Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/31/2017: A Hate Outbreak, A Bigoted Judge, A Lost Post, And More Halloween Ethics

Good Morning!

1 On Facebook, many of my progressive friends literally expressed glee at yesterday’s indictments, especially at the charge that Paul Manafort had engaged in “conspiracy against the United States.” Lots of social media users were expressing similar sentiments, the thrust being that they were excited that two individuals who worked for the Trump campaign were facing criminal charges…simply because they worked for the Trump campaign. This cackling mob hadn’t read the indictment, or if they did, they didn’t understand it. They just were engaging in free-standing hate by association.

The reaction is not sort of like, but exactly like, what I called  the “Ugliest moment of election night”: Trump’s crowd chanting “Lock her up!” as the upset electoral victory approached. Criminalizing the political process is not the way of democracy, and rooting for people’s lives to be ruined because of their partisan alliances is disgusting. Who among the people so thrilled to see Manafort and former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos being prosecuted know anything about them other than the fact that they worked for the President’s campaign? What do they think justifies cheering their indictment? Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about when he tried to meet with Russians claiming to have damning Hillary Clinton e-mails—which, I hope you know (and I bet the Facebook mob doesn’t) isn’t a crime.

Last night, Stephen Colbert, the full-time attack jester of “the resistance,” said of the indictments, “I know it’s almost Halloween, but it really feels more like Christmas!” What an idiotic and hateful thing to say, as well as a statement that is misleading to his audience, who naturally would think that the action implicates the President and the White House in something. (It doesn’t.)

2. Colbert also engaged in gratuitous race-baiting, because dividing the country along racial lines and promoting racial distrust is apparently what progressives think is funny and cool. Noting that the charges against Paul Manafort were filed on Friday but that he didn’t have to turn himself in until Monday Colbert smirked,  “Wow, we white people really do get arrested differently.” The “joke” is untrue, and racist in its own implications, suggesting that only whites commit white collar crimes and are regarded as low flight risks, while blacks commit the violent crimes and robberies that lead to immediate arrests.

These are ugly, mean-spirited people, poisoned by ugly, mean-spirited thoughts.

You can quote me.

3. Judge W. Mitchell Nance, a Kentucky judge, resigned after judicial ethics charges were filed against him as a result of his refusing to preside over any same-sex couple adoption cases. Nance announced that he would not  participate in  gay adoption matters in April, when he issued an order saying he was recusing himself from such case, arguing that adoption by a gay couple would never be in the best interest of a child.

The judicial misconduct complaint filed last month argued that Nance’s order violated the judicial ethics canons requiring judges to promote confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, to be faithful to the law, and to refrain from showing bias or prejudice.

It does. Good riddance.

4. More bad Halloween ethics: Here is a Christian publication company’s recommendation for indoctrinating Trick or Treaters.

Nice.

5. Buried in the comments on my post about historian Ron Chernow’s Ethics Quote of the Week was what I had set out to post when I started to write, and forgot to, stupidly, as I explored other less critical angles.  It is something I have thought a lot about, so I’m going to place a slightly altered version of that comment here, where it might have a little more exposure.

The quote was,

[A] democracy can be corrupted, not by big, blaring events, but by a slow, insidious, almost imperceptible process, like carbon monoxide seeping in under the door.

The election of Donald Trump was one of those big, blaring events that while disruptive and significant, really is unlikely to change the nation very much over the long term. The small, incremental insults, dings and insidious examples of contempt for the Constitution that led voters to finally say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to stand it any more!” were and are far more important, and I have come to believe that the public stating its objections by rejecting Hillary Clinton and all that her candidacy symbolized was an important step in stemming that carbon monoxide leak, even though the candidate elected was personally repugnant.

The metaphorical leak included the rejection of US sovereignty in the progressive approval of illegal immigration; the contempt for process as shown by the passage of the Affordable Care Act with tricks and maneuvers; the escalating anti-white, anti-male rhetoric from progressives, feminists and Democrats;  the irresponsible  embrace of anti-wealth,  anti-success and anti-merit Occupy ideology by Obama and Democrats like Elizabeth Warren; the pro-Black Lives Matter stance of the DNC; the “men are presumed rapists” policies of the Obama Education Department in its abuse of Title IX; the disgraceful use of race-baiting and gender-baiting to intimidate critics of the Obama Administration and Presidency; the extreme racial, gender and ethnic spoils system being established by Democrats as “social justice;” the nation’s slow and steady retreat from personal liberty, personal responsibility and individualism as it increasingly ceded individual liberties to the government;  the utter lawlessness, venality, entitlement and arrogance of the Clintons and their minions;  the vilification of police; the Obama administration’s willingness to erode national self-determination for world government; the pandering to Russia, Iran and Islam; the escalating assault on freedom of speech and expression, the Second Amendment and Due Process; the trend of criminalizing political dissent, and, for me the most frightening of all, the dangerous alliance between the news media and a single party and ideology, allowing the government to avoid accountability while deceiving and misleading voters.

That the nation recognized the carbon monoxide for what it was gives me far more hope than the fact that their chosen expression of concern elected a wildly unqualified man concerns me. And, of course, the frantic, undemocratic, hypocritical and irresponsible conduct of “the resistance’ since the election shows how much metaphorical carbon monoxide we have already absorbed.

That’s what I was supposed to write. And I’m going to take this opportunity to re-post, again slightly edited,  part of my initial analysis of the election last year, which is related to my belief that the American public correctly assessed where the greater danger to democracy lurked:

Hitler rose because the Germans, who always had wanted a strongman, were desperate, and their self-esteem had been destroyed. In contrast and characteristically,  Americans got tired of being pushed around, lectured, and being told that traditional cultural values made them racists and xenophobes. They decided to say “Screw that!” by electing a protest candidate whose sole function was to be a human thumb in the eye, because he was so disgusting to the people who had resumed to be their betters. Don’t you understand? It’s idiotic, but the message isn’t. It’s the parade blitzkrieg in“Animal House” and such defiant outbursts are as American as Doolittle’s Raid:

Otter: Bluto’s right. Psychotic… but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!

Bluto: We’re just the guys to do it.

In other cultures, The Big Cheese says jump and the citizens say “How high?” In the U.S., the reflex response is “Fuck you!” Obama never understood that. It looks as if the American Left no longer understands that, which means they no longer understand their own culture, country, and countrymen. The election was the “fuck you!” that an escalating and relentless attack on core American ideals and values had invited. I love that about America and Americans. And as much as I hate the idea of an idiot being President, I do love the message and who it was sent to. America still has spunk.

I love spunk.

67 Comments

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67 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/31/2017: A Hate Outbreak, A Bigoted Judge, A Lost Post, And More Halloween Ethics

  1. adimagejim

    Target hit and destroyed. Nicely done, plus the fictional future Senator Blutarsky reference.

  2. the escalating anti-white, anti-male rhetoric from progressives, feminists and Democrats

    Why would the Democratic leadership and spokesholes engage in antyi-white rhetoric. Would they not know this would incite people to find common cause with neo-Nazis.

    the pro-Black Lives Matter stance of the DNC

    the vilification of police

    How is that reconciled with their embrace of stricter gun control laws?

    • Chris Marschner

      Why would the Democratic leadership and spokesholes engage in antyi-white rhetoric. Would they not know this would incite people to find common cause with neo-Nazis.

      I disagree with the notion it incites common cause however it is enough for people to support certain issues while they create the impression that those who are not with them are white supremacists.

      “How is that reconciled with their embrace of stricter gun control laws?”

      They don’t have to. These are two different messages delivered to two different groups that care little about reasoned approaches. Each ignores the others incongruity.

    • Matthew B

      the contempt for process as shown by the passage of the Affordable Care Act with tricks and maneuvers;

      The SJW crowd is incapable of recognizing the incompatibility of these two views:
      1 – The only people we can trust with guns is the police.
      2 – We can’t trust the police, they’re racists and trigger happy.

  3. Steve-O-in-NJ

    1. Remember “Fitzmas?” This is Fitzmas 2.0, and it will end with the same ugly sweater as opposed to cool toys.

    2. Duh! It’s Colbert. Why even waste your time? He’s a poisonous slug.

    3. No surprise. Dumb move on the judge’s part.

    4. Oh, that’s old, old, old. Jack Chick has been dead for years now, but his virulent hatred of everything except Bible Belt Protestantism lives on in his tracts.

    5. Bullseye. The left needed a brick through the window, and Trump was it.

      • valkygrrl

        Everyone knows Dark Dungeons is the best Chick Tract, they even made a movie version (with permission) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LADLv1803Vw&list=PLTtpi7gJO7XOBoFSiLAYjrfR6n9odNG9y

      • Isaac

        Jack Chick is famous among people who wish he was more famous. If you asked a militant atheist to name two famous Christians, they would probably blurt out Fred Phelps and Jack Chick. I’m not sure that internet anti-Christians don’t believe that ALL of Christianity is just Fred Phelps and Jack Chick. I’m not surprised valkygrrl knows about him. (Like most people, I first heard about Chick from the “skeptic community.”)

        For reference, imagine if my picks for the people most representative of vegetarianism were Adolf Hitler and Adam Lanza. Of course, then I’d be an uncharitable boor of a human, but that’s my point.

        • valkygrrl

          Why am I being singled out for knowing something that other posters here also know?

          • I never heard his name before, so I appreciate the elaboration.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              I heard of him waaaay back in the 1980s in an article in Dragon, the role-playing-game magazine, as one of the editors skewered him as a bigot who hated Elvis, Shriners, and nuns as well as RPGs, and described his guide to how to give out tracts as “a primer on how to litter.”

              Although I can’t draw very well, I am a pretty skilled photographer, and Photoshop and Picmonkey make it VERY easy for me to combine images and bumper-sticker slogans to create tasty, easily digestible morsels of thought. He did pretty much the same, although he used drawings.

              He was a King James Only believer, with no training in theology or religious studies. He was the polar opposite of an intellectual – someone content to believe and act on his beliefs. Unfortunately, a lot of those beliefs were nothing but irrational and virulent hatred of anything that didn’t fit within his very narrow view of the world. He was a textbook example of definition by opposition – defined by what he hated, and he hated almost everything.

              He was 92 when he finally died about a year ago. I’ve only ever cheered the death of one person (bin Laden) but I was not sorry to read his obituary. The world is a better place without the bigotry of Jack Chick.

        • Emily

          I… only sort of agree? Jack Chick is most famous among people who don’t take him seriously, because he was unintentionally hilarious. That’s going to include skeptics and atheists, but also, for example, Dungeons and Dragons players due to the tract valkygrrl mentioned above. My Catholic friends also know all about him (“death cookies!”) Basically, any group that’s been in his targets and has enough connection to share it knows Jack Chick.

          I’m fascinated by religion in general, and will happily defend Christianity as one of the greatest forces of good in world history. But the absurdity of a Chick tract is a national treasure of comedy and demands to be shared among the people who know enough about the topics he covers to see it.

    • dragin_dragon

      The problem, Steve, is that they are all now gathered around the broken window beating the piss out of the brick. NONE of them are questioning why the brick was thrown, nor are they questioning who threw it. Until they do that, I still believe our future looks bleak.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Maybe we need to throw another one, this time at their HEADS.

        • Now you’ve done it! You used a metaphor referencing physical violence, which we now are advised is the same thing as actual violence (if employed by the right). “Your speech is violence; our violence is speech.”

        • It’s coming in the form of mid-term elections. Unfortunately, while I agree with throwing the brick through a single window on occasion, I worry about encouraging the slippery slope to throwing Molotov Cocktails through multiple windows.

          It’s all really controlled by the voters in the middle isn’t it? This past election it was “Okay, throw a brick, you’ve earned it.”

          The mid-term will be “Okay, they really didn’t take that last brick seriously, send another closer to their head.”

          At what point will the voters in the middle reign it back in? I suppose if the Dems nominated Hillary again, it would be a “Get your bricks ready.” moment.

  4. JRH

    5. Glad you posted this. Summarizes what I thought but was unable to express in such a concise way. Also helps that others begin to understand that President Trumps election was not so much about him as it was a poke in the eye to the “establishment”. It’s a small win that, with a few stumbles, he is putting together a pretty good team to run the swamp. After all Presidents aren’t so much the issue as who they select to actually get things done. Former POTUS Obama proved that well enough. You may not like what Trump’s appointees are doing, but out in the “flyover country”it’s being pretty well received.

  5. “I love spunk.”

    Along with grit, pluck, nerve, backbone, spirit, & balls, irrepressibly, everlasting qualities, in my book leastways.

    ”In the U.S., the reflex response is ‘Fuck you!’ ”

    The “Bush Military Service” chasers (Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, et al) preferred an ostensibly inoffensive acronym: FEA (Fuck ‘em All!)

    I prefer a more direct approach, one of which I suspect Otter & Blutarsky would approve:

    # 1 middle_finger_flame

  6. Greg

    This “conspiracy against the United States” seems fishy to me, and the fact that the indictment led with it and that the public statements of the special prosecutor’s office emphasized it strikes me as reflecting a partisan, anti-Trump political bias on the part of Mueller’s team.

    I read the Manafort indictment, and almost all of the commentary that I have read about it is either misleading or nonsensical. It’s not about Manafort being a “Russian agent,” which he wasn’t and which in any case was and is perfectly legal, or about “laundering money for the Russians,” which it never accuses him of doing. It really is nothing but a tax evasion charge padded with duplicative charges to increase its terroristic effect.

    1. The indictment’s central charge is that Manafort evaded taxes by hiding his overseas income. This is a crime whether the source of the income is from acting as a foreign agent, from selling widgets or from authoring anti-Trump books. The indictment specifically says that all of his other illegal actions were in furtherance of his tax evasion scheme.

    2. The indictment says that he failed to register as a foreign agent — not because there was there was anything illegal about being a foreign agent but rather because, the indictment says, the reports would have disclosed the income that he was concealing and thus thwarted his tax evasion scheme. The indictment makes gratuitous reference to the “pro-Russian” leanings of his Ukrainian clients, but the law would have been the same if he had concealed his representation of pro-American French or British clients. (What’s the purpose of this legally irrelevant aside? To justify the making of charges seemingly so far removed from the original purpose of the investigation? To throw meat to the anti-Trump faction? Both, I suspect.)

    3. It says he “conspired against the United States,” the supposed conspiracy consisting solely of evading taxes and not filing foreign agent reports. Legal question for those who may know: Does this duplicative charge even stand up? Can someone be convicted of evading taxes and conspiring to evade taxes for the exact same acts? Or is there another reason (statutes of limitation?) for making the conspiracy charge? In any case, I think the fact that the indictment led with this charge, with its ominous and inflammatory sound, rather than with the central tax evasion charge, suggests another calculated attempt to throw meat to the anti-Trumpers.

    3. He “laundered money” (his own money!) by bringing money into the United States “in order to promote” his illegal scheme to evade taxes and not file foreign agent reports. Another legal question: Can you be convicted of laundering your own money? I had always assumed that this was meant to catch only third parties like banks who helped criminals hide their money. Also, the law says that money laundering consists of bringing money into the country to “promote” a criminal scheme. Does that cover a case like this, where bringing money into the country is an inherent part of his tax evasion scheme? Note that despite the news coverage that suggests that Manafort was laundering money for the Russians, the indictment never accuses him of this. If this money laundering charge is legally dubious, doesn’t that suggest again an anti-Trump political purpose?

    4. He failed to file reports about foreign bank accounts that would have revealed his scheme to evade taxes.

    5. He made false statements in writing to the government about his evading taxes and not filing foreign agent reports.

    6. He made false statements orally to the government about his evading taxes and not filing foreign agent reports.

    The Manafort indictment doesn’t say that he represented Russia, despite news coverage to the contrary. It says nothing about Russia except that the government of Ukraine was “pro-Russia,” which is true in the same sense that the governments of Italy and Japan, for example, are pro-United States. The indictment also makes clear that the representation of Ukraine ended in 2014, and it makes no reference to any representation of Ukraine, Russia or any other foreign client since then.

    • Rich in CT

      The “conspiracy” might mean his collusion (no Trump intended) with his aid. Individually, they evaded taxes and laundered money into the country;
      Together, they conspired….

  7. Other Bill

    Worth the visuals.

  8. dragin_dragon

    Re: #1…I would point out that it is one thing to file suit, quite another to win the case. It is one thing to file criminal charges, quite another to get a guilty verdict. Good luck, Mr. Mueller.

  9. Brad Prothero

    4. Could you help me understand your perspective on why this is unethical? First, calling handing out tracts “indoctrination” is just a bit of an overstatement. Websters says “indoctrinate” means “1. to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments 2. to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.” Teaching and permeating someone with certain views do not happen this way. Schools would be vastly different it all it takes to teach kids was to hand them a book and hope they read it.

    Second, the website is not saying to NOT hand out candy but to hand out candy PLUS these tracts. Besides the financial gain that the company gets from selling the tracts (which is hard to say it is unethical unless you want to imply that all marketing is also.), what is unethical about giving something additional to the candy? Would you feel the same way if it was something you agreed with? Is it unethical to hand out something about the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” or just silly?

    As a Christian, the idea of “sharing the Gospel” is important not only because we are told to by Jesus but because of the eternal ramifications at stake. If we see someone on train tracks and a train was coming, we would tell them about the train. If they kept ignoring you, you would be more and more adamant about getting them off the track. Eventually, if they still were not paying attention, you might tackle them off the tracks before the train hit them. This is a good analogy of what Christians believe about the world. Once we die, we will be judged not on what we do but by if we believed in Jesus.

    Informing someone of your beliefs is not unethical. Heck, you do it every day with this blog. I am sure there are many people that do not agree with your opinions but you sharing your opinions, no matter how controversial, is your right. You argue that quite often in your articles. People might react in various ways against us for sharing but that does not in and of itself mean our sharing is unethical. In fact, atheist and comedian Penn Jillette has said that if Christians truly believed that people are going to hell, they SHOULD be telling other people about it. Saying that, he then rejects the message. The point is that whether or not you believe the message, the message should be told and then accepted/rejected based on its merits.

    The only thing that I see that you could object to is, since you used “indoctrinate”, you feel that the Christian faith is one that does not have a basis, that a rational person does not have warrant to believe its claims. In my (albeit limited) experience, that normally is based on a mistaken idea of what the actual Christian faith is. I would commend the writings of Drs. Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig to get a better view of the reasonings and arguments that support a “Reasonable Faith”.

    With all that being said, I do not see handing out tracts as unethical. Can you help me understand why you said that? Thanks.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Have you READ some of those tracts? It’s one thing to share the message of Christ, although maybe Halloween trick-or-treating isn’t the ideal time. It’s another to spread fear, hate, and bad science. The Chick tracts posit that once earth was surrounded by a mantle of water which made it possible for man to coexist with dinosaurs in a perfect climate. They also posit conspiracy theories that are ridiculous. Finally, they spread hatred of every religion that isn’t Bible belt Protestantism, with special hate reserved for Catholics, like myself. How’s that for unethical?

      • Brad Prothero

        Yes I have and I disagree with how they present things and some of what they present. Disagreeing with the message does not make them unethical just like allowing white supremacists have freedom of speech is not unethical.

    • Sure. I think it’s obvious, but because it’s obvious to me doesn’t mean it is to everyone.

      I’ve written about this in other places and in other instances of people hijacking Halloween. UNICEF did it once. Here’s the tradition: on Halloween, kids dress up and go door to door symbolically threatening “tricks” unless they are given “treats,” as in candy. That’s the tradition, that’s the deal. As a homeowner, that’s why I open the door. If you come to my door and demand “Trick or generous contribution to the United Way!”—screw you, and screw the adult or teacher who put you up to it. That’s not the deal. This is a bait and switch.

      Like me paying to see an NFL game and having to watch a bunch of illiterate lunk-heads “protest” when it has nothing to do with football.

      If the kids meet their end of the bargain, it is similarly unethical for the homeowners to exploit the tradition to give out religious material, vegetables because they are more healthy, campaign material for Hillary Clinton (as some did last year in MY NEIGHBORHOOD), birth control information, condoms, global warming screeds, anti-Trump material, anti-drug material, anti-gun material, condoms, math books, Kant books, Stephen Colbert videos, white nationalize materials, tooth brushes (for all those sweets!) or anything else intended to politicize, religiousize, social justicize, or otherwise abuse what is supposed to be fun into an indoctrination or lobbying activity.

      Bait’s and switches are dishonest and unfair.
      Simple as that.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        How about candy buybacks, where dentists offer to trade candy for something else, or just offer to take if off the kids’ hands and ship it overseas to serving members of the military?

      • JP

        No Kant book for Halloween? Darn, I always wanted one. Maybe Christmas.

        Thanks for clarifying this position. I did not find it obvious and was considering my question on how to address it when I saw that Brad already did. As a former missionary, I would like to share some thoughts.

        Evangelism is something that takes time and thought. Neither which is used in a tactic like this.

        Honesty is a core principle of Christianity. It seems immoral (as well as unethical) to use bait and switch tactics. I have no problems with this being done at a trunk or treat or an Easter egg hunt because these are events done at a church. It is implied by you coming to the event there evangelism taking place since they are coming to you on your terms.

        I have always found it somewhat immoral to evangelize to children in a non-church setting/without their parents. A reading of the Didache (oldest Christian writing outside the Bible) put a requirement of three days on early Christians before baptism to reflect on the decision they were about to make (it’s also why I have a problem with invitationals). It considered to be the most important decision a believer can make and should not be made on a whim.

        The tracts themselves negate the personal responsibility of evangelism. (These particular tracts are particularly damaging to the Christian image).

        Just some thoughts. Happy Halloween everyone. My family of 8 will be dressed up as Mario characters. Were quite a sight to see. Unrelated note, went to my son’s boy scout party yesterday dressed up as Luigi (my son being Mario) and kept being called player two. Ha! how’s that for not knowing your culture?

        • Brad Prothero

          Thank you Jack and JP for your thoughts. I guess I struggle with calling handing things out of your own home “bait and switch” but I do see where you are coming from. Personally, we have never handed out tracts at home but I have been involved with “Trunk or Treats” or “Fall Fests” at our churches for so long that I cannot remember the last time I was home on Halloween.

          JP, I never thought about your statement before: “I have always found it somewhat immoral to evangelize to children in a non-church setting/without their parents.” It seems I have done this (since most of my time with kids is in the church or church-type setting) unconsciously. I will need to ponder that more. I also fully agree with reasoning behind the 3 days and your comment about the personal responsibility of evangelism. Good words.

          • “JP, I never thought about your statement before: “I have always found it somewhat immoral to evangelize to children in a non-church setting/without their parents.” It seems I have done this (since most of my time with kids is in the church or church-type setting) unconsciously. I will need to ponder that more.”

            Depends very much on the approach and nature of particular evangelism as well as the maturity level and familiarity with Christianity any particular individual is.

            Though outright stating the terms of the Gospel would probably be heavy handed towards children not your own – your own conduct, bearing, and friendliness, though not likely to sow the seeds of conversion, certainly can help to fertilize the soil for a future sower.

        • I was raised Lutheran and kept the faith until dating a cerebrally-gifted, skeptical gal, 40 years ago as we speak. She expanded my…um…experience in more ways than one, and since then I’ve identified as a devout agnostic; one may be spiritual without being Religious.

          I’ve also posted many a comment defending Religious freedom and decrying Religious bigotry on a site I used to frequent.

          That said, I have a problem with the train-on-the-tracks analogy.

          A: “Get off the tracks brother, a train fast approaches!”
          B: “Say what? Here are some observable/measurable facts: I can’t see, hear, smell, taste, feel, or sense any such thing. Ain’t been any bindlestiffs, much less any trains on these tracks in decades. The tracks are overgrown and in very poor repair, any train with the poor sense to attempt travel would get derailed so fast it’d make your head spin. Matter-a-fact, they’re going to rip them out soon and put in a Bike Trail.”
          A: “Have faith & trust me!”

          “Honesty is a core principle of Christianity.”

          That’s not exclusive to Christianity though, am I right?

          “It seems immoral (as well as unethical) to use bait and switch tactics.”

          Couldn’t agree more, and allow me to share the experience of one of my sisters and her two sons, who were tweens at the time.

          There was a volleyball player at an Winnebago County (WI) middle school soccer field doing all sorts of marvelous digs, spikes, dives, saves, kills, & all manner of magical volleyball what-have-you.

          He told the kids if they showed up at an Oshkosh gym for another demonstration there would be pizza afterwards. With a captive audience, it turned out to be a religious talk and people were asked that if they wanted more information about his message then they should raise their hand.

          One of my nephews did and they came around with a paper so they could get names and addresses in order to send info.

          My sister: “The creepy part came when they asked another question (can’t remember what) maybe to ask people to stand if they believed and would accept the papers which were filled out. 3/4 of the audience stood up. I was shocked. Got out of there without having pizza.

          ”I called the middle school principal and expressed my concerns that religious speakers are not supposed to be in the schools and that I felt the meeting with pizza was a sneaky recruiting session. Principal did not seem concerned. (bolds mine)

          An aside: if that happened in my hometown, the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality? Howling, rabid, secular Lefties would have been stampeding in the streets with pitchforks and torches.

          • Chris

            A: “Get off the tracks brother, a train fast approaches!”
            B: “Say what? Here are some observable/measurable facts: I can’t see, hear, smell, taste, feel, or sense any such thing. Ain’t been any bindlestiffs, much less any trains on these tracks in decades. The tracks are overgrown and in very poor repair, any train with the poor sense to attempt travel would get derailed so fast it’d make your head spin. Matter-a-fact, they’re going to rip them out soon and put in a Bike Trail.”
            A: “Have faith & trust me!”

            Great analogy. Even worse, the dialogue could continue like this:

            B: But why should I trust you?
            A: Because the conductor of the train wants you to!
            B: Why can’t the conductor stop the train?
            A: Oh, he could, but he chooses not to because he wants you to believe that the train is there and barreling your way without you ever seeing any physical evidence of that. And if you don’t, he thinks you deserve to be hit by the train.
            B: Wow! The conductor must be a psychopath!
            A: How dare you! The conductor is perfectly wise, noble and good!

            • Isaac

              Your analogy is so off the rails (no pun intended) that it doesn’t serve any logical purpose, other than to convince you that you’re totally right because look how dumb this allegorical story sounds.

              • Chris

                Are you talking to me, Paul, or both? Regardless, an explanation as to why you think the analogy is wrong might be helpful.

                • 1) All allegory is just a combined series of extended parallel analogies. All analogies, like all models, are imperfect and fall apart in some respect. Which is why, when given only a snippet of an allegory or analogy, one can take it to a variety of absurd conclusions or legitimate conclusions.

                  2) In the tiny snippet of the analogy above, given a variety of conclusions it can achieve, one response to B’s complaint would be A saying “well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but calling the Conductor a psychopath isn’t going to keep the train from running you down. So perhaps the problem isn’t your characterization of the Conductor, but rather your refusal to consider there being a train about to run you over”.

                  3) The allegory IS presented incompletely, allowing you to assert a deprecating conclusion. A more complete, yet still imperfect allegory, would allude to the the notion that all the blind, deaf, dumb people wandering across the track’s path, at one point were all content passengers on the train with all their faculties. But they rebelled “against the train ride” and in so doing jumped off the moving train and their senses were all severely broken on landing…and there they sit…wandering blindly and deafly.

                  In short, your solution to the allegory is just one of dozens, and relies on a fairly incomplete view of a larger picture.

                  That’s why Isaac complained.

                  • Chris

                    2) In the tiny snippet of the analogy above, given a variety of conclusions it can achieve, one response to B’s complaint would be A saying “well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but calling the Conductor a psychopath isn’t going to keep the train from running you down. So perhaps the problem isn’t your characterization of the Conductor, but rather your refusal to consider there being a train about to run you over”.

                    Sure. But that still leaves the problem of why one should consider that a possibility, when there is no observable evidence the train even exists.

                    And of course, pointing out that Person A does think the conductor is perfectly good and in control of the train casts further doubt on the existence of the train, since it exposes the irrationality at the heart of Person A’s worldview. If Person A really thinks a just conductor would allow me to get hit by a train I cannot see, then why should I believe anything else Person A tells me?

                    3) The allegory IS presented incompletely, allowing you to assert a deprecating conclusion. A more complete, yet still imperfect allegory, would allude to the the notion that all the blind, deaf, dumb people wandering across the track’s path, at one point were all content passengers on the train with all their faculties. But they rebelled “against the train ride” and in so doing jumped off the moving train and their senses were all severely broken on landing…and there they sit…wandering blindly and deafly.

                    Interesting. To that I’d respond that Christianity does not posit that all people rebelled against God; only two did, and now we are all suffering for that. So really the analogy would be better if there were some people on the train who rebelled, and then the people currently on the invisible tracks aren’t being shown the train as punishment for what those people did.

                    But even if Christianity did posit that all people once rebelled, that still wouldn’t be just. Imagine that we take a serial killer and wipe his memory of ever having committed any crime. If he makes amends for his crimes, we will leave him in peace; if he does not, we will give him the death penalty. Would that be fair? Is it just to punish someone for something they don’t remember? For not doing something that they have no objective reason to believe they should do?

                    • Brad Prothero

                      Well, the meaning of the analogy was missed by many. That is one difficulty in using them. You are looking at it from the perspective of the man on the tracks but the purpose is of the man that sees the train. The whole point was that if you see danger coming for someone else, you would do what you can to tell the other person. I was not trying to give an argument about whether the Christian faith is reasonable (I truly think it is) but I was trying to show the impetus behind sharing what we believe.

                      Now, you do bring up that there are questions that need to be answered about Christianity, which there are sufficient answers, but that was not the intent of the post and this is not the best medium for those discussions.

                    • The best God/man analogy I’ve seen contradicts certain mainstream Christian precepts, but I think it makes it easier to see God’s actions in an ethical light. I found it on a Mormon blog a while back:

                      http://jeremiah820.blogspot.com/2016/10/artificial-intelligence-and-lds.html

                      In a nutshell, it compares our life on Earth to testing the ethics of artificial intelligence programs. Let’s say you have an AI with god-like potential, and you want to make sure it will behave itself before assigning it to real-world applications. The thing to do would be to isolate it in a simulated environment, give it choices between right and wrong, and see what it does. The environment would need to at least SEEM unfair and chaotic to the Intelligence, because you want to see what it will do when it’s neither being coddled, nor afraid of being smitten. The “wrong” choices should be tempting, while the “right” choices require resisting temptation. Basically, the Intelligence will reveal it’s own core desires.based on what it chooses. If the Intelligence passes it moves forward, if it fails, it does not. In this view, Hell is not a place of literal fire and brimstone, but a place where Intelligences who cannot be trusted with God-like power are placed.

                      Christ’s role in this analogy would be something like the perfect Intelligence that did everything right, and vouches for the other Intelligences that fall short of perfection, but still have potential if they change the direction they’re going.

                    • Brad gets this quite right.

                      But it is a still more versatile allegory than just that. Though I shouldn’t have glommed on to the “complete loss of senses” aspect of the allegory like I did, I still did. In reality, the more accurate allegory wouldn’t have people on the track completely blind or deaf, and in fact, would have people on the track completely aware of the train but having been thoroughly convinced that the train is no danger or the train isn’t really a train. But again, allegories, when pushed to limits, eventually fail to generate accurate analogies for peripheral concepts. Which is where Brad’s comment that this particular analogy is really meant for believers in understanding the urgency of evangelism.

                      And no, Christianity doesn’t posit that only two rebelled. It clearly asserts that all have rebelled.

                    • “Imagine that we take a serial killer and wipe his memory of ever having committed any crime. If he makes amends for his crimes, we will leave him in peace; if he does not, we will give him the death penalty. Would that be fair? Is it just to punish someone for something they don’t remember? For not doing something that they have no objective reason to believe they should do?”

                      Oh, I didn’t respond to this because I’m not sure what aspect of the Gospel message this is supposed to be analogous to.

                      (because it isn’t)

                    • tex, I believe Chris is referencing the concept of Original Sin, that we are all responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin.

                    • Chris

                      Brad, thanks–you’re right that the analogy was meant to apply more to the perspective of the believer. That helps me see its use better.

                      Gamereg–the problem with the AI analogy I see is that, according to Christianity, we aren’t just being tested on ethics or “doing the right thing,” but on a specific belief. If a human creator put an Intelligence in a simulation and was testing it on its ability to guess the exact nature of its creator, while planning eternal consequences if the Intelligence failed to do so, I think we would all agree that the creator was a jerk with unfair expectations.

                    • A fair point Chris, and there’s not much else I can say without getting into “preachy” territory, except that to me, the test isn’t so much about “guessing” as it is, “do you even want to know?”

          • JP

            “I was raised Lutheran and kept the faith until dating a cerebrally-gifted, skeptical gal, 40 years ago as we speak.”

            When I was overseas, I met an evangelistic atheistic. He really put my understanding of apologetics to the test. In the long run, I’m glad for it. People should challenge us or else we live in an echo chamber. It is one of the many reasons I’m on this site.

            “She expanded my…um…experience in more ways than one,”

            Living the dream eh?

            “I’ve also posted many a comment defending Religious freedom and decrying Religious bigotry on a site I used to frequent.”

            Thanks. People like the Kim Davis make us look bad. If she really wanted to stand up for her principles, she should have resigned.

            “That said, I have a problem with the train-on-the-tracks analogy.”

            I’m not sure where you were going with this.

            “That’s not exclusive to Christianity though, am I right?”

            No. Many core values are not. Compassion, giving, love, respect. etc. Take the golden rule for example. While it is most famously attributed to the gospel of Matthew chapter 6, it was used well before then. I believe Jack has it outlined on this site.

            “Couldn’t agree more, and allow me to share the experience of one of my sisters and her two sons, who were tweens at the time.”

            Your story reminded me why I don’t like doing evangelism to children. A few years ago, while I was on furlough from my missionary work. I was being supported by my church financially while stateside in return for some help with general church activities. Every year the church sponsored a work camp in connection with the college I attended (private school). Children from all over the surrounding area would come and work for a week painting houses. Afterwards, they would do various activities which included a devo talk.

            None of it was a bait and switch. They all knew what they were doing. What bothered me was after the devo talk they would invite people to be baptized. That night I watched 15 people get baptized. 7 of them had done it the year before. These kids had no idea why they were doing it and the speaker was playing on their emotions.

            You don’t need to be a scholar to understand the message of Christ, but you should be aware of what you are getting into. I’m not sure kids can make this decision.

            • Seems I got aspects of both your and Brad Prothero’s posts mixed up, my apologies.

              I had second thoughts after I posted that, I meant no disrespect.

              I have no problem with people of Faith, I have a Bruthah from Anothah Muthah that is steadfast in his beliefs.

              We respect each other’s positions, neither tries to proselytize the other.

  10. # 5 Sometimes things get “lost” for a reason. Perhaps you could request exemption from the “Snopes” exemption?

    (bolds mine throughout)
    “Snopes (has) its history erased from archive.org. Archive.org (that calls itself the Wayback Machine) is an Amazon-owned service that stores copies of web pages and sites for posterity.

    “Some pages and sites are not stored because they are not popular, are forbidden to crawlers, or are hard to save. But Snopes.com ‘has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.

    ”Snopes.com is the first website I encounter that has been excluded. That means it has forbidden archive.org to crawl its site and demanded to take down already saved data.

    ”That makes sense. Snopes is a fact checker – it checks facts to ensure they match the party line. In such cases, the party line is usually thin and changes frequently, so Snopes does not want 3rd parties to keep the history of changes. Think Orwell, 1984.”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/10/30/how-google-and-msm-use-fact-checkers-to-flood-us-with-fake-claims/

  11. Other Bill

    I can’t wait to see the coverage of this Tony Podesta character’s adventures with Mr. Mueller. You’d think the power broker brother of Ms. Clinton’s chief of staff would be close enough to HRC to raise some concerns. And why have we never heard of Tony Podesta until now? He and his brother look like the Machiavelli family’s long lost cousins.

  12. Chris Marschner

    As long as many Americans are taught to feel powerless they will glom onto anyone who claims to be their champion. They will reject fairness and truth in favor of superficial claims that buttress their own feelings of victimization and moral superiority. The irony is that often those who regale in their own victimization are the very subject of political predation by their champions. These champions perpetuate and reinforce the sense of victimization while they themselves accumulate power, wealth and prestige in doing so. The noise resulting from the rapid rise in populations of pseudo-victims effectively shout down the voices of real victims of injustice. When there are so many false cries of victimization we often fail to see the tears of the truly harmed.

    Hillary Clinton today said yesterday’s indictments are “all we need to know” and that Congress needs to now hold Trump accountable. Accountable for what? Why is this all we need to know? Her supporters will consider her comments as finite gospel; accepting the statement as truth without even a basic understanding for what the two were indicted. Like the wizard said ” pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.

    On point 5. If I recall correctly, in an earlier post before the election you asked for a rational defendable position for voting for Trump. You just gave it. In fact, you articulated the choice I faced in last November’s election.

    I believe that the insidious process occurring in our society is predicated on the idea that certain people are presumptively virtuous while others are presumptively guilty. Presumptive virtue differs from presumptive innocence. Presumptive virtue occurs when the word of a favored one is deemed as truth at the expense of another. Presumptive virtue is the cornerstone of presumed legal, moral and personal supremacy. Conversely, presumptive innocence requires an open mind to discern what is true and fair.

    We evolved as a society to reject notion that a claim by a white person against an African American is deemed more truthful or virtuous than the African American’s denials. But, how is such presumption of truth by a white over a black any different than succumbing to the belief that any accusation made by a female against a male must be treated as presumptively truthful and any challenge is evidence of misogyny or any claim of animus toward a minority is prima facie evidence of white supremacy. It is no different.

    How does one defend against accusations of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia or being a white supremacist when you cannot prove a negative? Why have we allowed some to shift the onus on the accused to prove innocence when we have a fundamental right to the presumption of innocence? Why do we allow others to level spurious charges against others without them having to prove their case? The answer to the first is that you cannot, thus the process of obtaining the truth is skewed in favor of the accuser. The answer to the second is that we understand the first answer and are afraid of being targeted and pilloried ourselves if we stand up for the rights of the accused. The insidiousness of presumptive virtue extends beyond racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual preference. Presumptive virtue is one of the building blocks class warfare.

    There is a reason we keep investigations and Grand Jury processes secret and why due process must be preserved not matter whether the claims are adjudicated in a court, Congress, academic institutions, or business settings: To preserve the sanctity of the presumption of innocence and the reputations of the innocent. We as a society need to return to the presumption of innocence and reject any desire to reflexively presume guilt because an accusation was made by our favored person or group. Only then will we begin to achieve real social and economic justice and a return to civility. I struggle daily to remain the Henry Fonda character in 12 Angry Men.

  13. Matthew B

    the contempt for process as shown by the passage of the Affordable Care Act with tricks and maneuvers;
    The problem is not only in the passage, but the fallout of that passage.

    Obama didn’t involve himself in the sausage making, he left it to Pelosi’s and Reid’s staff, operating completely opaque. We had to “Pass the bill to find out what was in the bill.” Turns out there was a lot of contradictory, badly written crap. The bill lacked severability and didn’t address conflicts between that bill and other laws in effect.

    Because the bill was rammed through and barely passed, it was easy for opponents to stonewall ANY changes. Obama’s response? Make up law on the fly. Never mind the unconstitutionality of doing that. In the end, that will doom the ACA. All Trump has to do is follow the law and let ACA self destruct. Pro ACA states will try to fight it, but they’ll fail as Trump is following the law. One case has already been tossed – in the 9th circuit no less. I predicted this outcome as soon as Obama started ignoring the law. No court will find against a president who is applying the law as written.

  14. “I love spunk.”

    I hate spunk.

    (it had to be said.

  15. The comments are enlightening.

    • Chris Marschner

      I read the comments. How easy it is to make the claim about a government that is filled with white supremacists without ever having to call out a name or give any evidence to support the claim.

      I give no credence to anyone who makes a blanket generalization without giving facts to substantiate such claims. Where did they get these ideas? I can draw my own conclusions for that answer without having to rely on any demagogue.

      • Here is one of the comments.

        ” Fascists work to oppress and discriminate against people.

        2. Protestors defend equal rights with non-violent action, as effectively as possible from within the “free speech zone” cage we’re allowed in 2017.

        3. Anti-fascists defend equal rights with physical action, like punching stupid nazis in the face because they are bad people and we don’t like fascists in America, remember? Don’t buy into the false dichotomy narrative in the media.”- David Silver

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