7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.23)

1. Here’s a round-up of a few of the more thoughtful responses to Thabiti Anyabwile’s Gospel Coalition post in which he urges Christians to find other people repulsive.

2. You’re not allowed to kill civilians.

3.Evangelicals take to Illinois airwaves to promote immigration reform.” Two things on this story. First, this is good to see — a sign of hope against the dimming prospects of reform, and a sign of hope against the dimming prospects of American evangelicalism.

Second, this is a local-angle rewrite of the Associated Press story by Francine Knowles of the Chicago Sun Times. That AP story on this ad campaign has been run by dozens of newspapers all over the country, but almost none of them bothered to localize it — even to check to see if these ads would be running in their area. That used to be routine, standard practice for every AP wire story running in the local paper: Find the local angle, move it up, add some local quotes for context. Newsrooms used to have enough staff to do that. Now they don’t have enough staff and now they only rarely do that. That’s a big loss.

4. CACI International, the disgraced defense contractors who helped to make Abu Ghraib prison just as bad post-Saddam Hussein as it was during the tyrant’s reign, just figured out a way to be even worse people than they already were. Torturers are indefensible. Torturers who later sue those they tortured would seem to require the kind of punishments that only someone like John of Patmos could dream up for them. (Yes, fine — alleged torturers who later sue those they allegedly tortured in those alleged pictures we all allegedly saw.)

5. RIP Elmore Leonard. Here’s the obituary from his hometown paper. Without Leonard around, we have to turn to real life to find the kinds of characters he gave us in an astonishing 45 novels. Consider, for example, Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury — who seems to have walked out of the pages of one of those books. And here’s the subplot unfolding in the background of that story.

6. I’ll give you my ironic contradictions when you pry them from my cold, dead hands:

The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.

But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself.

7. Why “the event unfortunately known as the Big Bang” should really be called the “Everywhere Stretch.”

"As Turcano pointed out last post, there's a LB comic/graphic novel/whatever. Loophole! ;)"

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  • Alix

    I guess a shorter way to phrase my view is: strive for the ideal, but accept the reality.

  • Guest

    I think it is very likely that our actual positions are actually not that far apart (certainly closer than it appeared at first). Having been raised in a legalistic and fundamentalist form of Christianity, I certainly can sympathize with discomfort toward that sort of language, but for me personally, the language has been redeemed somewhat by my conversion to a more progressive sort of Christianity which uses that sort of language to support Justice and condemn practices which harm others.

  • Guest

    Very sloppy sentence construction on my part there. actual and actually that close together. Oh, for want of an edit button.

  • Guest

    Wow…that is…just terrible on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start.

  • Alix

    I think my other objection, especially to “evil,” is that it’s a real good way of erasing nuance.

    So and so is evil, so we don’t have to understand em. E just is evil. Not like us good folk, that sort of thing.

    And people aren’t evil in their own heads, y’know? I might disagree 100% on the rightness of their positions/actions, whatever, and I may even find them horrific, cruel, stupid, whatever, but I can’t just brand them “evil” as if that means anything more than a value judgment on my part.

    …I’m not explaining that well. And I need to stop ending sequences with “whatever.” XD I guess I’m trying to say that if I want to understand why someone does something (which is, imo, the first step to getting them to stop) I need to actually look at things from their perspective, not just write them off.

  • Alix

    …Yeah, me neither. I just sort of boggled and then had a cathartic paper-meets-wall moment.

  • Guest

    I don’t see much there that I disagree with. The last thing I want to do is erase nuance. I mean part of where I am coming from is the idea that ethics are complicated.

    I’m also using the language of right and wrong in relation to actions, not the people who do them. Right now I am approaching ethics less from a viewpoint of “How to I determine rather I (or someone else) have done the right thing or wrong thing?” (much less am I a good or bad person) and more from a viewpoint of “How can I use these principles to help me evaluate actions in the moment and choose between them?”

  • Alix

    I guess to me those words are so charged that they’ve become kind of useless? I mean, I still use the right/wrong action phrasing a lot, because I’m imprecise like that, but it gets really confusing really fast when talking about morality, mostly because of the many connotations of “right.”

    That’s why I prefer useful/useless, harmful/harmless, constructive/destructive, necessary/unnecessary, justified/unjustified, and so on. It helps pin down more clearly what shade of right/wrong something is – is it wrong because it’s wasteful? Hurtful? Right because it’s kind? Because it’s more useful? That sort of thing.

  • Turcano

    One day I’m going to get that filthy animal!

  • auroramere

    There are certainly lots of other prohibitions on various non-Jewish religious rituals, so I can believe that was the origin. But as I was saying, rabbinical Judaism interpreted it as an injunction against callous cruelty, like the prohibition against taking the eggs from a nest while the mother bird is present. Of course, they also decided that since it was a repeated commandment, it should be expanded to the point where I can’t sprinkle Parmesan on my roast chicken, so I’m not saying I understand everything the rabbis came up with.

    And yes, I’m sure people a few thousand years from now will think some of our laws are wacky, or heinous. What bothers me is the assumption that observant Jews are living two thousand years in the past, using literally interpreted, antique, barbaric laws everyone else has evolved beyond. Judaism did not come to a halt in 33 CE.

  • Alix

    What bothers me is the assumption that observant Jews are living two thousand years in the past

    Yeah, that’s certainly extremely problematic. :/ I mean, it’s not like there isn’t an extensive body of Jewish writing on this stuff down through the ages, and as you keep pointing out, it’s not like there aren’t modern Jews one could, say, talk to – so there’s really no excuse for that kind of assumption.

  • Point in fact, Judaism outlawed a lot of use of the death penalty during the first century, yet a lot of fundamentalist Christians seem to have completely missed that fact and call for “Biblical” punishments for Biblical sins, suggesting that first century Jews manage to be more advanced than twenty-first century Christians of certain flavor.

  • FearlessSon

    Yeah, that’s certainly extremely problematic. :/ I mean, it’s not like there isn’t an extensive body of Jewish writing on this stuff down through the ages, and as you keep pointing out, it’s not like there aren’t modern Jews one could, say, talk to – so there’s really no excuse for that kind of assumption.

    Keep in mind, we are talking about a group of people who, despite having access to schools, libraries, and the internet, will often repeat assertions that are simply untrue with no knowledge of what they are asserting about. “Condoms are porous,” “abortion causes breast cancer,” “the female body has ways of shutting that right down,” etc.

    There is a very clear preference for sticking their head in the sand, then continuing to yell the same things over and over into the echo-chamber of their head-hole.

  • FearlessSon

    My girlfriend, a Reform Jew herself (by conversion,) likes to explain the old rules as being essentially “things that make more members of the tribe.” For the most part it was sanitation stuff, things done by observation and guesswork to keep things like communicable disease spread down, along with laws to help reinforce tribal identification (such that the tribe does not become too culturally assimilated into other tribes.) The law against mixed fabrics or the prohibition on pagan-style sacrifices are a few of the things from the later reasoning.

  • themunck

    That actually sounds like something Fred could’ve written.*
    * Never again would themunck speak so highly of human blogging.

  • Wowwwwwwww thank you!

  • banancat

    You’ll have a fun time next summer when she moves back home after having 9 months of freedom.

  • I think of something a little smaller when I think of the gag reflex argument.


    To say that I don’t like olives is an understatement. Their flavor is absolutely intolerable to me — not even a matter of “these taste weird” or “I don’t like the flavor;” the merest fragment of an olive in a dish taints it with a disgusting aftertaste that causes every subsequent bite to make me shudder in revulsion. Not only can I not stand the flavor of olives, I can’t even begin to comprehend how anyone else can. The idea that some people actually like the flavor is literally incomprehensible to me. As far as I’m concerned, olives are so disgusting that I wouldn’t weep for an instant if they disappeared from the market forever (at least in that form; olive oil is a different story).

    But I know other people do like them. I can’t imagine how, or why, but I know this to be true. That’s just something I’m going to have to learn to live with.

    Er, with which to live.

  • Hey all!

    Remember how Michigan’s emergency financial guy was busy getting ready to dismember Detroit’s assets for substantial personal gain?

    Suck eggs, asshole.

    A judge blocked the bankruptcy filing and declared it, and the Emergency Manager position, Unconstitutional. :D

  • UP WITH WHICH YOU SHALL PUT. </old joke> :P

  • So, juries are supposed to be totally sequestered, right? It seems not the ones who adjudicated the Zimmerman trial.

    I wonder if this would be enough to get the Zimmerman verdict thrown out.

    But hey, keep telling y’alls selves this was a just and righteous airtight exercise in the fairness of the judicial process.

  • I am not sure there is a just way to get an acquittal thrown out. Why don’t you just lynch him? You seem to think that vengeance against that asshole murderer is worth throwing out our legal system.

    (And yes. It was a just verdict. The injustice isn’t that they acquitted a man in a case where the evidence wasn’t good enough. The injustice is that they’d have wrongfully convicted a black defendant on the same evidence)

  • No, I think that judicial due process was insufficiently followed in such a way as to ensure the integrity of the verdict.

    If there had been a conviction, and something like this turned up?

    All the racist right-wing asshole forums would collectively be having a nuclear explosion the size of Jupiter.

  • Madhabmatics

    yo the injustice was that a guy got away with killing someone based on the color of his skin being scary. The injustice is not some theoretical alternative

  • No.

    It does not matter that we’re all absolutely convinced that George Zimmerman was a racist douchenozzle who was itching for a fight who murdered an innocent kid because of the color of his skin.

    You still have to prove it according the the standards of the law. They couldn’t. Given what we know of the circumstances, I doubt it even could be proven.

    “Well sure the evidence isn’t great, but come on, obviously he did it, what other explanation could there be?” is practically the textbook definition of ignoring due process.

  • Madhabmatics

    “You still have to prove it according the the standards of the law. They couldn’t. Given what we know of the circumstances, I doubt it even could be proven.”

    This is the problem, Ross. When you make it so that any shooting can be handwaved away as “maybe that black kid was a secret mixed martial arts fighting master” it leads to situations where people can kill people of color without consequences.

    Like if we go by your logic, every person that lynched a civil rights worker and got off was also a Just Decision. Gotta have that law fetish, it’s Blind and Just after all.

  • So if we go by your logic, if we don’t know the details of what happened, we should just err on the side of making sure the state gets its pound of flesh?

  • Michael Pullmann

    I’m with Calvin; it should be called the Enormous Space Kablooie.

  • alfgifu

    Rather late, I know, but I’d just like to point out that Coventry is (and was) a city, not a village.

    A small city, certainly, but the scale is significant in context – the dilemma would have been different if it were only a village.