Thursday, March 13, 2008

WWWtW-Watch #5: First We Burn the Books...


Dedicated to the proposition that it can happen here.

…then we come for the readers.

Yes, just as you may have feared, Fire Marshal Maximos, not content with having burned every book he and his troopers found to be effervescent of liberalism, is now out to get the readers of those books:

For, while we may speak somewhat jestingly of consigning certain works to the flames, what we are doing, if we do so reflectively, is expressing the conviction that there either is, or ought to be, a public orthodoxy, and that it is preferable that this orthodoxy be explicit when necessary.

Maximos proposes a public orthodoxy, because:

No society is obliged to extend its protecting shelter, nor the dignity of "right", to its own subversion, and the means thereof.

Oh, really? What about this?:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it…

Well, there you go: there’s the right to subvert it, no? And the Second Amendment to the Constitution—or so I am told by my local patriot-slash-biker-slash-militia man-slash-yahoo--is there to protect one of the means--should Hustler magazine prove inadequate to the task, that is.

Maximos continues to wax eloquent in defense of thought control, by stating that

the singular and salubrious virtue of actually consigning to the flames some pernicious piece of writing is that of honesty: the declaration that there obtains, if fact, an orthodoxy which we mean to uphold. [How do you mean to uphold it?] That act announces that there shall be no confusion, no ambiguity; certain ideas and the practices they sustain are excluded [How do you plan to exclude them?] as inimical to a way of life.

Does this mean that he’s stopped “jesting”?

Was it not to uphold a public orthodoxy that Torquemada did his funky thing during the Spanish Inquisition? And was it not for the sake of a public orthodoxy that John Calvin consigned Michael Servetus to the flames? To bring things closer to our day and age, what were The Great Purge and the Moscow Show Trials of Joseph Stalin meant to perpetuate, if not a public orthodoxy? Ditto, the Cultural Revolution, and the trial of the Gang of Four, perpetrated by those Maoist Red Guards, so very zealous in the cause of a public orthodoxy. In the good ol’ U.S. of A. we had our own pale version of that in the kangaroo court that tried the Chicago Seven for inciting the police force of the Windy City to riot.

A public orthodoxy, you see, is just a gaudy rhetorical vestment, to be pranced around in by a poseur—unless, of course, he has the both the will and the means to enforce it.

117 comments:

Civis said...

Once again, you have hit on a very interesting topic. I don't know the whole background of what prompted your post, but I would make a couple points:

1) I think you are reading in something, or the way you define certain words in the Declaration of Independence has some baggage.

2) Aside from American law and American ideas, don't you think, asa general matter, the person you quoted has a point in that "No society OUGHT TO BE obliged to extend its protecting shelter, nor the dignity of "right", to its own subversion."?

Rodak said...

Civis--

1) Please explain. I think that those words mean exactly what I said they mean. The Founding Fathers were primarily concerned with governmental tyranny, and how to protect against it.

2) No, I don't. The people have a right to resist tyranny when the government begins to inflict it upon the population. All rights rests with the people. The ambiguity here resides in just what he means by "society."
What are your thoughts on that?

William R. Barker said...

All I can say is it's gonna be VERY interesting when "Stop Loss" hits the theatres.

BILL

Tom said...

I'd say it's reasonable to distinguish between "society" and "government."

I'd also want to distinguish between a "public orthodoxy" enforced by the society and one enforced by the government. (Come to think of it, I want everyone else to make that distinction, too. Especially the government.)

Rodak said...

Tom--
My question would be how society would enforce a "public orthodoxy" without resort to government force.
It is sounds to me as though what Maximos wants is an elite authority, supposedly representing "society" imposing its values on any and every dissenting minority within that society. That is what you have in a totalitarian state.

Civis said...

Rodak,


RE #1: You quoted the Declaration of Independence as contradicting to proposition "No society is obliged to extend its protecting shelter, nor the dignity of "right", to its own subversion, and the means thereof."

Your idea (which I am gathering from your use of the passage)of radical freedom goes beyond what the founders intended and your idea of radical free speech goes beyond not only what the founders intended, but beyond what the constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, currently allows.

RE #2: Whether it is "the people" or "the government" or whatever, the idea that we should protect something that is going to destroy freedom and good government, does not make sense to me. As for your feelings about freedom and free speech, I share your concern and all that--I guess my point is that BECAUSE I value freedom and free speech, I think we have a right and responsibility to protect those rights from those who would use the right to destroy the right. Does that make sense? If it undermines our government, what have we gained because we lose the right either way.

Toput it simplistically, to paraphrase--I think it was O. W. Holmes--"Your rights end where my nose begins."

Rodak said...

Your idea (which I am gathering from your use of the passage)of radical freedom goes beyond what the founders intended

Of course it doesn't. With the Declaration of Independence, the Founders had embarked on the project of doing just that themselves. They found the rule of the Brithish crown and the colonial governors to be oppressive and they were organizing themselves into subversive cells to overthrow it.
Nor did they mean for that which they set up to calcify into stone, as "strict constructionists" insist upon. I'm sure that you've heard that Jefferson thought the constitution should have a complete make-over in each successive generation. The Founders were not conservatives.

your idea of radical free speech

I don't know that I've even presented an idea of radical free speech as a separate issue. What do you mean?
And who said anything about "destroying freedom?" The right to alter or abolish the standing govenment (insisted upon by the Founders) is precisely in order to protect freedom and establish good government.

Civis said...

RE the first part of your last comment, wouldn't you agree that the passage from the DOI supports neither your point nor the person you disagree with with regard to free speech/cencorship? That is my point. You quote the DOI as agreeing with him and not you, which I am saying is not accurate. I don't think there is much room for discussion here. You are arguing that Jefferson and the signers of the DOI disagree with this guy and you are wrong. It was a nice rhetorical flourish, nevertheless.

Civis said...

Oh wait, I see your point. Hang on, let me take a step back....

Civis said...

Okay, Okay, I see your point. It wasn't about free speech it was about undermining the government.

But you are still wrong. :)

You are looking at this from the perspective of good men seeking to undermine bad government.

I on the other hand, and I think the person to quote and disagree with, is about bad people undermining good government.

When it comes to good men undermining bad government (after a long train of abuses and as a last resort) I agree with you.

When it comes to bad men undermining good government, wouldn't you agree with me?

Civis said...

"I, on the other hand, and I think the person to quote and disagree with, ARE TALKING about bad people undermining good government.

SORRY

Rodak said...

is about bad people undermining good government.

Look at the masthead on that blog. He, along with the others there, equates American liberals with international jihadists.
I happen to think that liberals are good people, and conservatives, not so much. And that's the point: who is going to establish the operative "public orthodoxy" and how, if that could be established, is it going to be enforced in a "free" society?
The project of WWWtW is essentially a totalitarian one.

Civis said...

"I happen to think that liberals are good people, and conservatives, not so much."

I thought to said those terms were meaningless when we discussed the definition of conservative.

"And that's the point: who is going to establish the operative "public orthodoxy" and how, if that could be established, is it going to be enforced in a "free" society?""

Good question, but a different question--aside, this is why I sought people's thoughts regarding what was wrong and what we seek. Nevertheless, as a theoretical matter, wouldn't you agree that society has a right to protect itself from those who would undermine thier good government?

Rodak said...

Good question, but a different question--

It's not a different question from the one I'm asking. It's the essential topic of my whole series of posts on WWWtW.
I know how these people define liberal and conservative, and for the purposes of criticizing their project, I therefore have to work with their definition. Using that definition, I find "liberals" to be "good" relative to conservatives.
To answer your last question: one man's good government is another man's bad one. If I find it to be bad, I have the inalienable right to do what I can to subvert it.

Rodak said...

Finally, governments have no "rights." Individuals have rights. Governments have "powers."

Civis said...

Well, we are dealing with a big topic here. I was trying to take a slice of it.

I don't think there is debate as to what is a good government. I don't think I have heard of anyone since ancient times advocating anything other than the common good. I think we in America also agree that freedom is a good thing. It's a starting point: freedom is good. We may not agree on what "good" looks like, but I am free to pursue good as I see it and you as you see it.

BUT, your freedom ends when it infringes on my freedom or makes unreasonable demands on the rest of us.

Ergo......to say there are limits of people's "rights" as the passage you quoted states, is not that crazy.

Civis said...

As for the "who decides" stuff, I would suggest recourse to the "veil of ignorance" that Prof. Rawls argued for.

Rodak said...

We may not agree on what "good" looks like, but I am free to pursue good as I see it and you as you see it.

But, don't you see that Maximos is arguing that this is not the case? He thinks that "good" should be defined and applicable to every member of society. He thinks that "good" is an objective reality, not a matter for subjective definition, and that [whoever] having declared what is good, everyone should have to conform to that definition.
That "whoever" would be, of course, Maximos and those who agree with Maximos, and you would have to march to his drummer, or get out of the parade.

Rodak said...

The much-quoted and admired (by the likes of the WWWtW staff) ideological conservative, Russell Kirk holds it to be axiomatic that:

...civilized society needs orders and classes, as against the notion of a “classless society.” With reason, conservatives have been called “the party of order.” If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom.

I strenuously disagree with that. And I certainly wouldn't want to see any attempt to make that into public policy.

Tom said...

My question would be how society would enforce a "public orthodoxy" without resort to government force.

The same way it's been done since time immemorial. Shame, shunning, and stern talkings-to.

Civis said...

Well, IMHO good is objective, but other than that, I'm generally with you regarding one person telling me what is good for me.

I guess the real question is where to draw the line. Let me take an extreme example. If Mr. Jones has a psychological disorder whereby he thinks he will be happier if he drives nails into his skull, I don't have a problem with me, my neighbor, or the government saying, "sorry buddy your're sick. and we are going restrain you." This is particularly true since I will probably be paying his medical bills.

So we agree that "rights" are not absolute?

Rodak said...

The same way it's been done since time immemorial. Shame, shunning, and stern talkings-to.

That is probably quite effective in a homogenized society. In American society, however, I think not so much. You can't effectively shun me if I could not care less what you think of me because I live in a completely separate subculture from yours.

Civis said...

Are you familiar with the Durkheim (sp?) constant? Let me see if I can find a link. I read about it somewhere a few years ago.

Civis said...

Here it is:

http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/formans/DefiningDeviancy.htm

Tom said...

You can't effectively shun me if I could not care less what you think of me because I live in a completely separate subculture from yours.

So you say now, but you'll be singing a different tune when you need to borrow my hedge trimmer.

Rodak said...

"...Emile Durkheim’s proposition that there is a limit to the amount of deviant behavior any community can “afford to recognize” (called the “Durkheim Constant"). As the amount of deviancy increases, the community has to adjust its standards so that conduct once thought deviant is no longer deemed so. Consequently, if we are not vigilant about enforcing them, our standards would be constantly devolving in order to normalize rampant deviancy."

Here again, we have to decide on and agree to what we will define as "deviant" before we can decide that it is a bad thing that the behavior in question becomes normalized. You might be horrified, for instance, that gay marriage would become normal. And I might be all for it.

Rodak said...

So you say now, but you'll be singing a different tune when you need to borrow my hedge trimmer.

Well, Tom, we probably inhabit pretty much the same subculture, so I might not feel good about being denied access to your hedge trimmer for my transgressions.
Now if I were from a more exotic subculture within American society (Aleutian Island branch) and wanted to borrow your wife, we might have larger problems.

Civis said...

I think "deviant" just means different. It's not a "who decides" thing. It's just what we are all willing to put up with. If the mainstream says X is okay, and I disagree I will eventually come in line with the community unless I withdraw from society.

This isn't an argument for anything here, just a sociological phenomenon.

Rodak said...

Civis--
Really? When is that going to happen with regard to war, gay marriage, abortion, marijuana...

Civis said...

It's probably related to "Repeat a lie loud enough, long enough, and often enough it will become true"

Civis said...

"Really? When is that going to happen with regard to war,"

Huh?

'gay marriage" Don't you think tolerance is on the rise? Don't you think it is going to become generally accepted over time?

"abortion": I think that pro-life forces have been largely successful in making abortion generally unacceptable.

marijuana: I think tolerance has increased

Civis said...

Let me strike my last comment. I think you are misunderstanding the DC. Can you rephrase your question? What is your point.

Rodak said...

No, I don't think that any of those things are becoming normalized to the extent that their proponents think they should, or their opponents fear.
But, that's beside the point of my post. If the WWWtWers had their way, they would decide what was deviant, and what was acceptable, and force everybody else to live by those standards. It wouldn't be a matter of things becoming gradually normalized. It would be like, as I pointed out in my post, the Cultural Revolution in China, or the Purges in Russia, or the Spanish Inquisition.

Rodak said...

When I say it would be "like" those things, I mean in terms of abruptness. I don't necessarily think that the WWWtW set would be burning people at the stake, or establishing gulags.

Civis said...

"they would decide what was deviant, and what was acceptable, and force everybody else to live by those standards. It wouldn't be a matter of things becoming gradually normalized."

You realize, I mentioned the DC as an aside, as a sociological phenonmenon that comes into play. I don't really understand your point. The DC is not about OUGHT, it is descriptive. It might then be a factor in their favor that someone has to draw a line in the sand. Conversely, you could consider the DC as something that works in favor of what you want so long as the WWWtW people don't have their way. You appear to be arguing with the DC, which is just a sociological theory that is descriptive, and I'm trying to understand where you are coming from.

We may be talking past each other here, but if we consider, as a general priciple, whether society ought to be able to curtail freedom, you point is neither here nor there.

If they use force, or if what they enforce is not mainstream, it does not bear on whether the state, as a general principle, ought to be able to curtail freedom.

If you are arguing that they ought not be allowed to enforce a minority view, that's fine.

Do we agree that the state or the people or society or sombody ought to be able to curtail freedom in certain circumstances? I'm still not clear if we agree or disagree on this. If we disagree on it, then I'd like to figure out why. If we agree on it, I'd like to discuss some of the other issues you have brought up.

Rodak, you are the Plato fan, don't you thing we ought to begin where we agree? If I get nothing else from a blog discussion such as this, I would like to understand 1) at what stage we disagree (do you belive there should be no limits to freedom or are we talking about when where and how?) 2) understand your point of view 3) isolate the contrasting assumptions we have that result in the two of us not seeing eye to eye--at whatever point it is we do not see eye to eye.

Rodak said...

The DC is actually about the "ought not." It may be the case, for instance, that women "ought not" smoke cigarettes. But, gradually, as more and more women on the cutting edge, especially movie stars, etc., smoke anyway, it becomes as normal for women to smoke as it is for men. Then the "ought not" has been effaced.
That's fine. It can go either way, and there is no coercion. But the WWWtW project would be explicitly coercive. That is what I object to.
I am for the right of others to be libertarian, even though I may choose, for reasons of my religion, or for any other religion, not to behave in certain socially acceptable ways.
There are, of course, behaviors that are nearly universally condemned. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with any behavior that clearly victimizes the weak being made criminal, because that, too, is, of course, coercion.

Rodak said...

for reasons of my religion, or for any other religion

Correction:

That should have read "for reasons of my religion, or for any other reason"...

Civis said...

Okay, what about if someone's activity does not per se "victimize" anybody, but places a burden on others? Examples (I'm not advocating anything here, just picking your brain):

1) I like to listen to death metal with my stereo blasting so loud it makes my neighbor's dishes rattle in the cupboard.

2) I like to listen to music the lyrics of which "Fuck" can be any of the parts of speech and prefer "Fuck" and themes of nonconsential sex and the murder of authority figures to be often repeated in the lyrics. I listen on my headphones anywhere I want and little old ladies, and impressionable youths, and people who find it irritating to listen to are forced to overhear it.

3) I enjoy going to bath houses and having anonymous sex with 5-20 persons per evening. I am guaranteed to contract an STD and am virtually certain to contract AIDS, for which other people will have to pick up the bill because I am indigent.

4) I am an artist. My canvas is my barn viewable both from the interstate and from airplane traffic coming in and out of a major airport. What do I paint? variations on sleek back men being casturated and lynched and Jews being shot in the back of the head by the Gestapo.

5) I make cartoons about children being kidnapped, raped, mutulated and murdered and upload them to the web. I also give advice on the best way to actually what I depict in cartoons and give advice regarding whether or not the kidnapper should tell the victim he will be killed. Assume that it can be shown that this in fact increases the number of such occurrences.

What do you think? Should there be some restriction, or do we drawn the line since there is no victim?

Rodak said...

1) That would clearly be victimizing somebody else.

2) If you are listening on your earphones, how is anybody else forced to hear it? That aside, you used the word "forced." My whole point is that nobody should be forced, under any circumstances that are avoidable. You'd be wrong to "force" people to listen to anything just because you want to listen to it. It is easy to listen without doing so.

3) You should be allowed to do that. That said, it would be acceptable to me that the health department shut down the baths, depriving you of the venue.

4) Again, you would be forcing people to look at pornography. Therefore, you'd be wrong.

5) In that instance, you would be increasing the incidence of the victimization of the weak, therefore, you'd be wrong.

In every case where I say that you'd be wrong, it would be fine with me if you were prevented from that behavior by society. Although in the case of playing the objectionable music, that is iffy. The barn painting example might get a different response from me if you hadn't made the pornography racist. I do think there is such a thing as hate crime.

But none of this has much to do with my post. What these people want to do is ban the writings of Marx, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Mill and Bentham, and many others. They would, apparently, actually do that, if they could. And that is apparently only the launching point of their thought control agenda. You can imagine what the curricula of our public schools and universities would be like, if they had their way.
I don't consider reading the writings of Jeremy Bentham to be "deviant behavior." They do.

Rodak said...

I mentioned in another post that I am reading William F. Buckley's book God and Man at Yale.
Buckley goes on for 200+ pages bitching and moaning that all of the faculty at Yale are liberals. He is a conservative. In his opinion, the faculty at Yale should teach from a perspective of which he approves, apparently for no better reason than that he is, after all is said and done, William F(ucking) Buckley, and they're not.
I must point out, however, that Buckley did not drop out of Yale. A Yale degree is a high prestige item, liberal or not.
What's that all about, then?

Civis said...

How about the smokers who will suffer from more health problems and many of whom will require cancer treatment all at the expense of others?

How about the welfare recipients who are obese and whose medical bills for heart problems will be at the expense of others?

How about the people who want to change sex partners periodically, a course of action that will result in treatment for STD's at the expense of others?

Civis said...

Oh, and all three will have lost time at work. Their employers and coworkers will have to pick up the slack. There will also be other effects down the line, effects on consumers of their employers's products, clients etc.

Rodak said...

Ah, Civis--
So it turns out that you are a closet liberal. You want more government regulation of private vices, rather than less. That's cool.
But let's get back to William F. Buckley Jr. and "God and Man at Yale" because he typifies the kind of thinking that I'm criticizing in this post.
Buckley's position is that he is right--and nearly alone among the student body of perceiving the objective Truth concerning all that is great, good, and true--while nearly the entire faculty of that great universtiy is wrong, and nearly the entire student body is too passive, compliant, and intellectually indolent to realize that they are being gulled and prodded into soul-killing liberalism. Buckley's self-image is precisely the attitude of the self-appointed Thought Cops of WWWtW toward you and me. Right now they are harmless. But who is to say that such thinking--if, for instance, there is another Great Depression--could not give rise to an American Mussolini, or Hitler?
I have to oppose it.

Civis said...

Well, like I said, I'm not advocating, I'm just throwing out hypotheticals.

At any rate, I think there is a place for regulation by someone (query if this should be the state, or society or whatever; query how when and where).

You are worried about conservatives (whatever a conservative is--I mean how many true conservatives are there today?) laying down the law. I on the other hand am concerned about a governmnet who is going to infringe on my right to practice my faith, to have children, to contniue revieveing food and water if I become very old or very sick.

Bottom line, though we both think there is a place for some infringement on "rights" and "liberty" and "autonomy", but we both fear WHO makes the rules because we are concerned about how they might abuse the power.

So my question is, how do we protect ourselves regardless of who comes to power?

Rodak said...

how do we protect ourselves regardless of who comes to power?

The way to protect ourselves is to do what we can to keep those people whose agendas we don't want to see enacted from coming to power. The way to do that is to oppose them in the contest of ideas in the public square--which is what I'm attempting to do here.
They kicked me off their site, to keep me from opposing them there. But they have yet to shut me up.

Tom said...

Buckley's self-image is precisely the attitude of the self-appointed Thought Cops of WWWtW toward you and me.

How far is it from your attitude toward WWWtW?

I mean, right now, you're harmless. But who's to say such thinking won't give rise to another Stalin or Pol Pot?

Rodak said...

who's to say such thinking won't give rise to another Stalin or Pol Pot?

How would it do that? In my original post, I listed Stalin among those who had established and enforced a "public orthodoxy" and Pol Pot could have made the list, I'm sure. I don't say that WWWtW should be silenced, only that it should be opposed, since it would silence others. Ideally, the WWWtW soapbox would find itself located in an empty park, and its rhetoricians making their declamations of "orthodoxy" to the pigeons.

Civis said...

Where was it that the "kicked you out"? I want to read that.

So anyway, it appears that you don't have a problem with the state telling people what to do, you just don't want anybody like the people on WWWtW to be the "Big Brother"? Am I understanding you correctly?

Here is my thought: If you give power to the state to do too many things, even if it is benevolent today, what is to say a dirty rotten scoundrel won't come to power and use the power for evil? Wouldn't it be better to limit the power of government in some way?

Rodak said...

you don't have a problem with the state telling people what to do

We, at this point, have a representative democracy. The "state" that tells us what to do is only ourselves, through the people we send to DC, or to our state capitals, or our city councils to represent us. If we don't like what they do, we can vote them out. What they don't do is sit down with a gaggle of intellectual ideologues and formulate a "public orthodoxy" in order to etablish a one-size-fits-all society contructed around the biases of an tiny, like-minded elite.
And the government is "limited in some way"--it's called the balance of powers.
But what WWWtW is talking about is thought control. They would choose what you were allowed to read. The would attempt to have only one set of formulated ideas taught, K-12 and then at the university level. And that is what "Big Brother" really is. Big Brother is not a person, but a system.

Rodak said...

As for when I was kicked out, I already directed you to it once (at WWWtW-Watch #3, as I remember) and you obviously didn't bother to go back and read it. This is #5 of the WWWtW series. Follow them back, if you're really interested. All the links are there.

Civis said...

Damn ADD.

Rodak said...

ADD, huh? My diagnosis would have been that you've been doing the nasty with that funky diva, Miss Dementia Praecox.

Civis said...

Well, let me put my question (about limiting government) a different way.

What if th government came up with a health care plan where eveyone has coverage, but there can be no care outside of the system and the system decides if you get treatment based on your quality of life. Example you get in a motor cycle accident and you will lose both legs, so the system says that because you will have a low quality of life, you are not a candidate for treatment so you bleed to death.

BTW, I'm flattered when people come to my blog and argue with me. If people are arguing with me, they are thinking.

Civis said...

I guess wha I'm asking is, whether the "checks and balances" is enough.

Rodak said...

What if the government came up with a plan where if you saw a mother pushing a baby carriage on the wrong side of the sidewalk, you could snatch out the baby, disembowel it and force feed its intestines to the mother?

What if you came up with another absurd, extremist, hypothetical, having little-to-nothing to do with the topic of my post, demanding that I defend or refute it? What about that?

Rodak said...

If checks and balances is not enough, then we need to scrap the constitution and write another one. I wouldn't be opposed to that on principle, but it ain't gonna happen.

Rodak said...

If I were going to take your motorcycle accident seriously, I would point out to you that under the current system, it is insurance companies who are denying persons treatments for a variety of bullshit reasons, and that this is one of the main reasons that people are pushing for national health insurance.
I don't think that the plans of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama go far enough. I am for a single-payer system that eliminates the insurance industry completely.
But this is not the topic of my post.

Tom said...

How would it do that?

You're anti-elite. Pol Pot was anti-elite. Connect the dots.

Sure, right now you're just one guy standing athwart a website, yelling, "Stop!" But if the WWWtW crew become actively dangerous, your words -- "I have to oppose it" -- become incendiary.

Rodak said...

You're anti-elite. Pol Pot was anti-elite. Connect the dots.

I'm not anti-elite. I'm anti-coercion. Although I tend to favor more socialism, rather than less, I recognize that there will always be an intellectual elite, if for no other reason than that most people have little interest in ideas as ends in themselves, or even of value relative to the dictates of immediate necessity. But I am totally opposed to one set of intellectuals proscribing the thought of other sets of intellectuals. This seems to be the ideal agenda of WWWtW. They would abolish Mill and Nietzsche and teach Burke and Russell Kirk as dogma.

Rodak said...

I am not even against "public orthodoxy" within social groups. You are a Catholic. Catholics must have a core orthodoxy that determines what is desirable and correct within Catholic society. The is no problem if Calvinists do the same, and Lutherans, and Sunni Muslims. The problem would arise, in our society, since it is anything but homogenous, if one group--say, Kirkian conservatives--would seek to impose their notion of the ideal "public orthodoxy" on all those other groups. So doing would inevitably, I think, proscribe certain elements of each and every other orthodoxy functioning within subsets of the larger society.
The medium of cohesion that pertains in American society is the Constitution. It can, with great difficulty, necessitating majority support, be amended should that become unavoidable. We need no other--and should agitate for no other--"public orthodoxy."

Civis said...

"What if you came up with another absurd, extremist, hypothetical, having little-to-nothing to do with the topic of my post, demanding that I defend or refute it? What about that?"

Who pissed in your cheerios?

Civis said...

I thought this discussion was about people imposing their orthodoxy on others. I don't want the orthodoxy of eugenics forced on me.

Maybe this is a better hypothetical:

Suppose I don't want to send my child to be endoctrinated by what is taught in public schools OR I don't want my kids to get a crummy education in a public school, OR BOTH but I can't afford private school so I home school. Then suppose the state says I can't do that unless I have an education degree.

Isn't that kind of like what you are talking about? How does check and balances help that?

Rodak said...

Who pissed in your cheerios?

Look, Civis, your motorcyclist hypothetical was, as I count it, the tenth such hypothetical that you've asked me to respond to on this thread, none of which has any direct application that I can see to the topic of a proposed "public orthodoxy" and what it would consist of, and who would formulate it, and how it would be enforced (if at all.)
That said, I cannot envision any circumstance, under any governmental or societal policy, in which a person injured in an accident would be allowed to bleed to death because if saved his quality of life would not be up to par. In short, this was not even a serious hypothetical.
There is, literally, an infinite number of hypotheticals that one could concoct--there's no end to it, other than to come to the point: what's your point?

Civis said...

"If checks and balances is not enough, then we need to scrap the constitution and write another one."

Shit man, let's not jump out the window.

Civis said...

"That said, I cannot envision any circumstance, under any governmental or societal policy, in which a person injured in an accident would be allowed to bleed to death because if saved his quality of life would not be up to par. In short, this was not even a serious hypothetical."

I'm afraid you are showing you ignorance my friend. It not only could happen it DOES happen.

BTW, you are not one to talk about going off topic.

I'm sorry if I'm making you think. I guess I've been taking you too seriously.

Rodak said...

I guess I've been taking you too seriously.

Only you can answer that one.

An Interested Party said...

I'm just trying to figure out the exact moment when a philosophical discussion becomes a pissing match...

Rodak said...

Happens every time I try to have a nice, fresh bowl of Cheerios.

Rodak said...

Or, to put it another way, it is not possible to have a good discussion of a topic with a person who doesn't really read the blog, but just skims it looking for buzz words, and when one is found then lets his "inner Rick Santorum" free-associate on it.

We are all guilty of not reading carefully at times. But, once it has been pointed out, we should either return to the topic, or move on. I'm not interested in having every topic on my blog morphed into a discussion of pro-life issues.

Rodak said...

Tom--
I'm beginning to understand why you finally 86'd Chris Sullivan--and to marvel at your patience!

Civis said...

"We are all guilty of not reading carefully at times. But, once it has been pointed out, we should either return to the topic, or move on. I'm not interested in having every topic on my blog morphed into a discussion of pro-life issues."

Surely RODAK is not on that soap box! ;)

I'm starting to feel like Rodak-on-WWWtW and me-on-Rodak Riffs are some kind of parallel universe. I may start taking you to mean "shut the f--- up" and begin a "Rodak Riffs Watch"!

I'm just kidding. As it happens, you are my favorite person in the blogospher and I mean that. I honestly thought we were having a fun exchange until the intestines thingy. I guess it was just me that was having fun.

Rather than dragging out my point, or not ever making it (since you have apparently been indulging me with a great deal of patience), it seems to me that you get angry with WWWtW because they are a lot like you, just on the other end of the political spectrum.

I'll be honest, I wouldn't want WWWtW or Rodak as dictator. I advocate a less instrusive government: that keeps Rodak safe from the likes of WWWtW, and WWWtW safe from the likes of Rodak.

At any rate, you seem to me an open minded person and I have merely been trying to reason with you. Your reference to buzz words is interesting, because what I have been trying to do is step back from saying things that will draw a knee-jerk reaction and try to find common ground. Despite what you think, I was not trying to be combative or lead you on a wild goose chase.

Rodak said...

it seems to me that you get angry with WWWtW because they are a lot like you, just on the other end of the political spectrum.

Actually, there are a couple of differences. The most telling thing about folks at WWWtW is that, prior to banning me altogether, they had several times deleted my comments, as being "insulting" to their authors. In one instance, a comment I made was altered, without citation, so that it looked as though I had said something other than what I actually said. While they accused me of being "insulting" they never hesitated to insult me, and all it took was for me to disagree with what they said. That made me stupid, ignorant, unequipped, sophomoric, etc.
Then they banned me altogether for allegedly saying something that I didn't say at all.
That's not quite how I have treated you.
That said, I turned over a whole thread to you, at your request, so that you could discuss birth control. It's still up there. I'm sure that you could get Ryan, et al. back there to discuss that, and other pro-life issues, such as euthanasia, and/or abortion. But that is not what I wanted to discuss with this post, and I had somebody else (Tom) actually responding on topic to my points.
So...
I haven't done you like they did me, or you wouldn't have been able to post this comment.
I stated on the thread that I turned over to you that I wasn't interested in discussing birth control (although I ended up doing so when both you and AIP dropped out of the conversation, leaving me with guests whom I felt I had to accommodate.)
You have a blog. If you want to discuss something other than my topic, you have a place to do so.
Or, if you can get me off on a tangent that I want to discuss, you can hijack my thread. But, if you get off topic and I ask that we get back on topic, I think that my wishes should prevail, don't you?

Civis said...

I wasn't talking about tactics; I was talking about the whole "public orthodoxy" thing. You see, sometimes I'm on topic when you think I'm not.

I can't resist ribbing you here: if I'm so annoying, why not follow the advice you dispensed for WWWtW and simply not respond to my comments? You see, I do read--I asked you for a reference a second time because I did read what you referred me to the first time and I didn't see where they had really silenced you.

At any rate, I have no problem following rules. I didn't realize I was going off topic. To be honest, I think you just missed the relevance, but whatever.

As for the Contraception thing, I thought I asked you if it was okay--you recall I tried to avoid the conversation twice. You ought to talk to AIP about this not me. I would have preferred to have it on my blog, but I thought you liked having the activity on your blog--same goes for this post. I asked you straight up about it RE contraception. If you didn't want to talk about it there all you had to do was practice a little assertivness.

Do you want talk about issues or have a pity party?

Rodak said...

To be honest, I think you just missed the relevance, but whatever.

That's why I asked you: "there's no end to it, other than to come to the point: what's your point?"

I can see a connection between a "public orthodoxy" and pro-life issues. But that comes long down the road from the WWWtW starting-point, which I see as thought-control, conducted by an intellectual elite. It is very much out of Orwell, as you referenced by mentioning Big Brother. What I wanted to discuss was what could these people possibly believe would authorize their burning of books in a society founded upon secular law.
That they practice censorship on their own site in the way they do is telling in terms of what they would do "if they were king." No?

As for activity on my blog, I don't even have a meter. I'm not selling ad space. I don't really care how much activity I have, if it's going to be concerning stuff I don't want to talk about.
I'll hang in there for awhile, but when it's up to 100 comments and counting, it becomes tedious, to say the least.

Rodak said...

Look, I was just a commenter on other people's blogs for years. Some of them got mad at me for moving their topics off in directions that interested me, but not them. Several of them suggested that I should get my own blog. Finally, I did so. I did it in order to have a place to discuss what happens to interest me at any given time. It's that simple.

Rodak said...

And how could you have read this post, the link to which I provided for you in the comment section of WWWtW-Watch #3, and not see where they had banned me?

Rodak said...

Here is the whole thing: your question and my response that linked you to the post about being banned:


Are they not letting you post?

Civis--
If you are reading #3 of a series, the chances are that you need to be familiar with #'s 1 and 2 in order to fully understand it.
To answer your question directly: no they're not.


In the original comment, those final words "no they're not" linked you to the whole post on where they banned me, just as the words "this post" do in the comment above.

Civis said...

I'm getting bored. Let me know when you want to talk about the topic of this post. ;)

Rodak said...

Did you finally follow that link, or not?

Civis said...

Do you want to move on with the discussion of "public orthodoxy"? I'm beginning to think I've got you cornered.

In the words of Cicero "If the law is on your side, argue the law; if the facts are on your side, argue the facts; if neither are on your side, abuse the witness."

Rodak said...

Sure. Go ahead.

Civis said...

Okay, if this is off topic, let me know and I'll delete it. This is, after all, your forum. These are rhetorical questions is you want them to be, i.e. if you want to respond to my point generally:

Going back to my public school hypothetical--based on a recent Calfornia case. It seems like this either is or could be an avenue for enforcing a public orthodoxy. Don't you agree? Now, while you may (or may not) agree with the public orthodoxy enforced by the public schools, how would you feel if this same power were used to enforce the teaching of WWWtW's orthodoxy?

Here is where I am going: if we don't want WWWtW to have the ability to come to power and enforce their orthodoxy, doesn't it make sense to keep such power out of the hands of the state? Doesn't it seem like the state is in the business of mind control to a certain extent already?

What is the public orthodoxy? Secularism and relativism.

Correct my impression that you are in fact in favor of a public orthodoxy: yours.

Rodak said...

Then suppose the state says I can't do that unless I have an education degree.

As I said in the post I put up today, which is a continuation of this line of thought, the philosophical core of the United States, given that we are a highly diverse society, can only be the Constitution. If the state of California passes a law that says parents can't home school unless they have a teaching certificate, the constitutionality of that law can be challenged. I have a feeling that it will lose.
But, yes, public secularism is a must because sectarian religion is divisive. Public relativism is a must because private (not public) religion recognizes differing truths as objective.
WWWtW does not, and should not, have the power to say "Because such-and-such is objectively True, the writings of Nietzsche will be banned, since they do damage to that objective Truth. They can proselytize against Nietzsche, which is what they are doing with their blog, but if they came to power and started burning books, that would be the end of academic freedom, and the end of America as we know it.

Civis said...

"...public secularism is a must because sectarian religion is divisive."

So is secularism. You have no better leg to stand on that WWWtW. Take the plank out of your own eye!

"Public relativism is a must because private (not public) religion recognizes differing truths as objective."

Three problems:
1) This is a bald assertion.
2) Why can't the state just stay out of it? If you believe in the separation of church and state, the state should be silent, not take the side of secularism.
3) What about your "academic freedom"?

"WWWtW does not, and should not, have the power to say 'Because such-and-such is objectively True, the writings of Nietzsche will be banned, since they do damage to that objective Truth [should there be an close quote here?]."

This is an assertion. What is the reasoning behind your assertion?

"They can proselytize against Nietzsche, which is what they are doing with their blog, but if they came to power and started burning books, that would be the end of academic freedom, and the end of America as we know it."

But Rodak, the forced imposition of secularism ALSO infringes on academic freedom. And going back to the California case, where does the constitution grant "freedom" to the state or the public school system or to a particular teacher to prosteltyze my child with secularism and their various and sundry other adgendas? It would seem like the Constitution would be on the side of a parent's freedom on this one.

Rodak said...

It would seem like the Constitution would be on the side of a parent's freedom on this one.

Yes. That's what I said. A constitutional challenge would probably win. The state would probably lose.

Your problem in these things a) that you don't read carefully, and b) you don't make arguments, you just make statements.

Please note: I say "public secularism is a must BECAUSE sectarian religion is divisive". I.e., I have NOT made a "bald assertion." But you do:
You answer, "So is secularism" PERIOD. You supply no BECAUSE. You just make a statement unsupported by a reason. In other words, you are doing what you are accusing me of doing; and I'm NOT doing that. And then you throw in the ad hominem "Take the plank out of your own eye." Which is also, btw, a non sequitur: I haven't accused anybody of anything.

the forced imposition of secularism ALSO infringes on academic freedom.

No, it isn't. Biblical texts and other sacred texts are studied in secular institutions. They are just not taught THERE as containing truths that trump all other alleged truths, and makes the discussion of those other, competing truths, pointless. The place for that is not in public institutions, but in private homes, and sectarian churches. WWWtW would burn those secular books. Our public schools and universities are not threatening to burn your Bible.

Civis said...

"Your problem in these things a) that you don't read carefully..."

Sorry. You said "it" would fail. I thought you meant to challenge. Honest mistake. Do you think your writing was a wee bit ambiguous? Read what you wrote.

"...and b) you don't make arguments, you just make statements."

Huh?--never mind, it will only slow things down. Next time you think I do that, just ask me for proof.

"Please note: I say 'public secularism is a must BECAUSE sectarian religion is divisive'. I.e., I have NOT made a 'bald assertion."

Is that what I said was a bald assertion? Read what I wrote.

"But you do:
You answer, "So is secularism"..."

Well, there is a case in Federal Court. Didn’t I say that? What else do you need? Read what I wrote.

"And then you throw in the ad hominem "Take the plank out of your own eye." ..."

You are right. That is an ad hominem. I suppose my whole argument in a sense is an ad hominem. But then again, I’m not really disagreeing with what you say about state-sponsored public orthodoxies. My point is that a public orthodoxy of the left is as bad as one from the right, and I’m asking you to defend your position that public orthodoxies are bad in the teeth of supporting public orthodoxy. I’m calling you to live up to your own words. Is that “off topic”? I would be interested if you would respond to my point: Take a crack at the two sentences that precede “Take the plank out of your own eye."

“Which is also, btw, a non sequitur: I haven't accused anybody of anything.”

Oh, I guess I have been misreading you. Gee , sorry I thought the “end of academic freedom” and “the end of America as we know it.” Was a bad thing. My apologies.

“No, it isn't. Biblical texts and other sacred texts are studied in secular institutions. They are just not taught THERE as containing truths that trump all other alleged truths, and makes the discussion of those other, competing truths, pointless. The place for that is not in public institutions, but in private homes, and sectarian churches. WWWtW would burn those secular books. Our public schools and universities are not threatening to burn your Bible.”

Your point is well taken. Seriously though, why should relativism be “taught THERE as containing truths that trump all other alleged truths”? I honestly don’t see how that is any better than studying Marx, but being told that evil is in fact caused by human weakness and not by private property and religion.
Now, to hold your feet to the fire: I would be interested in your response to my point. “Here is where I am going: if we don't want WWWtW to have the ability to come to power and enforce their orthodoxy, doesn't it make sense to keep such power out of the hands of the state? Doesn't it seem like the state is in the business of mind control to a certain extent already?” Did you miss that part? I flagged it for you with a “Here is where I am going:”

Rodak said...

Our public schools and universities are not threatening to burn your Bible.”

Your point is well taken.

Well, that IS my point. There is no "public orthodoxy" of the left. What you seem to mean by "left" are the contemporary interpretations of the First Amendment, and the Establishment Clause, which I am saying should remain in effect. If the fascist element out there wants to try to change them, they are free to do so, but I will argue against it. If they succeed, I will live with it until it gets changed again.

Relativism is not a "Truth" in the sense of which we are speaking; it is an attitude towards all competing truths. If a teacher were to stand before a class and say, "Because we know that the world was created in six days, 6,000 years ago, we know that dinosaurs were contemporary with the men who built the pyramids" that would be a "Truth" trumping all other known facts relative to natural science and the age of everything in the past. And then the Hindu would raise his hand...
If the teacher were to say, "Because we know the Triune God to be a Reality...", both the Hindu and the Muslim will raise their hands, in order to get called on before the Chinese chick in the back. You can't have both diversity--which we have, and will have--AND a "public orthodoxy" AND the Constitution of the U.S. of A.

Axiom: Any orthodoxy of mine will negate elements of any orthodoxy of yours.

If that situation prevails, all rights belong to me; too bad about you.

Rodak said...

By the way, Civis, thanks for the attempt to get more voices into the discussion. I hope that it works.

Tom said...

There is no "public orthodoxy" of the left.

By "public orthodoxy," do you just mean "threat of literal book burnings"?

And do you really think there's no left-leaning website of equivalent stature to WWWtW on which members occasionally dream of burning books?

Rodak said...

Tom--
Well, first of all "public orthodoxy" is their term, not mine. And what I'm actually trying to do is figure out, as nearly as possible, what they mean by it, and what they would want done with it, if it were established as a reality.
I take that they mean something akin to the excerpt from the Russell Kirk book that I cited in WWWtW-Watch #6. What I don't see is how you would implement something like that, in our diverse society, without it being radically divisive. Book burning would be one tool that might be used in order to try to establish such an orthodoxy, through what I view as "thought control"--very much a la Orwell.

Rodak said...

Here is the Kirk excerpt to which I refer above:

In the first of these canons, Kirk provides magisterial authority for the WWWtW call for a “public orthodoxy” by positing a “Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience.” He goes on to say: “Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.”

Rodak said...

Kirk, as you see, would have this "transcendent order", which I take to be similar to the WWWtW "public orthodoxy" rule society as well as conscience.
I am all for everybody's conscience being ruled by an orthodoxy of one form, or another.
I am 100% against, however, any one orthodoxy ruling over "society."

Tom said...

Okay, but before we get back to Kirk:

Are you claiming (my implication, of course, is "Are you seriously claiming") that there is no group on the left, roughly parallel in size and importance to the WWWtW crew, that talks about how "certain ideas and the practices they sustain are excluded as inimical to a way of life"?

Because I think it would be the work of a moment to turn up, say, a humanities department at a mainstream university that would more than meet those conditions.

I'm not trying to be coy; I'm clearly headed toward a tu quoque argument. Not because I'm particularly outraged that you might quoque, but because your whole approach seems to be built upon the proposition that it can't happen here, where "it" is the imposition of an orthodoxy and "here" is the left.

Rodak said...

Because I think it would be the work of a moment to turn up, say, a humanities department at a mainstream university that would more than meet those conditions.

Sure. That is essentially what Buckley's "God and Man at Yale" sets out to document. No argument. But, as I've said before, nobody put a gun to Buckley's head and told him that he had to stay at Yale. Those situations into which we put ourselves voluntarily are subject to whatever conditions the person, or persons, in charge of those situations dictate.
Society-at-large, however, in this nation, is held together by the Constitution, which applies equally to every person of every private orthodoxy. People are free to expound upon their favored orthodoxy, and even to proselytize for it; but they are not free to impose it on others.

Rodak said...

That said, WWWtW is just one of a billion blogs, written by like-minded individuals. I am just arguing against their point of view, because I think that, if it were to take hold on a larger scale, it would be disastrous for this nation.
Of course, one could easily find a leftist blog expressing the precise opposite of everything being expressed on WWWtW. But I happen to have gotten into it with these people. If I had happened across a doctrinaire atheist's blog that was agitating for burning bibles I would be just as opposed to that. But I was called to oppose WWWtW.

Rodak said...

your whole approach seems to be built upon the proposition that it can't happen here, where "it" is the imposition of an orthodoxy and "here" is the left.

What I would like to see happen here would be a form of democratic socialism that would wipe out extreme poverty and obscene wealth, while allowing complete freedom of conscience within the boundaries of the law, and complete academic freedom within a wide range of choices.

Tom said...

Of course, one could easily find a leftist blog expressing the precise opposite of everything being expressed on WWWtW. But I happen to have gotten into it with these people.

Fair enough.

As to Kirk's first canon, I don't know how he meant it and I don't know how anyone else takes it, but I myself am certainly of the opinion that there is "a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience."

Now, a body of natural law isn't simply a body of not-yet-written positive law. There's more to it than that.

But no good positive law can contradict the natural law, any more than it can contradict what are sometimes called "nature's laws." You can pass a speed-of-light limit for your jurisdiction, but just go ahead and try to enforce it. If you outlaw gravity, only outlaws will have gravity, but that won't make jumping off a cliff hurt the lawfearing folk any less.

And we're all just as much ruled by the natural law as by nature's laws, whether we like it or not.

Rodak said...

But no good positive law can contradict the natural law, any more than it can contradict what are sometimes called "nature's laws."

Okay. Now suppose you want to posit positive law "A" and Joe objects, saying that law "A" violates his right to act the fool. And you counter by saying that Natural Law prohibits you from knowingly allowing Joe to act the fool. Joe counters this by saying that it comes naturally to him to act the fool; he comes from a long line of fools, each of whom acted accordingly. Moreover says, Joe, there's no such thing as Natural Law, but only the laws of nature, and those positive laws passed by the governments of men.
Natural Law, says Joe, is only some word games made up by pious scholars back in the day before the laws of nature had been discovered, tested, and cataloged by inquiring human minds. Joe concludes by saying that your Natural Law has no basis in reality, unless it's in the Mind of God, and Joe is agnostic on the existence of God.
What right have you to prohibit Joe from acting the fool?

Tom said...

What right have you to prohibit Joe from acting the fool?

The same right I have to prohibit Joe from doing anything else.

So, for example, as a citizen of Maryland and the United States, I have the right to petition my representatives to pass such a law.

Rodak said...

Sure. But it seems to me that the basis of any law passed by any legislature must be one that is neutral with reference to any private orthodoxy, so that its legitimacy can't be plausibly questioned by any fair-minded citizen of the state of the jurisdication in question.
E.g. you can pass a local ordinance that the public school cafeterias must offer a fish entree on Fridays, but you can't pass a law saying that they can't also offer hamburgers. (This is not a Natural Law issue, but I think you get my drift.)

Rodak said...

That said, it is my sense that the WWWtW crew, if they got control of the local school board, armed with a no-meat-on-Friday orthodoxy, they would offer the fish exclusively and proscribe the burgers.

Tom said...

But it seems to me that the basis of any law passed by any legislature must be one that is neutral with reference to any private orthodoxy, so that its legitimacy can't be plausibly questioned by any fair-minded citizen of the state of the jurisdication in question.

And how do you reason from this principle without begging the question right and left? You say Law X isn't neutral with reference to my private orthodoxy, and I say you aren't being fair minded. So what does that tell us about Law X?

Does a private orthodoxy become public when 50% + 1 of the population adhere to it? 50% + 1 of the legislature? 100%?

No, what makes a law legitimate isn't that no one questions its legitimacy. Otherwise, one moron could undo the Constitution.

Civis said...

Good exchange here. I’ve been on the sidelines because I’ve been on the road (and will be again tomorrow).

Rodak, to respond to you last post responding to my comments, (on 3/18/08 at 4:46 AM—I wish these things were numbered!):

“There is no "public orthodoxy" of the left. What you seem to mean by "left" are the contemporary interpretations of the First Amendment, and the Establishment Clause, which I am saying should remain in effect.”

The establishment clause is intended to keep the state from infringing on religious freedom. Your secularism and relativism is an establishment of religion. Don’t you see that? It is the religion of secularism and relativism.


“Relativism is not a "Truth" in the sense of which we are speaking; it is an attitude towards all competing truths. [et seq.]”

Okay, you are opening the door for me to go off topic here. You are dead wrong on this count, but in light of your complaints about not staying on topic, I won’t go into the nature of relativism. I think we can have a meaningful discussion without going there, but I just want to state for the record that I can slam you here, but won’t because it is your forum. Instead I will be satisfied with staying on point and not getting lost in the weeds.

Okay, back to the point. I can understand were you are coming from when you say that the state should not pick sides in controversies between religions. I’m all for that. I respect your position. Now, hear me out. In the words of Atticus Finch, “Get inside [my] skin and walk around for a while.” Then tell me where I am going wrong. I have four concerns that I feel you overlook:

1) California: Shouldn’t parents be able to raise their children according to their faith and/or worldview (be it secularism, Christianity, Judaism, or whatever) without being forced to go to public school to have secularism shoved down their throat?

2) Aren’t you at all alarmed at the idea of the state being in control of the education of children and have their undivided attention for the purpose of indoctrination, 8 hours a day, five days a week, 9 months out of the year? In consideration of your post “Put a fork in it”, won’t you be sorry that you have stood back while the state has grabbed this power once a long train of George Bush presidencies drills our children in war mongering and jingoism?

3) RE “your point”, you MAY be right about secularism being the only acceptable public orthodoxy (or whatever you want to call it) IF IT IS ASSUMED that the state should be in the business of indoctrinating children. Why should the state do that? Where is that written? Please spare me any BS about how if the state doesn’t do it, people won’t get an education. Please don’t say that, because of what I say in the comments to this post:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=9082297459541327991&postID=5487046331307793833

4) The orthodoxy of secualrism/relativism (or whatever you prefer to call it) is in opposition to academic freedom of teachers.

Rodak said...

Otherwise, one moron could undo the Constitution.

One moron can undo the Constitution in the sense that one moron (theoretically) can bring a suit against any given law to the Supreme Court and win.
The way to most permanently "undo" the Constitution, however, is not to get a court ruling in your favor, but amend it. Amending the Constitution is very difficult to do. It essentially can't be done without the support of a national super-majority. There will still be those who can't live with that, of course. Those people must pretty much be content with living their consciences privately.
The point I'm after, however, is that offering both fish and meat violates nobody's rights. While proscribing meat to everybody on Friday, because of one group's belief, does. The Constitution protects against that.
I don't think that I said that a law is legitimate because "no one" questions its legitimacy. Obviously, we are not to live according to the discretion of cranks. What I said was that a just law will be see by any fair-minded person as fair to everybody. I.e. it won't become public orthodoxy without allowing for the practice of a private orthodoxy: both fish and meat on the menu.

Rodak said...

It is the religion of secularism and relativism.

Bullshit. You've been listenting to too much Rush Limbaugh.

As to your bullet points:
1) I already said that I thought California would lose that one in federal court.
2) The "state" is not in charge of the local schools. The local schools are controlled by the local school board--people who are our next-door neighbors. Again--too much Rush Limbaugh, my friend. Are most educated people in this country generally "liberal"? Yes. Probably so. Do more college-educated people tend to take the time to work in the school sytems, as opposed to others? Undoubtedly. That's just how I would have it.
3) If you want any nut to be able to teach his kids any crazy thing he happens to believe, fight for it. Fight for the right of home schooling white supremicists to teach their kids about the "mud people." Fight for the right of Muslim parents to teach their kids to blow themselves up shopping malls. Right-on!
4) The "public orthodoxy" [remember,please, not my term] of liberalism/secularism is only that there is no public orthodoxy, other than the rule of law.

Tom said...

Obviously, we are not to live according to the discretion of cranks.

Here you're begging the question. By whose orthodoxy do we identify the cranks?

And you're simply asserting your private orthodoxy that people have the right to eat meat.

I would say, by the way, that the various smoking bans that have been enacted in the last fifteen years or so are a real example of a private orthodoxy being imposed on the public. Of the left, even.

Rodak said...

And you're simply asserting your private orthodoxy that people have the right to eat meat.

No, I'm asserting the public (Constitutional) orthodoxy that asserts my right not to have somebody else tell me that I can't eat meat. There's a crucial distinction there.

By whose orthodoxy do we identify the cranks?

Cranks are like pornography. You can't define it, but you know it when you see it. The Rev. Wright is, for instance, being a crank when he asserts that the white-dominated government developed HIV in the lab to destroy the black race. You know that's nuts, no matter what your private orthodoxy is, if you're a reasonable person.

Smoking bans, seatbelt and motorcycle laws, etc., are ultimately generated by the business community, specifically, the insurance industry.

Rodak said...

NOTE: That's motorcycle helmet laws.

Civis said...

"Bullshit. You've been listenting to too much Rush Limbaugh."

That is not a response. Argumentum ad homined.
Argumentm ad populum.

"As to your bullet points:
1) I already said that I thought California would lose that one in federal court."

What if they lose? You would put all your eggs in the Supreme Court basket? You trust a handful of men that much?

"The "state" is not in charge of the local schools. The local schools are controlled by the local school board--people who are our next-door neighbors."

Oh come on Rodak. The Feds dictate to the states. The local school board might control budget (to an extent) and some disciplinary matters, but the local school boards are by no means free.

"Again--too much Rush Limbaugh, my friend."

Again, argumentum ad hominem. Try to respond without insulting me. Try seeing my point of view. Keep in mind that I am a thinking person not like you. I think you know me better than this, to accuse me of being some knee jerk ideologue.

I gotta hit the road. More later.

Rodak said...

Okay, Civis, I will respond more civilly to your opening remarks:

The establishment clause is intended to keep the state from infringing on religious freedom.

Wrong. The establishment cause is to prevent the establishment of a state religion.

"Secular religion" is a contradiction in terms. Secularism is not, like, for instance, Marxism, a systematized doctrine. Calling it a "religion" is ridiculous. Secularism just has nothing to do with "religion" as such. You can call some form of militant atheism a "religion" because some atheisms have a whole, carefully worked-out doctrine, followed by True Believers. But secularism is not of that type.

Relativism is just a clearly not a "religion" since it says that there are no objective truths which always pertain, but rather that ethics are situational and morals are fungible, and we apply our reason to specific situations as they come up and do the most practical, pragmatic, or utilitarian things based on those immediate considerations. In order to have something called a "religion", I think that you have to have a doctrine. "There are no doctrines" is not really a doctrine, is it?

Tom said...

No, I'm asserting the public (Constitutional) orthodoxy that asserts my right not to have somebody else tell me that I can't eat meat.

Twenty years ago, most folks could smoke most everyplace. Now they can't. Yet the Constitution hasn't changed.

I don't think it's as meaningful as you'd like it to be to slip "Constitutional" paranthetically into the term "public orthodoxy." (But I do think, paranthetically, that after a hundred comments, it's a bit too late for you to disown the term "public orthodoxy." You may not have originated it, but you've sure run with it since.)

Rodak said...

But I do think, paranthetically, that after a hundred comments, it's a bit too late for you to disown the term "public orthodoxy." You may not have originated it, but you've sure run with it since.)

It would be bloody difficult for me to argue against waterfowl without employing the word "ducks."

Smoking is not a particularly good analogy to my "fish vs. meat" ferinstance, for the reason that when you smoke in an enclosed area, other people have to breathe in the by-products of your smoking, as well as enjoy (and take home on their hair and clothing) the aroma of same.
In the fish/meat instance, the only possible imposition of the meateaters on the fisheaters is the visual and mental knowledge of the fisheaters that others are eating meat. They are not made to partake in the meateating in any other way.
Smoking in a public place is, therefore, coercive, while there is no coercion at all in the fish/meat scenario--everybody's private orthodoxy is accommodated.

Rodak said...

It would be bloody difficult for me to argue against waterfowl without employing the word "ducks."

By which I mean to point out that the title of the post that this post was put up to discuss the merits of, is, after all:

A Brief Note on the Idea of a Public Orthodoxy

It wasn't brief enough for me.

Tom said...

Smoking in a public place is, therefore, coercive....

Eating meet is pretty darn coercive with respect to the animals eaten! You and your speciesist orthodoxy!

And now you've added "coercing the coercive" to "neutral w/r/t any private orthodoxy" as sufficient basis for a law to be legitimate.

Rodak said...

Coercing the coercive? I'm all for it! I'm for coercing muggers and rapists into cages, as one example.
Look, I used to smoke four packs a day. One of the reasons I quit was because it was becoming so inconvenient to find a place to smoke. I sympathize with smokers, but not at the expense of the right of others to breath clean air.

Tom said...

Coercing the coercive? I'm all for it!

From which we conclude that not even Rodak can be trusted with dictatorial powers.

Rodak said...

From which we conclude that not even Rodak can be trusted with dictatorial powers.

Oh, come one. Now you're not addressing the thing seriously. I have no power to jail anybody, nor would I want such power as an individual. That's why we have the positive law, with the rights of any person whom the system wants to jail protected by the Constitution.