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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: South Dakota Amendment C 2006 on: January 28, 2015, 03:23:36 pm
It's not surprising SD and NC Native Americans are different on this issue, considering that native Americans never had any sort of unified culture. They probably have different beliefs regarding sexuality, although I'm not sure what those differences are. As a whole I would imagine Native Americans are more liberal on same-sex marriage since many tribes legalized it before a majority of Americans supported it. I believe the wording of the SD referendum also made it less popular, considering that a ban on SSM in ND passed by a 3-1 margin.

It's not surprising they're different, but it's a little surprising they're totally inverse.  Although I believe the Lumbee may be heavily Southern Baptist?

My guess is Robeson County is closer to Eastern Oklahoma as far as race goes. Sure they may tell the Census that they're 38% Native American, but I bet there has been a lot of intermarriage with whites through the centuries and they have European (or Southern?) views on sexuality even though they don't say they're white.

It's not like Osage County, Oklahoma, the state's only Indian Reservation, was any less anti-gay than neighboring counties in that state's 2004 referendum.

Exhibit A:


That does not explain why the Robeson County vote was even worse than neighboring white counties, though.

Osage County may be an Indian reservation, but it's only 14% Native American.  There's also no part that's majority Native.
2  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: South Dakota Amendment C 2006 on: January 27, 2015, 08:52:21 am
^ Oh darn.

Yeah, I mean...I don't blame you for seeing it wrong...it makes absolutely no sense to me, either Tongue
3  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: South Dakota Amendment C 2006 on: January 27, 2015, 07:47:22 am
Look again, Miles.  In South Dakota, the Native American counties were among the most pro-gay.  Shannon County (Pine Ridge) was 65% against the gay marriage ban, second only to Clay County, which has the University of South Dakota.  That just makes it more puzzling why Robeson County was so anti-gay.  I really and truly just don't get the voting patterns with Native Americans on this issue.

In other states, Native Americans are more supportive of same-sex marriage than any racial group, as far as I can tell.  Here, even dirt-poor reservation precincts tend to support it.  In 2012, I mathematically guesstimated the Native American vote for same-sex marriage in WA and I think got 55-57% Approved among reservation Indians.  South Dakota Native Americans seem like a fairly similar case -- well more pro-gay than the whites.

It's especially stark when controlling for demographics.  They're noticeably more supportive than whites, blacks, or Hispanics with otherwise identical demographics.  In Eastern Washington, the Indian reservation precincts were pro-gay marriage islands in a massive anti-gay marriage sea.  I'm not sure why.

I'm especially confused about why Washington and South Dakota Natives are so different than North Carolina Natives.

The close result in SD isn't that hard to explain, though: the vote also banned civil unions.  Doing that caused surprisingly close returns in some conservative states, and even a failing ban in Arizona.  A few years later, they put it on the ballot again, this time only banning gay marriage, and it passed handily.
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boehner flirts with treason on: January 21, 2015, 09:28:36 pm

Using a foreigner to advocate for policies in your own country isn't necessarily undermining your country, because it isn't necessarily preferencing the other country over your own.  silly stuff leif.
5  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: New indecent Sia video on: January 21, 2015, 09:24:21 pm
I don't really even get this controversy.  It seems like we could spend this outrage being mad at something that truly warrants it, like Lil Wayne or Jason Derulo's terrible, stupid face.
6  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 20, 2015, 10:26:12 pm
I agree. A+B was not formed correctly in what I originally said. I should have said something like this:

A+B) "Islam causes moral wrongs" is an ambiguous inference.
C) A necessary inference on causes of acts must be unambiguous.
A+B+C) It is not necessary to infer Islam as a cause of moral wrongs.

It was a bit of a dick move to sneak this argument in without painstaking explanation, since those three lines are mostly what people debate about anyway (like you said).

You haven't been a dick at all.  But you've basically defined "ambiguous inference" to be any inference of a causal factor where the causation is not inevitable and certain, or nearly both.  I think it's effectively certain that sincerely-held religious views do influence people, even if not solely, in ways that prompt them to bad acts that wouldn't otherwise occur.  This isn't inevitable in every case, or certain in any case where it could be possible...

But, like, your argument precludes discussion of causal factors in basically every complicated situation ever.  Your argument seems to single-handedly destroy political policymaking and all the social sciences.  I'm not being hyperbolic here...like, life is "ambiguous inference," dude.

Here is what I think your biggest objection to that argument (A+B still)

A proposition like "some Muslims use Islam to justify moral wrongs" is unambiguous. Just because some thing doesn't inevitably lead to bad stuff doesn't mean it isn't a contributing/causing/determining factor. So here's an unambiguous inference to Islam causing moral wrongs.

Less academically, you don't get why I'm dismissing sentences you have said which obviously make sense, and obviously have been thought and used by people. And, honestly, I'll have to think about this. But it'll probably revolve around this feeling: the problem I think with using the word "Islam" instead of "Islamic practices" or "Islamic groups" is that, given some time, you could meet someone who has no idea what you mean.


That's not what I want. I want people to stop, when arguing Islam as a causal factor in unacceptable behaviour, to define "Islam" however they want to suit their argument. If I'm right that Islam is an ambiguous reference, this is a strategy they are always justified in using, even if we don't want them to. For them not to use it is to make them feel bad if they use it.

Yes, I do wonder why you're dismissing an argument that makes sense, and that people have said Tongue But anyway...

It seems you're saying, even if what I say is substantively true, I shouldn't say it because some people might not know what I'm doing when I'm associating something with "Islam."  What are you worried they might think I'm saying?  I don't buy the idea that there is some objective, "true" Islam, any more than any other religion.  There are strains of Islamic thought I like more than others, but that doesn't make them "true."  I also go to pains to note that the problematic beliefs are not universal in Islam (although some of them, like anti-homosexuality, are pretty much ubiquitous.)  So it can't be that I'm going to incorrectly malign liberal Muslims.

So, I'm starting to wonder if your argument isn't essentially that I'm going to offend people and excite the imagination of bigots.  All else being equal, I don't want to do that, but if "all else" involves pretending like there's no connection between theological beliefs and social problems, it's very much not equal.

I will agree with your first sentence. What I was thinking, though, is more that there are far less "threats to society" in our world than we intuitively think.

How much do you think I intuitively think that?

That doesn't mean people shouldn't ever try to change attitudes we feel are bad; if you feel like change is needed, you're perfectly free to do it. But, as a society, we should think hard about whether it is best for everyone to wage war in the name of eliminating that threat, or if it's best to subsidize risk-seeking behaviour, or if it's best that people pay Bill Maher a sizable sum and a TV studio.

None of the claims I'm making really have anything to say about any of that.

I feel uncomfortable observing terrifying actions and having no clear idea why it takes place, much less what we can do to stop it. You do too, I guess. It's tempting to focus on a troubling belief and use it as a framework to offer solutions. But maybe the only thing we can accomplish doing that is to make ourselves feel better, and we should accept this.

If it's futile, it's futile.  If you have evidence it's futile to offer against the evidence I've given that this is a problem, go for it.  But otherwise, the concerns you raise seem generic to any sort of decision-making ever.  That's not to say they're all invalid -- decision-making is much harder than people (especially here) give credit for.  But if your arguments hold, and we should give up on thinking about this issue, you're basically obligated to give up talking about most multi-faceted issues.
7  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 19, 2015, 06:22:57 am
^ not meaning this as an insult to myself (or autism), but that was probably the most autistically obsessive post on logic I've ever made here, and that's saying something
8  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 19, 2015, 06:15:34 am
Foucaulf, I'm going to start with my argument, then the thesis (conclusion) of your argument.

My argument is that it is not unreasonable to claim that individuals, within a society, should criticize a causal factor (e.g., some commonly sincerely-held Islamic beliefs) in a problem (e.g., Islamist fundamentalism).  To bring this out of academic-speak: If something is helping bad stuff happen, I think it's often reasonable to argue you should criticize that thing.

I'm not sure your conclusion really matches up with my argument, since you assert there is certainly no obligation to "support referencing Islam as a cause of moral wrongs," but you assert that "pluralist society" has no obligation.  I'll assume that means individuals within the society, in which case your argument does contradict mine.  You are apparently saying, in this case, that you are certain that we shouldn't criticize Islam for helping bad stuff happen.

There is probably a fatal problem with your argument at point A+B.  There, you take two assertions -- one unclear but probably correct (A), and the other unclear but potentially correct (B) -- and add them up in a way that's almost certainly incorrect.

In B, you assert that the Qu'ran does not "unambiguously support the committing of moral wrongs."  I potentially agree with this.  I do think the most common plain-text reading of the Qu'ran -- and the plain-text reading I make -- does support committing moral wrongs.  I am morally opposed to punishing adultery with lashing, which the Qu'ran is unequivocal about (most of the other widely-believed problematic stuff is from also-crucial hadith).  Because of this, I assume you mean the Qu'ran's "support of moral wrongs" is "not unambiguous" in the sense that not everyone reads morally problematic statements from the Qu'ran.  This is true.  A small minority of liberal scholars, for instance, believe the lashing part is somehow metaphorical.

The problem is that, if my interpretation of B is correct, you commit a significant error in A+B.  You claim that A and B together demonstrate "it is not a well-defined proposition that Islam causes moral wrongs."  However, in B, you simply demonstrated that belief in the Qu'ran does not inevitably (if that's what you meant by "unambiguously") prompt problematic beliefs.  "Inevitably causes" and "causes" are totally different standards.

To take this out of ridiculous academic-speak: just because something does not inevitably cause a bad stuff to happen doesn't mean it isn't a causal factor in that bad stuff.  This is the same point I made to sbane above.

The rest of your argument seems extraneous, but unobjectionable.  I can agree that it's unreasonable to assert a moral obligation to make an argument if that argument doesn't make sense (C), or if there's no reason to assert that moral obligation (F).  I also accept the fact that there are people not invested in the religion who don't like criticisms of Islam (D).  

If I understand E right, it's also unobjectionable.  I agree that, in a pluralist society, it's not right to "silence" those who offer "reason."  I do not think it matters if those who offer it are "irrationally attached" to their argument, though...

...That line worries me, in fact, and makes me wonder if E means something deeper than I'm reading.  If you simply mean E as a concession that you don't think criticisms should be legally prohibited, even though you don't think they should be morally obligated, that's fine.  However, if you intend E to argue against a legal obligation to offer these criticisms, please be clear: I am not arguing a legal obligation could be reasonable; just a moral obligation.  In a pluralist society, I do not think a moral obligation to make an argument should lead to a legal obligation...ever, as far as I can think of.

Now, that's a lot of really complicated stuff.  That's mostly because I wanted to respond to your formal construct, and because in some places, I wasn't clear on what you meant, and wanted to cover the bases.  All in all, I'm pretty confident your conclusion at A+B is the crux of our disagreement.  And, despite the formalism of your post, I think you're falling into the same trap.  I think your argument is basically the same argument I rejected earlier for the same fundamental error.

Just to put it in simple terms, again:

Just because some thing doesn't inevitably lead to bad stuff doesn't mean it isn't a contributing/casual/determining factor.

If some thing is helping bad stuff happen, I think it's potentially reasonable to argue you should criticize that bad thing.

I'm not replying to the last few paragraphs of your post, not because they don't have any good ideas, but because I think this central reality is incredibly important.  A lot of left-leaning folks, yourself included, seem to be going out of your way to complicate this premise.  You seem to want badly to disclaim Islam (however defined) as a causal factor in unacceptable behavior.  At the end of your post, you unequivocally state that it is unreasonable to deem conservative Islamic beliefs (even belief in the death penalty for apostates, I assume) as "threats."  I assume this is because you reject Islamic beliefs (even those Islamist ones) as causal factors in the things (like violent political Islamism) you think truly are "threats."

The problem is that the logic you use for rejecting this, no matter how formalized and peppered with worthwhile, peripheral ideas, is still invariably flawed by the same error.  It's the error you make in (A+B), and then carry over in totally separating "problematic beliefs" from "threat beliefs."  It's the error other posters in this thread made in much fewer words.  But no matter how well-intentioned, and no matter how formally constructed, it's the same error.

And it's very well-intentioned.

And it's often very formally constructed.

And it's still completely and totally illogical.

I'm sorry.  I know it's uncomfortable.  I know it's tempting to fudge, because it's so tempting to intellectually compartmentalize troubling beliefs from terrifying actions.

But, no matter how elaborately presented, it



9  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Are you pro-sex or anti-sex? on: January 18, 2015, 04:30:39 am
Atlas Forum: The only place where same-sex marriage polls better than sex.
10  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Pope Francis on Paris Attack - "one who throws insults can expect a 'punch'" on: January 17, 2015, 09:52:40 pm
I'm going to address afleitch's question first here because I have a ready answer to it. I'm not quite sure what to make of Alcon's point yet. I might have a coherent counterargument. I might lack a coherent counterargument but hold to my original position anyway for emotive reasons, or because we lack a common ethical frame of reference for the value of challenging beliefs, or something. I might also retract 'and raucous mockery' and just limit myself to saying that there's a responsibility to avoid defamatory innuendo, or reverse my position entirely (more sincerely than the last time I claimed to do that). Give me time.

No problem.
11  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 17, 2015, 09:34:30 pm
First let me define how I see the groups within Islam because I apparently confused you:

"basically on our side and who do hold liberal values"= people who are liberal and hold the same liberal values as us, but who identify as Muslim. People like Fareed Zakaria, Reza Aslan, my super liberal friend who works for an organization for battered women and lived in a commune for a while etc.. I will readily admit these people are less easy to find in Islam than in Christianity, but that is mostly because these values are more prevalent in the west.

OK, I'm with you, although your last sentence doesn't mean much.  These attitudes are also much less common among Muslims in the West than Christians in the West.

The next category are the vast majority of Muslims. This category contains those "moderate" Muslims as well as Islamists who reject violence. I am deliberately keeping this category big because you can argue all of them are not wholly compatible with western, liberal values in some form or another. Within this group you will find those who are conservative/literalist on every issue there is (Islamists). And of course you will find your normal human beings who will look the other way on some issues like alcohol (because they like it) but are conservative on other issues like gay rights (ew, that guy kissed another guy!). The common thread within this group is that they reject violence in the name of Islam.

That is the common thread, because you've defined that as the common thread.  You literally define this group based on non-violence.  Doing so and then pointing out it's the "common thread" in the group is effectively meaningless.

Your argument is that the Islamists within the middle group I described above could potentially become extremists or help foster extremism within their country. That is where my disagreement lies. You and others making similar arguments to you, like Sam Harris, have proven that there are a lot of Islamists in this world, but relatively few terrorists. Furthermore, we also see that certain regions produce more terrorists, but aren't necessarily more Islamist than more peaceful regions of the Muslim world. My argument is that the determining factor that leads someone to become a terrorist is not Islam. Sure, religion certainly plays a part. If that guy was brought up as an agnostic, I doubt he would go and murder 200 children in the name of god, but it is not the determining factor. So let us try to find out what are those determining factors that switches someone from a conservative Muslim to a terrorist. That would be a more productive conversation to have.

By the definition you've given, nothing is a "determining factor" unless it accounts 100% certainty that someone will "switch" to violence.  You're dismissing factors that are necessary because they aren't inherently sufficient.  In doing so, you're ignoring the fact that sufficiency may be a multi-factor issue, or that the characteristics that are sufficient may vary from person-to-person (because you're arguing we only consider traits that are universally sufficient).  You're also ignoring the fact that, merely by demonstrating a necessary trait for something, you've vastly increased the chance that the traits will be sufficient.  The absence of a necessary trait means that no other trait, or combination of traits, can be sufficient.  So, for you to ignore necessary traits because they aren't inherently sufficient, you're ignoring factors that are incredibly important -- or even universally essential -- in causing terrorism.

This is all abstract, but I want to impress on you how utterly practically ridiculous this argument is.  Here's some more concrete applications of this argument:

1. "Why should we talk about paranoid schizophrenia leading to violence?  It's not universally sufficient to guarantee violence."  (This argument is actually less ridiculous, because paranoid schizophrenia isn't even a necessary trait in this example.)

2. "We shouldn't talk about the connection between extreme fundamentalist Christianity and poor treatment of gays.  Just because someone is taught that all gays deserve to be stoned doesn't mean that they will necessarily treat them poorly.  Telling someone gays deserve punishment therefore isn't the determining factor in whether people behave punitively toward them."

3. "It's unreasonable to talk about restricting guns.  Even if they're a necessary condition to commit a firearms homicide, it's not a sufficient one, so it's not a determining factor."  (You know what smart gentleman pointed out that this argument is flawed?  YOU.)

I'm sorry.  I know this is coming from a good place.  You have liberal/moderate Muslim friends and you don't want them to feel bad because their religion is getting negative press.  I'm with you.  But the logical contortions you're twisting yourself in here to forward the "let's not talk about religion" line are just things you're way too smart to actually believe.  

This is an just not an issue where we can just start at our emotional reactions and work your way backwards to a position.  It might feel good superficially.  But it leaves us claiming things that don't make sense, that neglect important and impactful realities, and -- like I showed above -- that we don't even really believe.
12  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 17, 2015, 09:11:20 pm
Since neither have us have a substantial knowledge of the Quran, I'd like to drop this point. I hope we both agree that an inability to cite scripture while saying "Islamic scripture condones a bunch of horrible actions" is leaving yourself wide open. (Harris, at least, does this.)

I'm not sure what you mean.  I've seen Harris cite specific portions of Islamic texts.  I'm just not how sure how representative that is of how actually Muslims parse their holy books.  Harris's evaluation may be completely fair.

I get a bit antsy whenever something like "people's purported social and political views" pops up. When talking about a people with whom we do not have frequent contact, we are vulnerable to become biased observers. So, when you say something like "purported social and political views," my first reaction is to think that's a weasel word.

It's not a weasel word.  These are views purported by them, not by academics or whatever you're thinking.  Did you not read where I referenced specific polling on Islamist issues?

I jumped the gun in my response there, because I thought, as soon as I admit that purported social and political views are important, you were going to slam me with five hyperbolic articles on the internet about the horrific atrocities Muslims are performing: "honour killings," "lashes" and all of that. Not to say that those articles wouldn't be convincing, but I would have to respond by posting another five hyperbolic articles from Muslims tearing down those stereotypes. Then we don't get anywhere.

I'm not arguing based on random anecdotal evidence.  Also, even if sincere religious beliefs do not spur most people to violence (they don't), the question isn't about most people.  It's about whether those religious beliefs spur people to violence who would otherwise not be violent.  Some is sufficient to be a problem.

This is where things admittedly get a bit vague. A lot of the arguments from the "SJW side" invoke a chilling effect which would be formed in a world with too many obligations on what one must be vocal about. Though we can't control what someone is thinking at any given time - outside of shooting them halfway through the thought - we can cast doubt within them on the sincerity of their beliefs. This leads to identity crises, resentment and such.

I'd like to clarify what I mean by "obligation" here, for my own sake. We are not talking about something that would be merely morally beneficial but morally obligated - a sort of "get-out-of-our-country-if-you-can't-follow-it" obligation, a fundamental requirement for citizenship. I get that, at this point, I'm describing something more radical than your views. But I really do think that, without clarification on what our terms mean, the radical interpretation will be what holds in the long run.

Yes, no one in this thread is arguing for such a thing.  If you want to argue with some guy's crazy Republican uncle on Facebook, go for it, but no one who posted in this thread has been so simple-minded.

What does your last sentence mean?  Are you saying that, unless I clarify my terms, my argument effectively means what you're describing?  Not remotely.

The question is this: can we reasonably conceive of a liberal society where alcohol is permitted, as well as one where alcohol is banned? If that is true, then we can conclude the purchase of alcohol is not a necessary condition for a liberal society. The same logic would apply for other situations: so, when we say that rights against minority discrimination (against "queer orientations", say) are fundamental to a liberal society, we are saying we cannot imagine a liberal society that do not instate those rights.

Of course this leaves open the question of what a liberal society is. I'm using a standard Rawlsian definition here. Everybody stands behind the veil of ignorance, knowing no specific characteristics of the society, but knowing uncontroversial facts about human behaviour and that other people exist with different comprehensive doctrines on how to live one's life. What they agree on in these conditions constitute a liberal society.

I believe it is feasible to think that, out of this consensus, we could have a society where alcohol is banned and one where it isn't. I do believe that any consensus will impose some rights against discrimination, in that the parties all agree that the majority can disadvantage the minorities.

I don't think your description of Rawls' view on liberalism is complete.  Rawls emphasized the need to create a society where comprehensive doctrines coexisted.  It's true that he argues that liberalism isn't a comprehensive doctrine (and I agree).  But you're basically bundling his "comprehensive doctrine" argument with his "original position" argument.  Let me explain why that's a problem.

The idea behind the "original position" is to establish a thought experiment in which no one knows their societal position.  In such a position, it would not be rational to demand to enforce your entire comprehensive doctrine -- because, if you did so, and you ended up with a society where you are in the minority, suddenly someone else has the ability to impose their comprehensive doctrine on you.  That's the problem, in great part, that pluralism means to address.  Rawls addresses this in his concept of "reasonable pluralism," which is not the same as the sum of everyone's comprehensive doctrines.  In fact, it knowingly crowds out some elements of comprehensive doctrines because -- under the veil of ignorance -- it would be a bad idea to try to enforce them on society.  That makes sense?

I don't know what you're trying to say with the bolded sentence because the antecedents are confusing.

And to get back to the main point: suppose there was an European country with an Islamist party. By demographics alone, it could not be swept into power on a majority mandate. If said Islamist party gains representation and is involved in talks with government coalition, I believe that said Islamist party would either come to a consensus not to take away rights against discrimination, or cease to be a credible political actor.

Again, I'm not sure what you're saying, or what point you're making.  Take away rights against discrimination from whom?  What point are you making here?

That's basically what I'm saying. More specifically, I'm saying that I am too skeptical of arguments against a very general notion (about "the nature of Islam/Muslims," oooo) to want to consider it seriously. A general notion requires powerful evidence for refutation, and if I don't have access to credible techniques or knowledge I would rather not get involved.

Yes, I've repeatedly said I'm not making some argument about the inherent nature of Islam or Muslims, and I'm not even sure what "inherent nature" would mean in that context.

So from the get-go I realized the phrasing was too strong. I do think argumentative people are biased, and I agree that academics are biased too. Hell, I think most people involved in these debates are biased. By "biased" here, I don't mean intellectually dishonest as just uncommitted to look at the full range of evidence that can be waged for or against your argument. It would be crazy to ask everyone to look at all the evidence, but I think both sides are still not putting enough skin in the game.

This is one of the cool parts of pluralist society: We get to argue about stuff, and if we can't adequately account for our position as well as we can account for the opposing position, then our position (even if it's not perfectly informed) is inferior and we should change it.  If we don't, we're full of sh**t and should be called on it.

Here's my motivation for saying that in the first place: I've become increasingly disillusioned with people arguing back and forth on "understanding and criticizing doctrines" (paraphrasing Sam Harris here). It is impractical knowledge.

Instead of being a lovey-dovey humanities person, let's be impartial observers of social dynamics and see how events turn out. I do not believe "liberal Islam" will necessarily triumph over everything else, and, believing this, we should start thinking about specific policies we can implement to achieve our desired ends.

What option(s) are you rejecting in favor of being "impartial observers of social dynamics"?  I'm not sure how "being a lovey-dovey humanities person" is opposed to that.  In fact, that sounds exactly like the kind of thing a lovey-dovey humanities person would say.

If we want to talk about policy, then let's talk about policy. If I see a guy talking about how we're not condemning ISIS enough, then I need to tel him: "so do you support troops on the ground?" And I'll get at him, Jeremy Paxman style, until he gives a yes or no answer.

I'm fine about talking specific policies, but I started responding to your bullet-list of points you wanted to make in this thread, and none of them referenced specific policies.

I do not understand why you continue to have conversations with theoretical people who aren't in this conversation, when I am right here, being an actual non-theoretical human being, actually contesting things you've actually said.
13  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Pope Francis on Paris Attack - "one who throws insults can expect a 'punch'" on: January 17, 2015, 04:37:40 pm
Madeline, here's the fundamental problem with your argument on "mockery," in my eyes:

I think afleitch makes a great last point.  The phrase "makes a mockery of..." exists entirely because there are people who think that making them uncomfortable, or casting their beliefs in a poor light, is inherently "mockery," and inherently malicious or wrong.  Speech and conduct has to be analyzed beyond whether it generates offense.  It has to be analyzed because speech can be offensive (and even crude) and yet be very helpful in challenging ideas, practices, etc., that are problematic. 

And, in fact, I think learning to tolerate even maliciously crude statements is very healthy.  There's a natural human tendency to want to avoid cognitive dissonance and people who challenge beliefs that are emotionally important to them.  This tendency is totally unhealthy.  And, when we attach moral importance to the idea that people should avoid offending our beliefs, it becomes easy to morally demand that people stop doing so, even when they're doing so for very constructive reasons.  That is vastly more damaging than any individual defense.  The inability to shake off crude mockery is the sign of an individual or culture who already is already is sanctifying their opinions in a dangerous way.  This is ignoring the fact that many belief systems hold that even intellectual challenges of their beliefs are inherently "crude," or at least inherently improper.

This is also, by the way, where the whole oppressed/non-oppressed analysis falls apart.  Obviously, certain ideas are more associated with certain groups than others.  Obviously, there are some groups likely to really want to hold some ideas.  In some cases, attacking a group's beliefs is a means of being cruel to them.  But questioning or attacking the ideas held by a group is not inherently "oppressive."  Being a socioeconomic or power (or whatever) minority does not mean it is any healthier to sanctify your belief system.  Ideas have incredible power over individuals.  Even within a minority group, an idea can be oppressive.  It is understandable that persecuted groups would be wary of attacks veiled as substantive criticisms or satire.  But that does not mean their belief system should be spared substantive criticism or satire.  It also definitely doesn't mean that group is less prone to wanting to avoid criticism or satire, because every human being -- no matter how oppressed they are or aren't -- feels that impulse.  And it's bad.
14  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of this WSJ article on: January 17, 2015, 06:46:08 am
Still one of the coolest things ever to happen on the forum!
15  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Pope Francis on Paris Attack - "one who throws insults can expect a 'punch'" on: January 17, 2015, 05:57:11 am
I think in situations in which material oppression is going in one direction and ideological oppression is going in another (which, yes, is a reasonable characterization of the situation here) itís my general preference to take the side of those experiencing the former.

Hey, I don't want to do hit-and-run here at all, but I'm too tired to respond to the rest of your post, and this sentence really struck me.

Could you define what situation you're speaking of?

And from whom, and how, is ideological oppression "flowing"?

And why you believe a "side" must be taken between the two 'oppression flows'?

I'm not playing gotcha here, but this is a statement that makes sense to me in the abstract/theoretical sense, but when I start thinking about what it actually means materially...I mean, I'll let you go for it without poisoning the well.
16  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Pope Francis on Paris Attack - "one who throws insults can expect a 'punch'" on: January 17, 2015, 05:48:12 am
I do not suggest that making vitriolic attacks against ideas with which one disagrees is ironic.  I am tempted to say "learn to read, man" but it occurs to me that at that point I was not completing sentences.  Politicus has mastered English well enough to convince me that she understands vernacular.  One would assume that you do as well, being as how it is your native language.  

I have no idea why you're talking on attacks on people, considering I initiated this conversation in response to you objecting to attacks on ideas...I read fine.  I just wrongly assumed you weren't randomly shifting the conversation.

In that case: I want to talk about your claim that it's "morally reprehensible" to attack ideas (in this case, mock religion) in a way that's "crude and wrong," or what that means.  I just reject your claim that something being "crude" or offputing or whatever ("wrong" could mean anything) means it can't be useful and productive.

I cannot find any other substance in your post, but perhaps that is my shortcoming so in the spirit of polite debate I will ask:  Is there anything else that you need explained?  If you need French-English translations of the many spiteful pieces of "literature" created by Charlie Hebdo, you might first try google translate.  The sentences are generally simple, meaning that they do not contain subordinate clauses, so google does a pretty good job in translating them.  You may have to be imaginative once in a while because cartoon writers, like me, often do not write proper and complete sentences, but I bet you are smart enough to figure it out if you try.

Like I said before and above, I want some idea of whether you think "crude" conduct is inherently wrong, and whether it's inherently wrong to offend sensibilities.  I doubt you do, but when you write things like "every fiber of my being tells me such mockery is crude and wrong," and then respond to a critique of that claim by claiming this is just a subjective reaction, you make it seem like you're seriously not thinking beyond that level.  That's what I've been pushing back against since my first response to you.

*** Random digressions that I don't think matter (feel free to skip) ***

Irony occurs whenever the actual result contradicts the expected result.  For example, on Phineas and Ferb when Phineas says something like, "It's not like a giant anvil is going to fall out of the sky" and then a giant anvil falls from the sky.  Similarly, it occurs when those who say that they will not tolerate intolerance show such intolerance toward perceived intolerance that they will not tolerate it.

In that ridiculously strict sense, merely opposing intolerance -- if you're going to define "tolerance" that broadly -- is intolerant.  Yes, one of the big ironies of tolerant liberalism is that it can't tolerate intolerance.  Obviously, liberalism/pluralism/etc. have a more nuanced approach to (in)tolerance than just "for tolerance, against tolerance," because that's definitionally self-defeating.  You're acting like you're the first one to think of this, and this isn't an issue liberal democracies have been wrestling with for years.

Certainly it occurs when a self-ordained anti-religious publication is so religiously devoted to stamping out all religion, as well as when those who claim to be so deeply devoted to the cause of freedom that they feel they are free to so attack the freedoms those immigrants who emigrate from lands seeking economic or other freedoms.  

This reminds me that you never responded to the post where I was arguing with you on what "religion" is after you were a royal jerk based on something you misread.  I believe that qualifies as irony, considering the rest of this post.

Your use of "religion" is an equivocation.  You're using "religious" in a colloquial sense to prove any irony about people who oppose religion in a literal sense.  If you're going to condescend to me, [something arrogant here].
17  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 17, 2015, 03:18:36 am
A is obviously true. It is likely that C is true. That leaves B, which I think is false. It is false in the sense that it does not mean anything, unless you can find themes among Quranic verses justifying the claim. Lacking such, what we should be referencing are the Islamic sects, or the institutions encouraging Islamist philosophy. (You might, I have zero knowledge on this subject either!)

B is obviously based on Quranic verses, or the interpretations of Quranic verses that are not dependent on highly dynamic social factors (stuff that's remained static throughout Islam's existence).  I'm not educated enough to say whether I agree or disagree, although the consistently extreme attitude toward apostates suggests there may be something to it.

For me to agree to your claim that "people's purported social and political views based on their beliefs are the most important" would be to fall into circular reasoning. You say that with reference to Islamic extremists you have seen in the media and elsewhere, so...

I've read this a few times, and I don't understand what you're saying.

I don't feel obligated to respond to arguments that come from false premises. That makes me arrogant, though I don't believe without reason.

It's not arrogant.  You weren't asking about false premises, though.  You were asking about things that might lead or correlate with to false premises.

If you aren't fed up with me after my response, I'd like to hear your experiences. I, admittedly, have a more one-sided group on this issue; such are the pitfalls of being at a liberal American university. I've seen posts from people I met in Tunisia, however, criticizing the work of Charlie Hebdo and all. I wouldn't mind translating them.

You want to hear what my Muslim acquaintances think of Charlie Hebdo?

If you don't agree with the statement I cited, that's fine. What I've noticed are statements of that form in many situations. Here's a Vox article arguing along the same lines, I guess. There was enough controversy over the issue that there's an app for automated condemnations.

To be blunt, dude, I just think there are dumb, common, populist positions on every political issue ever.  I don't think they're work engaging when you're talking to people who are beyond them.

To be clear, what I am against are those who sound as if Muslims are obligated to condemn anything as an obligation to liberal society. This sounds weird because it is a perversion of freedom of thought; what happens if we disagree with any of the facts in the case?

Again, I don't agree with the particular sentiment, but how is it a "perversion of freedom of thought" to hold that someone is morally obligated to say something?  It might be a perversion of the political freedom of speech, but I can morally hold people should hold a position and be vocal about it.  It's not denying them the freedom to think or talk or anything.

That was with reference to BRTD's post:

I kinda unfairly honed in on the alcohol part, admittedly. That's the motivation, though. My argument is based off of the belief that no one necessarily has to establish their identity in the willful consumption of alcohol, unlike people of other races (whose identity is already determined by the majority) or of queer orientations (who, even in the least generous of interpretations, didn't just blink twice and suddenly deviated from straightness). Hence we can conceive of liberal societies where alcohol is not allowed, and ones where they aren't.

I hate to do this again, but I've read this several times, and I can't even make out what you're saying (or what "queer orientations" has to do with it...).  I'm just very confused.

I'll admit a bias: when I mean "identify," I really mean "look at two societies that are exactly the same, except one has a strong fundamentalist organisational influence and one doesn't." This is an econometric thing. Less arrogantly, I get very skeptical of evidence that doesn't fit that framework. So, when you make claims of Harris's about sociocultural factors in current Muslim-majority societies, I don't really buy it.

So, original quote:

"How do we identify the effect of a fundamentalist religious institution on violence, independent of material causes?"

Your edit:

"How do we [look at two societies that are exactly the same, except one has a strong fundamentalist organisational influence and one doesn't], the effect of a fundamentalist religious institution on violence, independent of material causes?"

So, basically...I assume you mean how do we control all factors and hold religion constant?  But, like I pointed out either, that's not sufficient either, because the fact that other factors determine the prevalence of terrorism doesn't preclude the religion itself being a facilitating factor in one or both sorts of countries.  I would love to do this sort of control, but it's just not possible.

I agree! That's why you can count on your hands the number of posts I've made on this subject on Atlas. I wish the same could go for all of us from now on.

Yay!  We agree!

...Wait, do we?  You're obviously smart.  Are you just saying you don't know enough to contribute?  Then why did you raise the issue of knowledge of Muslims in the first place?  Sorry, genuinely confused.

I do realize I've radicalized quite a bit on this issue. There's a lot I actually disagree with you in your response. What I would say is something like this: "The more we exclude argumentative people from this conversation, the better the chance we have to look at the evidence without coercion or bias."

Wait, if I have a formed opinion and want to argue you, that's coercive or biased?  Or do you just assume argumentative people are biased?  I tend to assume that hand-ringing, passive academics are pretty biased, too, even if they don't argue emphatically.  I'm not even sure what "biased" means in this context.  Intellectually dishonest?

Could I make a weaker point instead? Probably. I'm not calm enough to concede that right now.

Weaker point than what?  And why are you not calm? :S
18  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Considering leaving the forum (attention whoring) on: January 16, 2015, 09:17:29 pm
You're a nice person, and I don't want you to leave.

This is a little silly, though.  You have an argument that you feel strongly but are having trouble defending.  Maybe it's wrong, and your emotions are misleading you.  Maybe it's right, and you haven't been able to take it from intuition to logical explanation.  Either way, not discussing it isn't going to help you get there.

But, to be 100% blunt:

1. It's silly that you think you're not "worthy" of discussing something just because you can't immediately explain your feelings in logical terms.

2. It's silly that you're claiming you're not adequate enough to try, and yet you're convinced that there must be logical terms.  It really can't be both Tongue.

I think you're taking every part of this too seriously -- although I also include the sanctity of your own intuitions here.  Stay, chill out, have a beer, open yourself up to the exciting reality that we're all wrong frequently no matter how smart or good we are, and that's not shameful -- but you also shouldn't ignore that reality.
19  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Pope Francis attacks SSM on: January 16, 2015, 08:19:13 pm
Pope is Catholic. More at 11. Also source is biased and hyperbolic; again cherrypicking.

Wrong section.

His quote is hyperbolic, unless it's mistranslated.  "Ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family"?  There's not the faintest hint of compassion or understanding here.  It's entirely political rhetoric, reflects no interest or recognition of the actual motivations of the cause, and is the sort of thing he's normally been good at avoiding.

You're playing Press Secretary here a little much, bro.
Your description of Pope Frank's argument makes it seem as though he doesn't agree in spirit with his argument, so he took the most generic church line on the subject possible to thinly veil his distaste.  Or perhaps I am being to kind to the Pope?

Eh, he may genuinely believe that they are "trying to destroy the family," but I doubt it.  I also don't think he intentionally spoke in a disingenuous way.  I think he was basically just saying that the things they're trying to do are destroying the family, but said it poorly, and ended up sounding antagonistic toward well-intentioned people.  But that sort of unnecessary antagonism is the sort he's been really good at avoiding.  I think he slipped here -- not misspoke, but missed an opportunity to keep up his admirable record of being universally compassionate, even when he disagrees with something.

Hope that makes sense.
20  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Pope Francis on Paris Attack - "one who throws insults can expect a 'punch'" on: January 16, 2015, 08:15:15 pm
You used the word unacceptable many times.  You'll notice that I never used it.  (To quote politicus, don't put words in my mouth.)  I accept all of it.  I suggest that you learn to accept as well.

I used "unacceptable" twice, not many times, and I meant morally unacceptable, so just replace it with "wrong."  There you go.  Now you can reply to my post.
21  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Pope Francis on Paris Attack - "one who throws insults can expect a 'punch'" on: January 16, 2015, 07:41:01 pm
As astonishing as I find your pronouncement to be (and I say that as an irreligious, agnostic person myself), I find it morally reprehensible to mock religion in the way that they were doing it.  Every fiber of my being tells me that such mockery is crude and wrong.  I will not argue with you because at this point it's all normative.  We will simply have to agree to disagree.  

That's the problem with your argument in a nutshell.  Every fiber of your being is bothered by an action, so you apparently conclude it's wrong and immediately stop thinking about it.  You apparently don't think about the consequences of deeming a certain action unacceptable, or the consequences of living in a world where it's popularly considered unacceptable to offend someone's sensibilities about their sincerely-held beliefs.  This isn't just a matter of varying sensibilities.  This is a problem where you stop thinking several iterations before the moral repercussions of your conclusion stop.


Okay.  Right.  Our newsmedia also call the publication "satirical" rather than "hatemongering."  If the TV says it's so, it must be, right?

When you're being sarcastic about someone's argument, maybe you should actually use an argument  they made, instead of a random argument you think of.

They also claim to be against oppression.  Highly ironic considering the vitriolic attacks against those with whom they disagree.

Explain why making vitriolic attacks against ideas they disagree with is "ironic" if they're against oppression.
22  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 16, 2015, 07:31:02 pm
edit: Re-reading this, it came across as a little angrier than I meant it to.  Most of it is just genuine confusion about what you're getting at -- sorry!

    It's funny how common-sense rules of inductive inference are never followed when people debate about Islam. Here's what I'm thinking reading through this thread.

    • Has anyone in this thread, regardless of how critical they are to Islam, cited one Quranic verse? There are multiple online English translations.

    Who are you asking?  Also, whats more important: the Quranic text, or people's purported social and political views based on their beliefs?  I guess you could argue that some texts are more 'prone' to being interpreted in troubling ways than other texts, but I don't see anyone making a serious argument here that these interpretations are inevitable/inherent.  I've said I don't think that many times.

    How many people here have Muslim friends, or have any exposure to Muslims apart from "the college lecturer" or "the Sharia guy on cable news?"

    Again, who are you asking, and why?  I would encourage you to actually challenge people's arguments, instead of just vaguely suggesting they don't know what they're talking about.

    I could answer your questions, if you really want the anecdotal experiences I've had with my Muslim friends/acquaintances, but they're an unrepresentative handful when it comes to beliefs.  When it comes to their experiences, they've been worth hearing from.

    Why do we demand that "Muslims condemn these terrorists' actions?" I'm not going to demand my white, Christian friends to condemn Mormon polygamy, or give them glares until they write a blog post about the Westboro Baptist Church. This is a double standard, and the average Muslim blogger really advocates against this double standard they regularly experience.

    Again, who here are you arguing with here?  I think we're all smart enough to recognize there are people who are hypocritical or hackish on this issue.

    While I would never vote for a political Islamist party, the feasible set of policies they can demand varies from country to country. It would be illiberal to stone gays to death, but what's so illiberal about prohibiting the consumption of alcohol?

    Liberal societies (even ones that emphasize pluralism) often have laws that regulate private actions for moral reasons, although those are arguably illiberal.  What point are you getting at?  And for that matter, why do you think it's clear-cut that one is illiberal and one isn't?  Because prohibiting homosexuality is done for moralistic reasons, not because it has some sort of negative externality?  That's generally true of the justifications for alcohol prohibitions, too.  Not always -- obviously, alcohol causes some problems universally recognized as social ills -- but certainly if it's being done for reasons based on Islamic belief.

    How do we identify the effect of a fundamentalist religious institution on violence, independent of material causes?

    A lot of this thread has been devoted to that question.  Would you like to join us?

    While I do want to oppose the anti-Islam side, the discussion for me has turned into a greater question of what is socially acceptable for first-world white guys to say. "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence" and all that. This holds for my fellow critics as well if they lack the necessary evidence.

    It also holds for non-white guys who lack the necessary evidence.  It holds for anyone who lacks the necessary evidence.  First-hand experience does not guarantee someone is a good arbiter of the necessary evidence, either.  The fewer smart, intellectually honest people we exclude from this conversation, the better the chance to pick apart the evidence (which comes from other areas besides first-hand experience).[/list]
    23  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 16, 2015, 07:16:14 pm

    If Islam didn't exist, wouldn't these people just find some other excuse to be violent? People (warning: hyperbole incoming) seem to be acting as if violent acts are exclusive to the Islamic world.

    No one is saying that.  Absolutely no one is saying that.  Find me one quote that even comes close to saying that I've posted.  What does "people seem to be saying..." even mean?  Are they saying it, or are they not?  Hint: they are not.  I am not.  No one is saying that.  No one is saying that.

    And to answer your first question, "not necessarily."  I have argued, in detail, why I think the answer is "not necessarily," and not "yes."  What part of my argument do you disagree with?  Why do you not think that moral justification can allow otherwise peaceful people to commit acts of violence?  Can you seriously not think of ample incidences of those from research, history, or even personal experience?  Are you actually claiming that there is a set, finite number of people who will inevitably commit violence, and that sincerely-held beliefs can never prompt someone to commit violence when they otherwise would not?  Please, think long and hard about that claim, and tell me if you're actually making it.
    24  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Pope Francis attacks SSM on: January 16, 2015, 07:10:31 pm
    Pope is Catholic. More at 11. Also source is biased and hyperbolic; again cherrypicking.

    Wrong section.

    His quote is hyperbolic, unless it's mistranslated.  "Ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family"?  There's not the faintest hint of compassion or understanding here.  It's entirely political rhetoric, reflects no interest or recognition of the actual motivations of the cause, and is the sort of thing he's normally been good at avoiding.

    You're playing Press Secretary here a little much, bro.
    25  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 16, 2015, 12:51:36 am
    As I mentioned in the response to Marokai above, if the link between Islamists and Islamic terrorism is that important, why don't we see more terrorism in places like Malaysia or Bangladesh? You yourself gave evidence that even in these supposed moderate countries, the people still profess to believe in things written in the Koran which are highly illiberal. I think wahabbism is a different beast than your traditional, conservative Islam. Wahabbism advocates for the killing of other muslims who visit shrines of sufi saints. So you can only imagine what its followers think of people in other religions....

    Yes, sbane, I agree.  However, I've made it clear what I'm arguing, so I don't understand why you keep asking me again.  Islamist religious beliefs are a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for Islamist terrorism.  I don't know why you keep pointing out that Wahhabism is a different thing than conservative Islam, like I don't know that, or like I've been arguing otherwise.

    As for the discussion of Islam, again as I asked Marokai, I have to ask what is to be gained from singling out Islam for criticism. It just does not accomplish anything, except pissing off muslims who are basically on our side and who do hold liberal views.

    Those necessary-but-not-sufficient beliefs for religious extremism are more widespread in Islam than Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism.  That does not mean they are only in Islam.  It does not mean they are shared by most Muslims.  It does not mean other religiously-inspired extremism doesn't warrant criticism, as with he Uganda case.  It does not mean anything but the very literal words I've carefully wrote in this thread.

    But there is an equivocation you're nearly making here that you've nearly made several times.  The Muslims who are "basically on our side and who do hold liberal values" are not the same as the non-Wahabbists.  Conservative, traditionalist Muslims largely do not hold liberal values, unless you're defining liberal values by "opposing blowing people up for liberalism."  I'm all for alliances with people who oppose terrorism.  However, that doesn't mean I don't think that the values they hold aren't problematic, and aren't potentially fostering extremism within their societies' ranks.  Not always, not inevitably, and not consistently between countries, but often.

    I can sort of see your perspective, as you think Islamism leads to extremism and terrorist attacks (not always as you point out but it increases the likelihood of it). I don't think the link is that simple. You think this is merely about religion, whereas I think the cultures of the regions involved play a huge role as well. As someone who is primarily concerned with terrorism in the Islamic world as opposed to its other ills, I consider someone who rejects violence but may still think the Koran is the literal word of god, to be my ally in that fight against terrorism.

    OK, dude, I have never said that I think this is "all about religion."  I have said the opposite several times.  I can keep clarifying my argument, but it's going to be pointless if you keep not reading it.  I sincerely believe that you're trying to be fair-minded here, which is why I'm so confused as to why you keep reading arguments that aren't being made.
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