Smart people saying smart things

Kelly Nikondeha: “Jubilee is everywhere”

We tend to think the good news is salvation, a spiritual rescue that protects us from earthly tribulation or seals us for heaven. But jubilee is a concrete economic practice to release people from the real economic crises of life. We ought to be celebrating the good news that breaks the cycles of our perpetual indebtedness, allowing us to engage in a better kind of life here on earth. I think jubilary economics push us to see salvation as more earth-bound, less ethereal. I find that to be better news.

Daniel Fincke: “Why Atheists Resent Being Told We Are Going to Hell”

Imagine being offered that you can live forever if you go to the mansion of a sadistic torturer. He will provide you with endless amusements and happiness. He will also be endlessly torturing in the basement people who refuse his request. Would you go? Would you do so willingly? Would you go happily? Would you suck up to him and tell him he’s awesome and work yourself up into loving him? Would you make excuses for him and tell yourself he just must have his reasons? Would you get defensive on his behalf? Would you convince yourself he is the epitome of justice itself? Would you blame the people he tortures for using their free will to refuse him when they could have just loved him? To a lot of atheists the fervent desire of Christians and Muslims not only to accept such an invitation to such a mansion but also to believe in such a mansion and to eagerly defend the morality of such an arrangement is twisted.

Mary E. Hunt: “Pope Francis and the American Sisters”

Take, for example, the washing of two women’s feet at the Holy Thursday celebration. Granted, one of them was Muslim, and granted, the current pope may not be one for grand gestures (in which case they all would have been women in retribution), but is the liturgical act of washing two women out of twelve in 2000 years really the sign of the “feministization” of the Roman Catholic Church? Not by my lights.

Rather than washing feet, I suggest looking Catholic women in the eye and saying, “You are my sister, equal in every way to me,” and then changing structures accordingly. To atone for centuries of discrimination against women will take more than four clean female feet. I despair of those who say, “It is a start,” to which I respond, “Obviously, but how pitifully inadequate.”

Rick Pearlstein: “On Our Politics of Fear”

It’s easy to forget, in our oh-so-American narcissism, enveloped in the wall-to-wall coverage that makes our present catastrophe feel like the most important events in the universe, how safe and secure Americans truly are by any rational standard. Terror shatters us here precisely because ours is not a terrifying place compared to so much of the rest of the world. And also not really an objectively terrifying time, compared to other periods in the American past: for instance, Christmastime, 1975, when an explosion equivalent to twenty-five sticks of dynamite exploded in a baggage claim area, leaving severed heads and other body parts scattered among some two dozen corpses; no one ever claimed responsibility; no one ever was caught; but, pretty much, the event was forgotten, life went on and no one anywhere said “everything changed.”

Harold Pollack: “Want to fight terrorism? Learn first aid”

We need to take care of each other. At the highest level of social policy, this web of mutual obligation provides a basic argument for social insurance. At the level of everyday life, these same obligations take more elemental forms. We should immunize ourselves and our kids. We should sign our organ donor cards. We should learn what to do if a sibling falls into a diabetic emergency or if a bicyclist goes down and suffers a head injury.

The American Red Cross offers first aid courses in classrooms and on the Web. It offers pretty impressive smartphone apps, which include instructions and videos on topics from allergies to seizures and stroke. These apps can call 911 while providing useful instruction.

… Roughly four million people take these courses every year. That’s a good start. But it’s not nearly enough in a nation of 313 million people. If you are watching TV footage of Boston’s tragedy and wondering how you could help, here’s one thing to do: Sign up for one of these courses.

 

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Smart people saying smart things (1.21)
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Smart people saying smart things (2.12)
  • aunursa

    We should sign our organ donor cards.

    After my brother died, he saved the lives of eight total strangers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    There were dozens of people who were helped in some fashion by my dad’s donated tissue, including two people who regained their sight thanks to his corneas.

    Unfortunately, due to the location and the inability to accurately predict when he would pass after being taken off of support, they weren’t able to scramble a crew to harvest his organs, otherwise even more people would have benefited.

  • misanthropy_jones

    as someone who can see clearly thanks to a donated cornea, thank you to your father. his gift truly changed lives for the better.

  • Worthless Beast

    I have Organ Donor on my driver’s license and it is well-known that it is my wish to be one should I suffer a fatal accident. However, I don’t know if my organs are even viable. I take a medication that might screw them up for that.
    As for CPR… I took courses years ago… vaugely remember it. I remember the ABC proceedure, rescue-breathing. I’ve never been in a situation where it was needed as yet.

  • aunursa

    Organ Donor FAQs
    If I have a previous medical condition, can I still donate?
    Yes! Transplant professionals will evaluate the condition of your organs at the time of your death and determine if your organs are suitable for donation. You should consider yourself a potential organ and tissue donor, indicate your intent to donate on your driver’s license, donor card, or state donor registry, and discuss your decision with family members.

  • Worthless Beast

    Ah, good. I thought having Lithum in my system might bar the safety of my tissues, but figured they might have a way of flushing it out if need be. Not that I want to die anytime soon (I’m in one of my better moods today). I know my liscene is up for renewall, so I can always ask then, too.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Something else you can do is tell your family that any organs that can’t be donated to a living patient can be used for medical science. That way your remains could still be used to save and improve people’s lives, just in a less direct fashion.

  • Lori

    They’ve made significant changes to CPR procedure in recent years, so even if you remember what you were taught in the past it’s no longer considered best practices*.

    I have the same issue. I haven’t renewed my cert in years and what I can remember is no longer what they really want you to do. I need to look into taking the class again.

    *I’m not sure what the current recommendations are in the US, but in the
    UK they no longer recommend rescue breathing. Apparently it doesn’t help
    much and reluctance to do it keeps a lot of people from doing CPR. They
    have a set of PSAs about the change. The recommended rhythm is the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees.

    This is the original:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILxjxfB4zNk

    This is the first of a series of follow-up ads with people who were saved by friends who had seen the PSA:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2STeerbaWA

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I just wish that the EMTs I know (these are friends and family, not “A friend of a friend”) would stop telling me that it’s unwritten policy to not try very hard to save the lives of organ donors.

  • misanthropy_jones

    i work in an e.r. and can tell you with absolute certainty that they are wrong. barring a living will or dnr, we work our asses off for every patient that comes through our doors. in fact, we don’t generally even know if a patient is a donor.

  • Wednesday

    At what stage are they saying this happens — on the scene of an accident, in the ER, or after being checked into a hospital?

    Since it’s EMTs saying it, I assume that means it’s on the scene of accidents, so I have to wonder how they know. Do EMTs routinely check wallets and purses for some legitimate that would also give them information about donor status?

  • Abby Normal

    My mom was an EMT for several years, and I’ve worked with both EMTs and in ERs. No one checks organ donor status either before or during a trauma call. What Ross’ relatives have been saying is basically bullshit.

  • Worthless Beast

    I took it as Ross relating a sick joke.
    I imagine that EMTs… anyone working with life and death… has to develop a dark sense of humor to cope. I’ve never had such a job and sometimes my humor is plenty morbid. Maybe he’s saying “I wish the people I knew didn’t joke like that.”
    *Shrug?*

  • aunursa

    My experience in my brother’s case is that the medical team that seeks to save the patient’s life is separate from the team that handles organ donations.

  • aunursa

    “Why Atheists Resent Being Told We Are Going to Hell”

    One of the more disgusting statements made by Christian fundamentalists is the that God doesn’t send anyone to hell. Non-Christians choose to go to hell when we reject Him.

  • Baby_Raptor

    But, hey. Free will, right? At least we got to choose! /sarcasm

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001098371002 Michael E. Bowen

    Actually Calvinism says you don’t get to choose. Which makes Calvinism all the more twisted and evil, in my humble opinion.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Did you see the quote excerpt posted in a previous thread from a Calvinist? He was justifying the reprobate as being created for the express purpose of proving how awesome God is by temporarily not torturing them for eternity, and how that should be quite satisfactory to any member of the reprobate.

    I have no qualms about saying that Calvinists disgust me.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    At least those of the elect/reprobate camp. There may be other variations of Calvinism which don’t entail theology this poisonous which I’m simply unaware of.

  • Eric the Red
  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Paul pisses me off for many reasons, Stopped Clock.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Another reason why Atheists might get upset over being told they’re going to eternal torture: Its a trigger.

    Some of us grew up in fundie households, or in other ways suffered religious abuse. And hearing someone tell us we’re going to hell is a quick ticket back to those situations.

  • aunursa

    To a lot of atheists the fervent desire of Christians and Muslims not only to
    accept such an invitation to such a mansion but also to believe in such a
    mansion and to eagerly defend the morality of such an arrangement is
    twisted.

    I’m read various articles, chapters, and entire books by Christian apologists attempting to rationalize the morality of an eternal hell. This is the most difficult question for Christians to answer, and sometimes probing the implications is the most effective way for me to explain the irrationality of fundamentist theology.

  • aunursa

    “On Our Politics of Fear”

    It’s perfectly okay to appeal to our deepest fears when we’re trying to pass gun control legislation (i.e. If you don’t support this bill, you are responsible for the dead children!) Just not when it comes to security and border enforcement.

  • Lori

    Do you actually not see the difference between these two things, or are you simply pretending not to see it in order to be provocative and/or display loyalty to your poltical tribe?

  • aunursa

    Please educate me. What is the difference between appealing to fear to promote gun control legislation and appealing to fear to promote border enforcement and national security measures?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ask the people who appeal to fear of brown people to oppose gun control and who appeal to fear of brown people to lock down the borders.

  • Lori

    There are a number of things, I’ll stick with the two that I think are most relevant.

    -One fear is a great deal more realistic than the other. We have a pretty serious problem with gun violence and almost no problem with terrorism. There’s a difference between highlighting an actual problem and blowing a problem out of all proportion.

    -The fear being appealed to is not the same. The gun control debate appeals mainly, although sadly not exclusively**, to fear of violent death. The (supposed) border enforcement and national security measures debate appeals mainly to fear of the Other. You can tell because of couple of things. First, how well it works on the folks living in places that are never going to be the target of Muslim terrorists***. Second, the way it focuses on Muslim terrorists and conveniently ignores the Right wing terrorism that’s actually more prevelent in the US.

    *I say supposedly, because I see no evidence that they’re actually concerned about those things and not just using them to achieve other ends.

    **It also appeals to fear of people who are different, especially the mentally ill. That’s a huge problem and I don’t condone that in any way.

    ***Those people do have reason to be concerned about gun violence and about dying as the result of their boss’ willful neglect of workplace safety, but they aren’t all up in arms about that beause Freedom!

  • aunursa

    and almost no problem with terrorism

    I don’t share that assertion. We have a huge problem with terrorism, but for the most part, attacks are thwarted by the use of intelligence and security measures, many of which are highly controversial.

    One fear is a great deal more realistic than the other. We have a pretty serious problem with gun violence and almost no problem with terrorism. There’s a difference between highlighting an actual problem and blowing a problem out of all proportion.

    But a relevant question is whether the proposed solutions will mitigate the problem of gun violence. Rather than address that valid question, we simply appeal to fears: “If you don’t support this gun-control measure, you don’t care about the victims of gun violence!”

    First, how well it works on the folks living in places that are never going to be the target of Muslim terrorists

    I don’t understand this point. Most folks who live in low-value targets are likely at some point to use airlines to travel, and to visit high-value targets. Most folks who live in low-value targets have relatives and/or friends they care about who live or work in high value targets. Mosts folks, regardless of where they live, are concerned about terrorism that is considered as not just an attack on New York or Boston, but an attack on the entire country.

  • Lori

    I don’t share that assertion. We have a huge problem with terrorism, but for the most part, attacks are thwarted by the use of intelligence and security measures, many of which are highly controversial.

    This is the assertion and it’s not backed up by available facts. The vast majority of the plots foiled by the FBI were in some way the product of FBI action. That doesn’t really count as thwarting. It’s cetainly not a reason to use measure which are “highly controversial” (for values of “highly controversally” equal to “both illegal and immoral, but supported by Very Serious People”).

    But a relevant question is whether the proposed solutions will mitigate the problem of gun violence.

    This is also the relevant question about proposed solutions to terrorism. Background checks and limits on magazine size will do more to prevent gun violence than unconstitutional descrimination against brown people and Muslims will do to prevent terrorism.

    Most folks who live in low-value targets have relatives and/or friends they care about who live or work in high value targets. Mosts folks, regardless of where they live, are concerned about terrorism that is considered as not just an attack on New York or Boston, but an attack on the entire country.

    The odds that people living in non-targeted areas are going to be at a targeted place at the moment that an extremely rare event happens are vanishingly small. The idea that that’s the reason they’re all hyped up about a small threat is ridiculous.

    Most folks, regardless of where they live, have people they care about who are at risk of gun violence and workplace death, and yet this is not considered a reason to do anything meaningful aobut gun violence or workplace safety. So yeah, no.

    Funny how we’re all New Yorkers or Bostonians when there’s a terrorist attack, but the other 99+% of the time those cities are filled with Liberal elites who worship the devil and are destroying our way of life and we must take our country back from them. So yeah, no again.

  • aunursa

    The vast majority of the plots foiled by the FBI were in some way the product of FBI action. That doesn’t really count as thwarting.

    Plots foiled by the FBI don’t count as plots that were thwarted? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Background checks and limits on magazine size will do more to prevent gun violence

    Would background checks have stopped recent mass shootings? Probably Not Not Newtown. Not Aurora. Not Tucson. Maybe Virginia Tech.

    than unconstitutional descrimination against brown people and Muslims will do to prevent terrorism.

    Agreed. But constitutional discrimination against people who meet the profile of likely terrorists would do much to prevent terrorism.

  • EllieMurasaki

    constitutional discrimination

    That sounds like a contradiction in terms.

  • Lori

    It’s not exactly. You’re legally allowed to discriminate all you want as long as the discrimination is not against a protected class. Constitutional discrimination against people who meet the profile of likely terrorists is pretty much a contradiction in terms. I have yet to see any so-called terrorism experts advocating profiling which doesn’t use race, color, or religion, all of which are protected classes.

    There is one possible way around that. Namely to note that most of the protected classes were established by the Civil Rights Act and then go the Rand Paul route by being against the Act. The advantage to that is that the person puts their asshatery right out there where everyone can see it.

  • Lori

    Plots foiled by the FBI don’t count as plots that were thwarted? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Plots set in motion or kept in motion by the FBI and then stopped don’t really count as thwarted. If the crime wouldn’t have happened without your help then you don’t really deserve credit for stopping the crime.

    Would background checks have stopped recent mass shootings? Probably Not Not Newtown. Not Aurora. Not Tucson. Maybe Virginia Tech.

    No background checks probably wouldn’t have stopped those shootings. Limits on magazine capacity would probably have helped though and background checks would help with other types of gun violence.

    The reason we’re talking exclusively about background checks right now is that the alliance of the NRA & the GOP already squashed all talk of any other measures. Having done that the Right now wants to piss and moan about how the one thing that actually made it to a vote before they could kill it wouldn’t solve all our gun violence problems. Fuck that noise.

    But constitutional discrimination against people who meet the profile of likely terrorists would do much to prevent terrorism.

    Pray tell, exactly what constitutional discrimination do you think would have helped prevent the Boston bombing?

  • aunursa

    Plots that come to the attention of the FBI, which then allows them to proceed and uses undercover agents in order to gather evidence and widen the net — they absolutely count as plots that were thwarted.

    what constitutional discrimination do you think would have helped prevent the Boston bombing?

    * Heightened scrutiny of propective and current immigrants and visitors who come from or spend considerable time in countries that the State Department determines are state sponsors of terrorism and who fit the profile of a likely terrorist.

    * Reduction or elimination, at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security, of entry into the United States of visitors from countries and regions whose residents the State Department determines are responsible for a significant number of attempted and successful terrorist attacks around the world.

  • Lori

    Plots that come to the attention of the FBI, which then allows them to
    proceed and uses undercover agents in order to gather evidence and widen
    the net — they absolutely count as plots that were thwarted.

    Not when the plot would have totally died without the undercover agents keeping it going. People are allowed to say stupid shit. When udnercover agents egg them on past the point that their enthusiasm and/or skills would have carried them without the agent’s help then no, the FBI didn’t thwart anything meaningful, with the possible exception of the law against entrapment.

    And don’t bother to clutch your pearls about how the FBI would never do such a thing, because they totally would. They’ve done it before. I have a great deal of respect for the FBI, but very few illusions.

    As for your discrimination plan, I’ll set aside all the many problems with it and just ask, which part of this do you think would have helped in the case of the Boston bombing?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    No, background checks probably wouldn’t have stopped those shootings.

    Both Loughner and Choi ideally would have been flagged and caught in a proper background check system. Both had clear mental health issues beforehand. If Loughner needed mental health clearance to return to his community college, then he should have needed clearance to purchase a firearm.

    It’s a little tricky, because you don’t want to discourage people from seeking mental health treatment by blocking them from owning firearms, but I think that’s an issue that can be addressed without derailing the whole endeavor. One of the reasons I find the NRA’s batshit stonewalling so infuriating is that I think we could hammer out solutions to those kind of details if one side wasn’t gripped by black helicopter paranoia.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Would background checks have stopped recent mass shootings? Probably Not Not Newtown. Not Aurora. Not Tucson. Maybe Virginia Tech.

    These tragedies (while the driving force of the current national debate) are atypical of most gun violence. As Mark Kleiman says, “Figuring out how to prevent the next gun massacre … is a classic case of solving the wrong problem.[…]The right problem is gun homicide generally, or homicide generally.”

    From a fair-minded interview with guns.com:

    Maybe tough rules would prevent some massacres or reduce their lethality; it’s hard to know until you know what the rules are. But in any case that’s a tiny fraction of criminal gun violence. The straw-purchaser rules (to which I’d add the scofflaw gun-dealer rules), background checks, and data-gathering/data-processing stuff would all matter some. You’d have to ask someone like Jens Ludwig or Phil Cook or Rick Rosenfeld or John Donahue what’s likely to be “measurable.” But would it save some non-trivial number of lives? Of course it would.

    Anything that makes it harder for bad guys to get guns will reduce the number of guns bad guys have and use. That’s got to be a gain. The question is, what can we actually do, and at what cost in expense or inconvenience for the law-abiding? If I were running a local police department, I’d think hard about bounties for tips leading to seizures of illegally-possessed guns. Nationally, I think we should follow up on James Q. Wilson’s old idea of metal-detectors for street cops to replace stop-and-frisk as a way of discouraging illegal carry. Part of the deal for a concealed-carry permit should be showing to the cops if they ask to see it.[…]

    There’s no evidence that people who can get a license and who actually go through the training and do get a license commit any substantial number of gun crimes. So I don’t see any moral justification for denying them permission to do something that matters to them. (Again, I’d require them to show the permit to law enforcement on request.)[…]

    By the same token, I’d allow any property owner to establish a “no-guns” rule, and require places that serve alcohol by the drink to have a “hang ‘em here” rule. And I think that being armed while under the influence should be as much of a crime as driving under the influence.[…]

    What I’d really like is to get, on top of [something reasonably tough on universal background checks, scofflaw dealers, straw purchasers, and maybe data-gathering and analysis], some form of limitation on guns useful for mass killing (better designed than the old AWB), and in return have a national shall-issue for concealed carry, and interstate carry from any state whose concealed-carry rules meet minimal standards about background checks and training.

    http://www.guns.com/2013/03/16/guns-com-talks-gun-control-and-politics-with-ucla-professor-mark-kleiman-video/

  • aunursa

    These tragedies (while the driving force of the current national debate) are atypical of most gun violence.
    You answered your own point in the first sentence. These tragedies, atypical of most gun violence, are used as appeals to emotion in order to advocate for gun control measures.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The human brain is not wired to give a shit about the commonplace. Domestic violence gun deaths are commonplace.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    My point was that the gun control measures being discussed would likely have a positive impact. I wasn’t defending misleading rhetoric (I think you have a point about that, though I do agree with the other commenters more broadly on the issue.)

  • Lori

    If you want to discuss gun control at times other than in the wake of a mass shooting when emotions are running high then the pro-gun lobby needs to cooperate with that a little bit, but it doesn’t. In the increasingly short periods of time when there hasn’t been a recent mass shooting we’re told that we can’t talk about rational gun control because there’s no need. Then when a mass shooting happens we’re told that we can’t talk about it because everyone is too emotional and talking about victims is manipulative. How convenient.

  • stardreamer42

    I agree that we have a huge problem with terrorism, but not with terrorism from outside America. We have an immense, and largely unrecognized, problem with domestic terrorism, most of which comes wrapped in sheets of “religion” and/or “patriotism”.

  • aunursa

    Can you share a few examples of domestic terrorism (aside from environmental- and animal rights terrorism)?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Dr. Tiller.

    Actually, every time an abortion provider has been shot, bombed, or had their name, face, and address plastered across town on a poster designed like a Wanted Dead or Alive poster.

  • Lori
  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well, a couple of US citizens set off a bomb in Boston last week. You may have read about it?

  • Lori

    Only the younger one was a citizen. The older one’s application was put on hold and the story seems to be that he believed citizenship wasn’t going to be granted.

  • The_L1985

    How about the OKC bombing and the 1996 olympics bombing?

    How about every single time an abortion doctor is murdered, or an abortion clinic is bombed?

  • aunursa

    Anti-abortion terrorism: 7 fatal attacks (including the Atlanta Olympics bombing, which was motivated by an anti-abortion agenda) resulting in 9 deaths since 1993. Also 17 attempted murders.

    Anti-government terrorism: The Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 and injured almost 700

    Islamic terrorism: 66 fatal terrorist attacks, resulting in 125 deaths and 1,288 injured since 1972. And that doesn’t include the 2,996 killed and 304 injured on September 11, 2001, which brings the total to 3,121 killed and 1,592 injured. And that doesn’t include the American tourists who have been targeted by Islamic terrorists on foreign soil.

    Yes, domestic terrorism based on anti-abortion and anti-government (as well as environmental and animal rights) motives is a serious problem. But the threats of domestic (non-Islamic) terrorism pale in comparison with the terrorist attacks planned and executed against Americans based on fundamentalist Islamic motives. It’s certainly not the case that (non-Islamic) domestic terrorism poses a greater threat than Islamic terrorism.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Why do you go back to 1972 for Islamic-related terrorist attacks but only to 1993 for domestic attacks? And Ft. Hood should get counted among the domestic attacks, as well as the attack on the Sikh temple. How about the murder of Matthew Shepherd? There are plenty of attacks and murders of gays, “foreign-looking people” and minorities that are explicitly political in nature and intended to terrorize. Heck, those people who were cutting off the beards of Amish guys were probably engaged in terrorism of a sort.

  • Lori

    Are you new here? [Citations needed.]

    You also need to state your terms. Why are you going back to 1972 for Islamic terrorism, but only 1993 for anti-abortion terrorism and some unnamed date for anti-government terrorism? You say that you did not includeAmerican tourists who have been targeted by Islamic terrorists on foreign soil, but you don’t say what you did include.

  • Monala

    As some have pointed out, the most extensive terrorist group in U.S. history is the Ku Klux Klan, dating back to the 19th century.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Then, there was the Holocaust Museum shooting by a white supremacist.

  • stardreamer42

    WTFF? You are kidding, right? Please tell me you’re kidding.

    … no, I guess you’re not kidding.

    Every abortion-clinic bombing or doctor-killing is domestic terrorism.

    Every “anti-government” bombing is domestic terrorism.

    Every gay-bashing, transgender person beaten to death, and gay student hounded into suicide is domestic terrorism.
    Every mosque or synagogue vandalized is domestic terrorism.

    Every death threat to someone who offends the Christian Taliban is domestic terrorism.

    You can hardly read the daily news without encountering examples of domestic terrorism. The problem is that they aren’t identified as such, so people who have trouble adding two and two don’t notice. them.

  • ohiolibrarian

    May I point out that the statement “If you don’t support this bill, you are responsible for the dead children!” is not properly an appeal to fear. More of an appeal to guilt.

    As in: If a bunch of innocent people are needlessly massacred (individually as they are every day or in groups) when we could do something to prevent it, and YOU personally don’t wish to do those things that could help prevent it, you should feel guilt. It would be a human response employing empathy and I do you the honor of assuming that you would not want to feel that kind of culpability.

  • Carstonio

    The folks opposing background checks for gun buyers are the same ones pushing these checks for immigration, as a reaction to the Boston bombing. And they talk about the gun issue as “law-abiding citizens” needing protection from “criminals,” ignoring the huge percentage of shootings in suicides and domestic arguments. As if Adam Lanza was no different from someone using violence to get money. Obviously they see both issues as about people like them versus people not like them.

  • aunursa

    I’ve seen several commments by politicians and media commentators who support gun-control, as well as blog and Facebook posts condemning the senators who voted against background checks over the photos of the 20 children who were killed at Sandy Hook. However sensible background checks are (and there are very good reasons for them), they would not have saved the life of any of those children. The entire appeal is emotional to play on our fears.

  • Carstonio

    Whether or not your characterization is correct, you’re ignoring the much more repulsive appeals to racial paranoia that that the NRA and ALEC have made for decades. Those group have perfected the Southern Strategy. Any comparison between this and any emotional content of the gun control appeals wrongly gives credence to the lie that the real goal is taking away everyone’s guns.

  • aunursa

    Gosh, now where would they get the idea that some opponents of gun rights want to ban all guns?

    How to Ban Guns: A step-by-step long-term process

    Ban all guns, now

    Dem. Rep. Jan Schakowsky: I’m not so sure we can’t ban handguns entirely

  • Lori

    Are you sure you really want to play this game? I will if you want to, but you might want to take this opportunity to consider your
    answer carefully.

    Think about what Right wing media stars with far more audience and influence than some random on Daily Kos have been saying during the last couple of weeks.Think about the GOP legislators who have called for things like declaring Tsarnaev an enemy combatant. Think long and hard about the fact that much of the Right has been straight up calling for tossing out the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th & 9th Amendments for anyone they deem a terrorist.

    Now, is it on or are we going to drop this ridiculousness?

  • aunursa

    Apparently I’m not as bright as you think I am. I don’t understand what “game” you think I want to play.

  • Lori

    I’m not going to make the obvious joke because it’s not worth it.

    The game that you’re trying to play is the one where if you can find anyone, anywhere who argued for an extreme position on issue X, even if the person has no real influence or power or there is no way in hell that their idea is going anywhere, then it’s perfectly reasonable to act as if that extreme position viable and as representitive of that side of issue X.

    It’s stupid and it ought to be beneath you, but even though it’s not you should still avoid it. It’s a weapon that can and will be turned on you. Your side is an extreme position generating machine. For every anti-gun extremist you come up with we’ll be able to find at least 2 and probably more on the pro-gun side.

  • Carstonio

    A vocal minority among gun-control opponents. Similarly, most gun owners disagree with the NRA’s race-baiting and are repulsed by the fanaticism of militias. As Lori said, fear-based appeals are worse when these involve fear of an Other.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Your argument against background checks correctly notes that the guns that Adam Lanza had access to were obtained by his mother (and 1st victim) legally. You might want to reconsider making it however as it points to the truth that a lot, a whole lot of gun deaths are committed by people who were not criminals–until they started shooting people.

    It puts the lie to the pious NRA nonsense that they are just protecting the “law-abiding” gun owner. The way the NRA uses it, “law-abiding” is a synonym for “white”. You can tell because it is treated as some kind of permanent category.

  • P J Evans

    Have you ever heard people talk about national security and border enforcement? It’s all about appealing to fear: ‘We’ are the good guys, inside the border; outside there are lots of people we’re supposed to fear. Only, in reality, it isn’t that simple.

  • aunursa

    Absolutely! And it’s wrong for them to play on our fears. It’s only okay to appeal to emotion when it’s about gun control. Or when we oppose immigration enforcement. (Shame on you Evil Republicans for wanting to tear apart families who’ve lived in the U.S. for years! Why do you want to take parents away from their children?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Nonsense. Appeals to emotion are all equally wrong, because playing on all emotions is entirely equivalent. Motivating someone by an appeal to fear, for example, is just like motivating them by an appeal to compassion. This is obvious on the face of it.

  • aunursa

    Touché.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    When I look at some of the people who believe that any attempt to curb gun violence, by any means, will mean that they lose their second amendment freedoms, followed by all their other constitutional freedoms, I see fear. I see people holding onto their guns like safety blankets. I want to ask, “What are you so afraid of that you need to grip such a weapon so close to your heart to keep it at bay? Is the world really that scary a place to you?”

    I find it a rather strange fear to have. The ability to shoot back will not prevent someone from being shot, if the killer does not fear their own death.

  • David S.

    There’s a difference between death by gun, which kills 30,000 Americans a year, and death by terrorism which back to 1972 by your numbers has killed less than 100 people a year. That’s well over two orders of magnitude difference in death rate; if we separate it into 9/11 and other, in 2001, terrorism killed almost 10% as many people as guns, and outside that, terrorism killed less then 10 people a year, which is negligible, 1/4th those killed by bee stings for example. Do we need a war on bees?

  • Eric the Red

    Smarter people saying smarter things:

    Heartiste: “Chicks Dig Jerks: When Quantity Is Its Own Quality Edition”

    There’s really nothing to learn from this story [of four female corrections officers impregnated by one inmate] beyond that which we already know:
    1. Chicks love dominant men.
    2. Women in love with assholes will rationalize anything.
    3. A core concept of game is asserting your dominance over women by displaying higher status and/or undermining a woman’s relative status.
    4. A charming, violent inmate will leave more descendants to suckle on the state teat than a diligent, law-abiding beta male will leave to contribute to the state teat.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Meanwhile, here on Planet Earth, a much more reliable way to get laid is to treat people of your preferred gender like human beings.

    But Eric doesn’t know how to do that, so he would prefer to think that anyone who’s getting laid must have some Super Magical Unfair Advantage.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I think that xkcd give the best advice when it said, “Just talk to them like a fucking human being.”

  • The_L1985

    This chick hates men like that.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Srsly. Every time I see that old, “Oh, women love assholes” line, I think, “How is it that I and virtually every other woman I know are somehow ‘statistical anomalies’?”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You and the other ladies of your acquainted form a good crowd. Likewise, pickup artists hang out with a bad crowd: each other.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    In regards to item 4, since “suckling on the state teat” is … bad (it’s bad right?), shouldn’t we all aspire to be beta males in order to decrease the number of descendants suckling on the state teat?

  • Eric the Red

    Smarter people saying smarter things:

    Heartiste: “Chicks Dig Jerks: When Quantity Is Its Own Quality Edition”

    There’s really nothing to learn from this story [of four female corrections officers impregnated by one inmate] beyond that which we already know:
    1. Chicks love dominant men.
    2. Women in love with assholes will rationalize anything.
    3. A core concept of game is asserting your dominance over women by displaying higher status and/or undermining a woman’s relative status.
    4. A charming, violent inmate will leave more descendants to suckle on the state teat than a diligent, law-abiding beta male will leave to contribute to the state teat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Not surprised an inmate turned out to make a great pick-up-artist. The technique appears to make you into a person exactly like some character in a ‘Faust’ story who sells his soul to Satan for success with women. It might work, but an inescapable part of the process is being transformed into a glib, shallow, sociopathic douchebag.

    Also note the criminal enterprise made a whole lot of cash, which is a lot more useful than NLP parlour tricks in getting people to do your bidding.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Is it odd of me that reading his comment, my take away is “That sounds like an argument to castrate all the douchebag ‘alpha’ men.”

  • Carstonio

    “To eagerly defend the morality of such an arrangement” is exactly the issue. The claim that they’re just trying to prevent others from suffering a horrible fate is dripping with ingenuousness. They give every indication that they believe such a fate to be justified. If they want to convince others of their sincerity, they should ask their god to do away with the punishment of eternal suffering after death as grossly unjust.

  • LL

    I was completely unaware of that 1975 bombing (to be fair, I was only 9 years old at the time and not living anywhere near NY) until I read about it a few days ago (linked by another site).

    The sad truth is, there really isn’t any unprecedented attack anywhere, until someone figures out how to unleash nanowhatevers and begins the violence cycle on that particular technology.

    All ways of attacking civilians that exist today have already been done. What happened in Boston isn’t in any way new. Not even in the U.S.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The sad truth is, there really isn’t any unprecedented attack anywhere, until someone figures out how to unleash nanowhatevers and begins the violence cycle on that particular technology.

    Yeah, that could be bad.

  • Worthless Beast

    As someone who used to believe in a Hell and who knew many good people who did… I feel the need raise a (tiny) defense of them. They aren’t all moral monsters who “agree to go live with a torturer” (though that analogy is a good way to get people to think about their beliefs). Personally, I see it as much more complicated than that.
    First of all, it’s like the Jenga tower talked about in other posts here. Take away one thing for some people and you take away all – take away the bad, take away the good – sacrfice Hell and you sacrifice Heaven. I’m not saying it’s a healthy way to think, just that it is “just how the univere works” for a lot of people. Things get painted in black and white for a lot of minds. Frankly, “everyone dies and goes to oblivion” strikes a lot of people as unfair, too – so unfair that they’d be willing to believe in a Hell if it comes with a Heaven. Even many unblievers would wish there to be a Hell for Hitler (although one atheist I met on a fandom message board said they couldn’t imagine even Hilter tortued for eternity as being fair, which made me think). However, the fact is that most Hell-believers (at least those I’ve known) tend not to think that “good” people, or people they care about really go there… They tend to hope for some kind of chance for them, last glimmer of life repentence and whatnot.
    I read one of the Catholic blogs on Patheos going on about that very thing in regards to the currently dead Boston bomber brother… (I forget the blog, but the guy was upset about people cheering for him going to Hell even though he was a murderer when it’s the better “christian” thing to do to hope that Hell is empty).

    Personally, my mulling over the whole thing has lead me to take on a personal theology whereby I hope (don’t know for sure, but hope) that everyone’s invited to the party at the mansion, that the host really is a nice guy and all those “torture screams” that are rumored to be coming from the basment is just J.C.’s rattly old washing machine struggling with his dirty socks.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Even many unblievers would wish there to be a Hell for Hitler (although one atheist I met on a fandom message board said they couldn’t imagine even Hilter tortued for eternity as being fair, which made me think).

    I remember a book, I cannot recall which one, in which several boys are talking about what kind of tortures they would inflict on Hitler if they caught him. One of the boys, who had been quiet until that point, said what he would do to Hitler if he caught him was to make him into a good man.

    Because then he would have to live as a good man, living with what he has done, for the rest of his natural life.

    All the other tortures seemed merciful next to that.

  • Worthlesss Beast

    If there is a “Hell” state when one dies, that’s actually what I imagine it would be in regards to justice… a kind of self-awareness that’s so stark and true that for “those that truly deserve Hell” – no Hell of human imagination could be worse. And it could be something you could come out the other side of. When you think about it, the simple state of empathy can be Heaven… or Hell.
    I like that. I’d like to make Hitler a good man, too. It seems fitting.

  • Jamoche

    When Terry Pratchett villains die their whole life flashes before their eyes – from the perspective of their victims. The effect it has on them depends on just how much capacity for compassion they still have.

  • Vass

    Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery. One of my favourite war novels ever.

  • stardreamer42

    “Why Atheists Resent Being Told We’re Going to Hell”

    Related: Kissing Hank’s Ass. Makes much the same point by use of satire.

  • WalterC

    My concern with background checks is that they’re often not as useful as people make them out to be.

    I know from my own work that, while a lot of corporate recruiters assume that background checks will screen out applicants likely to commit fraud, the reality is that the majority of people who are charged with fraud are on their first offense — a background check wouldn’t have caught them. (I think the rate of repeat offenders in cases like that are in the single digits, which means that even if the check process is itself infallible — which is rarely is — the chances of it helping you predict future crime is negligible at best, even though it’s costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars per applicant. I’m not sure about the stats on mass shooters but it doesn’t sound as if guys like Lanza or Holmes had past viewable criminal records. Would a conscientious gun seller have seen red flags when these guys walked into the store? Background checks may work in general but I’m not sure that they’ll deter mass shooters. I think background checks would be more useful if they were targeted against general crime levels, such as keeping guns out of the hands of people who are ineligible to have them, but I don’t see a meaningful impact on the mass shooters.

    You also have to deal with the fact (tying mostly to the immigration checks) that record-keeping isn’t necessarily very good. States here in the US often have a pretty hard time with secure records keeping.

    A lot of them are stored exclusively on paper, which can be destroyed by anything -from a leaky roof to a hurricane; months after Katrina, the New Orleans’ court system was still reeling from thousands upon thousands of records relating to criminal cases that were wiped out by the flood. Medical records for patients were also lost as a result of a failure to digitize them. It’s highly likely that many countries, especially in poorer regions, have many of the same issues. If you run a background check on an immigrant, even if such a thing would have yielded useful information, how do you know that the immigrant’s home country maintains accurate records (or keeps records at all)? When you hear back that the immigrant is “clean”, you can’t be sure if that means that he or she has no criminal background or it means that there is a record but it was destroyed in a monsoon in 2005. Because of this, you also run the risk of immigrants from poorer or developing countries having an additional disadvantage (through no fault of their own) because their “clean” results are less likely to be trusted than, say, one from Australia.

    Background checks may be useful in both arenas but they’re not magic bullets and they’ll have to be a multifaceted approach.

  • Abby Normal

    There is no magic bullet, but it’s a good sight better than doing nothing.

    I find it ironic that a bottle of penicillin has considerably less lethal capacity than a gun, yet I had to undergo both a background check AND 8 years of postgraduate training in order to dispense it.

  • Lori

    ITA. Background checks are a magic bullet, there are problems that they won’t solve and no one should believe otherwise. They do have the potential to help with some kinds of gun crime though. Probably not most random violence like Newton or Aurora, but domestic violence is another issue. There have been almost 3700 gun death since the shooting in Newton. None of them have been mass shootings and very few have involved more than two victims. Many, many more of them have been domestic violence of one sort or another.

  • WalterC

    I agree completely. That for me was the most serious and alarming aspect of the whole issue; the fact that people convicted of crimes such as domestic violence and assault could evade commonsense restrictions on gun purchases simply by not going to a federally-licensed gun dealer.

    The existence of that loophole doesn’t make any sense to me from either side of the gun issue; if you support unrestricted access to guns, you shouldn’t want any background checks at all, and if you think that there should be some restrictions then making them so easy to get around is bizarre. As I said, I don’t think it’s likely at all that background checks would avert another Newtown or Aurora but we can at least have meaningful enforcement of the current restrictions we have.

  • LE

    I realize Finke’s argument actually works for some people here, but this just has no resonance for me. I didn’t become an atheist because I objected to the fundamental morality of a belief in heaven or hell (although I do think it’s a useful thought experiment). I didn’t become an atheist because I was traumatized or resentful or any of those things. I don’t feel any need to “convert” religious people or show them why they’re wrong, wrong, wrong – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, I simply don’t share their belief. I’m an atheist because I don’t believe – I lack faith. People trying to tell me I’m going to hell is annoying because it’s like someone droning on about a hobby that I find tedious and boring. It’s just not relevant to anything. Making a pest of yourself isn’t going to make me any more receptive.

  • Keulan

    The idea of infinite punishment for finite crimes is repugnant to me. If someone convinced me that a god exists, and that it sends some people to be eternally tortured for their actions and beliefs, I would consider that god to be evil and choose not to worship it. I would not wish eternal torture on anyone, not even crazy, evil dictators.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    > The idea of infinite punishment for finite crimes is repugnant to me

    It’s repugnant to me as well.

    And yet here I am living in a world where certain acts result in death, and people stay dead, forever and ever, now and forevermore. Here I am, living in a world where certain acts have consequences that reverberate from one generation to the next, an avalanche of consequences leading to consequences with no end I can see. Here I am, living in a world where there simply is no proportionality between the scale of a mistake, expressed in human terms, and the scale of the consequences of that mistake in those terms.

    And somehow, I accept that. I continue to live in this world, I make my peace with it every day, I even spend long periods extolling the virtues and the joys of life. I accommodate myself. The last time I seriously thought about checking out in protest was during the worst parts of recovery from my stroke, and that was years ago.

    As do most people. We don’t, for the most part, walk away from Omelas, nor do those of us who do seem to know where they’re going.

    I suspect that if I were convinced that a god exists who was similarly disproportionate in its reactions to human action, I would find a way to accommodate myself to that god, just as I’ve found a way to accommodate myself to my current existence in the power of a system disproportionate in its reactions.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yes, but said system doesn’t require you to explicitly glorify it, nor are you disproportionately punished for moving to Canada.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    It’s true that I’m not obligated to glorify mortal existence, but it’s also true that I’m differentially rewarded for doing so (or differentally punished for not doing so, however you want to say it). That is, I am generally happier and healthier when I consciously choose to adopt a stance of being grateful for the good things about my life.

    I agree about Canada, though.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    For some reason I actually thought you were referring to the United States and its way of dealing with people (i.e., the ones we’re not killing, we’re letting die). I can see parallels between TurboJesus and TexasJustice…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Interesting. That explains the otherwise-obscure moving-to-Canada reference. Thanks for clarifying.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yeah, sorry about that. Ethnocentricity and reading comprehension fail.

    I’m not sure that I could accept such a god, though. On one hand, no, I’m not keen on an eternity of agonizing torment, but I’m not sure how Heaven could be anything but if it entailed an eternity in the presence of a pitiless tyrant who I was expected to continue worshiping. Even with confirmation of the exact nature of the dilemma (as opposed to our various subjective experiences and futile mortal supposition), I think I would remain honor-bound to be hell-bound…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    I admire that. I would think better of myself if I were confident that, under that kind of power-imbalance, I would still refuse to accommodate.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Wow … how Kafkaesque. You could be singing the lyrics from So What? from Cabaret.

  • Carstonio

    Morality demands that we consider the effects of our actions on others, and make choices to avoid causing suffering for others. Sometimes consequences are unavoidable, and often our limited perceptions cannot reveal what the consequences will be, so we do the best we can.

    There’s no moral issue inherent to the lack of proportionality, because we cannot control all the consequences of all our actions, either individual or collectively. This is the natural state of existence. There’s no right or wrong about it because it’s a natural state. By contrast, punishment is a deliberate decision to impose an artificial consequence, and it’s entirely fair to judge any sentient being’s decisions and reasoning behind the punishment. One doesn’t accept such a decision the same way one would accept a natural consequence because the being could have made a different decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    That’s entirely fair. That said, if the same God who hypothetically created Hell also hypothetically created the natural world, it’s not at all clear to me why I ought judge Them any worse for the former than the latter.


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