Showing posts with label Reason. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reason. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2013


An ex-student recently sent me two links from which I found interesting. It bears mentioning that I've always had at least a third of the classes I teach be comprised of libertarians. These aren't like the conservatives that post here. In fact, they are mostly like one of my star commenters, juris imprudent.

They don't give a crap about gay people, abortions or any other social issue. They think our military budget should be slashed dramatically along with everything else in the federal budget. They think the United States should not have foreign troops stationed anywhere in the world. This last one has caused many an intense debate in class and usually marks the one time when I get the most opinionated, citing example after example of why it is necessary, at times, to have an American military presence in parts of the world. One such student asked me if if I though he was being naive. Since I don't lie to kids, I said yes. He's the one that now works for the Cato Institute, btw:)

Anyway, another ex-student sent this article to me regarding Jon Stewart's recent piece (which I posted here) on the gun debate and this article from last December on the NRA's massively tone deaf presser. I found both to have some very interesting tidbits. Let's take the last one first as that was the first to be released. First we have the title...

NRA Fights Anti-Gun Hysteria With Pro-Gun Hysteria

No shit. That's really what's going on, isn't gun hysteria.Reason's analysis of their statement?

Not exactly the voice of calm reason. LaPierre evidently wants people to panic, as long as they stampede in the direction he prefers.

Which would be right out to buy more guns...just like they did. And they like to throw out words like "sheep" and "useful idiots"...

The article then takes an interesting tack...citing how rare these mass shootings are so why is he encouraging people to go out and buy guns? Oh yes, the federal government.

After a very funny comment about LaPierre (" but it is drowned in the flood of foam flying off LaPierre's lips"), the article concludes with this...

Last night I suggested that Piers Morgan's televised faceoff with Larry Pratt "pretty accurately reflects the general tenor of the current gun control debate, with raw emotionalism and invective pitted against skepticism and an attempt at rational argument." The NRA and Wayne LaPierre seem determined to prove me wrong.

It's nice to see an admission of error from the Right.

The other article expands on this amazement at the irrational behavior by the gun people.

So, should we be pursuing new, "common-sense" restrictions on the buying, selling, owning, and operating of guns? I am not a gun person - I've gone shooting exactly twice in my life and didn't enjoy either experience - and I find many of the arguments of gun-rights advocates unconvincing or uninteresting. The notion that a rag-tag band of regular folks armed with semi-automatic weapons and the odd shotgun are a serious hedge against tyranny strikes me as a stretch (and I even saw the remake of Red Dawn!). Hitler and the Nazis didn't take away everyone's guns, as is commonly argued. They expanded gun rights for many groups (though not the Jews). When the whole mutha starts to come down, if the choice is between Jesse Ventura or Janet Napolitano, I'm not sure where to turn.

This is an excellent summation of the libertarian youth of today and how they think. It's a very astute statement that relies on facts and has criticism in it that is highly justified. Who are the real leaders here and why should any young person follow them?

My only criticism of the article comes at the end.

Once you strip away the raw emotionalism of the carnage at Sandy Hook, or the Aurora theater, or Columbine, or Luby's, or whatever, you're left with a series of inconvenient truths for gun-control advocates: Over the past 20 years or so, more guns are in circulation and violent crime is down. So is violent crime that uses guns. Murders are down, too, even as video games and movies and music and everything else are filled with more fantasy violence than ever. For god's sake, even mass shootings are not becoming more common. If ever there was a case to stand pat in terms of public policy, the state of gun control provides it (and that's without even delving into the fact that Supreme Court has recently validated a personal right to own guns in two landmark cases).

This is one of the problems with the youth of today. They lack empathy. We can't "stand pat" after Sandy Hook. I think it's fantastic that the numbers are going down but that doesn't mean we should ignore the qualitative analysis of these crimes. And, even one death, as the president said yesterday, means we're not doing something right. Further, those same landmark cases also said that the 2nd amendment is not unlimited. That means there is room for new policy.

But I take a great deal of heart in these points of view because they have kernels of rational thinking in them. At least that's a start.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Holy Hell!

As soon as I read about Rob Bell's new book, I knew what would happen right away.

"Satan is having a field day," Ruth Ward commented on Love Wins.

In other words, a giant shit storm would be unleashed. Because if there's one thing I know about old school evangelicals these days, they need to have the threat of burning in hell for eternity. Otherwise, it's meth amphetamine fueled gay sex morning, noon, and night.

Bell is one of a new wave of ministers who have seen the writing on the wall. The "All Fags will burn in Hell" meme isn't playing so well with the younger crowd and they are losing followers to other denominations at alarming rates. His ideas in the book are actually quite sound when you think about it. You can't have a loving God and an angry god at the same time. It makes no sense. Even the Bible itself says that God will remember our sins no more (Heb 8:8) and that the sacrifice of Christ propelled us into a period of grace. Why many Christians refuse to accept this is very frustrating. Honestly, I don't think they like themselves very much.

But what absolutely slayed me about the Bell flap was this article containing an all too familiar talking point/tactic.

It seems that where Bell’s arguments begin to break down, he simply walks away instead of pursuing consistency and logic. This book could not stand the rigors of cross-examination. It has little cohesion, little internal strength.

Now where have I heard those lines before?

Setting aside the fact that this discussion is about faith, not logic, did all you guys go to some sort of seminar or something? I can just see the notes in the course syllabus...

When liberals, progressives or RINOS have a new idea, all of which threaten our way of life, attack first on reason and logic. Continue with a merciless attack on their courage. Make their argument look flawed and their person cowardly so we can maintain our support base of frightened and angry people whose ignorance we so desperately need to cling to power.

Maybe I should go undercover and sign up for the next class. When does Spring Session start?