Identity Politics – A Critical Examination

Identity politics necessitates the acceptance of not a few transparently contradictory ideas. First and foremost, it inextricably ties identity to experience. When I say identity I am referring to both biologically established identities, such as being dark-skinned or female, and abstract or political identities, such as being spiritual or Marxist.

This kind of politics relies most heavily on phenotype however, which comprises physical characteristics determined by genetics and epigenetics. Examples can be seen in the phrases and nomenclature of social justice groups, feminists being the primary example. Blithe references to entire swathes of people, united only by skin tone, gender, or sexuality, are not uncommon and are indeed inevitable, since the whole logic behind identity politics’ theory is invested in the idea that physical identity shapes experience and thus reality – which extends to virtually every member of the arbitrarily designated group.

The second premise, equally bizarre and spurious, is that objective truth of any kind does not exist. This is important to the first premise since it reinforces the notion that truth is defined by how one perceives it as opposed to how closely the facts of a situation cohere to reality. In other words, for the identity politicker, reality is defined by perception which in the nomenclature is called ‘narrative’. It is a fitting name since narratives are highly personalized and often fictional. So, for example, if I am a black woman and I feel unduly observed at a Target while shopping, the reality of the situation is not defined by what I can prove but rather by what I think is the case, regardless of the facts.

The new ‘guilty until proven innocent’ populist trend supported by many feminists in rape cases, offers us a supremely apt example. The feminist ‘narrative’ is that women absolutely, categorically, do not lie about rape and thus, any woman claiming rape should be taken at her word. To do otherwise is to ‘marginalize’ her experience by ‘invalidating’ it. If she fingers the wrong culprit or her story fails utterly to cohere, it is only because the trauma of the event has crippled her but this by no means impugns her story.

The rights of the accused become secondary to the accuser in rape cases in particular, all because feminist narratives define women as always right in the case of sexual assault. If men are falsely accused and socially pilloried in the process, this pales in comparison to even meek attempts at clarification on the part of the constabulary or public. This is justified by the claim that to question the victim does more harm than falsely accusing and socially alienating the accused. Asking for evidence, holding the victim accountable for their claims, and indeed, investigating the matter at all in any way that burdens the victim, is just more proof that we live in a patriarchal rape culture.

Rape cases are an interesting study since they highlight the contempt identity politickers have for evidence and truth seeking. They also highlight the practical cultural and legal implications of such an ideology being taken seriously. Investigation into any claim is often defined as a kind of attack, silencing at best, and violence at worst. This is quite simply because ‘narratives’ are considered truisms despite the overwhelming cornucopia of evidence that proves not only that witness testimony is colossally unreliable, proving that we should always buttress our stories with facts, but that individual interpretations of the same events can vary as widely as the individuals that experience them.

Instead of accepting that rape cases are difficult to try for numerous reasons, feminists and others have simply taken the unnuanced position that women cannot lie about rape and that there is a self-evident patriarchal conspiracy to codify it. This double-edged stance, that feminist orthodoxy can never be wrong, and that a coordinated global white-hetero-patriarchal conspiracy exists, can be found underpinning almost every argument a proponent of identity politics will make.

So far, we have the concept of collective experience and the belief that truth is entirely subject to one’s identity and that no objective metric can be reliably trusted. It should be noted here and now that already we have a contradiction.

If we can only know our own group’s experiences, how can we expect understanding from people who do not share our identity? The often quoted line, check your privilege, seems utterly pointless if in fact we cannot understand the perspectives of others without living them. And since identity politickers have rejected objectivity and its metrics, there can be no way to understand what is meant by any other person’s concept of privilege. Indeed, the command, check your privilege assumes an absolute truth through a lens that denies any such thing exists.

This is not to say agent and target groups do not exist. But it is to say that through identity politics no such thing can be reliably identified.

The third premise of identity politics is the concept of ownership, both of guilt and culture.

In the case of agent groups, such as men, heterosexuals, and white people, you must own a collective and generational guilt that spans the vast desert of humanity’s sins. In the case of oppressed groups such as gay people or black Americans, you own any and all aspects of a given culture or subculture, which you are free to police at will.

How anyone can own a culture or way of being is inexplicable, especially when we consider that no culture in existence today is at all the sole creation of one cohesive group of people. Ideas and cultures defy ownership by their very nature. Being nonmaterial they can be possessed by anyone and altered at will to fit changing contexts of existence.

The assumption that when supposed ‘non-owners’ engage foreign ideas or practices it automatically becomes a form of oppressive mockery is as paranoid and cynical as it is dismissive of intention. Again we see in identity politics an attempt to place an absolute judgement on how something should be done and yet it’s through a theory that by its very description claims nothing like an objective reality exists.

The fourth and final premise, and maybe the most risible of all, is the hierarchy of victimhood that identity politics and its adherents wallow in. Group capital and authority are defined not by the merit of your arguments or character, but again, by your identity. The more oppressed identities one possesses, the more currency you have in the economy of victimhood.

All other things being equal, if you can stack your minorityships, you are in a better position to socially police others with your identity credentials. This is yet another key factor in warding off truly critical debate in which evidence must be forth coming. By making oppressed identities the primary force behind an argument, you not only render logic and numbers toothless, but entirely sideline every privileged group you claim grievance against. Should any minority member challenge this orthodoxy they are immediately labeled an inculcated shill of the white-hetero-patriarchy. And should a privileged individual challenge it, they will be pilloried as a bigot and accused of silencing the victim in question.

Despite identity politics’ inherent claim to solipsism, it consistently wields a hermeneutic double standard against its perceived enemies, demanding that they and only they hold the key to what is true or false as far as existential claims go. The ultimate conflict here, which we see occur increasingly, is that in such a diffuse movement with no identifiable keeper of doctrine, everyone and their mother holds that key.

Counter Arguments to Anti-Syrian Refugee Rhetoric

Counter Arguments to Anti-Refugee Rhetoric

We need to focus on our own people, we have too many problems to solve here.

Oh, I guess America’s leaders can only deal with one problem at a time.

This is an obvious strawman and it is used whenever someone is too lazy or cowardly to resolve the emergent situation at hand.

But some of them might be terrorists!

And the overwhelming majority of them won’t be. Do I need to mention what happened in Colorado Springs the other day? It should go without saying that home-grown gun violence presents a much greater danger to the American people than terrorist refugees do.

Again, how cowardly must our leadership be to deny refuge to dozens of thousands because 2 or 3 may be saboteurs? If that’s the case, ISIS has already succeeded in using fear to kill our compassion.

On another note, when was taking in the huddled masses supposed to be convenient?

This is a problem of the Middle East, they need to work this out on their own for once!

May I remind you that the United States is an interloper in the affairs of the M.E. We were never asked to engage in their affairs and even if we had been, we have always had the option to do otherwise.

Our government is responsible for the regime change in Iraq and the famously weak and incompetent government we established there. As a direct result, Iraq was unable to deal with the political and military turmoil of ISIS, leading to the vanished border between Iraq and Syria, greatly strengthening the terrorist organization.

In our bumbling attempts at resolution, we unintentionally gave weapons and money to ISIS, and contributed to the vitiation of Assad’s forces, again aiding ISIS, and all due to our infantile stance on the nature of good and evil.

The next time some patriotic asshole tells you Assad must go because he is a dictator, mention our allies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. And if they bring up barrel bombs, mention our use of the chemical weapon ‘agent orange’ in Vietnam. Oops.

Anyway, that should do it.

 

 

Ben Carson: Muslims Bad! Christians GOOD!

Ben Carson, Republican presidential candidate and more shockingly, a retired neuro-surgeon, has declared that Muslim Americans should not be considered for the presidency.

His exact words were, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” When asked about whether a candidate’s faith should matter to voters, he went on to state that it depends on whether that faith is in line with the Constitution.

I need to take a very deep breath before I continue…

Carson says he wouldn’t support a Muslim candidate strictly on the basis of their Islamic faith because it is not in line with the Constitution. Our once-upon-a-time-neurosurgeon seems to be under the grand delusion that any religious faith could be in line with a secular legal system.

Since, as far as I know, every religion in existence subordinates secular law to its own, it can be safely asserted that no faith is in keeping with the Constitution of the United States. Further, the Constitution clearly forbids the government from supporting any single religion while subordinating them to the rights of human beings as opposed to any concept of divine law. This is entirely counter to the goal of every faith which is to become central to a believer’s life and the leading authority in all things moral and even political.

Carson also mentions some crap about a compatibility with ‘American values’. Well…if American values celebrate pluralism, secularism, democracy and the progression of human rights, then again, Christianity is antipodal. As is every faith in this regard since all of them claim a monopoly on ONE divine truth, brooking very little in the way of tolerance.

But more than any of this, how is a whack-job Muslim going to be any worse for this country than say, crazy Christian Bush was? How is any deeply religious person a good candidate for the presidency? Were Carson speaking from a place of concern regarding religious extremism he wouldn’t have ignored the question of a Mormon president or Evangelical. But we can safely assume he believes Muslim Americans to be specifically prone to extremism. Bosh. And demonstrably so because all nonsense ideologies which condemn critical thought and reason tend to foster dangerous, unreasonable people. Islam is scarcely unique in this way.

You cannot serve two masters ladies, gentlemen and otherwise. You either truly and sincerely believe in your faith, in which case ‘man’s law’ and the Constitution is secondary to it, or you fully acknowledge that the only law and authority that has any real power is that which spawns from the Capitol.

Carson is an obvious bigot because he irrationally targets a group of people no more or less dangerous than his own, Christians. Not shocking from a Christian Republican but disturbing from someone who is apparently qualified to operate on human brains.

Kim Davis and the Christian Victim-hood Complex

This one will be brief but I need to address the rising caterwauls of such victim-mongering self-righteous lunatics as Kim Davis; you know, the woman with the ugly hair-cape she calls a haircut.

See the hair-cape?

Let’s be clear, Christians are in no way and never were a persecuted class in the United States. There has never been a time, place or institution that systemically and institutionally discriminated against them. The assertion that LGBT people and their politics are encroaching on the rights of Christians is as absurd as it is unfounded and indicative of the petty, small and certainly pathetic mentality of a very insecure political majority. Conversely, Catholics and Protestants have long lorded their power over queer peoples and continue to do so today.

Kim Davis has been likened to Rosa Parks. Let’s go on a journey whereby we demolish that laughable and offensive comparison. Rosa Parks was a tax paying citizen of the United States whose human rights were consistently and blatantly violated by unnecessarily disallowing her from sitting where she wished on public transportation, among other things. Kim Davis is an elected official by her own conscience, elected to uphold the law of the land. She chose to pursue that position, understood what it would entail and accepted it under those conditions.

Further, Kim Davis, unlike dear and sweet Rosa, is not a victim of political oppression since she is in no way persecuted.. In fact, she victimized others by depriving them of their legal rights. Merely because Kim Davis must certify some paperwork for a gay marriage does not mean she personally approves it. It is not as though the government forces her to verbally or in writing countenance the act. She is simply expected to uphold the approval of the government. Gay marriage is a victimless event. Depriving someone of their right to a marriage, however, is not. See the difference?

Just in case a member of my five-person audience is as stupid as Davis is, allow me to elaborate with an example. Imagine a police officer has to arrest an activist for engaging in political terrorism – let’s say they blew up a monument to make a statement about workers’ rights. The officer may fully support the activist but he must still fulfill his duties as an officer of the law and arrest the man or be terminated. The officer does not personally condone the law enforcement of the state by his arrest, he only follows through with a job description. If, however, he feels strongly enough that he cannot follow through with his obligations he is free, that is to say FREE TO MAKE A CHOICE ON HIS OWN TERMS, to vacate his position. This is far from being persecuted or oppressed.

If, however, I enter a pharmacy as a woman who believers herself in need of the day-after-pill and the pharmacist refuses to sell me the pill on the basis that he is a Mormon and cannot religiously countenance my desire to nix my pregnancy, that would make me a persecuted and/or oppressed individual at the hands of a religious fascist. The pharmacist’s right to religion does not extend to refusing me a legally sanctioned service, even if they are in the position to deliver that service. The pharmacist only has the right to take the job or leave it, nothing more. Just as the police officer only has the right to do his job or leave it, again, nothing more.

Kim Davis is just a really physically ugly manifestation of the insecurity of Christian conservatives everywhere, lamenting the loss of their supremacist power over queer people everywhere. End of story.

Values in the West, a Moral High-Ground

Anyone reading this blog knows that I am vehemently contemptuous of cultural relativism; the notion that there are no absolutely right or wrong ways to govern or exist in a society but that instead it is all just a matter of one’s cultural consensus.

This notion, largely a far-left conceit, is not only demonstrably wrong with regard to the human condition but also a justification for all manner of grotesquery and moral turpitude. For example, a moral relativist would argue that western societies and those like it, such as Japan or South Korea, have no right to criticize the act of female genital mutilation since it can only be understood within its respective culture. In other words, what is true or right is determined by culture and not logic, reason, or even the obvious such as the human condition’s reaction to it.

Many times when defending the healthier practices of democracy and those nations which generally acknowledge Humanist values, I am confronted with some varietal of the far leftist, like a feminist who, while damning her own culture will compare its lowest points to some autocracy’s highest. The argument follows something like this: ‘Well, it was the West that dragged the world into World War II’ or ‘A ridiculously long time ago Arabia made some contributions to math which the Greeks failed to do.’

This tactic is a common one and almost inevitably involves the dredging up of a long finished and no longer representative past in a miserable state like Iran while comparing it with some past or current event in the West that is typically an exception to the rule. Either way, what is never acknowledged is the consistency of these faults or successes.

One of the most ridiculous attacks on the West’s moral superiority I’ve ever heard was when a French Muslim named Tariq Ramadan said the West had no right to criticize the treatment of women in Muslim majority nations since domestic abuse still transpired in Europe and North America. This is like claiming that because literacy rates in the West hover just below 100% they have no right to criticize nations where they exist at lows of fifty or even less.

I might also add, and this is a core difference, that domestic abuse in the West is illegal whereas in nations like Saudi Arabia it is most certainly legal or in the least, socially sanctioned. These distinctions matter.

It is demonstrably the case that when women are given equal access to resources in a society everyone in that society fares better. This can be scientifically measured and proven. I can guarantee that if you compared all the nations where women are practically equal to all the nations where they are undeniably not, you would find decreased poverty, increased literacy, lower infant mortality, and higher average lifespans. What is subjective or relative about that? Nothing. When women are equal the society is objectively a better one to live in. By what measure? Human well-being.

While no country on this earth is perfect and, for example, nations like the United States have much to answer for with regard to their clumsy and largely inhumane foreign policy, the reality on the ground of these nations is that the freedom to be and do exists and is taken seriously. The same cannot be said for many other nations, especially so in Muslim majority countries where de facto if not de jure theocracy reigns.

I you are going to compare two nations, like the United States and Iran, consistency matters. It is irrelevant who was more progressive several centuries ago. Anecdotes too are irrelevant. What matters is the legal system and how it is practiced on the ground. And I am sorry ladies and gentlemen, at least to those of you who disagree, but on that front and between these two nations in particular America is going to win every single time. Name whatever dictatorship America has propped up in the past if you please but in the end Iran maintains a theocratic psycho within its own borders and regularly threatens to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

Nation states and cultures have to be compared directly. We can safely acknowledge the faults of democratic countries without submitting to the ridiculous notion that if a nation does one bad thing it is the equivalent of such sociopathic regimes as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Sweden engages in arms dealing, that hardly puts her on a par with Russia or China. The largely Humanist values of the West and her allies, occasional failings aside, are undeniably superior to the incessant system failures of their counterparts in such fascist states as Iran and that can never be understated.

Muslims in the Middle: The Relationship between the Far Right and Islamism

I often rant and rave about religion and I stand vehemently by the claim that all religion is bad for you. I’ll quote Maryam Namazie here and say that religion, much like a pack of smokes, should come with a warning sign. That being said, I fully support everyone’s right to believe in whatever bosh they please, so long as they are not foisting it onto others.

One religion in particular, however, is doing a spectacularly fabulous job at just that, which in the process has managed to confuse many of us, leading the West and others to conflate a religious people like every-day Muslims with a religiously political group like Islamists.

The far Right in both America and Europe has largely capitalized on this confusion, scavenging it to cloak their racism and xenophobia in a cape of well-intentioned nationalism whereby Muslim immigrants are sacrificed on the altar of Western values of freedom and democracy.

This in turn has aided Islamists who, equally fascist, have gleefully lunged at the opportunity to expose the Far Right’s skulking bigotry, bolstering their cause for both greater tolerance and the dissemination of their theocratic values disguised as a besieged minority.

The result of this clash of fascisms has been the demonization of Muslim immigrants and secularists who, using arguments bogarted by the Right, have been lashed and pilloried by self-righteous leftists as islamophobic.

The term ‘islamophobic’ was invented to silence opposition to the theocratic political movement of Islamism. It is meant to evoke images of nasty, irrational xenophobes and homophobes but in reality, it is nothing like them. For one, there are very legitimate reasons to be terrified of Islam or any religion. Secondly, ideologies are not the same as people.

Leftists of all sorts clamor this term, justifiably suspicious of the Far Right and its ‘concern’ with immigrants. But what they don’t seem to understand is the danger of such a term when applied to secularists, atheists and humanists who are legitimately concerned with issues of freedom of speech, media and minorities at the hands of such extremist political agents as Islamists.

It has never been trendier to attack the Far Right and yet their equally chauvinist doppelganger, the theocratic fascists known as Islamists, have been inoculated against critique by the very nomenclature the left created to combat such ideological poison.

Islamism was not concocted by immigrants and they certainly cannot be faulted for it, no more than my Lutheran parents can be faulted for fundamentalist evangelicals. Sharia law in the West was not an issue 40 years ago and there were plenty of Muslims in Europe at that time. Islamism appeared in force after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran which can be directly correlated with America’s feckless foreign policy to establish a ‘greenbelt’ around the USSR.

Sharia law is the method by which Islamists establish their totalitarianesque grip on society. It is indistinguishable from Far Right political sympathies save for how far leftists will go to depict these fascist theocrats as beleaguered minorities.

The Far Right may use the same arguments that secularists and atheist use to assail theocratic fascism but the agenda is entirely different. How you accomplish something is as important as the accomplishment. The Far Right’s agenda is to darkly coopt the forces of nationalism with liberal nomenclature to create a scapegoat of immigrants, thereby currying popular support and validating their xenophobic values.

Secularists and atheists, however, are not concerned with immigrants, ethnicity or nationalism. We are concerned with religion in the public square and its obvious roots to fascism. The Right, however, is quite pro-religion when it pertains to Christianity. An anti-religious stance is a key distinguishing factor since it is an obvious point of divergence.

Our agenda is the preservation of free speech, media and a secular government that, instead of allowing every religion into the public sphere, excludes all of them. Everyone is entitled to believe what they wish but their beliefs are not entitled to protection from criticism or state sanctioned coercion.

We need to acknowledge that the Far Right’s intentions are insincere while recognizing that criticism of religion’s pernicious and aggressive incursion into public life is legitimate and indeed, necessary. This is no battle against immigrants and it is no battle against Muslims. It is a battle against Islamo-fascists and the Far Right who would have us believe they are the anecdote. One fascism does not negate another.

Who Watches the Watchmen? (The Unwarranted Worship of Military and Police in America)

I’m tired of hearing about American lives and I’m tired of hearing about how police officers and military are heroes. Americans are not the only human beings on this planet and American constabulary and soldiers are rarely heroic, if ever. I say this because there can be no heroism where there is no accountability and because heroism is defined by the agenda and motives of its agents.

Indeed, these days the simple act of applying for certain jobs seems to confer hero status. We use words like ‘serve’ and ‘sacrifice’ for people paid for their services like every other American despite the fact that in many cases, their work either redounds to absolutely no benefit for the American people or comes at no risk to themselves.

I am not the first to point out that there are people that volunteer to be paid substantially less than they could be while traveling to dangerous places and saving lives daily, like infectious disease doctors. I would even bet that statistically they’re at greater risk of catching death than their combatant counterparts.

Since, however, we’re discussing statistics let’s examine the supposedly sky-high risks that officers and soldiers are apparently taking when they choose to humbly serve their communities for a salary, benefits and automatic recognition of hero status.

Of people in ‘protective service’ occupations, which includes police and firefighters, a whopping 97 law enforcement individuals were killed nationally in 2013.  Only 31 of those 97 died as a result of homicide, presumably at the hands of someone they were apprehending. Amusingly enough, more retail workers died from homicides on the job than police in 2013. Maybe we should start fawning over sales people in retail instead of officers since their job affords twice the risk of death by homicide (66 people).

Now that we’ve established that 2013 was not a particularly dangerous year for officers in the line of duty, let’s examine what kind of year it was for everyone else existing under their supervision. One number puts the number of deaths at the hands of officers, in the line of duty or not, at 320. Another estimates 400 for the number of supposedly ‘justifiable homicides’. But since we’ve all seen what America considers ‘justifiable’ at the hands of police I’m not entirely sure that’s the right word. Other sources, like the facebook page ‘Killed by Police’, have ostensibly tracked more than 2,000 deaths since May of 2013.

With numbers like these it would appear that the constabulary is more dangerous than the citizenry their licensed to protect.

But what about military personnel at war? What was the risk of death for the average soldier in Iraq? Well, per 1000 people and including non-combatant deaths, the rate was 4.20 deaths per 1000 soldiers. Were we to consider only deaths by combat that rate would reduce to 3.43 per 1000. It goes without saying that this rate is substantially higher than the domestic rate, about three times higher if we look at strictly 20 and 30 somethings.

Now let’s look at the raw numbers. Between 2003 and 2014 a total of 4,491 US service members were killed in Iraq. The number of Iraqis killed during the war ranges from source to source but many put the number between 100,000 and 600,000. It is understood that approximately 115,000 of those Iraqis killed were civilian non-combatants. Even were we to include all US wounded service members the numbers would remain well below 40,000. Allow this disparity to detonate in your mind for a moment.

Given these statistics, even were I to agree that the US soldier death rate in Iraq was high, and I don’t think it was considering the circumstances, the cost that came to Iraq’s civilian population would easily nix any claims of heroism on the part of American troops. Were that not enough I could easily point out that presently, terrorized as that country is by ISIS’s forces, Iraq has gleaned no visible benefit or positive change of circumstances as a result of the US invasion – nor have we for that matter.

As she stands now, roughly half of the country is under the control of some force not associated with the current Iraqi government, be that ISIS or the Kurds. As for whether this supposedly democratic government has the wherewithal to remain so, no one knows and nor shall we for some time to come.

It seems to me that if you’re going to call an invasion ‘operation Iraqi freedom’ then there should be a focus on the Iraqi civilian population, presumably their safety since that is typically what liberation is about. Instead, American military, private contractors and businesses tore through the nation with blatant disregard for its people, illustrating maybe the most heinous example of ‘blaming the victim’ ever to transpire and proving definitively that Iraq’s invasion had nothing to do with liberating its people but rather creating a justification and market for the privatization of military operations and raping the country of its resources.

The irony here should not be lost on anyone. The constabulary meant to protect the people are actually killing them with impunity in surprising and unchecked numbers while the ‘liberators’ are murdering the captives their claiming to save.

Iraq was not invaded for the benefit of the American people or the Iraqis. It has not prevented terrorist attacks in the US or West at large nor has it provided any foreseeable lasting peace, democracy or stability in Iraq. Indeed, it may well have secured further attacks in the future and doomed Iraq to decades of chaos.

The American soldiers who died in Iraq died for nothing. Their lives were as wasted as they were misguided by a government who betrayed them, though not half as betrayed as the Iraqi people were by the self-serving and self-righteous actions of the American government and its many agents.

Religious Freedom: Freedom to Force Your Values on Others

After Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ bill which would allow private business owners to discriminate who they serve based upon their religious beliefs, people on both sides have been clamoring to argue why it should or shouldn’t be supported. The issue, however, is really quite simple as this is one of the most cowardly acts the Right has ever undertaken in an attempt to justifiably alienate a group they’ve been quickly losing legal ground to. I want to bring particular attention to the blogger Matt Walsh who believes it is everyone’s right to discriminate in this fashion. I want to deal with some of his claims which are as follows:

This law allows people the freedom to choose who they do and don’t associate with.

This law is supported wholly by the first amendment of the United States.

Discrimination (on the basis of identity) is not a bad thing.

This law doesn’t target gays.

I’m not really sure what country Matt thinks he is living in nor am I sure he realizes what it would mean for America to take this law seriously. Maybe he should spend a little time in Saudi Arabia or Iran to get a feel for what fascist theocracy is really like. After all, those are both countries in which one’s religion has become justification for all manner of ‘God given rights’ ranging from stoning someone you disagree with to depriving women of the vote. According to Matt it would be disrespectful to deprive the religious people of Afghanistan the right to murder adulterous women or homosexuals.

Maybe Matt is one of these people who have mistaken secularism for a concept that means all religions in the public sphere as opposed to what it really means which is NO religion in the public sphere. Here, however, he would argue this is where the ‘private’ in privately owned business comes in but he would still be wrong. Any business offering its services to the public is no longer private in the sense that Matt imagines, that being like a home owner preventing some lesbians from joining his croquet party.

Discrimination on the basis of identity like this IS actually a bad thing, especially when it cannot be justified. Being gay does not prevent someone from practicing their religion. Where, exactly, in the Bible does it say that in order to practice your faith effectively you must not render services to sexual minorities? Even if we were to take this law seriously how could they biblically substantiate it?

The assumption that the First Amendment supports Indiana’s measure is also fallacious for the simple reason that it prohibits any law respecting an establishment of a religion. This law clearly protects invidious and sinister social behavior under the guise of ‘freedom’, allowing religious social policy into the market place. Matt would desperately argue that the First Amendment also protects against the impediment of one’s exercise of their religion but what impediment existed that necessitated this law? We’ve already established that simply being gay does not impede a person from practicing any particular faith. Nor does any holy book specifically mention that rendering services to any member of the LGBT community is tantamount to blasphemy or apostasy.

If we reexamine these claims we can see how all of them are unjustified. People already have the right to associate with whom they choose, selling a cake to a person does not bond you to them. The First Amendment prevents religious practices from either being legally promoted or prohibited, and this law unfairly promotes so-called religious values without remedying any legitimate impediment to their practice. Further, discrimination based upon identity is a bad thing for society. It alienates, disenfranchises and stigmatizes the targeted minority for something utterly beyond their control. And while it is true that this particular law does not specifically target LGBT people it is pretty clear that is who it is meant for, after all Walsh himself cites numerous instances of such discrimination to justify the bill in his other article.

Additionally, this privileges the values of religious people over non-religious people by legitimizing nonsensical claims so long as they are supported in a major religious institution. What if you are part of a small cult that believes in refusing food to babies? What if you are a racist agnostic or atheist who supports their ideology with junk science? Why is it, exactly, that the magical thinking of major religions should be prioritized over other forms of magical thinking?

Lastly, a private business still operates in service of the public and there are federal laws in place to protect people from needless discrimination, it is called the Federal Civil Rights Act and it allows that ‘full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.’ Title VII of which is being extended to include discrimination on the basis of orientation or gender identity. Note that it says ‘public accommodation’, making no reference to whether the business is publicly or privately owned.

It should also be noted that Constitutional arguments are not absolute since laws and cultures change, even our founding fathers acknowledged this. After all, there was a time when the Constitution sanctioned slavery and reduced black Americans and women to subhuman status.

Jefferson’s memorial famously states,

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

And just to remind people that America WAS NOT (despite popular opinion) founded on any religion, especially not Christianity, the Treaty of Tripoli submitted by John Adams and ratified unanimously by the Senate states:

‘…the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.’

Tirades like those from Matt’s blog are as boring as they confused. Christians in America need to stop forcing their religious values into the public sphere and onto their neighbors. No one is limiting the rights of Christians to practice their faith, only who they can force their faith’s values upon. I wish I could say these events are surprising but the religious in America commonly assert themselves in ways that are both unjustified and cloaked in victimhood. It seems that for Christian Indiana the mere act of engaging a potentially gay person is a violation of their rights.

The New Morality Police: P.C. Liberals

A writer for the Harvard Crimson wants to curtail academic freedom in the name of bigotry. Her name is Sandra Korn.

This is amusing if only because the religious and conservatives of America have used similarly moralizing arguments against gay rights and women. It is fascinating the way the same argument gets re-canned and re-canned again, used by forces described as good and evil. Morality and justice, it would seem, are easily co-opted into any cause, even opposing ones.

The gist of the article is that ‘reason’ and ‘academic freedom’ have been smokescreens behind which racist and other bigoted policies or information have been legitimized and therefore we need to censor inappropriate material in the name of justice.

Justice, like morality, is an abstraction and it is one open to a wide variety of often whimsical interpretations. How Korn would have us decide what is just and what is unjust I have no idea though I am sure it would rely heavily on her feelings.

While it is certainly true that science has been used to legitimize all manner of bigoted attitudes it is also true that it has corrected itself time and time again, and has even advanced equality. Peer review and time is the great culler of scientific bosh. Korn uses a paper from more than four decades ago to evidence her stance, as though nothing has happened between 1971 and 2014. As though time doesn’t matter. She might as well have quoted notes from Mengele and called it a day.

People like Korn are the reason the left has become philosophically diabolical. In their well-meaning attempt to create an atmosphere of respect and understanding they’ve managed to actually demonize free speech. And if there are any doubts that academic freedom is a component of free speech, let me make it clear that it is. If students are not allowed to discuss, debate or even study a subject because someone might be offended that is a form of censorship and indeed, acting to curtail free speech.

Academic freedom is not as carte blanche as Korn would have people believe, nor is free speech for that matter. We have slander and libel laws to protect us from lies. And we have guidelines and even laws of ethics that prevent unreasonable exercises of study and commentary within specific fields.

In essence Korn wishes to be the moral police. She has transformed into the very people she likely swore to protect us from. She gives absolutely no clear rubric for how to determine when her idea of academic freedom has been breached. I suspect though that her opinion and the opinions of her disciples would be considered enough, enough to administer their idea of ‘moral’ and ethical behavior. She might as well just say that anything that offends her is off the table.

7 Major Hypocrisies of the Typical American Conservative

FIRST ONE

I am uber pro-gun for the reason that I mistrust my government so much I believe that if given the chance it may one day attack its own people.

Don’t question our government’s motives in Iraq or any other military operation. Our government spreads freedom and democracy and every soldier is a hero.

(So the US government can’t be trusted to protect its own people but definitely can be trusted to protect foreigners…interesting.)

SECOND ONE

Services provided by the government and paid for by taxpayers are necessary when it comes to all the services that DIRECTLY benefit me, me, me – like medicaid, social security, and the public school my kid uses.

Services provided by the government and paid for by taxpayers are evil, socialist and Hitlerian if they don’t directly benefit me, me, me.

(Right…I see…so it is only socialist or whatever when you aren’t directly benefiting from it. I get it now.)

THIRD ONE

I believe in small government, really small government. I don’t want the law sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong, like into my rights. Nor should it be forcing a certain way of life on me and my family.

The government should aggressively enforce the arbitrary morality of my Christian religion and prevent women from controlling their bodies and gays from leading sanctioned family lives. Equally important, Islam must never be spoken of in our schools.

(Okay, so what you really meant was the government should enforce YOUR social philosophies but guard against everyone else’s.)

FOURTH ONE

Scientists are to be interrogated and monitored closely and looked at with the highest degree of skepticism – after all, asking questions is a good thing.

My Christian/Mormon views are inviolable and questioning or critiquing them is a violation of my freedoms. Islam, however, should be recognized for the fascist nonsense that it is.

(So…we should question the things that YOU don’t like or understand but not your deepest held spiritual beliefs. Mmmhm.)

FIFTH ONE

Affirmative action is reverse racism.

Legacy is totally cool because um…er…money somehow equals merit.

(So you want Black Americans to live in a meritocracy while white people should be able to buy their way into college.)

SIXTH ONE

Fighting for your country and beliefs is a good thing and shows bravery when it is in defense of your deepest held beliefs.

Everyone that opposes American hegemony and anyone defending themselves against American aggression is a terrorist and evil.

(Oh right, I remember now. When Americans kill people in a conflict it is for selfless, good reasons but when people fight back it’s because they’re evil.)

SEVENTH ONE

Iran is an evil country that abuses its women, kills homosexuals, and hates freedom.

Saudi Arabia is cool because they’re our friend. Women shouldn’t have reproductive freedom. And gays need to stay in the closet.

(Why do I even try? Although to be fair many liberals feel this way about Iran and S.A. specifically, including apparently Obama.)