Chris Matthews and Politically Correct Racism On the Left

“Chris Christie is moon over New Jersey, he should not wear white shirts, I tell you that. I saw him the other day and I was amazed by it, he must be 300 plus, and that’s something he’s just gotta deal with because you’re not going to say, ‘I’m going to cut the budget,’ well, how about starting with supper?”

That was Chris Matthews during an appearance in Washington, D.C., mocking New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie, not for his positions, not for his performance in his job, but because of his looks, specifically his weight. Later in the same session, Matthews criticized Mississippi Governor Hailey Barbour for his waist size. It isn’t only Matthews; media liberals have been using Rush Limbaugh’s weight as a punchline for years. Ted Kennedy, Gerald Nadler, Madeleine Albright and Charlie Rangel, however, were immune: being fat is only a justification for insults if one is conservative and fat.

What is the difference between denigrating someone for his weight and ridiculing another on the basis of  skin color, gender, disability, religion, ethnic background  or religion? Not a thing. It is bigotry, but among liberal pundits, politically correct bigotry.  It is also juvenile.

Why does this unfair, disrespectful and uncivil habit persist? Because Matthews’ audience enjoys it, that’s why, just as Democratic voters saw nothing wrong with various talking heads and columnists mocking John McCain’s age during the 2008 election. If conservatives express disapproval…well, who cares what they think…the fat bastards!

Fox News’ Neil Cavuto will probably be similarly dismissed, but the amiable host of “Your World” was incensed enough by Matthews’ gratuitous attack on Christie that he used his program to level a devastating but absolutely fair and accurate one of his own, saying in part…

“…It is remarkable to me that those who delight in pointing out someone’s girth as if it is some disqualifier for office say not a word about their Party’s own heavyweights, and never even suggest their weight is a disqualifier for any office. No, Chris Christie is fat, and Haley Barbour weighs too much….Would Chris have said the same of Winston Churchill? Would he be so focused on the guy’s gut to miss the guy’s guts? So concerned Winston wasn’t GQ that he’d miss Winston’s weighty IQ?…

…All I know is a lot of thin, fit guys in both parties...both parties…got us in some pretty big messes. We could do a hell of a lot worse than entertain not so thin and fit guys to get us out of those messes, because for those who love to quote a visionary who asked that we judge men “not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,” it seems weird that they still judge the weight of that skin before they even get to their character, which makes them characters, and pathetic ones at that.

“Judging our leaders not by the qualities that matter, but the nonsense like this that does not—where greatness is defined not by who you are but how you look—you know what that is? That is racism – with a scale.”

“Racism with a scale.”

Exactly.

28 thoughts on “Chris Matthews and Politically Correct Racism On the Left

  1. I see a difference between weight and skin color, between weight and gender, between weight and ethnicity, and between weight and disability.

    Weight is often part choice. The other are not. Does that make mocking it right? No.

    I also want to know why you threw religion in there. Religion is 100% choice and it is completely appropriate to mock.

    • I threw religion in there because the main culprits in weight-mocking don’t agree with you. And religion is only quasi-volitional. Most people end up with the religions their family enforced. It’s not a fair aspect of someone’s life to mock eiither.

      So weight is a choice—so what? It doesn’t signify virtue, character, or even ethical priorities. How does the fact that it is a choice make it more or less appropriate to use it to delegitimize an individual’s achievements or opinions. Making fun of someone’s dress or manner of speech is un the same category.

  2. I explicitly said that mocking weight was not right. I’m in agreement on that. I’m not in agreement in saying that weight is akin to race.

    Onto religion. It is true that most people end up with the religions of their family. That doesn’t mean they aren’t ridiculous and stupid. Religious belief plays directly into a person’s reasoning abilities and general beliefs. It isn’t completely unrelated to a person’s ideas (like race and weight).

    Why is religion not a fair aspect of someone’s life to mock? I think you’re giving fairy tales more than their due. I also suspect you are limiting this to specific religions. Can I mock someone for sun worship and virgin sacrifice? For believing in all loving zombies? For being a vampire?

    • I wouldn’t mock vampires or witches if I were you. That’s how you end up as eating bugs, or as a newt. Or both.

      I don’t think mocking is general is an ethical form of debate. There are brilliant Catholics whose theology inspires or supports their analysis, and then there are Joe Biden and John Kerry. Mock Joe Biden for being an idiot, not for being Catholic. I would draw a line between the so-called world or “great” religions, all of which carry a lot of valuable cultural, intellectual and historical wisdom (which one has to separate from the crap), and things like Scientology, which tilts more toward cult. Hostility to religion is just short-sighted: it’s an often useful shortcut to ethical conduct by ignorant, busy, lazy, not too bright or otherwise unethical people. Don’t knock. It can help.

  3. I don’t think mocking is general is an ethical form of debate.
    I think mocking is a good way to show how stupid stupid ideas are. Mocking X to attack Y is both inethical and invalid. Mocking X to attack X is perfectly valid.

    There are brilliant Catholics whose theology inspires or supports their analysis
    Name one. This is a common argument. It never holds up.

    Mock Joe Biden for being an idiot, not for being Catholic.
    What if I’m mocking him because it’s idiotic to believe in Catholocism? What if his ability to willfully believe in myths (or lie about them) means I can’t trust any of his statements on face value?

    I would draw a line between the so-called world or “great” religions, all of which carry a lot of valuable cultural, intellectual and historical wisdom (which one has to separate from the crap), and things like Scientology, which tilts more toward cult.
    Did you realize that my vampire and Zombie comments were directed toward the “great,” world religion Catholicism> Yes, good Catholics are vampires who worship a zombie. It’s in the dogma.

    What are you talking about with cultural, intellectual, and historical wisdom? What does believing in Jesus Christ as God (or Muhammed as phrophet or sacrificing to RA) have to do with knowing history? Can’t we keep the history and knowledge (that the church was generally against, by the way) and throw out things we know to be false or have no rational basis? I don’t need to be protestant to know about the French Revolution and Calculus.

    Hostility to religion is just short-sighted: it’s an often useful shortcut to ethical conduct by ignorant, busy, lazy, not too bright or otherwise unethical people. Don’t knock. It can help. Is it ethical to lie about reality because some people may do the right thing? Do the ends justify the means? Do these ends even exist, or is it straight apologetics? In my experience, religious people either find a religion that matches their own ethics, or freely violate the ethics of their religion. When was the last time someone said “I don’t like this position, but my religion says it, so I believe it.”

    You can be ethical or inethical with or without religion, but it takes religion for an ethical person to behave unethically.

  4. Mocking isn’t argument, and violates basic principles of respect and fairness, as well as reciprocity.

    I could produce a well-educated and ethically balanced child using nothing but the literature of Judaism, Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism, and a couple of others. So could you. Religion has produced the underpinnings of legitimate philosophy and morality. It has been the catalyst for critical and beneficial historical events. It also has bolstered legitimate ethical arguments against secular rationalizations, as with abortion. It’s not an “ends justifies the mean” situation unless you define religion as per se damaging and wrong. I don’t think that’s reasonable.

    Religions aren’t lies if the people leading and promoting them believe in them. A sincere and dedicated priest isn’t lying..that’s not what lie means.

    An obsessive fear or hatred of religions can be just as damaging as religious extremism. I’m not sure why you are so vociferous in your antipathy to private beliefs; if faith in the Easter Bunny makes life easier for someone and doesn’t cause overt harm to me, others or society, it’s fine with me. I can’t explain where the universe came from, and until I can, I’m not going to mock someone else’s theory. Whatever the real explanation is, it has to be pretty wild.

    • Mocking isn’t argument, and violates basic principles of respect and fairness, as well as reciprocity.
      Clearly, we have different definitions of either mocking or argument. You can definitely mock a belief as part of an argument. It’s an extremely effective and valid form of argument. Beliefs don’t deserve respect, it’s not unfair to mock them, and I have no idea how reciprocity plays in at all.

      I could produce a well-educated and ethically balanced child using nothing but the literature of Judaism, Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism, and a couple of others. So could you.What does that have to do with religion being good or correct? I bet I could use selected literature from any schools of thought I wanted to to do the same thing. Also did you just switch away from religious belief to cherrypicking relgious texts for good ideas? Did I ever claim that there are not ethical ideas incorporated into religions?

      Religion has produced the underpinnings of legitimate philosophy and morality.
      Educated people have produced the underpinnings of philosophy and morality. Throughout much of history, the only people with the leisure to be educated were the rich (who tended to be religious) and the religious elite. Correlation, not causation.

      It has been the catalyst for critical and beneficial historical events.
      It has also been the catalyst of horrible events, and often worked to hold back critical and beneficial events. What does that have to do with anything we’re talking about?

      It also has bolstered legitimate ethical arguments against secular rationalizations, as with abortion.
      No it hasn’t. Yes, there are legitimate ethical arguments against abortion. None of the religious reasons are legitimate though. If they were, they’d be secular reasons, not religious reasons. You can’t user irrationality to bolster an argument.

      It’s not an “ends justifies the mean” situation unless you define religion as per se damaging and wrong. I don’t think that’s reasonable.Letting people believe X, even though it’s untrue, is not damaging? Letting those beliefs (really, invalid premises) lead to bad conclusions is not damaging and wrong? Just because occasionally some of them are right? You didn’t even respond to my question of whether the ends are even good.

      Religions aren’t lies if the people leading and promoting them believe in them. A sincere and dedicated priest isn’t lying..that’s not what lie means.Did I ever say priests lie? Did I say believers are lying? No. Anyone who knows the truth, but does promote or apologize for religion IS lying. It’s impossible for all the flavors of religion to be right, so anyone that glosses over their inconsistent beliefs is either lying or an idiot. Keep throwing in your strawmen and I’ll keep calling you on your own lack of ethics.

      An obsessive fear or hatred of religions can be just as damaging as religious extremism.
      Hey! The both sides are evil argument. It’s Apologetics 101. The only thing I fear is the result of unchecked irrationality. How my mocking religions (equally) and attacking the silly arguments that underpin them is going to cause damage like religious extremism is not clear to me. Am I suggesting that all religious people should be exterminated? No. Am I suggesting they show poor reasoning skills and/or willful blindness? Yes.

      I’m not sure why you are so vociferous in your antipathy to private beliefs; if faith in the Easter Bunny makes life easier for someone and doesn’t cause overt harm to me, others or society, it’s fine with me.
      Because there are other consequences. Faith is a willingness to believe without evidence. It’s a celebration of unjustified belief. Once you let that go in general, how can you argue against ANY unjustified belief (Say, that jews are moneygrubbers that run the world or homosexuals are an abomination that must be killed)? You’ve already agreed everyone’s beliefs are perfectly fine. How do you parse allowed irrationality from unallowed irrationality?

      I can’t explain where the universe came from, and until I can, I’m not going to mock someone else’s theory.Seriously? If I told you my theory was that your ignorance of history, use of informal fallacies, and general inconsistency created the universe, you wouldn’t mock that? Unlike religious theories for creation, mine actually has some facts as premises.

      Also, in the last cite, you seem to tacitly approve of mocking when the facts are on your side. In that case, I should be free to mock religions to my heart’s content. I’m going to assume that was said in error, as I don’t think you’d play both sides that blatantly.

      You seem to have touched 1 of my arguments, and that’s it. I’m very disappointed.

      • You’re talking to me about being off point? This whole exchange is a tangent flowing from…Chris Matthews? Mocking fat people?

        You have no idea what reciprocity is because you’ve paid insufficient attention to religion. (Irony here…I’m not completely serious.) Reciprocity, in ethical terms, refers to the Golden Rule and similar formulas. Do you like being mocked? No? Then you should find other ways of disputing the beliefs of others.

        Religion (I didn’t say it was either “good” or “correct”) has value, because it had produced good things. Like the space program produced microchips and velcro. As to your other arguments, I’m not sure what you’re arguing. I think mockery and disrespect should be reserved for that which is without value and objectively damaging. Try as you might, you can’t say that about religion. Well, you can say it. It’s just not accurate to say it.

        I’ll bite: yes, sometimes the end does justify the means (as utilitarianism maintains) and I think the evidence of history, philosophy and literature show that more good has come of religious faith than bad, that the world is better off today because of religion than it would have been without it. An unprovable thesis, but not disprovable either.

        Of course letting people to believe X, even though it may not be true, isn’t per se damaging. Truth can do terrible damage. I think it’s great for young children to believe in Santa Clause. Myths have value; legends have value. Leadership doesn’t work if everything about the leader’s flaws and failings is known. Your insistence on Truth Absolutism is just naive, and simultaneously arrogant, I’m sorry to say. Human beings sometimes need illusions. If you don’t, good for you. That doesn’t entitle you to take theirs away.

        Read “The Ice Man Cometh.” O’Neill gets it.


        • You’re talking to me about being off point? This whole exchange is a tangent flowing from…Chris Matthews? Mocking fat people?

          touche

          You have no idea what reciprocity is because you’ve paid insufficient attention to religion. (Irony here…I’m not completely serious.) Reciprocity, in ethical terms, refers to the Golden Rule and similar formulas. Do you like being mocked? No? Then you should find other ways of disputing the beliefs of others.

          I know what reciprocity means. I just don’t know how a belief can have reciprocity with me, which is what you appeared to apply it to. If we go more general than the argument I made, when I spout ridiculous ideas, they should be mocked. A stupid argument is a stupid argument and should be treated accordingly. I’m sure you understand that. You clearly haven’t held back from mocking Gawker when they’ve gone clearly over the line.

          Religion (I didn’t say it was either “good” or “correct”) has value, because it had produced good things. Like the space program produced microchips and velcro.
          What once had value does not necessarily continue to have value. For instance, 8 tracks.

          As to your other arguments, I’m not sure what you’re arguing. I think mockery and disrespect should be reserved for that which is without value and objectively damaging. Try as you might, you can’t say that about religion. Well, you can say it. It’s just not accurate to say it.

          I disagree. I think that irrationality as a virtue is objectively damaging. I even made a case for it that you have ignored. Instead giving me dress that is more fit to your cut (further down).

          I’ll bite: yes, sometimes the end does justify the means (as utilitarianism maintains) and I think the evidence of history, philosophy and literature show that more good has come of religious faith than bad, that the world is better off today because of religion than it would have been without it. An unprovable thesis, but not disprovable either.

          I believe that religion had it’s place in history. Prior to mass communication mechanisms and the existance of literacy, religion did what needed to be done. It kept people from eating bad shellfish and stealing from each other. Nowadays, we can understand why shellfish are bad and control stealing without appealing to a diety. We don’t need to think there are Goblins in the night to avoid being eaten by predators or catching neumonia.

          Of course letting people to believe X, even though it may not be true, isn’t per se damaging.

          Did you read my argument? Do you want to reply to it instead of just stating your position again and using weasel words like per se.

          Truth can do terrible damage.

          What damage? Is the damage actually bad (in the grand scheme)? Is it worse than the damage religion and irrationality cause all the time?

          I think it’s great for young children to believe in Santa Clause.

          Why?

          Myths have value; legends have value.

          As stories, sure. As examples for how one should strive to behave, also sure. Is the story of George Washington not lying about chopping down a tree an excellent teaching moment? Yes. Does it lose anything to say it’s a tale about his honesty? No. Does making people out to be superhuman allow for arguments from authority? Yes.

          Leadership doesn’t work if everything about the leader’s flaws and failings is known.

          Did I claim all truth should be told, or just that irrationality should be thrown out? If someone told me Obama saves kittens daily, so we should follow the healthcare plan, I’d tell them they’re wrong and that’s not a reason to support his legislation. Did Bill Clinton’s liasons have anything to do with ANY of his policies and ability to govern?

          What you have managed to do, is bring up the danger of infalibility. Kind of like religion.

          Your insistence on Truth Absolutism is just naive, and simultaneously arrogant, I’m sorry to say. Human beings sometimes need illusions. If you don’t, good for you. That doesn’t entitle you to take theirs away.

          So I’m naive and arrogant. I could say the same about you. We elite, we can know the truth, but those peons, those less intelligent, the great unwashed, they can’t handle it. We need to lie to them and trick them to make them do what is best for their own good.

          Which illusions are necessary and which people need them? Sweden’s doing just fine in their largely areligious country, so clearly not religion. Political leaders? France treats their leader like a tabloid star and the country still runs. Guess what? When people don’t expect their leaders to be gods, they form opinions based on the policies of their leaders, not their opinion of the leaders. Shocking.

          • You didn’t tell me whether you’ve read “Iceman.”

            I have no idea which illusions are good and which aren’t. It depends. The belief that they are going to heaven has led some people to do wonderful things they otherwise might not have. The fear of going to Hell has probably saved millions of lives….still does. I agree with your assessment of how religion served society in the past; I just disagree that that time is necessarily over. (What’s so hot about Sweden? Talk about an unconvincing argument!) You keep talking about “we” lying to religious people. Who’s lying to them? I’m not promoting religion; you’re not. The people who are, are NOT LYING. They believe what they say, and we can’t prove a negative. Leave them alone.

            You want to talk religious extremists? Absolutely a different story, and absolutely unrelated to anything in this post or any of my responses. They do affirmative harm; they need to be exposed, broken down, discredited. Mocking them is too easy, and ineffective. Nothing I have said applies to Radical Zionists, Fundamentalist Christians, Radical Islamics, or any of the other nutjobs. They don’t deserve respect, and they don’t deserve tolerance when they try to ram their beliefs down our throats.

            Meanwhile, leaders don’t have to be Gods, but they have to appear to be better than they are. To think that a leader is just a policymaker is a common mistake, but it is demonstrably wrong. They are two different animals entirely, and societies need both.

            • I have no idea which illusions are good an which aren’t. It depends.

              So, you’re just making stuff up. Got it.

              The belief that they are going to heaven has led some people to do wonderful things they otherwise might not have. The fear of going to Hell has probably saved millions of lives….still does. I agree with your assessment of how religion served society in the past; I just disagree that that time is necessarily over. (What’s so hot about Sweden? Talk about an unconvincing argument!)

              You were called on a bad idea, and you double down on nothing. That’s tantamount to giving in. You don’t have any reason to believe heaven and hell cause good behavior as opposed to being rationalizations for existing behavior or desired behavior.

              You keep talking about “we” lying to religious people. Who’s lying to them? I’m not promoting religion; you’re not. The people who are, are NOT LYING. They believe what they say, and we can’t prove a negative. Leave them alone.

              Apologetics. You suggest letting people tell untruths and not stepping in. You are enabling the priests and flocks in their misbelief. I consider that lying. I’m not sure how you square that with ethics. If we leave it alone, nothing bad can happen.

              You want to talk religious extremists? Absolutely a different story, and absolutely unrelated to anything in this post or any of my responses.

              You’re the one that compared mocking religion to religious extremism. You can’t claim innocence on that one.

              They do affirmative harm; they need to be exposed, broken down, discredited.

              Agreed, but I don’t see why it’s just the extremists that do harm. Without the nonextremists, there would be no extremists. Salt the soil, and the weeds can’t grow.


              Mocking them is too easy, and ineffective.

              Any evidence that it’s ineffective? You’re not going to talk about tone, are you?


              Nothing I have said applies to Radical Zionists, Fundamentalist Christians, Radical Islamics, or any of the other nutjobs. They don’t deserve respect, and they don’t deserve tolerance when they try to ram their beliefs down our throats.

              I don’t see why anybody irrational deserves respect or tolerance. Are fundamentalists anymore nutjobs than nonfundamentalists? At least the fundies are consistent.

              Meanwhile, leaders don’t have to be Gods, but they have to appear to be better than they are. To think that a leader is just a policymaker is a common mistake, but it is demonstrably wrong. They are two different animals entirely, and societies need both.

              I gave a counter example. You make another proclamation.

              I see that you didn’t disagree that people, society, can’t handle the truth, but that you can know it. Are you agreeing that us elite can handle more than the masses, or did you accidentally leave that off?

              • So, you’re just making stuff up. Got it.
                If your tactic is going to be to intentionally and snidely misunderstand what I write, then You can take your excessive hostility to religion elsewhere. I maent that it depnds on the illusion and the circumstance, and I elaborated to that effect. Believing in Santa, for some children, is FUN, and promotes a healthy appreciation of whimsy. That’s just one example.

                You were called on a bad idea, and you double down on nothing. That’s tantamount to giving in. You don’t have any reason to believe heaven and hell cause good behavior as opposed to being rationalizations for existing behavior or desired behavior.
                You’re kidding, right? Just refusing to believe the obvious is not an argument. A large segment of the debate over religion is whether it is possible to have morality with out God—that is, will people be good without the threat of damnation if they aren’t. And you just wave that, one of the primary underpinnings of Christianity, away? This is no different from denying evolution because the Bible says otherwise.
                And watch your tone. You can mock me elsewhere if you choose, but not here.

                You keep talking about “we” lying to religious people. Who’s lying to them? I’m not promoting religion; you’re not. The people who are, are NOT LYING. They believe what they say, and we can’t prove a negative. Leave them alone.

                Apologetics. You suggest letting people tell untruths and not stepping in. You are enabling the priests and flocks in their misbelief. I consider that lying. I’m not sure how you square that with ethics. If we leave it alone, nothing bad can happen.

                You can “consider” it turnips, too, but it isn’t. And it isn’t lying either. I have no obligation to interfere with anyone’s belief system. I don’t know where you even got such an idea.

                You’re the one that compared mocking religion to religious extremism. You can’t claim innocence on that one.
                Huh? You shifted your target to religious extremists; I didn’t open the door to that by pointing out that your tactics were similar to theirs, which they are.

                Agreed, but I don’t see why it’s just the extremists that do harm. Without the nonextremists, there would be no extremists. Salt the soil, and the weeds can’t grow.
                Oh, please—what utter nonsense! And those skeet shooters pave the way for serial killers. And if we kill all the pitbulls, nobody will be able to train any of them to hurt people. Extremists are different in kind, except to anti-religious extremists, like yourself. This is pure bigotry,

                Any evidence that it’s ineffective? You’re not going to talk about tone, are you?

                Sure: because there’s no evidence that’s effective. Arguing with religious extremists, which I have done, is impossible; and they use mocking too—because they really don’t have any facts.


                I don’t see why anybody irrational deserves respect or tolerance. Are fundamentalists anymore nutjobs than nonfundamentalists? At least the fundies are consistent.

                That’s simple: because seldom can we be so certain that we aren’t really the irrational ones. From Men in Black: “…Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

                “Meanwhile, leaders don’t have to be Gods, but they have to appear to be better than they are. To think that a leader is just a policymaker is a common mistake, but it is demonstrably wrong. They are two different animals entirely, and societies need both.”

                I gave a counter example. You make another proclamation.
                Because I know what I’m talking about. Because leadership is a field I’ve studied for decades. Because it has been shown in multiple studies, histories, surveys, and observations of organizational conduct: it is the perception of the leader that matters, not the reality. I could give you a reading list, but I have other things to do.

                You have a construct, you’re secure in it, you don’t want to be confused with the complexities that make a black and white determination possible. I’m sympathetic. That’s what the religious do a lot of, too. Two sides of the same phenomenon.

                I see that you didn’t disagree that people, society, can’t handle the truth, but that you can know it. Are you agreeing that us elite can handle more than the masses, or did you accidentally leave that off?

                “The truth” is not the immutable, simple concept you seem to think it is. Ethics, for example, like all philosophy, is the search for elusive truths. Some can handle inconvenient truths, some can’t, some do well with myths, some don’t, and some can’t tell the difference, or don’t care. The “elite” “non elite” dichotomy is a false one. Elite’s just think they know better. History suggests otherwise.

                • If your tactic is going to be to intentionally and snidely misunderstand what I write, then You can take your excessive hostility to religion elsewhere. I maent that it depnds on the illusion and the circumstance, and I elaborated to that effect. Believing in Santa, for some children, is FUN, and promotes a healthy appreciation of whimsy. That’s just one example.

                  I thought I understood fine. It appears to me as if you dodged the question. You had spoken in generalities. I thought we were talking about the populace in general needing illusions. Was I mistaken on that? After I called you on it, you responded with an example of young children. It’s possible you didn’t notice the equivocation. If that’s the case, what illusions are necessary for adults that are on the scale of religion and politics?

                  You’re kidding, right? Just refusing to believe the obvious is not an argument. A large segment of the debate over religion is whether it is possible to have morality with out God—that is, will people be good without the threat of damnation if they aren’t. And you just wave that, one of the primary underpinnings of Christianity, away? This is no different from denying evolution because the Bible says otherwise.

                  What is obvious that I’m refusing to believe? This is nothing like denying evolution because the bible says otherwise. This is like (in the 1800s) denying the truth of creation because it’s only based on the bible. Yes, it’s an underpinning of Christianity that you need God to be good, but so is that Jesus was resurrected and humans are descended from 2 people. Can’t I wave those away as unsupported as well? Anyone that grew up Christian had it drummed into their head that you need God to be good, but it’s just circular reasoning. God says you need God to be good. Nothing else does. It’s the religions that need to support their belief that God is required.

                  And watch your tone. You can mock me elsewhere if you choose, but not here.Hey, you did comment on tone! Please tell me that was at least partially tongue in cheek. I’ll try to keep my attacks idea based. If you see me delve anywhere uncalled for, please call me on it.

                  You can “consider” it turnips, too, but it isn’t. And it isn’t lying either. I have no obligation to interfere with anyone’s belief system. I don’t know where you even got such an idea.

                  Physical obligation? No. Ethical obligation to correct irrationality? I would say yes. You, obviously disagree. Let’s just let this one go.

                  Oh, please—what utter nonsense! And those skeet shooters pave the way for serial killers. And if we kill all the pitbulls, nobody will be able to train any of them to hurt people. Extremists are different in kind, except to anti-religious extremists, like yourself. This is pure bigotry,

                  I disagree completely with your comparisons. Religion teaches people to be irrational. Shooting skeet doesn’t teach people to murder. I’m in favor of getting rid of the bad so the evil can’t come out. I’m not in favor of getting rid of the neutral.

                  Sure: because there’s no evidence that’s effective. Arguing with religious extremists, which I have done, is impossible; and they use mocking too—because they really don’t have any facts.So, there’s no evidence that it works or doesn’t work, so you shouldn’t do it because it doesn’t work. I don’t get the logic. Arguing with religious extremists can be pretty hard, but I’m not sure how that’s important. Personally, I have found mocking religion to be effective , so I use it. That extremists use it unethically (to hide evidence) doesn’t mean I shouldn’t use it ethically.

                  Huh? You shifted your target to religious extremists; I didn’t open the door to that by pointing out that your tactics were similar to theirs, which they are.

                  One, while sharing some characteristics, my tactics have 1 major difference. I mock to expose lack of evidence, while they mock to hide lack of evidence. Two, you didn’t point out my tactics were similar to extremists. Your quote: “An obsessive fear or hatred of religions can be just as damaging as religious extremism.” You compared the results of a nonexistent hatred of religions to those of religious extremism. Big difference.

                  That’s simple: because seldom can we be so certain that we aren’t really the irrational ones. From Men in Black: “…Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

                  That’s a horrible quote. It’s not what we thought we knew that matters, it’s how we thought we knew it. The knowledge that was found through rigorous testing of hypotheses and logic has not changed. Also, the Greek’s knew both that the world was not flat and the earth was not the center of the universe. Both by the same methodology we use today. Religion is using methods that we have found to be flawed. I find myself unconvinced.

                  Because I know what I’m talking about. Because leadership is a field I’ve studied for decades. Because it has been shown in multiple studies, histories, surveys, and observations of organizational conduct: it is the perception of the leader that matters, not the reality. I could give you a reading list, but I have other things to do.

                  Appeal to authority. You are under no obligation to provide your sources, but your quick summary doesn’t refute my points. Whether someone is competent doesn’t matter it’s whether they appear to be competent. So long as they are competent, I don’t see a problem. My point is that people have the ability to separate necessary qualities from unnecessary ones. Does your experience include expertise on that? If so, does your experience contradict my claim or leave it unsolved?

                  You have a construct, you’re secure in it, you don’t want to be confused with the complexities that make a black and white determination possible. I’m sympathetic. That’s what the religious do a lot of, too. Two sides of the same phenomenon.

                  I haven’t seen the evidence, but I’m open to it. If you (or anyone else) has a pointer location, I’ll start there. If not, this may take awhile. I don’t want to speak from a position of ignorance.

                  “The truth” is not the immutable, simple concept you seem to think it is.

                  In some cases, it is. In some it isn’t. I don’t think I’ve inappropriately wandered into the latter, but I should be called on it if I do.

                  Ethics, for example, like all philosophy, is the search for elusive truths.

                  Agreed. Which is why the discussion of whether it is ethical to let people be irrational was interesting. I don’t think I claimed to know the answer to that one, but I did defend my reasoning as well I could.

                  Some can handle inconvenient truths, some can’t, some do well with myths, some don’t, and some can’t tell the difference, or don’t care.

                  This sounds like good general knowledge, but do we have any evidence for this? I know some care, some don’t, and some can’t tell the difference, but the rest is unknown. That’s part of my point.

                  The “elite” “non elite” dichotomy is a false one. Elite’s just think they know better. History suggests otherwise.

                  I 100% agree. I was actually taking that as known. You see me as elite for deciding what people can believe. I deny that I am doing that. I think I am simply attempting to show people which beliefs are not based in reality. If someone says “It is irrational, but I believe X” then you can’t argue with them. You, on the other hand, are making decisions on what people can handle and what they need to believe. I find that to be the problem.

                  My apologies if things are out of order. I wrote this over a few hours as I had the time to respond.

                    • Let me amend that. That’s a horrible quote to use in an argument, but it’s an awesome movie line.

                      Is that better?

                  • I may have to launch a separate blog just between me and you. If I have time to devote to writing, most of it has to go to the main points. “Gee, Jack—you think THIS is why most bloggers just wrote a post and let the readers duke it out?”

                    If that’s the case, what illusions are necessary for adults that are on the scale of religion and politics?
                    Did I say that illusions are necessary? Maybe I did—I think it is better to say that they can be beneficial. I think, all in all, we were better off not knowing the JFK was a drug-addicted, adulterous, reckless pig while he was inspiring us in 1961-1963. I think we are better off that we know now. Many, many examples like that.


                    What is obvious that I’m refusing to believe?

                    Answer: People do behave out of fear that they will be punished by God. People do perform good deeds because the expect a reward in the afterlife. Hell, you would surely agree that the 9-11 terrorist were motivated this way. I think religion is the wrong way to encourage ethical conduct, but there is just no denying that it works, and you mat be the first person I have ever encountered who disputes this.

                    Physical obligation? No. Ethical obligation to correct irrationality? I would say yes. You, obviously disagree. Let’s just let this one go.
                    I’ll give you this: if I could “correct” irrationality, I would, and would, as you say, have an obligation to.

                    I disagree completely with your comparisons. Religion teaches people to be irrational. Shooting skeet doesn’t teach people to murder. I’m in favor of getting rid of the bad so the evil can’t come out. I’m not in favor of getting rid of the neutral.

                    Religion teaches people to be good; it just uses irrationality to do it. This is helpful, because it clarifies the crux of the argument. I do not believe irrationality is in all cases harmful. You do. Ethics should be more concerned with what people do, and not how they end up doing it, though ethics tries to identify modes of analysis that maximize the chances of doing good.

                    Personally, I have found mocking religion to be effective , so I use it.
                    How? Have you ever convinced someone to abandon their beliefs by mocking them? They couldn’t have been very strongly-held beliefs. Or you’re VERY good at mocking.

                    That’s simple: because seldom can we be so certain that we aren’t really the irrational ones. From Men in Black: “…Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

                    That’s a horrible quote. It’s not what we thought we knew that matters, it’s how we thought we knew it. The knowledge that was found through rigorous testing of hypotheses and logic has not changed. Also, the Greek’s knew both that the world was not flat and the earth was not the center of the universe. Both by the same methodology we use today. Religion is using methods that we have found to be flawed. I find myself unconvinced.

                    It’s a great quote. It rejects hubris. It encourages us to never be so sure of ourselves. What is today’s “rigorous testing” is tomorrow’s flawed assumptions. Heck, I’m Greek, but the Greeks got lots and lots of things wrong using that methodology.

                    More later, I promise. Got a plane to catch: my old law school room mate just dropped dead.

                    • The cites here include both our comments. It does appear like we’re getting to the crux of some of these issues. You’re willing to allow negative process if some of the results are good. I’m not willing to do that if their are better processes that can return equal or better results, and I think there are. I’m a purist to get to realism. You’re a realist to get to purity. Does that sound about right?

                      If that’s the case, what illusions are necessary for adults that are on the scale of religion and politics?
                      Did I say that illusions are necessary? Maybe I did—I think it is better to say that they can be beneficial. I think, all in all, we were better off not knowing the JFK was a drug-addicted, adulterous, reckless pig while he was inspiring us in 1961-1963. I think we are better off that we know now. Many, many examples like that.

                      I might be naive, but if his opponents wouldn’t have attacked him for being a drug-addicted, adulterous pig, then I’d like to think that wouldn’t have hurt his ability to inspire in the space program. Also, knowing he was reckless might have kept us from the Bay of Pigs.

                      Clearly, I am ridiculously naive. Assuming all actors were good actors, flaws of character wouldn’t effect leadership. I think you might be convincing me on this one, but only due to others’ expected unethical behavior.

                      What is obvious that I’m refusing to believe?

                      Answer: People do behave out of fear that they will be punished by God. People do perform good deeds because the expect a reward in the afterlife. Hell, you would surely agree that the 9-11 terrorist were motivated this way. I think religion is the wrong way to encourage ethical conduct, but there is just no denying that it works, and you mat be the first person I have ever encountered who disputes this.

                      I dispute that the ethical would not be ethical without religion. Are these people ethical because they are fearful, or fearful because they are ethical? What you have is ethical people following dogma and inethical people following dogma, wherever that leads them. If they don’t like it, they quit and find one they do like, or pervert it or ignore it. If we threw out churches and religion for basic ethics, I think we’d be in at least as good a place, and it would be easier to parse out baser motives from beliefs.

                      Physical obligation? No. Ethical obligation to correct irrationality? I would say yes. You, obviously disagree. Let’s just let this one go.
                      I’ll give you this: if I could “correct” irrationality, I would, and would, as you say, have an obligation to.

                      Aggreement in principle! Awesome. Now, don’t I feel like the optimist. I’m just trying to make the world a better place, one irrational argument at a time.

                      I disagree completely with your comparisons. Religion teaches people to be irrational. Shooting skeet doesn’t teach people to murder. I’m in favor of getting rid of the bad so the evil can’t come out. I’m not in favor of getting rid of the neutral.

                      Religion teaches people to be good; it just uses irrationality to do it. This is helpful, because it clarifies the crux of the argument. I do not believe irrationality is in all cases harmful. You do. Ethics should be more concerned with what people do, and not how they end up doing it, though ethics tries to identify modes of analysis that maximize the chances of doing good.

                      Here I disagree with you. Religion teaches people to follow dogma. Some of that dogma is ethics, some of it is fluff, and some of it is harmful. The inethical actions of religious people count just as much as the ethical ones. On the whole, I don’t think of religion as a net positive in today’s world. Following from my previous statements, I see religion as a rationalization for behavior more than a bastion of ethics. You can have ethics without the religion.

                      Personally, I have found mocking religion to be effective , so I use it.
                      How? Have you ever convinced someone to abandon their beliefs by mocking them? They couldn’t have been very strongly-held beliefs. Or you’re VERY good at mocking.

                      Mocking is just one tool in the box. I have convinced people to look for more information about their beliefs, from outside the believers. I don’t think religious people aren’t open to logic, but some have only been given invalid premises. Mocking has helped me show the silliness of some of the premises. Specifically, I can think of 1 person who went from Mormon to Agnostic and one from Fundamentalist Christian to Atheist. The Mormon did not know the documented history of Joseph Smith. My conman mocking was useful there. The Fundamentalist had never thought about the problem of evil in any depth. Mocking God’s love as applied to the cruel world hit a chord. I can’t take all the credit, but I don’t believe they would have gone as far as they did when they did without the mocking. Anecdotes aren’t evidence that mocking is the best strategy, but it’s something, right?

                      That’s simple: because seldom can we be so certain that we aren’t really the irrational ones. From Men in Black: “…Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

                      That’s a horrible quote. It’s not what we thought we knew that matters, it’s how we thought we knew it. The knowledge that was found through rigorous testing of hypotheses and logic has not changed. Also, the Greek’s knew both that the world was not flat and the earth was not the center of the universe. Both by the same methodology we use today. Religion is using methods that we have found to be flawed. I find myself unconvinced.

                      It’s a great quote. It rejects hubris. It encourages us to never be so sure of ourselves. What is today’s “rigorous testing” is tomorrow’s flawed assumptions. Heck, I’m Greek, but the Greeks got lots and lots of things wrong using that methodology.

                      The things the Greeks got wrong didn’t use that methodology. There are still sloppy scientific papers written today. They get ripped to shreads. What we have now is more people with the opportunity and knowledge to hold people to proper methodologies, even when the results are not what is generally desired. It’s hard to be critical of everything. I slip into my assumptions and biases, and people call me on them. With many less critics, it was easier for bad process to slip through the cracks.

                      If the quote were to apply to hubris, it should be societal and ethical considerations, not hard facts. Something like: “1500 years ago, we all knew women were property. 500 years ago, we all new black men were property. Yesterday, you thought children were property…”

                      More later, I promise. Got a plane to catch: my old law school room mate just dropped dead.

                      I’m sorry for your loss.

  5. Does “I’m on the side of truth” boil down to an existing unethical rationalization, or is this its own unique sort of beast? Am I correct in seeing it here? It’s the sort of thing the leaders of the Catholic Church might have used long ago to suppress ideas outside their own liking, but it’s now commonly used against religion.

    • What is this in response to. I don’t see “‘I’m on the side of truth,’ so I’m right” anywhere.

      I do see an argument that states when someone has the truth (based on objective facts) it is unethical and tantamount to lying to allow others to believe otherwise, especially when the incorrect beliefs can lead to incorrect conclusions.

      How that’s similar to the Catholic Church making stuff up to shut down debate is not clear to me.

      Objective fact is different from made up ‘facts.’ It’s amazing how many people don’t understand that….but only when it comes to religion. Dowsing can be attacked with facts. Homeopathy can be attacked with facts. Theories of illnesses can be attacked with facts. Religions getting attacked with facts? YOU CAN’T DO THAT! UNFAIR!

      • But you DON’T have the truth. Just part of it. And the part you don’t have is where religion dwells. Ultimately, it is a stupid argument: there is no proof God exists (except for the circular argument that the existence of the universe is truth enough), and there is surely no way to prove He/She/Spaghetti Monster doesn’t exist. I’d say the odds of one of the fanciful theories that have gained traction, from endless turtles to Old Testament Thunderer to FSM proving to be right are too tiny to measure, but there is SOME explanation, and the only really irrational point of view is to claim you know it. But the fact of non-knowledge isn’t much of a fact, if you ask me. A little modesty is called for. At least the religious have a theory. Ridiculing other theories when you have none of your own doesn’t seem very fair to me.

        • Religion makes truth claims about the world. I say those truth claims are based on nothing, and therefore wrong. I have the truth that we know. I don’t claim to more.

          I agree that it’s a stupid argument, but not in the way you think. There’s no need for me to prove lack of existence of something there is no evidence for. My destruction of the arguments for existence is fine with me, and should result in the same thing: lack of belief.

          I do not claim to know how or why the universe exists, or even if those are valid questions. I claim that pretending to knowledge is bad. The religion’s pretend to knowledge. In their eyes, they don’t have completely unsupported theory about the world, they have knowledge about the world. The religions are the ones that need to show modesty.

          I don’t need to be able to write a book to know bad writing. I don’t need to know the origin of the universe to know when someone else’s idea is made up.

      • You believe yourself to be on the side of “objective facts”, thus it is open season for you to mock the beliefs of those who oppose your “objective facts”. You’re OK with being openly disrespectful and intolerant, because you believe your facts are objective. Thus, “I’m on the side of truth” as a rationalization for your approach to the subject.

        • What’s with the quotes? Are any of my facts not objective? I’m open to looking at evidence and reconsidering.

          Am I shutting down debate in any way? I approach this subject like I approach others. Silly ideas get mocked for their silliness.

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