Category Archives: Social Commentary

Pressing (Non)Human Rights Issue Du Jour

Do vampires have rights?

Jonah wants to know if an atheist would think that vampires have rights.

I guess that they probably have some rights. I mean, I’m willing to grant them the right to be a vampire. That is, if they want to live forever, turn into a bat occasionally, not show up in mirrors, and avoid sunlight and garlic and crosses, and so on, it’s no skin off my nose (or blood out of my neck). But (like some conservatives’ view of homosexuals), I’m not willing to grant them a right to indulge in their (un)natural desire to drink blood. Particularly mine. I think that the Christian formulation would be hate the blood sucking, but love the vampire. But of course, this was about what atheists think.

Though if the blood sucking is consensual, it might be all right. But can it really be consensual? I mean, the consent can’t be very informed. You can describe what it’s like to be a vampire until the cows (and vampires) come home, but is that enough to allow someone to enter into such an arrangement*? It seems like the argument against whether or not someone should have the freedom to sell themselves into slavery. Is it society’s business to be regulating consensual blood-sucking activity, given that it has irreversible consequences (other than in the movies)? Perhaps.

The blood sucking aside, though, I don’t see (given the limited thought I’ve given to the proposition) why vampires should have any fewer rights than the rest of us. It certainly seems discriminatory, and a hate crime of the first rank, to think that one has license to stick wooden stakes through their hearts, simply because they’re vampires. But if they’ve been engaged in non-consensual insanguination and vampire recruitment, then it seems as though it would be a preemptive act of self defense, albeit taking the law into one’s own hands.

Sorry, fascinating topic, but I think I’m starting to ramble. If I gave it more thought, I might come up with a more coherent treatise.

* Come to think of it, this has some parallels to some conservatives’ argument that gays have to “recruit” young boys, because they’re unable to procreate. This is a notion that I always thought nonsensical–no one can be “recruited” to be gay unless they’re already at least bisexual. I have never been unsure about my sexuality–was approached once when I was fourteen or so, and I wasn’t recruited–I was disgusted at the thought.

Irony At Epcot

A travelogue by Lileks:

The plot was hugely ironical: Timon and Roomba or whatever the warthog is named were building a resort in the jungle, and damning a stream to create a water feature. Simba showed up to demonstrate the error of their ways. The hilarity of any manifestation of the Disneyverse criticizing an artificial lake to build a resort goes without saying. And it did go without saying, of course. Simba said that Timon and Roomba or whatever were acting like another creature that did not behave in tune with nature, and that creature was . . . man.

BOO HISS, I guess. Jaysus, I tire of this. Big evil stupid man had done many stupid evil bad things, like pile abandoned cars in the river, dump chemicals into blue streams, and build factories that vomited great dark clouds into the sky. Like the People’s State Lead Paint and Licensed Mickey Merchandise Factory in Shanghai Province, perhaps? Simba gave us a lecture about materialism and how it hurt the earth – cue the shot of trees actually being chopped down, and I’m surprised the sap didn’t spurt like blood in a Peckinpah movie – and other horrors, like forests on fire because . . . well, because it was National Toss Glowing Coals Out the Car Window Month, I guess. I swear the footage all came from the mid-70s; it was grainy and cracked and the cars were all late-60s models. Because I’m pretty sure we’re not dumping cars into the rivers as a matter of course any more. You’re welcome to try to leave your car on the riverbank and see how that turns out for you.

At the end Timon and Phoomba decided to open a green resort, and everything’s hakuna Montana.

Follow the link for the rest of the story.

Green Fascism

There’s an interesting post over at New Scientist on the new eugenicists. What’s even more interesting, though, are the numerous comments, which repeat many of the myths about population growth and control, and feasibility of mitigating it through space technology, including space (to use the politically incorrect word) colonization.

I don’t really have time to critique in any detail, other than to note that anyone who makes feasibility arguments on the latter subject by referring to Shuttle costs is completely clueless. Sadly though, years ago, Carl Sagan did exactly that.

What The Clintons Did For Feminism

[Note: I’ve bumped this post from yesterday to the top, because it has some new content today, and is getting a lot of commentary]

Could Obama do for race relations? It is a situation, with a history, steeped in irony.

Younger people might not be aware, but there was a time, back in the early nineties, when feminist principles like opposition to sexual harassment in the workplace (including consensual sexual relations between people of widely disparate power relations) were viewed with widespread societal approval, and even made subject to civil law suits. It was considered intolerable by many to have any physical contact in the work place whatsoever. Beyond that, women who accused men of sexual impropriety were to be protected and provided with credibility, not derided and slandered in an attempt to reduce their credibility. Whether one agrees with it or not, this was the cultural norm, and became established law.

Then came Bill and Hillary Clinton, ostensible supporters of all of this. Until…until…it became inconvenient for them. Oh, they continue to pay it lip service, but when Gennifer Flowers accused Bill of having a twelve-year affair with him, and had audio tape to prove it, she was attacked as a liar and a slut, by the Clintons’ henchmen (and henchwomen), masterminded by Hillary. When Paula Jones, a lowly state employee, came forth with a story of being escorted by a state policeman to Governor Clinton’s hotel suite, whereupon he demanded that she fellate him, she was called “trailer trash,” and her lawsuit (perfectly legitimate) was fought on the basis that she had no right to bring a kingpresident to trial. When Kathleen Willey complained that she had been groped in the Oval Office when she came to ask the president for a job after her husband had committed suicide, she was essentially called a liar by the president’s lawyer. Her tires were slashed, her children were threatened, and her family cat was found dead. When Monica Lewinski’s activities were exposed, there was a back-channel whispering campaign by people like Sid Blumenthal that she was a “stalker,” and mentally unstable, and not to be believed. This campaign would no doubt have continued ad infinitum had she not taken Linda Tripp’s sage advice and hung on to the blue-stained dress, which ultimately revealed who was really the liar in the affair.

In each and every case, in order to quell (in the campaign and White House’s own words) a “bimbo eruption,” the “bimbos” were considered fair game.

This is hypocritical and appalling enough in its own right, but what is much worse, at least for the people who originally developed and defended those feminist ideals that were trampled by the Clintons, was the degree to which, like Hillary, they were cynically willing to completely abandon them in order to defend not only the first “black president,” but the first “feminist” one. Gloria Steinem, yes the Gloria Steinem, wrote a famous piece in the New York Times in which she in essence said that the president was entitled to one free grope. Because it was the Clintons, the “sluts and nuts” defense became acceptable to the formerly easily oh-so-outraged gender warriors.

This sordid tale of hypocrisy, and destruction of feminist idealism by this cynical devotion to the Clintons was described extensively by libertarian feminist Cathy Young almost ten years ago.

Well, the Clintons have aged, and grown tiresome, and the media and the movement have “moved on” (so to speak), tossed the Clintons out like yesterday’s news, and found a new paramour–a young, fresh face, in the form of an attractive (to many) articulate person of color, even if the hue is less than full due to the taint of his white ancestry. They don’t need a faux black president, as Bill was–they can get a real one this time. Almost, anyway.

The parallels with the Clintons are in fact quite striking, in terms of the media love affair, the willingness to run interference for potential scandals, and now, in their willingness to toss overboard more supposed “liberal” shibboleths, in the interest of keeping his candidacy alive, just as they were willing to destroy feminism in order to save it, to keep a pro-abortion president in office (even though he would have been replaced with another pro-abortion president in the person of Al Gore had he been removed).

This time, it’s race, as Victor Davis Hanson explains:

…Wright’s speech on black-right brainers, white-left brainers — replete with bogus stereotypes and crude voice imitations — was about as racist as they come and at one time antithetical to what the NAACP was once all about. Again, the Obama campaign and its appendages have set back racial relations a generation. Just ten years ago, any candidate, black or white, would have rejected Wright making a speech about genetic differences in respective black and white brains. Now it’s given to civil rights organizations by the possible next President’s pastor and spiritual advisor — and done to wild applause for an organization founded on the idea that we are innately the same, while being gushed over by ignorant “commentators.”

As I said before, between Wright’s racism and hatred, and Obama’s contextualization of what he has said, we have so lowered the bar that the next racist (and he won’t necessarily be black) who evokes hatred of other races and then offers a mish-mash pop theory of genetic differences will have plenty of “context” to ward off public fury.

And the amazing thing (or it would be if it hadn’t become so depressingly familiar) is that the press doesn’t merely acquiesce to such destruction of heretofore liberal ideals–it actively cheers it, through empty-headed mouthpieces like Soledad O’Brien. Because their hero, Barack Obama, will not separate himself from his former pastor, they choose not the solution of abandoning their hero. No, instead, they are compelled to make a new hero of, and treat like a rock star, a bigoted, paranoid scientific ignoramus. And in so doing, to turn their backs on, and leave in shreds, what they once thought were racially enlightened ideals.

But I would reassure Professor Hanson on one point. If the next ignoramus to come down the chute turns out to be a white man, opposing racism will become fashionable once again, with all the continuing attendant hypocrisy.

[Update in the evening]

In response to some questions in comments, here’s an interesting quote from Reverend Wright, sure to put some soothing salve on the wounds of the nation’s racial divide:

“Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. He was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter’s being vilified for and Bishop Tutu’s being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago. He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century; that’s what I think about him. . . . Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn’t make me this color.”

Let’s leave aside for the moment the ludicrous hyperbole that Reverend Wright was ever put in chains, and ever put in slavery. Of course, no one living today put Reverend Wright, or any member of his flock, in chains or slavery. The closest slave to Reverend Wright would probably be his grandfather, if not his great-grandfather. And that person was at least two generations, and probably more, from being put into chains and being sold into that state.

But here’s the most ironic part. Louis is a Muslim, or so he claims. Anyone familiar with the history of the slave trade knows the religion of the people who sold blacks into slavery to be sent to the New World. Hint: it was not Christian. For the most part, the slaves were sold in Africa to the British slavers by (Islamic) Arabs, who remain one of the most racist peoples on earth to this day.

Yet Reverend Wright defends the hateful (and racist–and he did call Judaism a “gutter religion,” regardless of false denials that it was “only” about “Zionism”) Farrakhan by attacking white people living today, who have put no one in chains, and sold no one into slavery. I wonder what he has to say about the real slavery, that continues today, in Sudan and other places (predominantly Islamic and Arabic)?

Be sure to read the Wright/Obama-defending insanity in the comments at Milbanks’ post as well.

[Tuesday morning update]

Joe Katzman, on the mendacity and fascist nature of the Obama campaign and cult.

Errrr…but Joe? Just for the record, “belief” actually is a noun, not a verb.

One other thought. If Jeremiah Wright really does represent “the black church” and his beliefs mirror those of the black community, America is in trouble, and black America is in very deep trouble.

Fortunately, I think (and certainly fervently hope) that there are many black Americans who are as repulsed by Wright’s racist beliefs and words as the rest of us are, and recognize what a disaster they have been for their community. But we (and even more, they) need a lot more Bill Cosbys, and many fewer Reverend Wrights.

[Update a couple minutes later]

From a comment at Joe’s post, a good point. Obama has a much bigger problem than his pastor. He could have the mother of all Sister Souljah moments with Jeremiah Wright, and perhaps turn this around. But he can’t disown his wife.

[8:30 AM update]

I didn’t listen to Wright’s whole speech, but Lileks did, so we don’t have to:

Turns out that was just the warm-up act. I heard the entire Rev. Wright speech today, so I’m not talking anything out of context – unless there was some peculiar non-verbal aspect, like an aura or a thick cloud overhead that formed instructive and helpful shapes, the endorsement of Farrakhan, the attacks on “Zionism” in the context of UN resolutions, and the explanations of the effect on racially-distinctive brain structure on marching-band styles was pretty hard to misconstrue.

The most amusing response, aside from the sort of obdurate denial you might find in someone who just created a fantastic beach sculpture and sees a tsunami on the horizon, is the Conspiracy Theory. Who? Jews! Of course! On the radio today I heard someone who managed to combine the far trailing tips of leftist and right-wing nuttery, and tie them into a neat bow. The JEWS were doing this to shake Obama loose from Rev. Wright; the JEWS were the ones who had devised this non-issue and pushed it to the front through their tentacular media control. Apparently a team of crack Jewish Ninja Hypnotists got Rev. Wright to make these recent appearances, too.

Sorry, but there is no “context” that can change my opinion of the nuttiness, paranoia, and mindless anger of the excerpts that I’ve read and heard. I’m long on record of thinking that Obama can’t win in November, and this only reinforces that view. Even if he Sister Souljahed Wright now, it’s too late. It raises too many questions. How could he have associated with this man for twenty years, knowing what he believes, and preaches? Alternately, how could he have done so, and not known? He is either sympathetic to these views, or he’s clueless. Either way, he’ll be too thoroughly unacceptable to too many Americans at this point to be in any way electable.

I just hope that the Dems don’t figure it out. Fortunately, based on a lot of the commentary from Obama defenders, both here and other places, they may remain in denial, right up until the convention and beyond. And if they do figure it out, they’ll lose the black and youth vote. They are royally screwed, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of identity-politics mongers.

A British Perspective

On the peacefulness of an armed society:

Brits arriving in New York, hoping to avoid being slaughtered on day one of their shopping mission to Manhattan are, by day two, beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. By day three they have had had the scales lifted from their eyes.

I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns.

“It seems so nice here,” they quaver.

Well, it is!

How about that. This kind of ignorance is what happens when you rely on the BBC (in general) for your news about the colonies. Which makes it all the more surprising and out of character for it to print a piece like this.