Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Old Mill Questions -- Introduction

In the middle of the year of grace 2017, a collection of prominent conservative theologians released the Nashville Statement, intended to express their position on the purpose of human sexuality as divinely revealed in the Bible. This triggered the release of a number of statements, one called the Denver Statement and another called the Nazareth Statement, which diverged strongly from the views expressed in the Nashville Statement.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Cyclists Take the Lane, Why Motorists Shouldn't Object

Toronto's Metro News generally has fair and positive coverage of cyclists, but they have the odd lapse, as this article demonstrates:
As a driver, I’ve also seen the kind of bike behaviour that gives all of us cyclists a bad name — weaving in and out of traffic, riding on the sidewalk, hogging an entire lane when there’s no need, failing to signal before turning or coming to a sudden stop, cutting off other cyclists or startling them by passing on the inside. One of the worst offences is riding a bike at night without a light, then having the gall to become indignant when cars almost run them over.
In the immortal words of Sesame  Street, one of these things is not like the others. Cutting other road users off, failing to signal, riding on the sidewalk: all these endanger other road users. Taking the lane, which the writer describes, wrongly, as "hogging an entire lane when there’s no need" doesn't endanger anyone. At worst, it annoys other drivers who would like to press their accelerators a bit harder. Drivers who resent cyclists for holding them up should ask if they ever fume about other drivers taking unnecessary trips alone in their cars, which cause far more traffic jams and waste far more time.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Don't quote Genesis 19 on Same-sex Marriage

Illuminated manuscript picture of Sodom burningJem Bloomfield, in the blog quiteirregular, writes about the collision between the stance on same sex marriage held by some churches, and the culture prevalent in university settings:
One of the major points of view that I hear is that Christianity is immoral.  They don’t use exactly that word: they’re more likely to describe things as “discriminatory”, “oppressive” or “unjust”, but that’s the general gist.  There are moral principles of inclusion and justice which are central to their lives, which they see the Church as transgressing.  They are used to looking at the media, or at politics, and criticising the misogyny or homophobia they see, and institutional Christianity is no exception.  The same disdain for minority groups, the same discrimination.
 This strikes me as a pretty accurate set of observations, but I would go further. To interpret one of the biblical passages commonly cited against Gay men as a condemnation of same-sex behaviour requires accepting a claim nearly everyone today views as outrageous, and many contemporary governments have made outright criminal.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Luke Skywalker and the United States Constitution

Donal Trump addresses the crowd at a Phoenix Az. Rally, August 2017Conor Friedersdorf thinks the Left has made a huge mistake in abandoning the pure libertarian position on the freedom of political speech. At least, he thought so as of last week, before the pardoning of Joe Arpaio.

Donald Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio, as Mr. Friedersdorf himself has pointed out, along with many other able commentators, has a real potential to unravel the rule of law. The presidential power of pardon has few specific limits, but the United States Constitution certainly never intended it to permit the President to undermine a prosecution, much less a law, the president simply disapproved of. The specific pardon of Mr. Arpaio, whom President Trump pardoned for offences related to civil rights violations, makes the situation more troubling. Issuing a pardon for someone who has never expressed regret or admitted wrongdoing means one of two things: either the President believes the court made a serious error of fact, or he condones the offence. If officials with the power to pardon violators actively condone civil rights violations, they effectively strip some, and in the end all, members of the community of their civil rights.

This illustrates what I call the Skywalker rule of constitutions: like the death star, every written constitution has to have a relief port.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What the People Who Sent Murderers to Barcelona Want

Sagrada Familia 02
Sagrada Família
A terror cell affiliated with the deash has murdered fifteen people and injured one hundred and thirty more.

Pray for the dead and for the recovery of the injured. And don't give the hard men of the daesh, who sent the killers, what they want.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Reflections on Conservatism in the Wake of Charlottesville

Charlottesville "Unite the Right" Rally (35780290814)The American people have elected a man who has no idea of shame as their president, and I surprised myself by feeling particularly incensed to see the way he confidently assumed he could disrespect a gold star family and then count, not only on the obedience and professionalism but the political support of the American service chiefs. Last week, his service chiefs served a quiet but determined notice: they would obey him but never willingly acquiesce to the corruption and dishonour of the military they served. After witnessing white supremacists parading with the symbols of slavery and genocide, and their president refusing to condemn either the ugly ideology or its uglier, murderous display, the chiefs of the American services: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps issued a series of statements condemning white supremacy and warning potential recruits their services had no place for bias or racism.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

"White fragility" is ableist

Ableism graphic (people with disabilities fobidden/not welcome)
I often read and hear people with disabilities, describe the moment the light bulb lights; lights with incandescent rage in the moment we understand the standards defining "normal" rest on choices as fundamentally arbitrary as the dictates of fashion. Norms shift from culture to culture, but this culture, our culture, polices its norms by any brutality necessary. Since policing construed as therapeutic supposedly serves the interests of those policed, no consideration of rights or fairness restrain it. If the policing takes a form impossible to construe as therapy, its promoters justify it as necessary for the prosperity and happiness of future generations.

Some people, a tiny minority, have the credentials or the power to set standards, define "normal"; others enforce these standards, checklist by checklist on the bodies of the vulnerable, often starting before school age. This entitlement of the doer over the done to forms the essence of the oppression we call ableism. Those who have received this treatment, the done to, feel this entitlement in our bodies: deathly sick and uncontrollably shaking from drugs given to us because the impulse to erase our differences outweighed the (known) side effects. We know it in our spirits and our memories, of being held up as examples of failure, targets for bullying, or just old fashioned beatings by authority figures or by our peers.

Using the term "white fragility" accepts and affirms this system of entitlement. It affirms the checklists acted out on the bodies of children who can't speak, the toxic drugs given to neuro-divergent children and teens, and acts yet more extreme. It affirms the whole system, with one proviso: racial animus, or more precisely any deviation from the response to animus the enlightened decree, also counts as a deviation, a symptom in need of correction, of checking off the list.