Establishment

Establishment April 23, 2010

A federal judge has ruled that the establishment by Congress of a National Day of Prayer conflicts with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I believe the legal term for this ruling is "no duh."

I happen to like the idea of a day of prayer, and of a nationwide day of prayer. But I'm utterly opposed to the idea that such a day of prayer ought to be nationalized. Once the thing becomes nationalized and official and established it becomes another thing entirely. Prayer is not something to be rendered unto Caesar, nor is it something Caesar ought to be put in charge of, asked to bless, permit, allow or establish. A Nationalized Day of Prayer defeats the purpose and will inevitably wind up with pious posturing in which repentance and thanksgiving are transposed. Politicians offer pompous thanksgiving for national shames about which we ought to be begging God's forgiveness while at the same time lamenting many of the things most pleasing to God. A Nationalized Day of Prayer — or a nationalized prayer breakfast — is bound to wind up backwards and upside-down.

So my primary objection to the Nationalized Day of Prayer is a religious objection — a sectarian, Baptist objection, in fact.

But I also don't think the constitutional question is terribly complicated. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." "Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952." "Congress established … prayer."

Seriously, is that too complicated for anyone?

For many Americans, however, the First Amendment is complicated.

For those who subscribe to what my old friend Dwight Ozard called "hegemonic religion," the First Amendment seems incoherent and contradictory. The core belief of hegemonic religion is that religion cannot be freely exercised unless it is also established in law. Those who subscribe to a form of hegemonic religion therefore view the First Amendment as presenting a conflict or, they like to say, a "tension" between its two religious clauses.

Those of us from other, non-hegemonic religious traditions do not see this supposed conflict. Here is what the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says about religion:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …"

Sometimes a comma is just a comma and not a vast chasm separating two competing and incompatible ideas. The two clauses there do not conflict. At all. They are logically necessary counterparts of one another. Congress may not make any law establishing religion and Congress may not prohibit the free exercise of religion. Congress may not make any law establishing religion because to do so would be to prohibit the free exercise of religion.

Hegemonic believers don't seem to appreciate this point. They can grasp that the establishment of one, official state religion might inhibit the freedom of those not belonging to the One True Official Sect, but they don't perceive how such an establishment also fundamentally alters the relationship of members of that official sect to their own church — requiring lockstep assent to its official doctrines and practices as set forth thereafter by its official and legal enforcers.

The establishment of any sect casts suspicion on all members of that sect. Coerced belief is belief that cannot be trusted. Coerced belief, therefore, will never be trusted — it will be dis-trusted, inspected, codified, measured and forced to demonstrate its loyalty and legitimacy time and again.

This is no less true when the coercion is softer, the result of a set of privileges, incentives and disincentives. All such privileges and incentives incentivize disingenuous claims of religious belonging. To privilege any one set of believers, therefore, requires the implementation of mechanisms to challenge and sort out the genuine believers from the mere pretenders claiming allegiance only in order to gain access to those privileges that accompany membership in the established sect. Such sorting mechanisms are never perfect — allowing many hypocritical posers to slip past while unjustly condemning many sincere and genuine believers. And such sorting mechanisms are never pretty. This is where inquisitions come from.

There's only one way to have an established religion without having an inquisition and that is to go without any such tests to distinguish genuine from disingenuous allegiance to official doctrine. That results in a different kind of disaster for the official, established sect. It means that nominal, indistinct, content-less faith becomes the norm. It turns the established sect into something toothless and vague — the C&E faith of the C of E (Christmas, Easter, Church, England).

These are the unavoidable options for any sect that becomes official and established. It can become monstrous or it can become mundane, but either way it cannot continue to be exercised as freely. Establishment restricts the religious freedom of those belonging to the official sect just as surely as it restricts the freedom of the religious minorities it disenfranchises.

All of which is why here in America support for a secular state (a redundant phrase) comes not just from Baptists and Anabaptists, pagans and freethinkers and other sects with a history as dissenting, persecuted minorities, but also from adherents of sects that are or have been legally established, official religions — from Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Hindus, Jews, Sunnis, Shiites, Anglicans, etc. The free exercise of those traditions is freer in a country with a secular state than it is in a country in which any one of them is legally enforced and officially privileged.

Many of the most vocal proponents of hegemonic religion in America understand all of that, but they don't really care because they're really just lying bastards who don't give a damn about religion and aren't arguing in good faith.

The vanguard of hegemonic religion is made up not of believers but of swindlers, con artists and demagogues. Tony Perkins, Newt Gingrich, David Barton, Roy Moore, Glenn Beck and Brannon Howse aren't religious believers, they're just bad, bad people. They are predators siphoning money and votes and money and more money from anyone fearful or vain enough to be deceived by their shtick.*

Such demagogues don't interest me much. Their motives is transparent — money. Or power that can be wielded to gain money. Boring.

The followers of demagogues are always much more interesting. Our weaknesses are what make us vulnerable to such predators. That's part of the genius of their traps — escaping from their lies once initially caught requires admitting to the fearfulness or the vanity that made us receptive to whatever it was the demagogues were selling with their appeals to that fear and vanity.

And yes, in the final analysis, fear and vanity are what I think attracts people to hegemonic religion. Vanity, in that it offers the reassuring promise that one set of people — one sect, our sect — is better than everyone else. Fear, in that it promises to protect us from what we fear most — our own weakness and infidelity.

Hegemonic religion is the religion of the faithless. Only the faithless feel the need for it — for the promise that one's fragile, brittle faith will be reinforced at every turn throughout society, reinforced by the state itself with the force of law. If you're scared that your faith cannot stand on its own — that it cannot withstand exposure to a science textbook or to a woman not clad in a burkha — then hegemonic religion promises to protect you from losing what little faith you have. It promises that you will never be allowed to wander off on the rumspringa from whi
ch you know you would never return.

The
practical problem for those advocating established religion here in America is that we're a pluralistic society in which no clear majority sect claims the allegiance of more than half the country. The lying hucksters like David Barton try to gloss this over by speaking as vaguely as possible of America as a "Christian nation," but that proves about as meaningful and useful as saying that Belfast is a "Christian" city (or that Baghdad is an "Islamic" one).

Proponents of a sectarian state are therefore forced into a kind of hung Parliament. Al Mohler may want to see his particular brand of post-Baptist Southern Baptist belief privileged as the established state religion, and William Donohue may want to see his politicized brand of pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism enjoy this state sanction, but both men realize that as large as their denominations may be, neither makes up anything like a majority, and both include many millions of adherents who don't share their hegemonic views.

So sectarians are forced to try to form a kind of coalition government, allying with one another against the separation of church and state in the hope that — one day, once it all gets sorted out in the post-secular, post-constitutional America — their sect will ultimately emerge as the dominant official, established religion.

This is why savvy sectarians speak of "the Judeo-Christian tradition." It's an effort to broaden the coalition to include more allies against secular governance, swelling their ranks with whatever Jewish believers might share their hegemonic perspective.

Prior to 9/11, religious right leaders in the U.S. had begun reaching out to even stranger bedfellows in this culture-war coalition, forming alliances with Islamic conservatives to oppose things like the United Nations conventions on the rights of the child and on the rights of women. A shared opposition to the rights of women — and to modernity as a whole — trumped any secondary disagreements, much the same way this shared antipathy toward women and modernity has set aside the longstanding feud between conservative Catholics and Protestant fundamentalists.

In recent years, the biggest story involving this incoherent, unsustainable coalition of hegemonic sectarians has been the several attempts by conservative Mormons to join the coalition. Mitt Romney failed in his first attempt to win support from the sectarian religious right, but he's trying again, bolstered by the prominent role Mormons played in postponing marriage equality in California and by the popularity among sectarian evangelicals of the nominally Mormon swindler Glenn Beck.

This is a foolish and dangerous game Romney is playing. The opposition he encountered from Christianist sectarians should have convinced him that his own Mormon tradition, like any distinct religious minority, depends on the protection afforded it by the separation of church and state. His advocacy of hegemonic, anti-secular government is very bad news for the Latter Day Saints.

At the same time, Romney's unwelcome attempt to join the parliamentary coalition of religion hegemons raises in the minds of its misguided supporters the one question that the coalition's continued existence depends on no one ever asking: Which sect?

That is the question that every advocate of established religion and sectarian government cannot answer. And thus it is the question that every such advocate should be forced to answer. Until they stop.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* If that sounds overly harsh, don't worry. These people only keep score in one way, and since they've all got a lot more money than I do, they couldn't care less if I'm critical of them. They're winning — that's all that matters to them. Cha-ching.

And in any case, if we interpret the rules of civility to mean that people who repeatedly and brazenly lie for money can never be called out for repeatedly and brazenly lying for money, even after they've been confronted with their lies and, every time, doubled down on them rather than correcting their statements, then such rules of civility would mean that any civil discourse must be one in which all conversation is dominated by people who repeatedly and brazenly lie for money. And that doesn't sound very civil to me at all.

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  • Will Wildman

    Does it say something that at the idea of a sex act with ice, kumquats and knitting needles, my first reaction was a kind of mental shrug: ‘Well, that doesn’t sound that kinky…’?

    It probably depends on how one puts them together. I imagine people could create quite tame and quite, uh, extreme scenarios with those options. Humanity creativity is a magnificent, harrowing thing.

  • Pius: Hee! Pretty much, yeah. Combined with a sort of resigned “okay, I gotta get through this” holding-the-nose-and-gulping thing.
    Sarah: Oh, college food. World of ew, college food: I mean, you had some decent bits here and there, but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to take half an hour to cut through a pancake.
    Kit: That seems like the Prohibition/Drug War/etc problem to me: this thing is against the law, so a lot of illegal and fairly abusive stuff crops up to make it available illegally, and now what?
    I mean, I agree with Jeffs where “old-style” (okay, and now I’m thinking of donuts)/FLDS/”goddamn creepy” polygamy is concerned. That particular…thing…is based in and currently supported by an extremely isolationist, misogynist, and authoritarian religious tradition, and I don’t think, as someone above mentioned, that informed consent enters into it at all frequently. If ever.
    Not sure what to do about it: raising the legal age of marriage sounds like a good idea to me, for all kinds of reasons, and ideally there’d be some kind of requirement where kids had to know a certain amount about and have a certain amount of access to the outside world, no, really, no matter what kind of fucked-upedness their parents believe in. (Also: medical care. Shut up, Christian “Science”.) This might not do a whole lot versus the believe-as-we-do-or-burn-forever brainwashing, but unfortunately there’s not much I can legally advocate to stop that shit.

  • Here’s my thing, really: I am very, very tired of Lee being an ass, being called on it, and then pulling a martyr act. He usually manages to hit groups I belong to or am associated with in some fashion, too, so I’m often being insulted in the process.
    I’m tired of Lee acting like the Republicans he execrates (which, although he seems to think it’s all Republicans, is not), too. He decides that his personal feelings are facts or absolute morals (although, like the Side B types, he’ll magnanimously not try to actually stop some people from doing some things), and wants the law to back him up. Like the Republicans, he is Always Right in his own mind, and cannot give that up, and uses it to justify all kinds of bad behavior. Like his opponents, he will not tolerate anything like the same kind of treatment going in his direction. He even keeps using some of the same damned language (like “homosexual marriage”).
    I’m desperately sick of it, and all the people who act like this in the real world, and I am very angry. I am going to continue to try to keep my behavior within the bounds I have laid out for myself as being acceptable. I hope that the rest of you will call me on it if I get to nasty, because I may not catch it.
    Lee: Be an adult. Try to live up to the principles you at least imply that you hold. You are saying awful, nasty things, and you are hurting and insulting people. Be an adult and apologize.

  • It probably depends on how one puts them together. I imagine people could create quite tame and quite, uh, extreme scenarios with those options. Humanity creativity is a magnificent, harrowing thing.

    I dunno, for the extreme end I think you’d also need at least some string, and maybe tape. :P

  • Lee Ratner

    Kit: I admit to having stated many things in a very poor and mean-spirited way in several threads, recently and in the past. Some of this was just mean-spirited bullying and other parts were writing poorly out of anger/strong feelings on the subject at hand, which generally isn’t a good way to win debates because you engaged in fuzzy logic.
    Like Tonio said, a lot of this is a form of internal debate that in my stupidity I’ve made public. I consider myself to be a liberal politically if not a bit further to the left at times. I’m a member of the ACLU, I believe in the welfare state, and government ownership and investment in infrastructure, decement public education, etc. There are some things that I have a viceral squickyness towards and polyamory is one of them. While I recognize on an intellectual level that not providing legal sanction to group marriages is just as illogical and unsupportable as not giving legal sanction to same-sex marriages; on a emotional level I wonder if do we have to give legal sanction to every romantic consentual relationship. Quite frankly, its perfectly all too easy to undertstand something intellectually but have an emotional be turned off by it. Personally, I do not even know why polyamory disgusts me besides the fact that my parents raised me to believe that monogamy is the ideal. The sames goes for my posts I made against Muslims. Intellectually, I understand that Muslims are not a monolithic block out to kill Jews. I even know this on a personal level because the fellow associate at the law firm I work for his a Muslim woman. On the other hand, whenever a Muslim leader and group spouts the usual nonsense about Jews and/or Israel, the emotional part of me gets the better hand and well you can guess the results. The fact that I perceive a lot of thumb-twirling about a lot of the ant-Jewish sentiment in Muslim-majority countries does not help me approach this from a rational standpoint.
    My feelings on the Political Left are bit more complicated. Like I mentioned above, I consider myself a liberal. I also consider myself a very loyal member of the Democratic Party. As you know from this blog, the word liberal as been made into something of cuss word by the American right over the course of several decades. Recently, a few columnists on the American left like David Sirota have been trying to make liberal a cuss word from a left-wing perspective and arguing that being a progressive is different and better than being a liberal, which is not even really that different from being a conservative. I’ve seen on other blogs, the term neoliberal tossed about as away as insulting liberals as not being different from neocons. In fact its often tossed about with the same casual anti-Semitism that somepeople use when using the term neocon as perojative term. This does not please me since I’m now being defined as being not really that much different from being a conservative. There is also a tendency to decry the Democratic Party as just as being bad as the Republicans and how it needs to be destroyed to get real progress in Ameirca, which really doesn’t please me as a loyal Democrat. Now I know that loyalty to political party is not exactly a virtue because a political party can decay in goals and mission but it is a common feeling, especially in two-party systems.
    Make of the above, what you will.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    I’ll reiterate what I said before…
    THE FIRST LAW OF HOLES:
    If you are in one, and you do not wish to be in it, STOP DIGGING!
    THE SECOND LAW OF HOLES:
    If you have stopped digging and wish to leave, exit the hole.
    THE THIRD LAW OF HOLES:
    Shovel your dirt back in if you wish the hole to cease to exist.

  • Lee:
    Jesus H. Christ.
    I can’t speak for everyone, but I couldn’t care less about your angsty backstory, your Freudian Excuse, or anything else you pull out of your ass.
    Let me break this down real simple. In capital letters. If that doesn’t work, I may have to put it in individual syllables.
    IF YOU KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO BE IRRATIONAL ABOUT A TOPIC, SHUT UP. IF YOU KNOW YOU’VE BEEN IRRATIONAL, MEAN-SPIRITED, OR A JERK, *APOLOGIZE*, THEN SHUT THE FUCK UP.
    You have not apologized. Not once. Not to me, not to MadGastronomer, not to anyone you’ve offended here. You’ve said a lot of stuff about how what you’ve written has been mean-spirited and irrational–and followed it up with a bunch of poor-poor-me whining–but you haven’t actually said you’re sorry one. Single. Time.
    Nor have you responded to MG’s points, mostly, nor mine.
    You’ve been a nasty, self-pitying, cowardly little jerk, and this thread has done a lot to convince me that your problems are both self-inflicted and richly deserved.

  • Will Wildman

    Make of the above, what you will.

    I’ve been trying very hard to not engage in any of this, since I haven’t explicitly had an argument with you, but I’ve found a lot of what you’ve said for a long time now rather distressing and offensive. However, I will take up this offer. Here’s what I make of it:
    “Lee Ratner really, truly sucks at apologising”.
    For the sake of any gods or ancestors who may be relevant to this situation, use the word ‘sorry’ in a context not relating to how terrible it is to be you.
    (I’m also trying to figure out how the word ‘anti-Semitism’ got fit into a paragraph that’s about the concepts/terminology/pejoration of the words ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’.)

  • MG: Agreeing with all of this. I’m going away for the weekend, shortly, so I’m probably not going to have the chance to fully unsheath the claws on the guy. Which is probably for the best.
    But I ran out of patience, sympathy, or pity about three pages ago.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    I’d love to know that too, because if ever you wanted a hair-trigger word to cue the resumption of wank, shoving it in there where he did is a great way to do it.

  • Lee Ratner

    Pius: I’m just trying to explain myself, I really fail to see what was offensive about my last post because I did admit to being at fault. In short, I believe I was doing the Third Law of Holes. If I was not doing the Third Law of Holes, I will state the following:
    I am sorry if I offended anyone on this thread for any reason. It was not intentional.

  • ako

    If you’re having this much trouble getting past your emotional reactions and talking without upsetting or offending people, it might be a good idea to take a short break until you get a better sense of how statements like “Make of that what you will” comes off to people who are irritated about your bad behavior and refusal to directly apologize. Obviously, you’re not obliged to, but a lot of the time, taking a few days to relax and process can make it easier to formulate a better response. And I think “I’m going to go off for a bit and think things over” doesn’t create the same irritation as “I’m going to keep responding, but not engaging in the debates I start, and rarely replying to other people’s points.”

  • Well, thank you for that, at least.
    I suppose I’ll wait until next time to try and teach you the difference between “weasel-tastic fauxpology” and “actual apology”, lest I start bleeding from the eyeballs.

  • ako

    Thanks for apologizing.

  • cyllan

    When apologizing, don’t explain why you did the bad thing that you did. Start simple. A variation on the following will do.
    I’m sorry I was a jerk. I didn’t intend to hurt anyone with what I said. In the future, I will try to remember that my instinctive squicks do not necessarily mean that something is wrong, and I’ll try to put more thought into my words.
    Once you get the apology out — and it should be a stand-alone apology without anything else around it, THEN you can go into a discussion about why you feel the way you do, how you might want to change that feeling or how you react to it, or if maybe you should just shut up when discussing certain topics.
    See, again, Jason. We really should go back, archive the first several Jason Discussions and clean them up to serve as an instructional model on how to stop being a jackass.

  • On the other hand, whenever a Muslim leader and group spouts the usual nonsense about Jews and/or Israel, the emotional part of me gets the better hand and well you can guess the results.
    You act like an ass?
    Lee, you are in no position to criticise anybody in the world for ‘spouting the usual nonsense.’ It has been repeatedly pointed out to you that you respond to trigger-points by repeating the exact same rants we’ve all heard a million times before, which have been addressed in patient detail by people who shoot them full of holes, who you consistently ignore to repeat the same old stuff over and over. That’s yourself you’re describing.
    And I have no faith in your ability to distinguish between ‘spouting the usual nonsense’ and ‘saying something that conflicts with Lee’s prejudices.’
    Like I mentioned above, I consider myself a liberal.
    I don’t care what you consider yourself. At all. I care what you do. Your self-image is the absolute last thing I care about right now.
    In fact its often tossed about with the same casual anti-Semitism that somepeople use when using the term neocon as perojative term.
    Thank you for reminding us all that anti-Semitism is the only prejudice that counts, or even exists in the World According To Lee.
    Make of the above, what you will.
    Here’s what I make of it: that when directly challenged on completely abhorrent and reprehensible behaviour, you ramble, reflect on yourself with no interest in how you affect others, gaze into your own navel and find the fluff of your own prejudices there, and present it as if it were a new thought.
    The fact that I perceive a lot of thumb-twirling about a lot of the ant-Jewish sentiment in Muslim-majority countries does not help me approach this from a rational standpoint.
    Get your head around this: the way you act, nobody with any judgement will have any respect for what you do and don’t ‘perceive’. You do not act like a man who sees clearly. Your word carries no weight, and won’t until you get the blinkers off about your own behaviour.
    I am sorry if I offended anyone on this thread for any reason. It was not intentional.
    I’m going with ‘wrongful negligence’ here. You’ve been openly and clearly told over and over that certain behaviours offended people. You then chose to repeat them. If the offence that causes is not ‘intentional’, then it’s certainly not accidental. You have either offended people deliberately and are refusing to admit it, or you’ve decided to care so much more about your own feelings than anybody else’s that your own feelings have been the only ‘intention’ you put any energy into preserving. Frankly, neither’s impressive. Certainly neither counts as evidence of a genuine apology.

  • Rebecca

    I am sorry if I offended anyone on this thread for any reason. It was not intentional.
    I am sorry for offending a great many people on this thread and others for various previously stated reasons. I will make an effort not to do so in the future.
    See the difference?

  • Pius Thicknesse

    20 years ago when I tried to say on an online forum that I thought what Israel was doing in the Occupied Territories was wrong, people shut me up by calling me anti-semitic. I was just a teenager back then, and having older people tell me what to do was sort of an ingrained habit.
    I won’t have it now. Never again. I will not have people trying to shut me up by calling me an anti-Semite so speciously and loosely ever again.
    Sorry, that’s one of my … er, minor beefs. Because I know it can make ME volatile on the subject I try to stay away from it unless I know I can be calm about it.

  • Because I know it can make ME volatile on the subject I try to stay away from it unless I know I can be calm about it.
    Obviously you shouldn’t act against your own principles or emotional well-being, but if you’ve got things to say on the subject and can say them without making your own life worse, I think Lee’s pretty much earned both barrels by now.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    I’d say Lee’s had a few dozen barrels by now. :)
    On a much less downer of a note, how are you and the Kitling (? I believe we have called your child-to-be this but if there’s another term I can use that term instead) doing?

  • Rebecca

    Alternately, “I am sorry for acting like a jerk,” since “I am sorry for offending people” does still seem to put the blame on people for being offended.

  • Look guys, I like a good flamewar as much as the next person, but this is getting kind of repetitive. Can’t we just move on ?

  • Dorothy

    Sure we can move on. Now that y’all are done with Lee…
    What I *did* learn is that when I have an irrational automatic response, I am, um, NOT BEING RATIONAL — and like any good primate, I respond to hurtful stimuli by flinging sh*t everywhere. And then I calm down, and everything stinks, and everybody is looking at me squinty-eyed, and all I’ve accomplished is making a big mess that will take a long time to clean up.
    Hapax, I’m not going to mince words. If that’s meant to be an apology, it would help immensely if you would address it directly to me.
    Otherwise, you’re just doing it for yourself, and not to, you know, actually own up to and fix the damage you’ve done to me, not to mention the people here who you’ve misled and who stuck up for you.
    So take a good look at the um, advice people gave Lee: if you have something to apologize for, then by all means make a straightforward apology, and not just another self-serving bid for pity and understanding.
    Dammit.

  • Spearmint

    I’m also trying to figure out how the word ‘anti-Semitism’ got fit into a paragraph that’s about the concepts/terminology/pejoration of the words ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’.
    Lee was typing? I mean, at a guess…
    Thanks for the apology, Lee. It sucked for the reasons people mentioned- when you’ve hurt people they are less interested in your motives than in a) the fact you feel bad about it and b) the fact you do not intend to hurt them again, neither of which were expressed clearly, or indeed at all, by that apology.
    But it was better than what you were doing.
    Baby steps, I guess.
    You may also want to consider how many people are really pissed at you right now. If you’re are on one side of a debate and you’ve irritated the other side, that’s one thing, but pretty much everyone who has posted thinks you’re being a jerkass. Think about modifying your behavior so this ceases to be the case.
    Also, I have to say that as a Jew, the knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism make me really irritated and nervous, because they devalue the real ones. There is an anti-Semitism problem on the Left, and you make it impossible to identify or combat it if you casually accuse people of anti-Semitism just for disagreeing with you. It’s such a chronic problem with you that I’m tempted to suggest you stop calling people out for anti-Semitism altogether and trust the rest of us to handle it if it comes up, because I have zero confidence in your ability to avoid Type I errors.
    Hapax, I’m not going to mince words. If that’s meant to be an apology, it would help immensely if you would address it directly to me.
    Goddammit, Dorothy. That was self-evidently a general statement rather than something aimed at you. Can you please stop dredging this grudgewank up every time hapax posts? if she wants to apologize to you, I’m sure she’ll do so without hiding it inside an unrelated post- if she won’t do it openly then I think we can conclude she doesn’t feel a need to apologize. If she’s bullying you then maybe there’s a case for her doing it covertly, but why the hell would she issue a secret apology? Wouldn’t she just not apologize? Use some logic, here.

  • Dorothy

    Pius, if you’re about- where’s that barcar gone to? I could use a drink.

  • Rebecca

    Also, I have to say that as a Jew, the knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism make me really irritated and nervous, because they devalue the real ones. There is an anti-Semitism problem on the Left, and you make it impossible to identify or combat it if you casually accuse people of anti-Semitism just for disagreeing with you. It’s such a chronic problem with you that I’m tempted to suggest you stop calling people out for anti-Semitism altogether and trust the rest of us to handle it if it comes up, because I have zero confidence in your ability to avoid Type I errors.
    Which is…slightly ironic, since the last time something actually anti-Semitic happened on this board (K. Chen’s first post here, wherein he insisted that it was okay to use anti-Semitic dogwhistles) I don’t recall Lee showing up at all.

  • Thanks for the attempt at an apology, at least, Lee.
    Now, maybe you could work on, oh, not doing it again?

  • Spearmint

    Which is…slightly ironic, since the last time something actually anti-Semitic happened on this board (K. Chen’s first post here, wherein he insisted that it was okay to use anti-Semitic dogwhistles) I don’t recall Lee showing up at all.
    Well, calling people out on anti-Semitism is a community responsibility, not Lee’s- he’s not the forum anti-Semitism moderator, thank God. So I think it’s unreasonable to complain about him failing to post in any particular thread.
    But yeah, we’re on top of it. So chill out, Lee. You and Dorothy should share that drink.

  • Rebecca

    Well, calling people out on anti-Semitism is a community responsibility, not Lee’s- he’s not the forum anti-Semitism moderator, thank God. So I think it’s unreasonable to complain about him failing to post in any particular thread.
    I’m not complaining, per se – I agree that it’s not his responsibility. It just surprises me in retrospect since he’s fairly quick to call anti-Semitism about things that are not anti-Semitic, so it seems odd that he wouldn’t be involved in a discussion of anti-Semitism that was actually there.

  • Raka

    Um, Dorothy? You know the theory that bin Laden’s goal in 9/11 was to cause the US to over-react and harm itself by pissing everyone off with its angered flailings?
    Well, let’s just assume that hapax is actually Osama bin Laden. I suggest you play things more cannily than President Bush. If she’s as awful as you believe, she’ll show her colors again and suffer the consequences. But right now, all that’s happening is she shows up to comment on something not at all involving you, and you show up… well, flailing.
    I haven’t read enough to know whether or not she was awful at you. Even if she was, please don’t hound her until she starts being awful again. It makes it harder to see your side of the case. And just less pleasant for everyone in general.

  • Dorothy

    I haven’t read enough to know whether or not she was awful at you. Even if she was, please don’t hound her until she starts being awful again. It makes it harder to see your side of the case. And just less pleasant for everyone in general.
    Raka, you admit you haven’t read what I’ve written. And yet you feel qualified to tell me to sit down and shut up. And you have the nerve to complain that I’m making things less pleasant.
    So let me try again and make myself more clear: Hapax, you apparently felt no compunction against encouraging people to abuse and ostracize me. You happily stood by and let people call me paranoid and delusional. You let that happen when you could have put a stop to it. I am demanding an apology.

  • CaryB

    Raka, you admit you haven’t read what I’ve written. And yet you feel qualified to tell me to sit down and shut up. And you have the nerve to complain that I’m making things less pleasant.
    So let me try again and make myself more clear: Hapax, you apparently felt no compunction against encouraging people to abuse and ostracize me. You happily stood by and let people call me paranoid and delusional. You let that happen when you could have put a stop to it. I am demanding an apology.

    Dorothy: I actually went back, just now, and read through your posts. And double-checked your links. And read every. Single. Bloody. Comment. where you say you were attacked. And I gotta say, I’m good at finding patterns. I’m good at finding links, subtlties and codes. And I couldn’t find a single such thing.
    At this point, two scenarios present themselves. Either Hapax is so subtle and malicious in her insults that literally NO ONE else sees them, or you’ve got a slight persecution complex. Also, I would point out that given the fact that you’ve called out Hapax like, ten times now, in ten different threads, that at one point you literally kept posting in the thread to keep it alive just because of your perceived insult, and that you pop up and start insulting her and accusing her of things from, literally, years ago….well, you’re the one acting like a cyber-bully, not her. (Him? Her? I think you said that you’re a her, Hapax, but it’s been a while. My apologies in advance if I got it wrong.)

  • Well, I read the post you linked to and everything that post linked to. It was, for lack of a better term, crazy.
    You have to know the people involved – their personalities and habits. Those quotes from Just Say No should not be read literally. This is covert. The people involved already know that there is some sort of simmering tension between me and hapax. So there is a common theme to the first few comments – sour things. Sour cherries, lemon tea. Katz’s “I has a sexist” comment directly referred back to mine. Kit picked up on that immediately, chided Katz for her “mainstream marketing” comment but in a tone and to an extent that was unusual for her, and added this: “I’m also pointing to an example of people finding it upsetting to be on the receiving end of the kind of treatment Katz was dishing out.” Katz understood that the criticism was really for her “I has a sexist” comment, and backed off. Hapax, disappointed, went to the well again with her “smells like dirty sox” rant. That goes back to a comment of mine from a year earlier that has morphed quite a bit from the original, but there’s enough left to be recognizable. Perhaps Tonio remembers “smug and self-righteous”? And then hapax gets what she wants, which is Raj’s comment and link. That made her day.
    So far as I can determine, your primary complaint is that after you posted to say you were on vacation and wouldn’t be around, Hapax said something about baked goods, which caused Kit Whitfield and Katz to have a minor disagreement about Harry Potter that was secretly about a sexist webpage Katz had pointed out earlier. Hapax then made a comment which slightly resembled a comment you had made a year earlier, which achieved her ultimate, dastardly goal of getting Raj to post a YouTube clip of a woman speaking with a poorly faked Southern accent.
    You then go on to mention another incident where Hapax mentions Dr. Horrible and takes amusement at Jessica and Raj making a joke about spanking. While none of the posters in the actual comment thread understood what was going on, you claim Fred did, and he showed his support by posting an entry about how Tony Perkins lies for money.

  • On a much less downer of a note, how are you and the Kitling (? I believe we have called your child-to-be this but if there’s another term I can use that term instead) doing?
    We’re both fine, thanks for asking. I’m feeling pretty healthy, he’s kicking away and if the scans are anything to go by very handsome and lovely, and all seems to be going well. And as I’m 25 weeks gone now, he’s passed into ‘viable’ territory, which is good news. (Viable, for those not up on baby-speak, means a foetus that stands a reasonable chance of survival if it were born now. Though obviously he’s better off where he is for now.)
    He doesn’t have much of a name yet – we just tend to call him ‘the little guy’ or ‘the little fella’. :-)

  • I’m going to have to weigh in with the people who went and looked at Dorothy’s links and see no evidence of bullying in them. And if Fred really does think it was bullying, and wants us to know it, then Fred can say so explicitly.

  • ako

    I honestly don’t see any of the bullying Dorothy is apparently perceiving. And in my experience, on the rare occasions where Fred feels the need to intervene in the comment-thread, he’s fairly direct about it, and doesn’t do anything as cryptic as entries about one subject that really mean something else.

  • Amaryllis

    Dorothy about hapax is rather like J about religion: best not responded to, because there’s no point.
    And now I feel like one of those people who uses “Reply To All” to tell everyone else not to reply to all.
    —————-
    @Kit: Ah yes, the milestones. I remember that feeling: every time you get a past another stage with the pregnancy or the child’s early development, you breathe that sigh of relief that you’ve got that far and all is still well.
    May all continue to be well for you and the little one.
    —————-
    And getting back to the currency discussion for a moment, I saw this yesterday. I hadn’t realized, must have missed the beginning of the conversation, that the effort to replace Jackson with Reagan had got so far as introducing actual legislation. Or that the rule has *not* always been “Presidents and Founding Fathers.”
    Any country that can put Henry Clay (huh?) or William Seward (hmmm) or Edward Everett (who?) on its money, can certainly find room for Susan B. Anthony or Rosa Parks or Dorothy Height or any number of other women.
    Dorothy Height’s funeral on Thursday was marked by flags at half-mast on every government building, by direct order from the President. Maybe we really can give honor where honor is due.

  • Amaryllis

    That is, it’s Grant on the 50, of course. I need more coffee…or, possibly, more fifties.

  • Spearmint

    Dorothy about hapax is rather like J about religion: best not responded to, because there’s no point.
    The thing is if you ignore her she resurrects the thread, so I think in this particular case it’s better to address it.

  • Lori

    The thing is if you ignore her she resurrects the thread, so I think in this particular case it’s better to address it.

    This isn’t the first time that people have told Dorothy that we’ve read her links and do not see what she sees. The result was a rant about people calling her paranoid and (see above) yet more complaints about Hapax for the grave sin of not admitting to every one of Dorothy’s earlier accusations. This apparently makes Hapax responsible for the fact that the rest of us don’t see the problem. We’ve now been repeatedly told, “You have to know the people involved – their personalities and habits. It’s covert.” This totally ignores the fact that we do know the people involved. At least we know them as well as you can know anyone on the internet. It’s not like Hapax or Dorothy are first time posters and the people who have responded to Dorothy’s complaints aren’t noobs either.
    That really leaves us in a place where there’s no productive response and I have to agree with Amaryllis that the best we can do is ignore it. Unless someone going back through the old threads has a flash of insight and suddenly all Dorothy’s complaints become clear and that person can figure out a way to explain it to the rest of us I don’t see any benefit to further comment. If Dorothy persists in committing thread necromancy that can be ignored just as easily, in fact more easily, than comments in an ongoing thread.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    I’ve just got this to say after doing all that rereading myself:
    ¯(o_O)/¯
    (that’s a WTFshrug)

  • Hawker Hurricane, who is counting Americans. There’s one!

    And now I feel like one of those people who uses “Reply To All” to tell everyone else not to reply to all.
    Posted by: Amaryllis
    ——————————
    And now I’m like the guy who uses “Reply to All” to say I agree with you when you say we shouldn’t be using “Reply to All”.

  • See, again, Jason. We really should go back, archive the first several Jason Discussions and clean them up to serve as an instructional model on how to stop being a jackass.
    Posted by: cyllan | Apr 30, 2010 at 05:15 PM

    Wow, I admit I don’t hang out here as much as I’d like, but I’m totally in support of this. “How to Stop Being a Jackass” would be a great instructional boon to me and, I’m sorry to say, to many of my dear friends and acquaintances.

  • Dorothy

    So here I am committing thread necromancy again (just when did this become a crime?) There are plenty of things I could address, but I’m going to ask one very simple question of all of you rather than single out any particular person. Kit was active on this thread, yet not one of you bothered to ask her about her comments on the Just Say No thread, in particular her list of community standards and her exchange with Katz. So I’m wondering: “Why not?”
    Either you thought about it but assumed that silence implied agreement. Or you didn’t care to know what Kit thinks, to the extent that it didn’t even occur to you to ask. Both possibilities indicate a puzzling lack of curiosity and I’m left to conclude that no one who commented here actually did care to actively seek out information that might conflict with their forgone conclusions.
    If there are other explanations, I certainly would like to hear them.

  • CaryB

    Kit was active on this thread, yet not one of you bothered to ask her about her comments on the Just Say No thread, in particular her list of community standards and her exchange with Katz. So I’m wondering: “Why not?”
    *sigh* I really shouldn’t do this. I shouldn’t encourage you, but..one last attempt to reach out to you.
    It isn’t because we’re in cahoots with Kit and Hapax. It isn’t because we’ve taken a vow of silence.
    No one asked Kit about some long gone thread because no. one. cares.
    Ok? We don’t care. Our care-o-meter is reading zero. Our give-a-shitatron detects no signal. Our wireless caring is in a dead zone, and our ethernet caring port is broken. We have no interest. Our interest is not merely pining for the fijords, it is an ex-interest.
    We read your links. We read your arguments. They. Are. Nonsensical. They make no sense, and now we do not care.

  • Ryan

    Whoa, Jason was a jackass? I can only remember him being naive anymore…

  • See, again, Jason. We really should go back, archive the first several Jason Discussions and clean them up to serve as an instructional model on how to stop being a jackass.
    I’m not really sure if I want my past behavior made an example of for everyone to see. I’d prefer it to be quietly forgotten or maybe turned into a generic thing where the names are changed to protect the innocent.
    Whoa, Jason was a jackass? I can only remember him being naive anymore…
    Gee, um…..thanks I guess.

  • I’ve heard that hapax wasn’t even born in this country. I demand that she produce her birth records. She also pals around with terrorists….. and have you heard the things that the preacher at her old church says?

  • Spearmint

    I’m not really sure if I want my past behavior made an example of for everyone to see. I’d prefer it to be quietly forgotten or maybe turned into a generic thing where the names are changed to protect the innocent.
    Or the not so innocent, in your case. :)
    But I would argue that it’s a compelling example precisely because you are such a model citizen nowadays- a generic case would be much less persuasive in convincing people that jackassery can be overcome and doesn’t doom you permanently in the eyes of the forum.

  • http://qntm.org/gay
    A quick look at same-sex and polyamorous marriage, from a database-engineering perspective.
    TRiG.