The Conflict of Iconoclasts

France is holding huge rallies for free speech after the Charlie Hebdo murders, but they have arrested a comedian for his antisemitic speech.  Now the Pope, while condemning the terrorist attack, is underscoring that mocking religion is wrong in itself.  Issues of free speech are apparently more complicated than is often assumed.

Meanwhile, the sold-out new issue of the satirical magazine that was attacked makes clear its distinct ideological position, namely, a militant atheism.  The editors say how they laughed when the bells of Notre Dame would be rung in their honor, and that those who say “‘I am Charlie’ need to also know that that means, ‘I am secularism.’”  The point is, both the terrorists and their victims are iconoclasts.

After the jump, Stephen Richert, while condemning the killings and insisting that he is not blaming the victim, argues that freedom of speech is NOT the primary value of civilization and that leftist iconoclasts and Islamic iconoclasts have more in common than either of them realize. [Read more...]

Elephant mothers vs. Tiger mothers

Is it better to be a Tiger mother or an Elephant mother?  That is, a parent who believes family life is preparation for the adult world and so should be a school of hard knocks, harsh consequences, and tough love.   Or a parent who believes family life should be a haven from the outside world, a place of comfort and emotional security?

After the jump, read an excerpt from an essay on the subject and see a video of an elephant’s parenting style. [Read more...]

In Defense of Looting

Willie Osterweil (a white punk rocker) has written a defense of the looting in Ferguson, Missouri.  Read it, excerpted and linked to after the jump.  You might also take a look at Time‘s article “In Defense of Rioting.”  How would you answer these arguments? [Read more...]

Postmodern riots

Back in August, a police officer shot a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.  According to media accounts, the teenager was unarmed and shot from a distance, suggesting an egregious case of police brutality.  That’s what it seemed like even to conservatives like Rand Paul and to this blog.  But the testimony of two eyewitnesses, the autopsy results, and other forensic evidence has proven that this was not what happened.  It turns out, the teenager was attacking the officer and was shot during a scuffle, during which the assailant was trying to get the officer’s gun, followed by a brief chase and the teenager rushing the officer.

This was the finding of the grand jury investigating the case, so no charges against the officer are being filed.  Keep in mind that a grand jury is run by the prosecutor’s office and that the authorities had every incentive to make the officer a scapegoat to prevent the kind of riots that broke out in August.   And yet the jurors were going by the facts.

Nevertheless, riots have erupted.  Businesses are being looted, police are being fired upon by automatic weapons, and Ferguson is basically being burned to the ground.

I know that the local protesters do not believe the legal establishment.  I’ll be curious to see if political liberals –who often claim to be “the fact-based” or “the reality-based” or “the science-based” community–will side with the protesters, despite what the evidence proves.

Since postmodernists believe there is no objective truth, that truth claims are nothing but political constructions, I suspect they will.  They will think that the legal system constructed a plausibility paradigm that suggests the police officer is innocent in order as an imposition of their power.  And they will think nothing of constructing an alternative politically-motivated truth-claim of their own. [Read more...]

Liberty and Equality

In the times of the Greek democracy, the Roman republic, the American founding, and most of American history, liberty and equality were thought to go together.  That changed, says Danielle Allen, author of a book on the Declaration of Independence

First, Karl Marx taught that individual liberty must be sacrificed for the greater  goal of social equality.  Then, in the Cold War, conservatives and libertarians taught the opposite, that equality must give way to individual liberty.  Today, she says, Democrats are stressing the ideals of equality while Republicans are stressing the ideals of liberty.  She argues that we need to recapture the sense in which the two go together, as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

[Read more...]


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