Richard Land offers qualified opposition to beating people to death

Richard Land offers qualified opposition to beating people to death December 9, 2011

In response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on human rights Tuesday, Richard Land, ethics czar for the Southern Baptist Vatican, said:

I certainly don’t believe homosexuals or anyone else should be flogged or put to death for their sexual sins. However …

Wait. Stop. Before you go on, Richard Land, are you sure you want to do that?

Here’s what you just said:

I certainly don’t believe homosexuals or anyone else should be flogged or put to death.

Is that really the sort of thing you want to follow with a “however …”?

There are only two possible directions such a “however” might lead.

The first would be a total non sequitur — something wholly unrelated, such as: “I certainly don’t believe homosexuals or anyone else should be flogged or put to death. However, I’m also fond of pancakes.” A statement like that might be confusing or it might make you look silly, but morally and ethically it’s mostly harmless.

The second possibility, however, is far from harmless. The second possibility is that you’re about to follow that however with some qualification or limitation or reservation about the statement that precedes it. Let’s look at that statement again:

I certainly don’t believe homosexuals or anyone else should be flogged or put to death.

Do you think that needs to be qualified? Or limited? Do you really want to suggest that you have reservations about saying such a thing? Might it not be a Good Thing, for once, just to go on the record as being firmly against beating people to death and to say so without hemming and hawing and trying to however your way into a bit of wiggle room should the occasion arise in which you think beating people to death might be something you’d like to do?

Because that’s the only conclusion the rest of us can draw from a qualifying “however” here. If you can’t just say “beating people to death is wrong” without offering caveats and loopholes, then the rest of us will suspect that you’ve got a hankering to beat someone to death.

Where a non sequitur about pancakes will make you look silly, a qualification or limitation will make you look depraved.

In any case, I’m too late here to stop Richard Land from however-ing himself into a moral hole, so let’s just see what he had to say in full:

I certainly don’t believe homosexuals or anyone else should be flogged or put to death. However, I don’t believe homosexuals should receive special treatment over and above anyone else either.

Hmm. I said there were only two possibilities, and Land seems to have chosen both of them.

His non-sequitur about “special treatment over and above anyone else” doesn’t make any more sense than if he had started talking about pancakes. But at the same time he seems to think it offers some kind of qualification or limitation to his previous statement.

He winds up looking both silly and depraved.

 

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  • Matri

    I certainly don’t believe Richard Land or Christianists should be forcibly lobotomized for their hateful ways. However, I don’t believe his and their churches should receive tax-exempt status over and above any other political organization.

  • Anonymous

    Other people’s rights don’t detract from my own, they reinforce them.

  • I should add I was actually making a “Get Smart” joke <_< I don't know how many people ever actually watched that – but when I was younger I used to watch the original on TV with my grandparents.  It was hilarious, at least to my younger self.*

    The Cone of Silence was a device that was supposed to allow the two people inside the cone to talk unimpeded, while everyone outside can't hear anything.

    It usually worked in reverse, with Max and The Chief having an incredibly hard time hearing each other inside the cone, but outside the cone people hearing just fine <_<

    That said the D&D bit is clever, I am totally remembering to use that b

    *One of my favorite bits is where CONTROL has taken a serious funding hit, so now they have an auditor following Max around, questioning him about every expense.  Like having to shoot a man 6 times – he asks if that was ‘wasteful’.  (Said guy had kept coming until the 5th shot, then tried to get back up.)

    Sadly the shoe-phone bit no longer holds up due to cellphones but oh well.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a secret weapon that was specially designed by the (ominous drum-roll) Gay Movement. Unfortunately it obviously doesn’t work because people like Colson just will not SHUT UP. 

  • So Chuck Colson is “giving his life” to, er … shove LBQT people back in the closet and nail the door shut? People like Colson always make it sound as if they are risking some terrible form of persecution

    To be fair, he is risking backlash by taking an anti-gay stance.  People will call him a bigot if he makes statements to the effect that gay and lesbian people should be treated as anything less than equal to heterosexual people in every regard.  

    Of course, to the persecuted hegemon, anything which implies that their privilege of majority is not an ironclad right to lord over others is perceived as “persecution.”  The thing is, they do not see their own anti-gay agenda as being bigoted, they see it as “natural” and are offended at the bigot label.  Despite, you know, doing something that fits the definition of the word “bigot”.  

  • Except it’s not about punishing “wrong thinking” at all.

    You can THINK whatever you want.  You can SAY most anything you want – see Phelps, Fred; and his Westboro Baptist Jerkoffs.

    What hate crime legislation does is *also* take into account the effect such a crime has on the community, because beating up say… a black person just for being black, does not target just that person.  It targets every person of African descent who hears about it.

    That’s the thing – hate crimes aren’t JUST the act of hurting an individual, they are also in a sense terrorist actions that intend to demoralize, hurt, and drive away the classification of people against who the crime was perpetrated.

  • I wish Netflix “Watch Instantly” had “Get Smart”. It would be a great counterpoint to the classic “Mission: Impossible” episodes I’ve been enjoying.

  • Lori

     And I object to that as well, the life of a cop has no more intrinsic value than that of a homeless guy who happened to be in the wrong place when some violent prick decided to do a  little “street cleaning”.   

     

    Differential sentencing is not, strictly speaking, treating the life of a police officer as more valuable than that of a homeless man. It’s treating the job of the officer as having special value to the smooth functioning of society. There are reasonable arguments that can be made both for and against that approach, but it isn’t a matter of valuing one life more than another. 

    The thing we do that I believe is about valuing one life more than another is allowing survivor statements to be made in court and used in determining sentence. That effectively means means the life of a victim who has people willing and able to be in court and speak eloquently about his/her loss and shed tears in public over it, is treated as more valuable than a victim who does not (at least in so far as punishment of the murderer reflects the value placed on the victim). I think it’s an understandable practice and that there are reasonable arguments that can be made in favor of it, but it still makes me uncomfortable for just this reason. 

  • The Cone of Silence was a device that was supposed to allow the two people inside the cone to talk unimpeded, while everyone outside can’t hear anything.

    I remember when they needed to speak privately, and used instead two soundproof phone booths placed facing each other.  The voice signal is then transmitted in scrambled form from one phone booth to a satellite in orbit which would unscramble the signal, rescramble the signal, and send it down to the other booth, which would then unscramble it again.  

    Of course, everything they said ended up coming out as nonsense on the other end.  

    That said the D&D bit is clever, I am totally remembering to use that b

    It does depend a bit on the judgement call of the DM though.  Sanctuary forces enemies to ignore a cleric as long as they take no offensive action.  The intent being that a cleric can use it to get into fights and cast heal spells on their party without having to worry about being targeted.  My DM ruled that for a spell to count as being something other than an offensive action, it had to be cast on a willing target.  Things like party members in need of healing could be assumed to be willing targets for heal spells, for example, but things like inanimate objects could not because they had no will with which to accept or reject the spell.  This was to prevent us from, say, casting the spell at the ground below an enemy’s feet without it counting as “offensive action”.  But since I can be willing to cast such a spell on myself, under that ruling I can get around some of the limitations about offensive casting, at least as far as support style spells go.

  • Anonymous

    We do designate some people as of higher value than others. We codify it
    in to law. Police officers, judges, firefighters, a whole list of
    people who are deemed of higher value and codified into law by how we
    punish the perp.

    In principle, at least, assaulting a public servant carries a higher penalty not because public servants are better or higher-value people, but because assaulting them interferes with their Important Duties.  It’s the job that has a higher social value, not the person.  Which is why, usually, assaulting a public servant is only aggravated if you do it while they’re carrying out their duties.

    In practice, of course, many people do judge that a random police officer or judge is simply a better or more important person than a random homeless dude.

  • mmy

    And just what the sam hill is a “spiral of silence”?

    To quote Wikipedia http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=spiral%20of%20silence&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCoQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FSpiral_of_silence&ei=bp7iTrzsJ6O0sQLJz-zyBQ&usg=AFQjCNE_Hznp3mV6OjAvFBdOC4TuVLO20AWikipedia:

    The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann.

    Put in a few words Noelle-Neumann described the way in which people who think they are in the minority are less likely to speak. Because they don’t speak others think that the opinion is indeed a minority one and further, that it is losing support. So even fewer people are willing to speak openly in support of it.

  • I understand that, and while I agree with the goal of hate crime legislation in that respect, I have no confidence in the ability for our systems of justice to get it right even most of the time, It’s essentially the same reason I can never support death penalties.

    To me, far too many mistakes can be made when you introduce things like a person’s thoughts or attitudes as material factors in criminal cases, I know it happens all the time, but the goal should be that it happens much less.

    Hard to prove, easy to screw up = not good basis for law.

  • Put in a few words Noelle-Neumann described the way in which people who think they are in the minority are less likely to speak. Because they don’t speak others think that the opinion is indeed a minority one and further, that it is losing support. So even fewer people are willing to speak openly in support of it.

    I get the impression that Fox News is trying to invoke the spiral of silence for anyone who differs from their talking points by vigorously jumping on and condemning those who do.  

  • Anonymous

    As in “States’ Rights” meant “We see no reason not to go on keeping other human beings as property”.

  • Tonio

    Dumb question…I’ve been hearing about the “special rights” nonsense for a generation, long before the debate over same-sex marriage. Exactly what measures to protect equal rights are demagogues like Land spinning as “special rights”? Sort of how attempts at holiday inclusiveness are warped into an alleged “War on Christmas.” Or is the term purely a invention?

  • Lori

    The “special rights” are having the Definition of (civil) Marriage, Which Has Always Been Between a Man and a Woman**, changed to accommodate same sex couples and therefore being allowed to shove gayness down Christians’ throats**. 

    *Yes, I know that this is not historically true.

    **Yes, I think their constant use of that phrase is ridiculous and yes, I laugh at them for it. 

  • Madkaz25

    That is because contemporary conservatives are not conservative, but reactionary.  They want to eliminate “institutions that, though they may not be ideal, have been proven to work over the long-term” like Social Security and Medicare.  Newt Gingrich, the current darling of the conservative set, has recently been denouncing child labor laws, and has not been laughed off the stage.

  • Tonio

    I could see that being the euphemistic definition in the last few years. But the phrase was in common use in the hatemongering long before most people even thought of same-sex marriage as a concept or a possibility. I never heard of the idea until about six or seven years ago.

  • Matri

    You know, “special rights“. Like elevating the LGBTs from their “proper place” as inferiors and second-class citizens into the unthinkable position as the Real True Christians’s *gasp* equal!

    Far easier to think of Christianists as Nazis. They’re only a couple of steps short of the Third Reich as it is.

  • I so want Newt to win the primary.

    Seriously just imagine the campaigning afterward… I’m sorry but NO amount of advertising can play down “Left wife recovering from cancer to marry woman 23 years younger than himself”; and that’s before we play back tapes of Newt being Newt.

    Seriously the guy is a Grade A jackass.  He makes being a jerk into an artform.  If a human being could embody everything it is to be an asshole, while not actually being round in shape and stinking profusely, Newt Gingrich is that human being.

    Errr,  the point is the only person more entertaining to watch run for President might be Herman Cain, and sadly he’s not going to win the primary.  *sigh*

  • Yes, I think their constant use of that phrase is ridiculous and yes, I laugh at them for it.

     

    Less funny and more scary when you realize that the same people who keep characterizing gay rights (and taxing the rich and environmental regulations and socialized medicine) as being “forced on” people and “shoved down throats” are the same people who seem determined to assert that _actual rape_ doesn’t really exist.

  • Lori

     I could see that being the euphemistic definition in the last few years. But the phrase was in common use in the hatemongering long before most people even thought of same-sex marriage as a concept or a possibility.  

    In general “special rights” is what they say when what they mean is “don’t you dare reduce our privilege”. You asked what Land meant by it and he’s using it to mean “don’t you dare reduce the advantages that I have by virtue of being a straight member of the dominant religion”. Others have used it to refer to other aspects of threatened privilege. It’s a very flexible term precisely because it doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just a dog whistle to other persecuted hegemons. 

  • Tonio

    I suspect my question didn’t come out right. Of course I know that “special rights” is code for gays not knowing their place in the RTCs’ social hierarchy. I’m asking how the term arose. That was an era when even the idea of protecting gays from job discrimination was fairly new, and DADT was at least a decade away. Those seem to me to be much harder to spin into demands for “special rights.” with First Amendment issues such as removing crosses from government-owned land, it’s very easy for persecuted hegemonists to spin these as oppression of Christianity. And not even the most virulent of the segregationists decades ago never argued that civil rights were “special rights” – that type of rhetoric only came later with affirmative action. I suppose my point is that demagogues are like bakers of hatred, where they take the dough of truth and knead it into a horrid, misshapen falsehood.

  • FangsFirst

    So many conversations would be less exhausting if our news media were
    even half way useful and covered what’s important instead of what sells.

    In fairness: already a lost cause. She likes confirmation bias, that mother does. Forbids the viewing of the Daily Show outright (aforementioned Schrödinger’s girlfriend on Jon Stewart: “You know, sometimes I think he’s pretty wrong, but a lot of the time he really does have very good points. but there’s no way on earth my mother would ever let THAT show on in the household.”) just for example.

    Of course, she had never heard of Glenn Beck. I have no idea how all of this works together. I discovered this via Facebook once when I posted the video noting Glenn’s tendency to jump on the “Nazi train” for explanations of everything. It was a HuffPo link, she said she never goes there as she has no time for people who don’t know their history. I told her Glenn’s tendency to accuse anyone and everyone of being Nazi seemed to indicate that and she agreed.

    Kicker: looooooooooves Sarah Palin. I really, really don’t understand how that works when “can’t bother to research history” is an unacceptable quality in a person.

  • The “special rights” are having the Definition of (civil) Marriage, Which Has Always Been Between a Man and a Woman, changed to accommodate same sex couples and therefore being allowed to shove gayness down Christians’ throats.

    The odd thing is, those rights are hardly “special”.  Gay marriage is an expansion of an existing set of rights, true, but they apply equally to everyone.  Heterosexual people can get married to a member of the same sex just as easily as homosexual people can.  They may not want to do so (any more than a homosexual person wants to marry a member of the opposite sex) but the right itself is equal oppertunity if they should choose to take advantage of it. 

    I am not gay, and I have no intention of marrying a man, but it is nice to know a person has options, even if they expect to never take them.  :)

  • WingedBeast

    Whenever somebody says that homosexuals are looking for “special rights” particularly when referring to same-sex marriage, I remember that “special rights” means rights that are not shared by everybody else.  That means anybody who oppose homosexuals having special rights are really demanding that they, too, have the right to marry people of the same sex.

  • Seriously the guy is a Grade A jackass. He makes being a jerk into an artform. If a human being could embody everything it is to be an asshole, while not actually being round in shape and stinking profusely, Newt Gingrich is that human being.

    I dunno’, Gingrich does seem a little round in shape* to me.  I have personally never actually sniffed the man, but I would not put stinking profusely past him. 

    *A disclaimer:  I am not trying to make a general value judgement about a person based on the shape of their face, but my opinion of Gingrich’s appearance would probably be better if he were a demonstratably nicer person.  It is not so much a person’s static looks as how they wear them.

  • FangsFirst

    @mmy_Margaret:disqus
    Huh. Cool. Thanks.
    I thought it was just an asinine attempt to be alliterative and melodramatic. That will teach me! Interesting idea, and one I’ve pondered of my own accord–nice to know it has a name!

  • FangsFirst

    *A disclaimer:  I am not trying to make a general value judgement about a
    person based on the shape of their face, but my opinion of Gingrich’s
    appearance would probably be better if he were a demonstratably nicer
    person.  It is not so much a person’s static looks as how they wear
    them.

    I know the feeling. The word “fat” does not and will not enter my brain until someone’s character becomes despicable. Which means I do try to restrain and the change the thinking anyway, as it’s not even fair for awful people. But that’s the only time it appears.

  • ako

    Things I’ve heard described as special rights:

    – Any sort of protection from sexuality-based discrimination in housing or employment.  This is usually cited as a “special right” due to a combination of misunderstanding how these laws are typically written (it’s usually something like “can’t discriminate based on real or perceived sexual organization” not “can’t discriminate against people for being homosexual”), and the idea that it is good and right for people to end up poor and homeless if they do anything other people find icky.

    – Any law that treats beating a gay man in order to terrorize the community and drive everyone back into the closet any differently from punching out the guy who insulted you in the bar.  Occasionally, people objecting to this have the consistent “Intent should never be a factor in law ever” position, but most people spouting this nonsense only think it’s a problem if the law is protecting the queers.

    – The confused idea of hate crime legislation that involves being arrested for saying “My religion objects to homosexuality”, generally based of bits of anecdata from other countries.  So basically, it’s like saying “It’s illegal to be Christian in the US!” and only citing Islamic theocracies.

    – Marriage, marriage-like institution, and any effort to extend any of the legal benefits of marriage to same-sex relationships.  Because everyone has the same legal right to marry a woman (except women, who only have the right to marry a man, which men don’t have), so it makes perfect sense to utterly dismiss the role of love and relationships, doesn’t it?

    – Gay pride parades and pride activities, which are assumed to all be sponsored by the government (which would presumably throw anyone who held a straight pride parade in jail forever). 

    – Any school program that teaches QUILTBAG youth anything other than Pray the Gay Away.

    – The right to have QUILTBAG people and supporters advocate tolerance and call people bigots for bigoted statements, and the horrible oppressionhomophobes suffer of being verbally condemned for lying and saying nasty things about other people.

  • Strangebrooch

    I know the feeling. The word “fat” does not and will not enter my brain
    until someone’s character becomes despicable. Which means I do try to
    restrain and the change the thinking anyway, as it’s not even fair for
    awful people. But that’s the only time it appears.

    Wait, so “fat” is such a terrible thing that you can’t even say it about despicable people?

    What a charming thing to say.

  • Michael Cohn

    I was in the middle of writing a comment about how your criticism doesn’t make sense to me, because Land was using a common trope where “however” indicates that you aren’t at either extreme on an issue. But I realized that there’s still something awful about suggesting that beating someone to death should be _anywhere at all_ on the spectrum of responses to people you dislike. I guess that’s why you identified the other part of his statement as a non sequitur. Saying that someone shouldn’t be beaten to death should be an utterly general statement of principle, and anything else about how that group should be treated is a completely different conversation.

  • Tonio

    Your first item sounds like the old segregationist dodge “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone brilliantly dissected the Tea Party last year, showing how Rand Paul did well when he spun his libertarianism to play to that faction. (The spin basically was, “Discrimination is wrong but the government shouldn’t do anything about it.”)

  • Anonymous

    The special rights argument was used as part of the opposition to the ERA. They also argued that being equal under the Constitution would deprive women of the special rights they currently enjoyed. One of the arguments against the ERA was that it would extend rights to homosexuals. Here is a sample:
    http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/1986/sept86/psrsep86.html

  • FangsFirst

    [trigger: body image; ED]

    In my experience, “fat” is derisive.

    Yes, I know some people go about owning it and saying, “I’m fat and that is fine,” but I feel like enough people could call me an asshole if I said, “You’re fat, but it’s totally cool,” or “Hey, that fat woman is very attractive,” or “Yeah, the fat guy over there,” and I think they would be right.

    Nothing against anyone who wants to own it for themselves. I don’t think it’s my place as a scrawny stick to apply that label to anyone, because of the fact that it is generally seen as “You are more than what is considered an acceptable weight and it is gross,” versus “You are more than what is perceived to be an acceptable weight.” It has an intrinsic value judgment in my experience of the word.

    It’s not because being what some would call “fat” is bad in and of itself, but that the word, to me, is inherently derisive. So, no. I don’t even like using it about despicable people, because it turns into a body image judgment. It’s my brain grasping at straws for people I think are awful, and I’d prefer it grasp straws not related to appearance. So I try to avoid it.

    And I unconsciously avoid it with people I think are decent human beings, because I don’t think their weight is relevant to anything at all, and sure as hell doesn’t require an adjective I see used primarily as derisive.

    To elaborate on my prior statement: “[…]as it’s not even fair for awful people[ to be judged on the basis of their weight].

    PS: I know someone with severe EDs. The word “fat” is basically an enormous trigger for actual full-on panic attacks. To me, that makes it unacceptable as a word. I don’t like a word that has, for some, the automatic feeling of negative judgment. If that makes me less-than-charming to you, so be it. I’d rather not be a jerk to people who aren’t going to take it as a happy thing, and instead think they look good for whatever the hell weight they are and not care whether they are “fat” or not.

  • Also, ISTR vaguely that “special rights” was first conceived of in the 1980s or 1990s as a way to pooh-pooh anti-discrimination laws that banned employers from turning down people on the basis of sex or race.

  • TW: Body image discussion.

    You know, one thing I’ve noticed is that even as people on online forums (like here) make good faith attempts to avoid fat-shaming behavior, I still sometimes see an undercurrent of, “Go away, you’re fat and ugly, if you want to impress me get thin” in some of the things people write up as “pointers” for how to attract members of the opposite/same sex.

    There really probably is no way to get around the fact that society and evolution together have created built-in majoritarian preferences for conventionally attractive (which usually means thin) people, but I would ask that people lecturing Nice Guys (or even socially awkward people) about their grooming habits and other personal issues avoid sneering at their weight, regardless of whether it’s fully under their control or not (there is a guy at my work who eats nothing but salads at lunch and he’s still a pretty big fella, so that is my anecdotal example to you of someone who is trying all the “standard social messages” about weight loss, and for whatever reason his metabolism’s basically trollfacing at him).

    (This, incidentally, is why I avoid making body-shape comments to Nice Guys when I find them online; I know what it’s like for people to treat you like you’re fucking invisible because you’re overweight, and it’s far more likely that their attitude towards women [or other men] is the key driver behind why they’re being consistently politely rejected all the time.)

  • Strangebrooch

    I don’t like a word that has, for some, the automatic feeling of negative judgment.

    Yeah, but the whole problem is that there aren’t really any words for fatness (just for the record, I am saying this as an actual fat person) that are generally accepted as anything other than a negative judgment, because fatness itself is considered so horrible and undesirable by our culture (like, “overweight” assumes a standard ideal weight and “obese” implies higher body weight is a medical condition even in the absence of any other conditions).

    I mean, if you’d just said it’s wrong to judge even awful people on the basis of their weight, I’d have had no quarrel with you — I suppose I just reacted really badly to your phrasing and snapped at you.

  • FangsFirst

    [TW: body image]

    No, you’re right–as I was writing that I thought “…Wait, what’s the nice word for someone who is ‘overweight’ considering ‘over’ weight [explanation as you have since mentioned, after the time I had to ponder this internally]” and started rephrasing things so I could just avoid it.
    Which is why I have a lot of internal relief that it’s something that I don’t really, well, I don’t know that I could say I don’t “notice” it, but it doesn’t factor in much for me. So I don’t have a term because I don’t see any reason to talk about it, as it doesn’t matter. Except situations like the above (where it’s literally the topic being discussed), which make me intensely uncomfortable. My only lame intent was to show a little solidarity with FearlessSon on the “nasty personalities skew visual perception” front.

    I do have Aspgerger’s¹ and I’ve apparently spent years hiding it very well by learning most social stuff on my own, but I know I’m usually terrible at appropriately gauging how to discuss things like body image or race or sexism, because I have a limited experience (in large part thanks to the anxiety it causes me–one discussion about such things here made me run and hide months ago, and even my last above comment which I felt reasonably confident I had correctly laid out as respectful made me sweat and go play Arkham City to distract myself) and also because I get confused when people are decent but horrifically racist or sexist or whatever, and I can be easily misled by each experience with what is acceptable or offensive into moving the line between the two. Plus thinking on a very individualistic basis makes it very hard for me to understand the abuse of groups in more subtle ways.

    So, apologies for my poor phrasing, all the same. Practice makes perfect and all that, something more to drop into the bank of functions to use in constructing communication.

    And thanks for the relaxed response. I appreciate it. Between awareness of that being one of my major social shortcomings and being a skinny, white, straight, male–I know I can get in serious trouble talking about anything relating to privilege :

    ¹ Professionally diagnosed, just to be clear. I’m wary–considering how recent the diagnosis was–of using it as an excuse, but trying to accept that the reality is that apparently there’s an actual reason I do some things in an odd fashion, and telling myself it’s all my fault and I’m a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person doesn’t help me learn to correct it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @mistharm:disqus I think cultural bias is influencing your perception. I certainly don’t find that ‘liberal’ has innately positive connotations while ‘conservative’ has neutral or negative ones.

    To me, liberal evokes the idea of lack of restraints or interference- which is good for some things and some of us, but my background is one where a degree of interference in individual “liberties” was critical. Liberal focuses on negative freedom, but postive freedom was equally if not more important in my context.

    Conservative evokes the idea of holding on to what is good (the conservation movement, frex). As an idea, that’s not bad at all.

    Agree that progressive sounds good (and is good) though.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There’s currently a manhunt in NSW for a guy who murdered two Aboriginal women. There was a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture. Then he shot and (non-critically) wounded a police officer, and the fine rose to $250,000.

    I get the principle of punishing an offense against an individual and the justice system, for example, more than an offense against an individual. But the message sent in cases like this is not great.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I heard the term ‘special rights’ raised in the context of Indigenous reconciliation at least a decade ago. Basically it seems to be about the status quo being changed for the benefit of a minority (even when the change is simply eliminating a long-standing injustice again the minority). “Why do we have to go to efforts to accommodate you?” That sort of crap. Not limited to sexuality issues or RTCs.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @mmy:disqus Thanks for the spiral of silence info. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and talking about a lot over the last year or so (particularly the role of the vocal minority) but wasn’t aware of the formal area of research.

  • TW: body issues discussion

    I was thinking about this and I realized one thing I should have brought up earlier is that “you’re fat” has often been used to shame women, and given that in fact the word has been used quite negatively most of the time I think it would be a good idea to simply omit it from epithets used to unflatteringly describe anyone.

    I don’t think of Newt Gingrich’s weight when I think of him. I do think of his complete lack of basic decency to other humans, and his willingness to engage in brinkmanship politics as a substitute for getting things done.

  • Anonymous

    I understand the issues that some have with hate crime legislation – or crimes against police carrying more penalty and such. I don’t agree with arguments against hate crime legislation, but I understand them.

    Basically it is not about ‘what was in the offenders mind’ – as much as ‘what can we prove, with evidence, was their motive’

    This is no different from the distinction we raise between murder (1, 2 ,3 etcs as they exist) and manslaughter. In such, intent is central to defining how the offender is charged.

    In that light, attacking a police officer equating to a stiffer penalty is on shakier ground than most hate-crime legislation. One should have to be able to show the police officer was attacker BECAUSE they were a police officer.

    This is no different, in my mind, to a hate-crime attacker … it must be shown that they targetted their victim based on the perception of that victims’ membership in a particular class. If that canot be proved, then they cannot be charged.

    Does that mean we should not have such legislation? Maybe … but, if so, then let’s do away with distinctions such as Murder vs Manslaughter too!

    I think the best approach is to broaden hate-crime legislation to include ANY motive that targetted someone because of their category membership (or perception thereof).

    Now groups could still be defined – for purposes of deciding whether such a motive might be in play, but they are not deliniated per se.

    That means … a man targetting women, because they are women would also fall into the legislation, as would a women targetting men because they are men.

    This way, we remove all notions of ‘special groups’ and focus on the realities of motive. If, however, we do not take such an approach … unless we remove distinctions such as Murder/Manslaughter, hate-crime legislation, as it stands, is perfectly consistent.

  • Anonymous

    [trigger: body image]

    “There really probably is no way to get around the fact that society and
    evolution together have created built-in majoritarian preferences for
    conventionally attractive (which usually means thin) people”

    I’m glad you put ‘society’ in there as well, because the reality is that it has more to do with it than evolution. Indeed, some research shows that evolution runs the other way – that is, it grants a drive to find people with more weight than not.

    Just look at any artwork prior to the 19th/20th century. Look especially at the women in many of the paintings of such ages. Full-bodied, round, fleshy hips and so on.

    It is even well-argued that such women were also socially more desirable … because to have some weight was equated to be well-fed – in an age of hunger for many. A heftier woman was more likely to carry more children to term, and those children would be healthier.

    Amazing isn’t it – how social perspectives change with such ease.

  • Just look at any artwork prior to the 19th/20th century. Look especially at the women in many of the paintings of such ages. Full-bodied, round, fleshy hips and so on.It is even well-argued that such women were also socially more desirable … because to have some weight was equated to be well-fed – in an age of hunger for many. A heftier woman was more likely to carry more children to term, and those children would be healthier.

    It has a strong habit of being tied to perceptions of wealth.  Back then, someone who could afford lots of rich, fatty foods and did not have to engage in physical labor was considered to be more attractive than someone who was slim.  Then comes the industrial revolution and the percpetion flip-flops.  Highly processed food becomes mass-produced so cheaply that even very poor can afford it, while healthier food becomes more expensive by comparison.  Add to that most laborers then spend more time sitting at a workstation than more physically intensive work, and the wealthiest get to take vacations and enjoy exercising leisure activities, and suddenly the thinner people become more attractive and the more full people become less. 

  • The special rights argument was used as part of the opposition to the ERA. They also argued that being equal under the Constitution would deprive women of the special rights they currently enjoyed. One of the arguments against the ERA was that it would extend rights to homosexuals.

    Oh gods, not the Eagle Forum.  Phyllis Schlafly is a horrible, horrible woman, and as I have said before, I have long since despaired of ever changing her heart as I have become convinced that she does not have one. 

    She is a traitor to her gender, working to sabotage the gains other women have made while enjoying those gains herself.  She is an obstacle to progress, has made it her life’s work to fight against anything other than some idealization of the 1950s social sterotype, and, crass though it may be, I look forward to the day in the near future where she can be laid to rest and finally cease her campaign. 

    I know I am commanded to love all, but I will love her much more when she is gone.  She makes it pretty damn hard to do so while she lives. 

  • FangsFirst

    @EvilKate:
    Very much with you on establishing intent, though for me some of it comes down to motive in the sense that, if you commit a crime against someone because they are [insert group here, rather than trying to remember an entire list], then, unlike heat of passion or mid-robbery or whatever else, your victim and circumstances have not “disappeared.”

    Yeah, you broke into a house before and happened to catch the owner and shot him/her in fear, and since you were breaking into houses for this purpose it MIGHT happen again…

    Yeah, you killed your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever and/or their lover (or whatever)–well, they aren’t going to be there again to do whatever made you respond with extreme violence (cheating, not doing what you said, or being evil and doing something truly evil to you, etc). Unfortunately they no longer exist.

    And so on.

    But if you want to kill or harm someone for being [insert group here]: there are still going to be [insert group here] people after you commit that crime. If you saw those qualities as enough for violence, then there are no missing circumstances or relationships that need to exist.

    For societal good, this makes sense, as violent opposition to the existence of a group is not a healthy element of society.

    To me, that was always the most unassailable and relentlessly logical way to present it to people.

  • Anonymous

    Oh of course – I never meant to imlpy otherwise. I was just addressing the primary objection often made.

    I think motive always should play into sentencing and the current legal notions generally do. Most judicial processes examine the likelihood of the offense being repeated. That also comes down to motive.

    Also, to me – intent and motive are intrinsically tangled, in as far as anyone who did possess intent, had motive :)