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Saturday, June 08, 2013

To Those Who See "Tyranny Lurking Around Every Corner" . . .

You're in good company!

I wish I could take credit for this, but it was compiled by my friend Stefanie Griffith, who is on twitter @stefgriff515. I'm posting it here with her permission.

"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty."
     --Thomas Jefferson

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
    --Thomas Jefferson

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
     --Ben Franklin

"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated."
     --Thomas Payne

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."
     --John Adams

God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
     --Thomas Jefferson

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
     --Daniel Webster

"The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing."
     --John Adams

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
     --Patrick Henry

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."
     --Thomas Paine

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation."
     --James Madison

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does NOT mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
     --Theodore Roosevelt

"Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems ... They'll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices, because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted."
     --Barack Obama

Friday, June 07, 2013

Lost in the Weeds of Group Identity

Messy Thinking in a Science Journal....

Ironies abound at The Modern Mind. In a column that is evidently supposed to confront her readers' cognitive dissonance, Liah Greenfield inadvertently reveals her own.

Apparently, Greenfield suggested that people who commit violence in the name of Islam might actually just be mentally ill and not motivated by genuine, deeply held religious beliefs at all.

In response, some of her readers judged Islam harshly and, in the process, voiced some views about its treatment of women.

From her response, one perceives that this may have challenged Greenfield's world views:
It was the combination of this certainty that Islam was to blame and the outrage against misogyny and the subjugation of women that attracted my attention: I would expect respect for women and concern for gender equality to be quite opposite to the range of opinions held by someone so confidently declaring one of the three great monotheistic religions evil. 
Greenfield is a sociologist, political scientist, and anthropologist. That she is surprised to learn of the existence of a strange tribe of people who both support individual rights and condemn oppressive religious practices draws into question whether her credentials have any real meaning.

Has she also, in all of her adventures in sociology, political science, and anthropology, never heard of people who are concerned about the rights of, say, homosexuals and therefore condemn Christianity, another of the world's "three great monotheistic religions," for treating homosexuals as sinners entitled to lesser rights?

In any case, Greenfield finds a way to turn her cognitive dissonance back on her detractors. As it turns, her faith in the goodness of Islam is not nearly as shaky as her faith in the equality of women:
And we believe that our mental activity (our minds and what they tell us to do) reflects the biological capacities of our brains, don’t we? But these two beliefs—the belief in gender equality and the belief in the biological determination of our nature—contradict each other; they cannot both be true.
As it turns out, from Greenfield's perspective, Muslims are likely on solid ground when they choose -- within a realm of choices that Greenfield finds perfectly acceptable -- to give women a different set of rights than men:
If the roles of men and women are defined by culture and different cultures define them differently, there is no possibility to say that one cultural definition (for example, ours, that social positions of women and men should be equal) is objectively preferable to another (for instance, that of Islam, that men and women should be unequal)—they are all relative. Each culture, likely, has its own reasons for the values it adopts: Some prefer gender equality, some prefer gender inequality.
She closes with a question she thinks is a tricky one:
How can we defend our belief in gender equality which is contradicted by (1) the belief, supported by neuroscience, that there is no gender, only sex, and that, from the biological point of view, males and females are unequal, and (2) the social science, relativist, position—on which the idea of gender as socially-constructed is based—that different cultures would have different views on this subject?
Well, let me just give it a go here, Liah.

You have misidentified the basis for the complaint against mistreatment of women. It is not based on a belief that two "genders" are "equal."

It is based on a belief that individuals should not be treated disparately based on their group identities, because what can be gleaned from their membership in any particular group is limited.

Asking whether two genders are "equal" is as ambiguous and unanswerable as asking whether two men are equal, or any two people.

While men as a group might be better at math than women as a group, there is so much overlap between the two groups that the odds of a particular woman besting a particular man are actually quite good.

Given your credentials, I would expect you to know this.

While women as a group might be more nurturing than men, there is sufficient overlap that one of the best caregivers at my daughter's daycare was a man.

All groupings are inherently arbitrary.

They can be useful and appropriate for gleaning statistical information and patterns. But to those of us who condemn both religious oppression of women and religious oppression in general, they are never an appropriate basis for deciding what rights individuals should receive.

Does my membership in the category of "women" tell you anything more or less about me than my membership in the categories of "US citizens," "attorneys," "libertarians," or "parents?"

You can make statistical predictions based on my membership in any of these groups. But it is just that, a prediction, based on statistical odds of less than one hundred. You cannot know unless you look past my group identity and consider me as an individual.

Perhaps you, Liah, are the exact embodiment of the archetype "woman."

But most of us have individual qualities that transcend our group identities.

We therefore believe that we ought not subject individuals to disparate treatment based solely on their membership in arbitrary categories that provide us with only limited information about how they compare to any other individual human being.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

You Can't Win

Dear Terrorists,

You can't win.

You will never beat us.

You see, "we" aren't a country, a people, or a place.

"We" are an idea. We are the idea that freedom is always better, that religion and government should be separate, that heaven is a place on earth and whatever lies beyond this life closed to those who commit violence in the quest therefore, that pleasure is a gift from any god who made us in his image, and that women are most beautiful as their own masters.

We are the idea that individuals are the sole arbiters of their faith, that collective exercises of force must be limited, and that you have no right, divine or political, to enslave the mind or body of another.

We are the idea that no ends justify dropping a bomb-filled backpack next to an eight-year-old boy, that only a false god would suggest to the contrary, and that the universe holds no reward for those who fall prey to the silver-tongues of false gods.

In your heart you know I am right. For every one angry young man you turn to your cause, how many assimilate? How many of your children succumb to the siren song of freedom? How many of your women decide the view is better from outside the veil?

For every 100 you send, we'll turn 99.

No. For every thousand, we will turn 999.

We are the idea that every exchange should be voluntary and for value, and that central planning of religion and belief is as destructive as central planning of an economy.

When you understand those words, you will understand why we have robotic bomb detectors and forward looking infrared, and you have pressure cookers filled with nails. You will understand why we have a thousand heroes and you have a handful of angry outcasts.

You will understand why you are doomed to forever cast yourselves impotently against the walls of an indestructible fortress of greatness that can only be achieved through freedom.

If you have ten men together worth just one of our Boston PD, I'd be surprised. It took us 102 hours to take down the best you've got. You just don't turn them out like we do, do you? When you understand why, you will know why you have already lost.

Tear down a building. We will build one taller. Blow up a race. Next, year ten thousand more will run. Recruit five of ours, a dozen, a hundred. In the time it has taken me to type these words, we’ve turned a thousand of yours. In another hour, it will be a thousand more.

You can't fight an idea. In fact, the more damage you do, the stronger we become. Because the world never craves light so strongly as when it is in darkness.

When you know why tens of thousands more will flock to Boston next year to run under sun and sky, legs and arms bared, hearts and minds free, while you cower under robe and veil and fear of sin, then you will know why you have lost.

You see, we are freedom itself. And we will never lose.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Every Day Should Be Gun Appreciation Day

Today, I am thankful for guns because they allowed us to fight and win the Revolutionary War and win our freedom to create one of the freest, most generous, most peaceful, melting-pot countries that Earth has ever known. Where your right to worship (or not) as you see fit, to speak your beliefs, and to associate freely with anyone you want, have been and will be fought and died for by your countrymen (and women!) even if they don't share your beliefs or your religion and even if it means you will succeed in ousting a government they support. Progress happens when the steps forward outpace the steps back, and while the steps back have been numerous, today I am grateful for the repeal of DADT and the repeal of the ban on women in combat. It all started when the first Americans refused to disarm.

Ba ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! .... Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! 



...ooohhh my .... [wipe the tears from my eyes]

To protect the environment from the scourge of plastic grocery bags, better be sure to use extra water, electricity and detergent with sulfates to keep them clean!! 

Or throw them away after you use them and get new ones! ...Now what does that remind me of? ... oh I know it will come to me in a minute... 

Otherwise, you will be overusing your entitlement to healthcare (no longer allowed in the People's Democratic Republic of America)...

Wait! I have a better idea! Let's just make germs illegal!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Every Day Should Be Gun Appreciation Day

Today, I am thankful for guns because cops in Florida like to enjoy themselves a little hobby they like to call "bum hunting."

I am glad that everyone has the right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to own the tools of self-defense. Because if this is what cops do when faced with a sporadically armed populace -- imagine what they would do if none of us were armed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Every Day Should Be Gun Appreciation Day

Some people think of “government” as something separate and distinct from “us,” “the people.” But in reality, government is us, of and by we, the people. 

So when we complain about the leviathan of government, we are really complaining about the leviathan of our community: our friends, family, loved ones, colleagues and neighbors. 

Government is merely the means by which we – or sometimes “they,” depending on which side we fall on any given issue – impose majority values on those who otherwise would not honor them. 

Unlike the anarchists, I believe that government is both inevitable and not inherently bad. It is only what is done with the majority’s power that is either bad or good, not its existence per se. 

When “government” creates and enforces property rights that permit specialization, accumulation of wealth, and enjoyment of leisure time; when it suppresses unwanted violence; when it provides predictable avenues for resolution of conflicts; it wields the collective power to our collective benefit.

But did you know that your friends, your family, your neighbors and loved ones sometimes forcefully separate people from their families, imprison them, send their children into the foster system and take from them everything they have accumulated in their lives, simply for the “crime” of knowing too much about the plants that grow in their back yards?

The poppy, like cannabis, is a naturally occurring, useful, and aesthetically pleasing plant, found in thousands of backyards around the country, enjoyed by people who have no idea that it can be used to make opium. Generally, such people have nothing to fear from the leviathan of their community (aka “government”), because although listed in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, the flower’s widespread occurrence usually acts to immunize those accidental criminals otherwise known as gardeners from being targeted by the community’s drug police. You can even sell it, for ornamental purposes or to use as an edible flower in salads.

But if you happen to have stored in your head the knowledge granted to you by Nature that a tea made from this plant might help relieve pain or improve mood – well then, your friends, your family, your neighbors and loved ones will take everything you own from you, put you in prison, and send your children to live with strangers.

And that, today, is why I am thankful for guns.

Guns are a way that minorities resist detrimental exercises of collective power. They are not the only way, or even always the best way, they are simply a way. And while I have no intention of shooting anyone, I am grateful for this method by which our option to resist is preserved.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Every Day Should Be Gun Appreciation Day

On Saturday, while attending Gun Appreciation Day activities, 5 people were (not at all seriously) injured. 

Without letting the number of people hurt on any given day sledding/skiing/boating/swimming/surfing/ icouldgoonbutyougetthepoint give them pause, a certain group of people were secretly happy about these five injuries. 

Those injured were, after all, just "rednecks." This being that secretly pleased group's way of getting around the politically-correct prohibition on "retard." In their minds, everyone who likes guns is a white hillbilly. 

In addition to never having heard of a skiing injury, they've also never heard of Otis McDonald


To make it clear that five (not at all serious) injuries at Gun Appreciation Day has an equal impact on me as the five children who were injured at sledding hills on Saturday, I am henceforth going to state one reason per day that I am thankful for guns. 

Today, I am thankful for guns so that rich, important people can send their children to schools where they will be protected by eleven armed guards. Like our President, whose children are evidently more important than yours. And just to be clear, we are not talking about the Secret Service guards, but the normal guards that the school uses as a matter of course regardless of whether the President's children (who unlike the children standing behind said President at his press conference, cannot be named or used in connection with any gun messaging) are in attendance or not. 

Eleven armed guards for the rich, gun free school zones for the poor. How's that workin' out??

UPDATE 1/23/13: The reporter I linked to had his facts wrong. It doesn't really change my point: rich people can afford to send their kids to private schools where the parents can pay extra for armed guns. Poor people's kids are sitting ducks in the "gun free school zones." But it's still important to point out that the reference to that specific school attended by the President's kids was WRONG.