Don't look at the finger

Molly Worthen’s Slate piece — “Sign Here, and Here, and Here” — on the weirdly slavery-friendly “Marriage Vow” being promoted by the Iowa religious right group “FAMiLY LEADER,” includes a shrewd summary of why such declarations and manifestos have become so common, and thus so meaningless, in the evangelical subculture:

These Declarations and Calls and Vows underscore the ongoing problem of authority that has defined evangelicals ever since they first thumbed their noses at the pope and—in many cases—fled the pews of the older Protestant churches for younger denominations or independent congregations allergic to the idea of granting too much authority to human hierarchies or historical tradition. Evangelicals say that their authority lies in the Bible alone, but agreeing on what scripture actually means in practice has always been easier said than done.

As a result, evangelicals are constantly squabbling, schisming, regrouping, and claiming their faction alone is the holy remnant and the authentic Christian voice. Obscure groups like FAMiLY LEADER have the same right as anyone else to speak as if they are the magisterium. The very label “evangelical” has been a source of consternation for decades, as rival claimants endlessly qualify or redefine the word and demand new doctrinal and political bona fides.

Yep. The steady stream of manifestos and the endless demand for “doctrinal and political bona fides” are what you get when the idea of the priesthood of all believers morphs into the papacy of all radio hosts, mega-church pastors and parachurch president/founders. Having one pope is, at least in theory, a tidy solution to the “problem of authority.” Having thousands of popes only makes it an even bigger problem.

Handwringing over this “crisis of authority” is almost as common among evangelicals as is the issuing of Declarations and Calls and Vows. These days, such concerns are often expressed as a rejection or condemnation of “postmodernism.”

That criticism assumes that this is a viable choice — that we have some other option here and now. The premise seems to be that modernism never failed, it was simply abandoned voluntarily, and that thus there’s nothing intractably chronological about that prefix “post-” in postmodern. I’m sometimes asked by these anti-pomo evangelicals if I am a “postmodernist” — the question usually coming with an accusatory tone along the lines of “are you now or have you ever been …” I’m not sure what that question even means. I understand that word in some contexts, a bit, but not really in this one. So, for lack of a better response, I check the calendar. It says I was born in the late 1960s and that it is now 2011 so, yep, I guess we’re all pretty much post-modern.

But what is the point of such a question? I suppose if I were an artist it might be useful for deciding where in the museum to display my work, but I’m not an artist and the people asking me this are not curators so, again, why such concern with this ill-defined label?

What I think prompts the question is the fact that we disagree, my inquisitors and I, about “what scripture actually means in practice.” Usually in particular about what it actually means with regard to abortion and homosexuality. I’m pro-choice and I advocate for the full equality of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons — both their civil equality and their equal treatment within the church. My inquisitors disagree strenuously, and a big part of what they mean by a “crisis of authority” is the desire for some mechanism that could settle such disagreements with finality by declaring views like mine anathema or, at least, getting people like me to stop using the words “evangelical” or “Christian” to describe ourselves.

That latter point is what Worthen describes as the endless qualification and redefinition of the word “evangelical.” Whether or not that word can or should be reduced to meaning “anti-gay, anti-abortion white Protestants” is a matter of ongoing controversy.

But having, as Worthen says, “thumbed our noses at the pope,” we lack any ultimate referee to decide such disputes. All we have is scripture or, as my friends would say, the “authority” of scripture. That understanding of the authority of scripture helps illuminate why “postmodernism” has become such a bugbear for these evangelicals. Postmodernism suggests that the clarity and certainty promised by modernist readings of a text are just illusions, and those modernist readings are the basis of this idea of “the authority of the scripture.”

Christian fundamentalism in America is, in large measure, a reaction against modernity. But it is also, in large measure, an application of modernism. The fundamentalist-modernist schisms of the 1920s could just as accurately be described as the birth of modernist fundamentalism. These fundamentalists approached texts as self-evident storehouses of singular, obvious and objective meaning. They imagined that the study of the Bible could provide the same certainty and clarity as physics, unfortunately embracing this belief just as physics itself was taking a quantum leap in the other direction. (For an excellent discussion of fundamentalism’s modernist approach to scripture, see Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind — a book I have recommended many times before and will likely recommend many times again.)

So when someone like me is accused of being “postmodernist,” what the accuser really means is that they think I’m reading the Bible wrong.

“You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination,” they recite as proof that I am wrong not to treat our GLBT neighbors abominably.

OK, I say, but you eat shrimp “that have not fins and scales in the seas,” and that, too, is called “an abomination.”

Ah, they say, but in the book of Acts, God said to Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,” so the prohibition against shrimp was explicitly lifted, but the prohibition against The Gay was not.

Ah, I say, but in that very same chapter of the book of Acts, Peter says that God’s message wasn’t about diet, but about people and that he must not ever “hinder God” by excluding some category of people.

And back and forth we go. They support their position with appeals to scripture and I support mine with appeals to scripture — sometimes the very same scripture. The impasse remains unresolved. We remain stuck at just the point that Worthen described, unable to agree on “what scripture actually means in practice.”

The next step often is for my rivals to appeal to tradition. I think that’s a good and appropriate thing to do. Unlike those who cling to a naive claim of “sola scriptura,” I think tradition — the “democracy of the dead,” in Chesterton’s phrase — ought to help guide our reading of scripture. One way to better understand what the text means is to find out what others have thought it meant.

But I would not say, however, that tradition should be “authoritative.” I believe that trajectory trumps tradition.

Tradition can be like the proverbial finger pointing at the moon. The point of the pointing isn’t to direct the eye toward the finger, but toward the moon — to get you to look in the direction the finger is pointing. I think the trajectory of that direction is more important than the tradition of the finger itself.

Such concern for trajectory is a very Pauline approach. Or, for a more recent example, it’s very much like the way Martin Luther King Jr. appealed to the “authority” of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” the great Virginian slaveowner Thomas Jefferson wrote. A strictly modernist approach to that statement, or any approach based mainly on tradition, would conclude that it could not possibly mean what King insisted it must mean. But King wasn’t obsessing over the finger, he was looking in the direction it was pointing.

This contrast between tradition and trajectory, between finger and moon, is probably a more useful way of describing the dispute between Christians like myself and those Christians who believe — sincerely — that my advocacy of GLBT equality is dangerously wrong.

Here at Patheos, the areas for Christians were recently reshuffled to create a “progressive Christian” portal. That’s a serviceable word, “progressive.” It requires that a bit more be said — namely, what it is that we “progressive Christians” are hoping to progress to. Without some clearer explanation of that, the word can acquire some quaintly EPCOT-ish connotations or overtones of unchastened millennialism.

I would point us back to that pointing finger and to the direction it indicates for us to go. What we are hoping toward and hopefully progressing toward can be found in that Pauline sense of the importance of trajectory. Paul wrote of our calling as “the ministry of reconciliation.” That provides both a trajectory and an indication that we have a long way to go. There remains a great deal of progress to be made.

None of that addresses the “problem of authority,” that Worthen describes so well, but it may be a helpful step toward achieving disagreement.

In the absence of an authority that can compel us to come to an agreement, we can at least choose to come to a disagreement. And that would be a marked improvement over constant “squabbling, schisming, regrouping, and claiming [each] faction alone is the holy remnant and the authentic Christian voice.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Favorite scientist?  I like Ada Byron (for her adventures in crime-fighting with Henry Babbage, check out 2D Goggles), but I’m going with Hedy Lamarr for the win!  Gorgeous and brilliant!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Oh hell yes.  Hedy Lamarr is a historical crush of mine.  An actress and a brainiac?  Who could resist?  :D

  • Guest-again

    ‘You know how there’s a controvery right now….’
    And strangely, Beatrix, self-professed Canadian-Limey, only knows about American ones. At times almost laughably so. At the moment, it is quite possible that a government will fall in the UK due to Murdoch’s mendacious way of selling the news. In Canada, Beatrix’s military (assuming, of course, that our Canadian-Limey isn’t actually so self-hating as to feel that Canada should just rollover to the itnerests of the U.S., Russia, Norway, etc.) is gearing up to assert Canadian rights in the Arctic, while Canadians no longer seriously debate climate change, since it is literally happening on the doorstep of an immense nation – thus the military posturing.

    Basically, Beatrix offers nothing but barely warmed over fallacies and falsehoods, even such hilarious remarks as calling a national Canadian newspaper that has endorsed, and re-endorsed, the conservative Prime Minister, ‘left.’

    Almost as if Beatrix has no clue how Canadians or Brits actually refer to political parties or movements. But wait, there’s a controversy (in Beatrix’s mind, at least) happening right now….

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    At the moment, it is quite possible that a government will fall in the UK due to Murdoch’s mendacious way of selling the news

    You don’t really think…?

    Has schadenfreude

  • Beatrix

    Guest-again – I’m sorry, | can’t take you seriously.  The Globe and Mail is left-of-centre.  The National Post is right of centre.  I have little use for either. 

  • Guest-again

    ‘You don’t really think…?’
    Actually, it is a possibility – Murdoch is entwined through much of the current UK power structure, and at this point, the revulsion continues to grow.

    The Murdoch centered damage control has been weak, the scandals keep growing, and arrests/resignations are now becoming a daily occurence in the UK. The facade is crumbling, and quite possibly its because of how the foundations are shaking.

    It will be fascinating to see if this can be contained – if not, the Fox/WSJ continuum will also suffer just as American politics begin to heat up for the 2012 races.

    Especially since I am sure that Fox will report with its special touch about the sort of human scum that tried to tap the phones of the victims and their relatives after Sept. 11. OK, who am I kidding – Fox will keep its corporate mouth as shut as possible – at least until the indictments start, at which point you can count on people like Beatrix to talk about how the ‘left’ is just mad about how News International successfully penetrated the security surrounding Queen Elizabeth through bribery and law breaking, manipulated the voice mail of a 13 year old murder victim while possibly allowing her murderer the chance to kill other vicitims before the police could finally catch him, and tapped the phones of British soldiers and veterans.

    I was the one that pointed to this as something to watch to our resident Canadian-Limey – this is the sort of fundamental political news that is really playing big in places which are not called the U.S.

    Though I do expect it arrive on American shores, just as it will on Australian ones – the man is truly a global problem.

  • Lori

     Though I do expect it arrive on American shores, just as it will on Australian ones – the man is truly a global problem.  

    The coverage in the mainstream media in the US has been pretty weak so far, but the scandal is starting to get traction here. The head of the WSJ resigned, the WSJ OpEd defending News Corps’ wrong-doing was a tin-eared disgrace that seems to be generating more scandal instead of deflecting it and the FBI has opened a (very limited) investigation into whether the phone hacking broke US law.

    I have no doubt that US law has been broken and it’s pretty clear that there are politicians here who have done as bad or worse than those in the UK. I don’t hold out much hope that anyone will ever suffer much, professionally or legally, because of it though. We haven’t been able to put anyone in prison for all the laws the Bush administrations broke and it seems highly unlikely that anyone is going to do time for the massive fraud and abuse that resulted in the near-collapse of the global economy, so I have no expectations that the Murdoch crime family’s law-breaking will really be punished either. (The one thing that the US appears to have going for it is that News Corps doesn’t seem to have gotten it’s hooks into US law enforcement the way it did with the Met, aka Scotland Yard). 

    My fondest wish is that the various investigations weaken Murdoch enough that the old bastard loses the death grip he bought himself on US media, and that we’ll ultimately see reversals of the law changes and regulatory exceptions that have allowed News Corp to operate so counter to the public interest. I’m not holding my breath. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    We haven’t been able to put anyone in prison for all the laws the Bush administrations broke

    “Scooter” Libby enjoyed the pleasures of a federal domicile for a while, and needed a pardon to get free (which Bush was able to give with no blow-back, of course).  But basically, you’re right.

  • Lori

     “Scooter” Libby enjoyed the pleasures of a federal domicile for a while, and needed a pardon to get free (which Bush was able to give with no blow-back, of course).  But basically, you’re right.  

     

    Technically true, but to me Libby hardly even counts since he was basically the fall guy that kept other, even more deserving, scum out of court. Not that he wasn’t guilt. He was. He just wasn’t the only one. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Technically true, but to me Libby hardly even counts since he was basically the fall guy that kept other, even more deserving, scum out of court. Not that he wasn’t guilty. He was. He just wasn’t the only one.

    In this case, at least one guy got **some** jail time.  Oliver [scum] North was the fall guy for Iran-Contra, and he didn’t do a lick of time.

    In general, I agree with you — I just didn’t think that “no one in the Bush Administration went to jail” was true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Crap — Disqus ate my homework comment.

    In the Exxon Valdiz scandal, in the Enron scandal, in the Savings & Loan scandal, there were trials, and, in some cases, prison.  But in the current banking scandal, not one banker is looking at prosecution.  I’d love to know why not?

  • Anonymous

    Because nothing happens in this country without Wall Street’s consent, and Wall Street has not consented to let anyone go to jail over crashing the country.

  • Lori

     In the Exxon Valdiz scandal, in the Enron scandal, in the Savings & Loan scandal, there were trials, and, in some cases, prison.  But in the current banking scandal, not one banker is looking at prosecution.  I’d love to know why not?  

    The Exxon Valdiz: 1989 
    S&L scandal: late 80s and early 90s
    Launch of Fox News: 1996

    As for Enron, they f’ed up and were no longer making money for Wall Street. When the public needed a sacrifices to stop them from digging for more dirt the money guys cut Lay & Skilling lose and off they went to the pen. 

    The firms still standing after the latest scandal A) are Wall Street  and B) are making money hand over fist. The plebes aren’t demanding blood because the Great Recession has them too busy struggling just to keep their heads above water, so there’s no need to make a sacrifice to the gods of fake remorse. Hence, nobody is going to jail. 

  • P J Evans

     Because they bought the government.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    But in the current banking scandal, not one banker is looking at prosecution.  I’d love to know why not?

    Two words: “Campaign Contributions”.  >:(

    (On a longer, less Outrage-inducing viewpoint:  The whole “Derivatives” bullshit was so arcane and innovative, it’s possible that it didn’t actually break any laws, thanks to all the deregulation under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.)

  • Lori

     On a longer, less Outrage-inducing viewpoint:  The whole “Derivatives” bullshit was so arcane and innovative, it’s possible that it didn’t actually break any laws, thanks to all the deregulation under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush. 

    I agree that the fact that so much of the problem was in complex financial instruments has been a factor. It’s actually possible to explain them in fairly simple terms, but it’s not possible to explain them accurately in a sound bite and that’s a problem. 

    They did break the law though. Even the weak tea laws that were left after our business-friendly law-makers were done gutting regulation. No matter how much deregulation they do fraud is still a crime and that’s the bottom line of most of what went on. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    (On a longer, less Outrage-inducing viewpoint:  The whole “Derivatives” bullshit was so arcane and innovative, it’s possible that it didn’t actually break any laws, thanks to all the deregulation under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.)

    1] Enron was pretty arcane, too, and they managed to get a conviction.

    2] The bankers who **bet** on the meltdown aren’t guilty of ant “arcane” crime.  It’s fraud to treat your clients’ money worse than your own.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Though I do expect it arrive on American shores, just as it will on Australian ones – the man is truly a global problem.

    Oh, it’s already here. We have News Ltd papers that have openly declared their intention to destroy one political party because News Ltd feel it is illegimitate*, and they are aggressively pushing partisan a line against action on climate change that could well lead to the defeat of a government.

    *funnily enough the Australian Electoral Commission, one of the least corrupt bodies in the world, does not agree

    PS: Apologies from Australia for breeding Murdoch. Although he did renounce his citizenship to become American, so he’s declared where his heart lies.

  • Rikalous

    PS: Apologies from Australia for breeding Murdoch.

    You gave the world Steve Irwin, too, so it balances out.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    It’s really rather amazing (and depressing) to consider that if Murdoch had been eaten by a drop bear back in 1970something, the ENTIRE POLITICAL HISTORY of the last few decades would be different.  That’s how much influence one rich jerk has.

  • Rikalous

    It’s really rather amazing (and depressing) to consider that if Murdoch
    had been eaten by a drop bear back in 1970something, the ENTIRE
    POLITICAL HISTORY of the last few decades would be different.  That’s
    how much influence one rich jerk has.

    I thought drop bears were herbivores.

  • Anonymous

    They are, but they will fuck you up.

  • Anonymous

    They are, but they will fuck you up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton
    I thought drop bears were herbivores.

    They are, but they will fuck you up.

    There was a question on “how many people would fight a declawed, muzzled bear for $X?”  People didn’t seem to realize that bears are STRONG, and one swipe from a paw (even if declawed — and let’s not get into a discussion on THAT) would indeed, “fuck you up”. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Yeah, that’s a fight you don’t want to get into unless you’re Bruce Lee and you have an ax.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Drop bears only attack foreigners.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    OK. Now I want a drop bear. Possibly more than one. They can round out my group of elite Ferret Paratroopers. 

  • Anonymous

    <A HREF="http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix4/dropbears.htm&quot;Did someone order some drop bears?

  • Anonymous

    Or just bitten by a platypus.  Or is it scratched by one?  Apparently the little guys are not only a mishmash, they have a bird’s electromagnetic field sense and poison spurs, as well.

    Oh, well.  It looks like instead of death by platypus or death by drop bear, it’ll be death by media mongoose.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    It’s really rather amazing (and depressing) to consider that if Murdoch
    had been eaten by a drop bear back in 1970something, the ENTIRE
    POLITICAL HISTORY of the last few decades would be different.  That’s
    how much influence one rich jerk has.

    So, if this latest atrocity finally does take him down (I don’t hold out much hope, but damned if I’m not salivating), will the political history of the next few decades go much better, or has too much damage already been done?

  • Lori

     
    So, if this latest atrocity finally does take him down (I don’t hold out much hope, but damned if I’m not salivating), will the political history of the next few decades go much better, or has too much damage already been done?  

     

    I agree with you that it’s unlikely that this will actually bring Murdoch down. However, indications are that his son James is in this up to his eyes and is likely to go down for it. If so, that will put paid to the idea of him taking over when daddy dearest finally does the world a favor and shrugs off this mortal coil. 

    That brings up the intriguing possibility of a Murdoch-free News Corp. in the not so distant future. Rupert is a notorious micro-manager so it has apparently been a major deal with get a succession plan in place for James. If they now have to scrap that it’ll be interesting to see where they go. 

    It’s not like Fox News is going to go off the air the day after Rupert’s funeral in any case, but I find it difficult to believe that it will remain as strong, and a politically bullet-proof, with out the old bastard at the helm. I have at least some hope that whoever ends up in charge won’t be able to hold what Murdoch has built and that Fox will become less of a Right Wing propaganda firm and something more like actual news. 

  • Tonio

    I have at least some hope that whoever ends up in charge won’t be able
    to hold what Murdoch has built and that Fox will become less of a Right
    Wing propaganda firm and something more like actual news.

    Fox News doesn’t have an ideology in the traditional sense. It’s really about pandering to privileged resentment (white, male, Christian, USian).

  • Lori

     Fox News doesn’t have an ideology in the traditional sense. It’s really about pandering to privileged resentment (white, male, Christian, USian).  

    Fox most certainly does have an ideology. Murdoch’s. Pro-business, anti-tax, anti-consumer, anti-worker, pro “free” trade and very much in favor of centralized government power as a means to achieve those things.  Pandering to privileged resentment is the means by which it pushes it’s ideology, not an end in and off itself.

  • Tonio

    I mean a coherent ideology in terms of a vision for how economic and political systems should be run for the good of society. The goal of protecting the economic and social privileges of the people who currently have them is not the same as an ideology.

  • Lori

    Being focused on the good of society is not a requirement for something to be an ideology. Also, generally speaking fat cats like Murdoch do think there ideas are for the good of society  Benefit the strong + cull the weak = progress. The fact that you don’t agree doesn’t mean that it’s not an ideology.  

  • Tonio

    Also, generally speaking fat cats like Murdoch do think there ideas are for the good of society Benefit the strong + cull the weak = progress.

    I suspect that’s merely rationalization. My point is that the “ideology” Fox News promotes is merely a reaction to any social change that threatens privilege. There’s nothing truly thought out or coherent about it. It’s stimulus-response. As far as Ailes is concerned, he’s a canny political operator and I suspect he’s pandering to not just his audience’s fears but also Murdoch’s fears.

  • Lori

      Fox News promotes is merely a reaction to any social change that threatens privilege. There’s nothing truly thought out or coherent about it.  

     

    Rupert Murdoch is not merely reacting to social change. He’s doing his best to drive change in a direction that suits him. If you believe anything else you are seriously underestimating him. Knee-jerk fear on the part of the privileged is not actually the explanation for everything negative in the world. 

  • Tonio

    Knee-jerk fear on the part of the privileged is not actually the explanation for everything negative in the world.

    I wasn’t suggesting that it was the explanation. I do see that fear as dominating more and more of the national political conversation, partly because of Fox News and partly because of demographic trends. I see that at work with the Tea Party intransigence over the debt ceiling. Sure, much of it seems driven by economic ignorance, a failure to understand that government budgets don’t work the same as home ones, but a knee-jerk desire to make Obama look bad is probably part of the equation.

  • Tonio

    What about Roger Ailes? He may have found some other sugar daddy.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Though I do expect it arrive on American shores, just as it will on Australian ones – the man is truly a global problem.

    Oh, it’s already here. We have News Ltd papers that have openly declared their intention to destroy one political party because News Ltd feel it is illegimitate*, and they are aggressively pushing partisan a line against action on climate change that could well lead to the defeat of a government.

    *funnily enough the Australian Electoral Commission, one of the least corrupt bodies in the world, does not agree

    PS: Apologies from Australia for breeding Murdoch. Although he did renounce his citizenship to become American, so he’s declared where his heart lies.

  • Anonymous
  • Lori

      abortion is federally mandated as legal in the joke decision of Roe v. Wade.  If doctors decline to perform an operation many consider murder, that’s a different thing.  

     

    This is yet another area where anyone who takes Beatrix’s opinion seriously is making him or herself less well-informed and quite possibly less intelligent. The fact that Roe v Wade has not been overturned has become effectively irrelevant in much of the US and for a high percentage of women who need reproductive heath and abortion services the situation is both dismal and dangerous. 

  • Beatrix

    Roe v. Wade has no constitutional standing.  It’s a joke.  Abortion is not in the Constitution.  The 14th Amendment has nothing to do with abortion.  If you want abortion in the Constitution then demand an amendment.   You know what they say about building houses on sand.

    BTW I personaly think abortion should be legal.  I hate it, I would never have one myself.  But Roe v. Wade is a joke.

  • Beatrix

    Lori- “ETA: Do we need to talk about the problems with the article that she linked to about Rachel Carson? I’m not going through it for Beatrix because that’s totally pointless, but I’m happy to discuss it if someone else wants to.”

    Hey, how many corpses of dead Black Afican babies with no politically imprtant connections would there need to be before you acknowledged a problem?

  • Anonymous

    Almost 600 comments not bad

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Almost 600 comments not bad

    Unfortunately, about half of them are a conservatroll being wrong at the top of her lungs.

  • Lori

    No one ever dies of neglect in the US health care system. No sirree Bob. 

    Oh wait, people die of neglect in what we laughingly call the US health care system every damn day. It’s true, we do not have 2 year waiting lists for scans. That’s because we reduce the lines by keeping millions of people in situations where they can’t even get a check-up from a primary care physician, let alone any kind of scan. 

    Of course those people are obviously irresponsible losers who brought their fate on themselves by having neither money nor insurance, so they clearly deserve to die of treatable illnesses. That doesn’t happen to people worthwhile enough to have middle class jobs that pay well ad provide insurance. Except that it does. 

    The events described in this story are possibly a little out of the ordinary (because SEK has the weirdest stuff happen to him), but I’ve had similar experiences and so have many of the people I know. 

    http://acephalous.typepad.com/acephalous/2011/05/once-upon-a-time-as-most-of-you-know-sek-had-cancer-his-cancer-requires-he-take-thyroid-replacement-hormones-for-the-rest.html

    SEK is fortunate that he A) had money available that allowed him to pay out of pocket & argue with the insurance company later and B) his cancer hasn’t actually returned. If both of those things had gone the other way he could very well be dying because BS between his doctor and his insurance company left him, a patient with a known history of cancer, waiting months for the almighty scan. 

    As for the need for tort reform in the US, that’s the battle cry of the corporate stooge and yet another topic on which no one who desires to be well-informed should pay any attention to the troll. 

  • Lori

    For non-USians who are unfamiliar with our actual health care system (as opposed to the one in the fantasy world we’ve been introduced to in this thread) people without insurance do die in hospital corridors here. Others die en route from the closest hospital to the one miles away that will accept uninsured patients. Yes, some hospitals in the US can and do turn away ambulances transporting critically ill uninsured patients. It happens every day. 

    If the hospital does treat you you may very well live to regret that they didn’t let you die in peace in the hallway because the bills will destroy your life. 

  • Lori

    For the love of FSM, anyone who wants to be able to think at all save yourselves—stop reading Beatrix’s posts. She’s either the most persistent troll we’ve had around these parts in a long time or the living embodiment of every stereotype about what ignorant racists Right Wingers are. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Sorry for contributing to the dragging on, Lori. I’m a terrible troll feeder but I just can’t resist! Beatrix is probably a lost cause but I like to imagine that teasing out the many, many problems with what I’ll graciously call her position might be instructive to lurkers who lean right wing through lack of following that line of (what I’ll graciously call) thought through to its various shitty conclusions.
     
    Also, I get lots of ‘likes’ fighting trolls. As I was not popular at school this validation of my wit and intellect is somewhat addictive. (Note to Beatrix: here I am having a little joke at my own expense. I do not actually measure my self-worth by ‘likes’ on the internet. Thought I better make that clear because you appear to have difficulties detecting anything less subtle than a kick up the arse.)
     
    Finally, it’s generally fun for me. But I’m getting bored again now, so I’ll go back to more useful things. Which raises the question, actually–Beatrix, don’t you have a job to go to? (I’ve always wanted to say that! And get a haircut, you hippy! And turn that music down! Grah!)

  • Beatrix

    Beatrix, don’t you have a job to go to?
    Practically midnight here Sarge.

    Sarge, I’m real bored, and apparentantly you can’t resist. 

    Do you like Israel?

  • Beatrix

    “apparently”, old Sarge.

    Also, we know Sarah Palin is an idiot, but can you tell me why?

    I’ll check back.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Sorry for contributing to the dragging on, Lori. I’m a terrible troll feeder but I just can’t resist! Beatrix is probably a lost cause but I like to imagine that teasing out the many, many problems with what I’ll graciously call her position might be instructive to lurkers who lean right wing through lack of following that line of (what I’ll graciously call) thought through to its various shitty conclusions.
     
    Also, I get lots of ‘likes’ fighting trolls. As I was not popular at school this validation of my wit and intellect is somewhat addictive. (Note to Beatrix: here I am having a little joke at my own expense. I do not actually measure my self-worth by ‘likes’ on the internet. Thought I better make that clear because you appear to have difficulties detecting anything less subtle than a kick up the arse.)
     
    Finally, it’s generally fun for me. But I’m getting bored again now, so I’ll go back to more useful things. Which raises the question, actually–Beatrix, don’t you have a job to go to? (I’ve always wanted to say that! And get a haircut, you hippy! And turn that music down! Grah!)

  • Beatrix

    Aging hippy or brainwashed uni student. Aging hippy or…

    Still leaning towards sad aging hippy, Lori.

  • Lori

     Aging hippy or brainwashed uni student. Aging hippy or…

    Still leaning towards sad aging hippy, Lori.  

    The third time making the same ignorant quip. How clever. 

    Lean a little harder idiot, maybe you’ll fall over and knock some sense into yourself by accident. 

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Why, for the love of all that is holy, are we still feeding this troll? I mean, we all KNOW zie’s a troll, zie hasn’t contributed anything of any value whatsoever to the discussion, and all the responses to hir, while sometimes entertaining, haven’t really moved things in a generally forward direction either. I know zie is hard to ignore – zie’s posts are like nails on a chalkboard – but maybe if we stop putting out the bacon fat, the troll will get hungry and go somewhere else?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Mmmmm bacon fat…

    ;)

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    yup, our bacon fat brings all the trolls to our yard…

  • Anonymous

    I figured them for a raging Poe several pages ago.  So I figure, don’t feed the troll before they do some smug ‘Hah hah fooled you, so easy to yank your chain!’ e-preening before they disappear forever.  Why make it easy for them to get their entertainment?

  • P J Evans

    Maybe I should go search for recipes using troll. Although I suspect the USDA considers them unfit for human consumption….

  • P J Evans

    Maybe I should go search for recipes using troll. Although I suspect the USDA considers them unfit for human consumption….

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Maybe I should go search for recipes using troll.

    I suspect they tend to be very much like the recipe for elephant stew that sometimes crops up in church cookbooks. It begins “first, find and kill an elephant.” and ends “now cook the hamburgers and eat them instead.” or something of that nature.

  • Guest-again

    ‘Why, for the love of all that is holy, are we still feeding this troll?’
    I prefer the term ‘snake.’

    And on my part, it is actually vaguely related to the fact that every time another stupid falsehood is brought out (and let’s be honest – this stuff is warmed up leftovers at best), it is easy to attach facts and links – Beatrix is obviously a sham, while the toxic brew our resident Canadian-Limey loves to swill around is anything but imaginary.

    And really, the ‘conversation’ is like a checklist. If it is any comfort, the utter lack of anything new to say on Beatrix’s part is a sign that finally, this disease has passed an acute phase, though it still needs to be kept in check.

    What has been interesting is how much effort Beatrix has been investing in turning a persona into a mockery – seemingly without any self-awareness. Almost makes one wonder about sloppily programmed bots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Problem is, trolls stick around as long as they’re getting any kind of reaction, and eventually their nonsense chokes out other discussion like weeds in a garden.  Only cure I’ve found for it is everybody refusing to engage them, at which point they get bored and move on, or create a new persona.  It can be worth engaging for a while, for the sake of making sure you’re not shutting out a real person honestly expressing unpopular or foolish ideas or for the sake of the hypothetical audience of lurkers on the fence, but once we hit the point we’re at now with this one, my view is it’s best to disengage.

  • Guest-again

    ‘my view is it’s best to disengage’
    But the Canadian-Limey Black Mamba Beatrix persona has a certain entertainment value when it comes to making fun of it that is well nigh irresistible.

    And this is a snake that simply doesn’t care about how many times its head gets cut off – it always slithers back for more.

    I do agree that even my appetite for mockery is getting sated – and no, it isn’t a bot, but the mechanical nature of engagement simply isn’t working very well any longer. One gets the feeling that even Beatrix would rather turn into the Black Mamba, striking fear into whatever it is the Black Mamba needs to strike fear into, than keep up the pretense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    And this is a snake that simply doesn’t care about how many times its head gets cut off – it always slithers back for more.

    Trolls have regeneration, after all.

  • Rikalous

    Trolls have regeneration, after all.

    Oddly enough, flaming them doesn’t stop them. I wish I knew a way to send acid over the internet.

  • Beatrix

    “Oddly enough, flaming them doesn’t stop them. I wish I knew a way to send acid over the internet”

    I consider that violent rhetoric, and possibly a death threat.

    Hey, if Palin is responsible for Jared Loughner…

  • Rikalous

    “Oddly enough, flaming them doesn’t stop them. I wish I knew a way to send acid over the internet”. 

    I consider that violent rhetoric, and possibly a death threat.

    Hey, if Palin is responsible for Jared Loughner…

    Oops. Let me be more clear. I meant citric acid. Few things help people become amicably disposed to each other, and therefor uninterested in trolling, than sharing a glass of lemonade.

    By the by, I’m touched that you think I’m anywhere near as influential as Palin.

  • Lori

     
    By the by, I’m touched that you think I’m anywhere near as influential as Palin.  

    Don’t sell yourself short. If there was a movie about you I’m sure that someone would show up to watch it.  

  • hf

    I have that standing bet with a prof I know

    Sweet. Since you don’t expect to lose, you won’t mind letting me in on this at the odds I offered. Doesn’t matter what you have to pay, if reality makes you look like a gibbering moron, because you say that definitely won’t happen.

    What about your other piece of fear-mongering nonsense, the sharia fashion police? Will you:

    *Clarify what you believe — maybe walking it way back like you did with the “stalking-horse” claim, but at least saying what you mean in the end — and accept bets?

    *Admit your mistake like an adult, and withdraw your question?

    *Admit you don’t actually want to take bets, what with being 12 and all?

    *Just keep acting like a jackass and ignore this completely?

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I’m sorry. It’s just that every time somebody calls Beatrix the Black Mamba, I can’t help but picture Megamind in his black-studded outfit and big blue head spouting Republican talking points while mispronouncing all the key words.

    “Bring out….The Black Mambaaaaaaaaa!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    I picture Beatrix Kiddo, yellow jumpsuit and all, furiously typing on a keyboard.  Possibly in a room full of bloody slain yakuza corpses.  But I’m pretty sure the Bride would be able to put together a more coherent fake argument, and probably just has better things to do with her time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    I picture Beatrix Kiddo, yellow jumpsuit and all, furiously typing on a keyboard.  Possibly in a room full of bloody slain yakuza corpses.  But I’m pretty sure the Bride would be able to put together a more coherent fake argument, and probably just has better things to do with her time.

    Stupid “Bride” quit an organization you just don’t quit and then was shocked (“shocked I tell you”) when they came after her and hers.  Of course, this organization is so dumb, they don’t put a bullet in the brain (not just a head shot, dumb-ass) of EVERYONE there.  makes you wonder just how good they really are….(Only one really worth a damn was Gogo Yubari — she was awesome!)((I never saw Volume 2, so there might have been cool characters in it.))

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    You may want to go ahead and check out the second half.  Safe to say it’s the high point of David Carradine’s career.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    The mention of House reminds me of a sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie  where they give Murdoch the It’s a Wonderful Life treatment. Here it is, about twenty years old but very good.

    I rather like the ending.

  • Lori

      I do see that fear as dominating more and more of the national political conversation, partly because of Fox News and partly because of demographic trends. I see that at work with the Tea Party intransigence over the debt ceiling. Sure, much of it seems driven by economic ignorance, a failure to understand that government budgets don’t work the same as home ones, but a knee-jerk desire to make Obama look bad is probably part of the equation.  

     

    Sure, but none of this explains Fox News. This is (to a significant degree) the result of Fox, not the reason for Fox. The Teas wouldn’t even know what the debt ceiling is, let alone why they should be in a tizzy about it, if Fox didn’t tell them. The debt ceiling was raised 7 times when Bush was in office and there was hardly a peep from the Right. Why not? Because Fox didn’t tell them to be upset. Why is Fox telling them to go to the mattresses over it now? Because the threat of default is being used to drive government cuts and law changes that benefit the Right Wing agenda that Murdoch supports. 

    You started out saying that Fox doesn’t have an ideology, but it does. Murdoch created his media empire for 2 reasons—to make truckloads of money and to support his ideology. It’s been successful at both of those things because he and the people who work for him know how to pander to and manipulate their viewers. Fox makes it obvious that it has an ideology every time it repeats that nonsensical “fair & Balanced” slogan. If it was actually fair & balanced it wouldn’t need to announce it 20 times a day. 

  • Tonio

    Murdoch created his media empire for 2 reasons—to make truckloads of money and to support his ideology.

    The latter doesn’t jibe with what I’ve read about Murdoch before this scandal. I was left with the impression that he was an opportunist first and an ideologist second, allying himself with the conservatives in power in America simply because he saw them as giving him the most freedom. There was a point early in the 2008 presidential campaign when he seemed to be cozying up to Hillary Clinton. Generally I define ideology the same way that Pauline Kael defined artistry, where the person cares about something besides money.

    Because the threat of default is being used to drive government cuts and
    law changes that benefit the Right Wing agenda that Murdoch supports.

    Would you give some specific examples? I had suspected the whole thing of being political Nancy Graceism, where Murdoch benefited primarily from ratings and not from any laws that the debt ceiling issue would generate.

  • Lori

    I think we’re at the point of talking past each other. We don’t seem to be using words in the same ways. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Generally I define ideology the same way that Pauline Kael defined artistry, where the person cares about something besides money.

    Our understandings of the term are different, then. It seems to me that a decent share of the right wing are of that ideology precisely because of their views on money. Why should money be excluded?

    I wonder if you might be equating “right wing” with “conservative” and “left wing” with “progressive”? While the former two tend to go together and the same for the latter pair, it’s not necessarily or always the case. I know quite a number of socially progressive right wingers, for example (including in professional politics). What seems to separate them from socially progressive left wingers is that the right wingers are rich.

  • Tonio

    It seems to me that a decent share of the right wing are of that
    ideology precisely because of their views on money. Why should money be
    excluded?

    I meant a narrow concept of self-interest rather than money specifically. The billionaire who seeks to protect his fortune and the Tea Partier who seeks to preserve his white Christian privilege have the same core motive. Herman Cain is an example of someone who can advocate for privilege even when it goes against his self-interest.

    I wonder if you might be equating “right wing” with “conservative” and
    “left wing” with “progressive”? While the former two tend to go together
    and the same for the latter pair, it’s not necessarily or always the
    case.

    Would you elaborate on the distinction? I usually hear the wing terms used to refer to more extreme views and the conservative and liberal terms used to refer to views a bit closer to the middle. Of course, conservative and liberal aren’t opposites even though they are usually opponents. I think of myself as Buffalo wing. :)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Would you elaborate on the distinction? I usually hear the wing terms used to refer to more extreme views and the conservative and liberal terms used to refer to views a bit closer to the middle. Of course, conservative and liberal aren’t opposites even though they are usually opponents. I think of myself as Buffalo wing. :)

    Sure. BTW, liberal and conservative are only considered as opponents in North America, or when those of us fluent in North Americanese adopt your language to talk to you. When I say ‘liberalism’ I’m talking about classical liberalism, which is a cousin of libertarianism.

    I make a point (more so than most, I expect) of clearly using distinct terms for social and economic views, because despite the general correlation they are not the same. (And, as a bona fide lefty, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the economic concerns of the left being crowded out by the social concerns of the [predominantly middle class] members of our progressive left coalition, but that’s another story.)

    In crude terms, left and right wing are about views on the role of government in the economy. The right wing thinks the government should get out of the way of the magic of the market (to varying degrees) while the left wing thinks that government has a valid role in prodding, directing or shaping the market (to varying degrees).

    Progressive and conservative refer to views on the role of government in social matters. It gets very murky here, because one can see the divide in terms of how much government should be allowed to intervene, or what areas of life government should be allowed to intervene in, and very few people take an ideologically consistent stance on either of these things.

    Personally, I say I’m progressive because my primary social concern is about moving towards ideals, rather than aversion to change. I’m also left wing. I think government has a role in both economic and social issues, so you could say I have a statist bent. However, I think the economic stuff is the most important, and the area where the role of government is strongest, so I’m left before any of the other things.

    Am I making any sense?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Would you elaborate on the distinction? I usually hear the wing terms used to refer to more extreme views and the conservative and liberal terms used to refer to views a bit closer to the middle. Of course, conservative and liberal aren’t opposites even though they are usually opponents. I think of myself as Buffalo wing. :)

    Sure. BTW, liberal and conservative are only considered as opponents in North America, or when those of us fluent in North Americanese adopt your language to talk to you. When I say ‘liberalism’ I’m talking about classical liberalism, which is a cousin of libertarianism.

    I make a point (more so than most, I expect) of clearly using distinct terms for social and economic views, because despite the general correlation they are not the same. (And, as a bona fide lefty, I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the economic concerns of the left being crowded out by the social concerns of the [predominantly middle class] members of our progressive left coalition, but that’s another story.)

    In crude terms, left and right wing are about views on the role of government in the economy. The right wing thinks the government should get out of the way of the magic of the market (to varying degrees) while the left wing thinks that government has a valid role in prodding, directing or shaping the market (to varying degrees).

    Progressive and conservative refer to views on the role of government in social matters. It gets very murky here, because one can see the divide in terms of how much government should be allowed to intervene, or what areas of life government should be allowed to intervene in, and very few people take an ideologically consistent stance on either of these things.

    Personally, I say I’m progressive because my primary social concern is about moving towards ideals, rather than aversion to change. I’m also left wing. I think government has a role in both economic and social issues, so you could say I have a statist bent. However, I think the economic stuff is the most important, and the area where the role of government is strongest, so I’m left before any of the other things.

    Am I making any sense?

  • Dan Audy

    In crude terms, left and right wing are about views on the role of
    government in the economy. The right wing thinks the government should
    get out of the way of the magic of the market (to varying degrees) while
    the left wing thinks that government has a valid role in prodding,
    directing or shaping the market (to varying degrees).

    Is this really true (at least in North America)?  While the right wing claims that the government should get out of the way of the market that seems to purely be kabuki because they constantly interfere in the market constantly.  They favour certain businesses over others by giving them money (directly or indirectly), exempting them from regulation their competitors must abide by, and prevent certain components of the market (labour) from concentrating their power while allowing others (corporations) to do so.

    Isn’t it more the case that the left and right have differing opinions on which aspects of the market should be favoured and what price society should pay (literally or figuaratively) for advancing those interests.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well, I’m talking about the basic philosophy. As I said, very few people are ideologically pure. The left/right distinction is “by and large”. My observation is that most people and groups have a broad leaning one way or the other, which they are happy to deviate from in their own special circumstances.

    You wouldn’t believe (actually, you probably would) the number of people I come across who think that they government generally should not be in the business of redistributing income–a right wing view–except in the case of people like themselves. That philosophy is most accurately called self-interested and full of shit, but that’s a less helpful descriptor.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And of course things are complicated by the intersection of a range of “value scales” (for want of a better term), and the degree to which each individual or group balances the importance of different scales.

    Frex, right wingery often comes into conflict with the protectionism/free trade dichotomy. Someone who’s broadly a right winger but is also a protectionist, and who places more weight on the protectionism scale than the left/right one, will tend to support policies with a right wing philosophy domestically, but also want to subsidise local industry heavily.

  • Tonio

    Thanks. That makes sense. My own view of the government role in the economy is that it’s not necessarily to shape the market but to counterbalance the power of corporations. I don’t know if any economists have already suggested this, but my opinion is that without that counterbalance, nations with free market economies will naturally become oligarchies. I see social issues the same way, where the lack of government protection for minority rights and individual rights naturally leads to the tyranny of the majority. I suppose that both for me are about moving toward the ideal of a just society.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I don’t know if any economists have already suggested this, but my opinion is that without that counterbalance, nations with free market economies will naturally become oligarchies. 

    I’m pretty sure ADAM FRAKIN’ SMITH said that, _The Wealth of Nations_.

  • Anonymous

    Very true, but even my Economics professor told me that no one actually reads Adam Smith…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t think there’s necessarily any complex sociological factors behind the machinations of Murdoch. He’s a rich, powerful bastard and rich, powerful bastards tend to be very interested in increasing their wealth and power. It has ever been thus, including in times of relatively little social change when there was no real threat to the status quo of the privileged.

    Money and power are self-seeking. Get too interested in either and the equation becomes pretty simple.

  • Tonio

    Money and power are self-seeking. Get too interested in either and the equation becomes pretty simple.

    While I agree in principle, I wonder what other factors were at work with the more fanatical subset of the rich, people like Henry Ford and Adolph Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife.

  • Lori

     I don’t think there’s necessarily any complex sociological factors behind the machinations of Murdoch. He’s a rich, powerful bastard and rich, powerful bastards tend to be very interested in increasing their wealth and power. 

     

    I don’t either. That’s basically my point, which I am apparently expressing badly. Murdoch likes things that make him rich & powerful. He supports an ideology that he believes will give him what he wants. (As one tends to do.) He uses the power he has, which resides to a great degree in the media outlets he owns, to support that ideology. I don’t think it’s any more deep or complicated than that.  

  • Tonio

    He supports an ideology that he believes will give him what he wants.

    That’s where I get confused. I can understand how pushing a reduction on government spending can help Murdoch, since it would mean less government resources to enforce regulations on business. But I don’t see how it directly benefits Murdoch to push O’Reilly’s claim of a “War on Christmas.” Or to accuse prominent liberal professors of pushing agendas against America or whites or Christianity. I can see how those two approaches would indirectly benefit Murdoch, by spreading fear to keep ratings high, but those wouldn’t involve legal or regulatory agendas.

  • Lori

      But I don’t see how it directly benefits Murdoch to push O’Reilly’s claim of a “War on Christmas.” Or to accuse prominent liberal professors of pushing agendas against America or whites or Christianity. I can see how those two approaches would indirectly benefit Murdoch, by spreading fear to keep ratings high, but those wouldn’t involve legal or regulatory agendas.  

     

    I don’t think every single hobby horse ridden by a Fox News personality directly supports Murdoch’s ideology. You’re being way more straight line or literal than I mean to be. Some things are on Fox because they directly reflect Murdoch’s desires. For example, the Fox line on taxation or the debt ceiling. Some things are on Fox to attract and keep viewers because that A) makes money and B) creates an audience for  Murdoch’s preferred ideas and a group of people who can be motivated to vote for politicians that Murdoch can “work with”. 

    That’s what I mean by saying that playing on the fears and resentments of middle class white conservatives is means, not ends. 

  • Tonio

    That’s
    what I mean by saying that playing on the fears and resentments of
    middle class white conservatives is means, not ends.

    I see your point. When I argued that Fox News wasn’t ideological, I meant that its content wasn’t based on a specific ideology regardless of the agenda behind it. You have a good point that the channel’s specific type of demagoguery is in the service of a conservative agenda. Still, the demagoguery itself isn’t an ideology, and need not adhere to conservatism in every instance. The outcome seems to resemble a more lucid version of Beatrix’s posts.

  • Lori

      Still, the demagoguery itself isn’t an ideology, and need not adhere to conservatism in every instance. 

     

    I think there are very few things that make it on air at Fox that don’t adhere to conservatism. They have one or 2 hosts who occasionally buck the party line, but for the most part everyone colors inside the lines. Even their relentless, exploitative coverage of the Casey Anthony trial was presented very much through a conservative law & order, family values lens. 

    The thing is, there are plenty of standard conservative talking points the Murdoch doesn’t actually give a shit about, like the War on Christmas. That stuff is there as red meat for the base, aka bait. 

  • Tonio

    Even their relentless, exploitative coverage of the Casey Anthony trial
    was presented very much through a conservative law & order, family
    values lens.

    That view struck me as specifically authoritarian rather than generically conservative, if one defines conservatism as preservation of the status quo and aversion to change. But those two ideas often seem like kissin’ cousins, and it may be likely that authoritarian attitudes are driven by aversion to change.

  • Dan Audy

    Sean Hoare, the whistleblower who revealed the phone hacking scandal, was found dead yesterday.  Since he has never officially testified this means that it will be more difficult for those involved in these crimes will be convicted and the scope of potentially charged individuals will be dramatically restricted.

    I hate to be a conspiracy theorist but I can’t help feeling that this is stunningly convenient coincidence despite the police announcing that they aren’t treating the death as suspicious.

  • Lori

     I hate to be a conspiracy theorist but I can’t help feeling that this is stunningly convenient coincidence despite the police announcing that they aren’t treating the death as suspicious.  

     

    I’m not sure what to think about this. On one hand it is very convenient for some very powerful people and I’m not huge believer in convenient coincidence. On the other hand it’s possibly a bit too convenient and he apparently had an epic drinking problem. He’d been fired from 2 newspapers because of his drinking. You have to be in bad shape for your drinking to even register in that environment, let alone get you fired. That’s the sort of problem that tends to be a life-limiting one. 

  • Anonymous

    His death is considered “not suspicious.”  Look, I’m a recovering conspiracy theorist*, but when the whistleblower of something as big and potentially as damaging as the phone hacking scandal DIES I sure as hell consider it ‘suspicious.’

    * – ‘Recovering’ as in, I realized that there doesn’t have to be some sort of world-spanning global conspiracy, just rich and powerful assholes cooperating casually with other rich and powerful assholes. When you and your new best friend control a significant fraction of a percent of the world’s wealth, just *breathing* becomes a market force.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    In the all-too-common “Beatrix is wrong” category:

    A study followed every 7th grader in Texas for something like 6 years.  They found, among other things, that African-American girls were suspended or expelled 75% of the time, compared with white girls being similarly punished 35% of the time, for THE SAME VIOLATION.

    But it couldn’t be due to racism, oh no…

  • Guest

    Here’s another one for that category. 
    From the New York Times:

    “Mr. Bloomberg said the city would hold a lottery to determine which couples, gay or straight, will be allowed to marry at the five borough clerks’ offices. He said the 764 marriages would be the highest number ever performed by the city in a single day.
    The city said it was imposing the cap in an effort to avoid chaos on Sunday. The clerk’s office has already received 2,661 applications for licenses since it started accepting online applications from same-sex couples. City officials estimated that 1,728 of those applications were from same-sex couples. Most couples do not apply online for licenses before showing up at a clerk’s office, so the number seeking to marry on Sunday would probably be much higher.”

  • Anonymous

    Delurking to say that, thanks to Ta-Nehisi Coates, I just stumbled across this astonishing NYT article about a condemned man in Texas, due to die in a day or so for murdering two Americans of Middle Eastern origin in September 2001 and shooting a third in the face, and about the third man, a USAF vet and devout Muslim, who has been working tirelessly to convince the state of Texas to grant clemency. He attributes his commitment to forgiveness and clemency entirely to his faith.

    (For bonus thread discussion relevancy, he has essentially lost sight in one eye because he was uninsured at the time of the shooting, couldn’t afford surgery for a very long time, and spent many months dependent on pain med and eyedrop samples from sympathetic pharmacists and doctors.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    Crap. The above post on marriages in New York was done by me. I messed something up trying to change my avatar. >.< 

    What I get for trying to do that when I should be in bed.

  • Guest-again

    ‘I think there are very few things that make it on air at Fox that don’t adhere to conservatism.’
    Or to use an old phrase, the ‘Silent Majority’ – a term quite in vogue at Ailes’s former place of employment, when he was writing a memo describing the need for the ‘Silent Majority’ to have its own TV network, a memo from the Nixon years.

    Fox isn’t really about ideology, it is about political power (and yes, there is a real paper trail to prove it). Something Murdoch understands, though arguably, he considers power simply a tool in the pursuit of ever expanding personal wealth, as contrasted to power as its own exclusive drive. 

    And with anything resembling a functioning legal/political culture, Murdoch’s empire wil be broken into bits (this process has started, but its end is not yet clear) – and with something approaching justice, just in time to ensure that Ailes’s lifelong project will founder for the same reason Nixon did – amorality finally meeting its end when undeniably exposed to everyone.

    Not that the Fox crazies won’t wander to new pastures – it is just that the their political exploitation will no longer be in the simple control of a network that employs how many current (and recently current) Republican 2012 presidential candidates. Does anybody else admire he brilliance of getting around various campaign finance laws on the part of a Republican operative like Ailes? – both in terms of exposure, and in direct cash infusions into those candidate’s personal bank accounts.

    The whole evil empire cannot sink too quickly for me.

  • Lori

     Fox isn’t really about ideology, it is about political power (and yes, there is a real paper trail to prove it). Something Murdoch understands, though arguably, he considers power simply a tool in the pursuit of ever expanding personal wealth, as contrasted to power as its own exclusive drive 

     

    I’m sort of worn out of the whole discussion on whether or not Murdoch is supporting and ideology so I’m not going to get into that again, but whatever drives Murdoch it’s not purely money. The NY Times article about all the lawsuits that News Corp has settled for huge amounts of money makes that clear. Murdoch not only has supported people who literally cost the company more than they made for it, he’s promoted them. Something (whether it’s pure power, or power as part of a larger plan or ideology) is more important than the money. 

    I suppose one could argue that he was taking the long view and figured that he was accepting short term loses in pursuit of larger gains later, but it doesn’t seem like the numbers really support that. 

     And with anything resembling a functioning legal/political culture, Murdoch’s empire wil be broken into bits (this process has started, but its end is not yet clear) – and with something approaching justice, just in time to ensure that Ailes’s lifelong project will founder for the same reason Nixon did – amorality finally meeting its end when undeniably exposed to everyone.  

     
    I fear you may be expecting too much, but we’ll see. 

  • Guest-again

    ‘I fear you may be expecting too much, but we’ll see.’
    Disappointment certainly seems a constant when getting older, but for a while in my past, people like Murdoch lost when their crimes where laid bare.

    I’m cynical, but I can’t lose the idea that sometimes, the scum loses. And till now, Murdoch is being revealed as scum, and it really seems as if his time is ending.

    This includes his paywall attempts, I might add – Murdoch is someone whose various visions I find appalling, not just his opportunistic approach to politics.

  • Dan Audy

    VMink, I’m totally in agreement with you that the death is suspicious as hell.  The ‘not suspicious’ in quotation marks was something the police (who are being investigated for accepting bribes from him and other NotW employees) said.  Honestly I find the fact that a third party police force wasn’t brought in to handle (or at least oversee) the investigation profoundly disappointing because there is a massive conflict of interest and no one should trust the results of this investigation.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, sorry, I wasn’t suggesting that you weren’t also saying that!  But yes, with NSY already being looked at suspiciously you’d think they’d get a third party in to confirm their findings.

    I’m afraid that this whole thing will be swept under the run and Murdoch will come out smelling like some mild flower scent and will get away with these shenanigans.


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