogey in my youth, I imbibed all the liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was concerned.

I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. . . . [Read more…]

Penn State and collective guilt

The governor of Pennsylvania is suing the NCAA for its harsh punishment of Penn State, hitting the entire university because of Coach Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of children:

Pennsylvania’s governor, in a challenge to the NCAA’s powers, claimed in a lawsuit Wednesday that college sports’ governing body overstepped its authority and ”piled on” when it penalized Penn State over the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Gov. Tom Corbett asked that a federal judge throw out the sanctions, which include an unprecedented $60 million fine and a four-year ban on bowl games, arguing that the measures have harmed students, business owners and others who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes.

”A handful of top NCAA officials simply inserted themselves into an issue they had no authority to police under their own bylaws and one that was clearly being handled by the justice system,” Corbett said at a news conference.

The case, filed under federal antitrust law, could define just how far the NCAA’s authority extends. Up to now, the federal courts have allowed the organization broad powers to protect the integrity of college athletics.

In a statement, the NCAA said the lawsuit has no merit and called it an ”affront” to Sandusky’s victims.

Penn State said it had no role in the lawsuit. In fact, it agreed not to sue as part of the deal with the NCAA accepting the sanctions, which were imposed in July after an investigation found that football coach Joe Paterno and other top officials hushed up sexual-abuse allegations against Sandusky, a former member of Paterno’s staff, for more than a decade for fear of bad publicity.

The penalties include a cut in the number of football scholarships the university can award and a rewriting of the record books to erase 14 years of victories under Paterno, who was fired when the scandal broke in 2011 and died of lung cancer a short time later.

via Pa. governor sues NCAA over Penn State sanctions – Yahoo! Sports.

Here is an example of ascribing collective guilt.  Sandusky is certainly guilty, as are other coaches and administrators who overlooked and covered up his crimes.  But how far does that guilt extend?  Does it make sense to punish the entire university?  Does it make sense to void 14 years worth of victories, erasing them as if they never happened, even though none of the players who won those victories had any involvement in the scandal?  Or is the crime of Sandusky tied to the culture of the school, to its very football tradition, to the attitudes of the students, alumni, administration, faculty, and staff so that the whole institution has a collective guilt?

HT:  Trey