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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Morality based on what?


Richard Spencer
"We Own the Alt-Right."


The Milo Phenomenon is now all over the news:
The obscene, sodomy-celebrating, and nasty provocateur; rising GOP star; and Breitbart contributor, Milo Yiannopoulos, was recently invited to be the keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Fortunately, his invitation was quickly rescinded when an interview with Joe Rogan from ten months ago came to light in which Yiannopoulos gleefully recounted performing a sex act on a Catholic priest when Yiannopoulos was 14-years-old–a sexual act that Yiannopoulos insisted did not constitute pedophilia.
[Full article here]
Alt-Right[1] founder Richard Spencer has posted his commentary on Milo Yiannopoulos who used to be (or still is?) a follower of Spencer's Alt-Right movement. The video is at Altright.com's youtube page under: Milo Goes Up in Flames.

Below, I've excerpted from the long commentary (25 minutes long) on the points where Spencer discusses in moral terms the perverted sexual behavior of Yannopoulos.

As a side note, I have wondered why Spencer spent a rambling 25 minutes to discuss Yiannopoulos. I believe it is because of his inability to make a moral judgment on Yiannopoulos' behavior, and therefore his roundabout way to try to deem the behaviour as unacceptable. It is one thing to recognize the moral (or immoral) nature of someone's behaviour, it is quite another to judge it right or wrong.

I list and discuss the excerpts below.

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Excerpts from the commentary:

- What Milo is saying..."is totally indefensible."

- "Speaking as a father, I just simply cannot abide what he said. Milo just needs to recognize the fact that no normal person is going to accept what he said. It makes our stomachs turn."

- "The fact is this [pedophilia rings that Yannopoulos was privy to] is criminal. This is not OK legally speaking."

- "Look the fact is, if you witness something like that...you're legally and morally at the very least, I'm not a lawyer but you are at the very least morally obligated to say something and to try to stop that, or at the very least to take that information to the authorities."

- "This is just not acceptable. No-one is going to defend Milo. I'm sorry Milo no-one is going to defend you on this."

- "When someone is being attacked and there's a scandal, I almost want to defend them, because I know just how unfair the media is. I faced this myself with Hailgate. Everyone knows the punching incident, and I appreciate the people who defended me."

- "If this were any other scandal, I would not pile on. I do not like piling on. But in this case you, I have to pile on."

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In the 25-minute recording, Spencer vacillates between legal obligations, fatherly responsibilities (he has a toddler daughter), societal decorum, the unfair media, and normal behavior. Authorities (law and order), legality (lawyers and judges), normality (what one doesn't do in civilized society, at least publicly) are the issues he brings up in an attempt to explain why it is wrong to have pedophilia rings. He tries to frame his responses around morality or moral obligations, but he never specifies what morality and what moral obligations.

His hurt feelings of being insulted by the media ( "I know just how unfair the media is"), as though the media are really the cause of his and rejections, is the narcissistic reaction of someone who has no-one else to turn to but himself. "They attacked me because they are unfair (and evil)" says the narcissist, rather than search for something wrong in his approach.

Spencer is an atheist. As an atheist, there is nothing that tells him, other than his own perceptions, logic and observations, and societal "norms" what is moral and what is not moral.

Below is an excerpt from on a recent interview Spencer had regarding his atheism.

From The Friendly Atheist Blog at Patheos[2]:
Spencer has previously described himself (8:12) as a “cultural Christian,” but he told me in a private interview (over Twitter) that he is in fact an atheist. He also said the separation of church and state is “an utter illusion.
”Here’s an excerpt from the discussion:
McAfee: Are you religious? Do you support the Separation of Church and State?
Spencer: I’m an atheist. The “separation of church and state” is an utter illusion. The state and religion state [sic] deeply connected.
McAfee: So, despite your lack of religion, you do think religion and government should be connected. Is that right? Do you think a secular government would fail?
Spencer: A truly secular government could never exist. Sovereignty is a magical thing. For a political order to function — for it to accomplish its tasks, including war-making — the population must *believe* in it.
Why is pedophilia immoral? What is wrong with loving little children? After all pedophiles can argue that their behavior is a form of love. Unless it is a "rapist pedophile," most pedophiles are attracted to one (or two or three) children and maintain long term interactions with them. The young children become attached to them.

Legally society can decided that having sex with 5 year old children (who can say "yes" and "no," and make decisions) is perfectly acceptable and that it is not a crime.

Spencer is repulsed by pedophilia as a father of a young daughter. That is his frame of reference: disgusted with - and ready to tackle - anyone who would approach his child thus. What about men who don't have young children? From what depths are they to channel the emotion of repulsion of a man having sex with sons or daughters who are not theirs? And how about fathers of older children? In fact, most fathers are protective (both of their daughters and sons) way into the children's adulthood, and only marriage gives them the peace of mind that their son or daughter isn't being "abused."

What Spencer and the growing number of atheists are counting on is the society that produced these laws, behaviors, and civilized relationships to maintain a civilized society.

I've written about this here, here, here, here, and here.

I write in In Defense of Judeo-Christian Tradition::
It is unprecedented that people come outright and say "I am not religious." Previous generations wouldn't even know how to articulate these thoughts. What is even more irritating is the "but" that many of these people add. "Although not religious, I’m a defender of the so-called Judeo-Christian tradition." What does that even mean? As in "I will abstain from participating in one important element of Western tradition, but I will support it anyway?"

People can be overwhelmed by the beauty and poetics of the Bible, just as one can admire the poetry of Shakespeare. But, how can they, if they are so drawn to this book, not feel the mystery and transcendence of it as well? Where does that "tremendous literary achievement" lead to? Just for us to feel its tremendous literary achievement? Isn't there just something a little more than that?

Such is the ways of our modern world, where atheists sit around talking about the literary achievements of the Bible, as though they are great connoisseurs, and yet not have an ounce of reaction to its bigger picture.
It is Christianity which firmly and soundly built the society that was able to remove pedophilia from its midst, and which carved the laws which could punish the transgressors (the criminals).

Like all atheists, Spencer is an cultural opportunist. He latches on to what would make his life, his milieu, his relationships humane. The world created through God is good as long as one can get rid of pedophiles who would prey on one's daughters, but there is no logic to God's existence and therefore there is no God.

Here are a few of the infantile (I'm not denigrating Spencer here, I am just saying that his arguments are based on some kind of immature grievance that "God didn't answer my prayers"):
- Atheism offers the best explanation for the physical forces that cause natural disasters.

- Atheism offers the best explanation for the presence of unjustified pain and suffering in the world.

- Atheism offers the best explanation for God's silence in the face of adversity.

- Atheism offers the best explanation for divine hiddenness.
And so on. The full article (twelve points in all) is here.

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Notes:

1. Alt-right is a term that appeared in November 2008 when Paul Gottfried addressed the H. L. Mencken Club about what he called "the alternative right". In 2009, two more posts at Taki's Magazine, by Patrick J. Ford and Jack Hunter, further discussed the 'alternative right.' The term is commonly attributed to Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute and founder of Alternative Right magazine.

The alternative right has alternately been called libertarian nationalism, "neo"-paleoconservatism, "evolutionary" conservatism, "scientific" conservatism, and the post-religious right. [Conservapedia]

2. Patheos is a non-denominational, non-partisan online media company providing information and commentary from various religious and nonreligious perspectives. [Wikipedia]

Highway Cross


[Photo By: KPA]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Postmodern Art Critic


Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923–1997)
Title: Art Critic, 1996
Medium: Prints and multiples, Screenprint
Edition: 150
Image size: 19.72 x 13.35 in
Catalogue: Joseph Fine Arts Inventory Catalogue


Contemporary art criticism is a fascinating subject.

No-one dares touch it save for the few allocated to it because:

- They have a bullying manner
- They went to the "right" schools and studied the "right" kind of art
- They support the "right" kind of art, which now is post-modern, nihilistic anti-art
- A multicultural viewpoint also helps quite a bit

The idea really is to displace western art and the western art tradition.

But the essential point of excellence is missed.

Measuring excellence is not a culturally loaded task.

The idea of excellence originated in western thought, guided by Christian philosophy.

So the true art critic bases his judgment on western tradition within a Christian context.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Ten Commandments: "I am the Lord thy God"


Illustration by Sam Lawlor

The Ten Commandments are a sequential set of commands.

If the first is forsaken then all the others can follow similar suit.
Exodus 20: 2: "I am the Lord thy God"
How many in some form or other deny or denounce this?

Such are then more likely to:

- V. 3-5: Worship graven images (the graven image of liberalism)
- V. 12: Ignore or denounce the legacy of their fathers and mothers, which drives the neglect of one's country and fuels the immigration-fuelled culture of our modern age
- V. 13-15: Kill, commit adultery, steal - the abortion-minded, divorce-facilitating, welfare-driven society we live in now as though it were the norm
- V. 16: Bear false witness against thy neighbour - misreporting/ misrepresenting facts, in short lying, to attain a (liberal) agenda and world
- V. 17: Thou shalt not covet - desiring what's not one's own and looking for the easy way out to get what others have obtained through hard work, family inheritances, and national legacies

Denouncing the first leads to a sequential denial of all the others.

Below are the full commandments: "I am the Lord thy God"

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Exodus 20: 1-26:
And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's

Here is a post from 2014:
#valentineheartthrob



No I'm not on twitter. But my yahoo mail has a red Valentine's heart on the top corner, and it throbs!

I thought it was cute.

But all cuteness aside, a day of lighthearted celebration of love is a good thing. The problem is when people take it so seriously that it means everything (or nothing). Red hearts all over the place are a nice burst of color, in this dark depths of winter, and after the festivities of Christmas and New Year, it brings a holiday mood into February. Our next holiday is Easter, and that is as late as March or April.

I was recently watching You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan (as Kathleen Kelly) and Tom Hanks (as Joe Fox). Kathleen sends herself a dozen red roses for Valentine's. She says to Joe that she does it for the possibility of love.

That is how we should all live: for the possibility of love, for the possibility of goodness, for the possibility of beauty, for the possibility of summer.

So many possibility, it gives us quite a busy schedule!

Here is a simple menu:
- Plate of sweet potato fries
- Glass of Cabernet Sauvignon Vista Point from California

Wine description from the menu:
Intense blackberry and currant, a smooth easy drinking wine for any occasion.
I don't know why the wine is described as "intense" but it is more flavorful than intense.

Here's one moresite (pdf) with this brief description of the wine: "pleasant, semi-dry, smooth."

My evaluation is that the wine's fruity notes makes it a great match with the sweet potatoes.

Happy (belated) Valentine's to all!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sing a Song of Sixpence


Illustration Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie
By Scott Gustafson
From: from "Sing a Song of Sixpence"
Illustration for Favorite Nursery Rhymes: Mother Goose Collection

Sing a song of sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing
Wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The king was in the counting-house
Counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey,

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes.
Along came a blackbird
And snipped off her nose.

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Laura Wood at The Thinking Housewife writes:
In his 2011 book, School-Induced Dyslexia and How It Deforms a Child’s Brain, the late author and education reformer Samuel L. Blumenfeld argued that the whole language or “progressive” method of reading instruction had caused a massive increase in illiteracy, especially among blacks, and a skyrocketing number of diagnosed cases of “dyslexia.”
Elementary school children in public schools are taught to read today by memorizing a few dozen “sight,” mostly one-syllable, words. The traditional phonics method involves sounding out the letters and gradually progressing to bigger words.
I don't think it is just a reading problem anymore. All of childhood "education" has been diluted to make children "feel good."

Feisty children are created from feisty stories.

For some reason, I thought of "Sing a Song of Sixpence" when I read Laura's post. Perhaps it is the melody of the nursery rhyme, or it is the lovely little birds that I hear along my way to the bus stop or the store, hiding between the leafless tree branches.

Or it is the blackbirds themselves. Who has sympathy of blackbirds that are baked in a pie? If it were: "Four and twenty sparrows baked in a pie" it might conjure up a more sympathetic feeling. Blackbirds, even ones I see and try to photograph, don't get my sympathy.

So I think the purpose of nursery rhymes is to subtly, and sometimes less subtly, teach young children about the "pecking order" of the world. That there is good and that there is evil. Even in the animal world. That some are strong and others weaker.

It is interesting that the two characters of "power" in Sing a Song of Sixpence, the king and the queen, display this order so very clearly.
The king was in the counting-house
Counting out his money
and
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey
How frivolous to eat a sweet snack and alone and separate. How indulgent!

Of course the king could be some megalomaniac only interested in his gold coins, but he is the one charged with the important role. He has his kingdom's wealth to be concerned with.

Such clearly defined roles of men and women and our position in the natural world, with few niceties (we can bake blackbirds in a pie) might cure our disoriented and insipid youth which pledges its time and intellect on "equality/environmentalism/anti-racism" and any number of "global causes" of its strange belief that all is about niceness (not necessarily goodness).

And even those blackbirds surmounted the heat of the oven and came out chirping, alive and well.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Avett Brothers: The Return of American Music


Just know the kingdom of God is within you
Even though the battle is bound to continue
True Sadness

You were a friend to me when my wheels were off the track
I know you say there is no need, but I intend to pay you back
When my mind was turning loose and all my thoughts were turning black
You shined a light on me and I intend to pay you back

When I was a child, I depended on a bottle
Full-grown I've been known to lean on a bottle
But you're the real deal in a world of imposters
And I've seen the program make men out of monsters

'Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness

Adam and Eve must have really done a number
On that garden when the apple was finished
Leaving behind them a den made of sadness
A damage that can't or won't be replenished

'Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness

Angela became a target
As soon as her beauty was seen
By young men who try to reduce her down
To a scene on an X rated screen

Is she not more than the curve of her hips?
Is she not more than the shine on her lips?
Does she not dream to sing and to live and to dance down her own path
Without being torn apart?
Does she not have a heart?

I cannot go on with this evil inside me
I step out my front door and I feel it surround me
Just know the kingdom of God is within you
Even though the battle is bound to continue

'Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness
True sadness
True true sadness