May 28, 2012

"Ann Althouse pushes back, and she has a point. But watch a few episodes of 16 and Pregnant..."

"... and you might think that 'it’s wrong' is a useful heuristic for people incapable of fully understanding what 'it will be hard' actually means."

Writes Instapundit, pushing back to my pushback on the "Dan Quayle Was Right" article.

Let's take a closer look at this "useful heuristic" concept, which expresses something truly profound about the role of traditional religion and other conservative philosophies in society. Look at what is being admitted. There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong. 

Instapundit continues:
At any rate, after twenty years of hearing SUV drivers described in terms more applicable to Himmler, the 1992 condemnations of moralistic language from political leaders ring particularly hollow.
So... because lefties put their arguments in starkly moralistic terms, it's tiresome to hear about the way righties overuse morality talk. I get the point. In fact, what bugs me the most about lefties — what motivates me to go after lefties much more than righties on this blog — is the way they set themselves up as the good people and prance and stomp all over the place shaming and blaming the people who won't agree with them. Having lived in Madison for the last quarter century, I am fed up with their domineering bullshit. The reason my blog appears to skew conservative — when I am a political moderate — is that I am not surrounded by pious, overbearing right-wingers sneering at me and gasping about what a bad person I am.

BUT: I am not saying that domineering bullshit from righties is okay because lefties do it too or do it more or do it nearer to me. I don't like it.

148 comments:

Right is right! said...

God Ann. You are so into yourself. That is for certain.

CWJ said...

Point taken. Unfortunately, that's the purpose of morality. A set of socially agreed upon rules that we follow by rote rather than reason. They make it easier for thephosteme supposed less capable and less disciplined of society to function positively. Telling them its hard won't change behavior. Telling them its wrong might.

I think the problem is that there is little "agree" left in that socially agreed upon.

Rusty said...

Some people just like the smell of their own tarts. I guess.

FYI. Typing this on a Kindle is a huge pain. Especially when you have hands roughly the size of canned hams.

Paddy O said...

gasp!

CWJ said...

Great. How did phosteme the WV get stuck in my comment. Oh well.

KCFleming said...

"even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong"

The entirely fatherless inner city now spreading to become the national culture is a moral wrong, causing grievous harm to thousands of young black men and women, ceding them to impoverished lives, often to jail and early deaths.

Smart and able people are, in modern days, often unaware that tradition and religion contain the wisdom of centuries on how life can be successful and live together in peace, and suppose that the olden days were dark and ignorant compared to this free and enlightened time, and we do not need such primitive tools.

But without them we have Madison and Berkely and Detroit and St. Paul, ruled over by pious and overbearing lefties.

Roger Sweeny said...

To judge by their product, the people in Hollywood seem to think that America is full of, maybe even ruled by, "pious, overbearing right-wingers sneering at [ordinary people] and gasping about what [] bad people they are."

Paddy O said...

Good morality is like good writing or good art.

Brian Brown said...

Ann,
You've spent the last 25 years in a lilly white, risk adverse, bubble.

Go to South Philly, SE DC, Detroit, or Harlem and if you make it out alive, please then tell us it isn't "wrong"

Kchiker said...

This is a fascinating post and it gets at something I find very true. Many people are moderate in their head but their heart rebels against the excesses of whatever political winds blow around them. For me, the excessive political winds around me are the moralistic voices that tell me that I am a bad person for my head being slightly left of the American center.

I’ve never spent any time in the elite Madison educational circles, but I can understand a whiplash against lefty preachiness and smugness. There are smug, preachy people in all political silos.

When you speak of people on THIS blog...I have yet to see a single conservative commenter who would allow that there is ANY POSSIBLE rational justification to vote for Obama. To them, an Obama vote means you are either irrational, racist, or consciously trying to bring America down.

I can think of rational reasons to vote for Romney but I’m curious to hear if any conservative commenters will grant the same in reverse.

traditionalguy said...

Let's analyze the term "push back."

I suspect that was a football term taken from sports imitating warriors; such as, the Leonidas' Spartans at the Hot Gates in the movie 300. That is appropriate for Memorial Day.

Our Professor seems to be remembering today the 101st Airborne's first reaction at Bastogne which was, "They have us surrounded, the poor bastards."

Intrade has Althouse up at 99%.

jimspice said...

Maybe Liberty U. Law is hiring. What's stopping you if life in Madison is so unbearable.

Steve Austin said...

This whole Scott Walker thing has helped to shed light on Madison.

What the rest of us in Wisconsin have learned is that the place is a giant liberal group think commune for white folks.

There is no tolerance or diversity there.

And frankly if the state government and university weren't there to suck in billions and billions of tax dollars from the "producers" outstate, the city couldn't stand on its own and would quickly implode.

Right is right! said...

Ann voted for Obama because she wanted to feel good. As demonstrated in this post, Ann does not share any external set of principles. Instead, it all emanates from her. It is all squishy an impressionistic.

Ann Althouse said...

"Maybe Liberty U. Law is hiring. What's stopping you if life in Madison is so unbearable."

You're being illogical. I told you want would happen to me in an ultra-conservative place.

Seeing Red said...

The people who vote for Obama justify their vote as being rational.

It doesn't mean I would agree with their reasoning.

damikesc said...

Maybe Liberty U. Law is hiring. What's stopping you if life in Madison is so unbearable.

Yes, because trying to change an overwhelmingly negative culture is a bad idea. Should never be tried.

When you speak of people on THIS blog...I have yet to see a single conservative commenter who would allow that there is ANY POSSIBLE rational justification to vote for Obama. To them, an Obama vote means you are either irrational, racist, or consciously trying to bring America down.

If you have any issues with government spending or government intrusion into your life --- at the risk of sounding harsh, there really isn't a rational defense for voting for Obama. We've seen what we get.

We didn't have drones used domestically before Obama that I am aware of.

Big Mike said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Yes. So?

I get the point. In fact, what bugs me the most about lefties — what motivates me to go after lefties much more than righties on this blog — is they way they set themselves up as the good people and prance and stomp all over the place shaming and blaming the people who won't agree with them.

So are the rest of us. It doesn't just happen in blue states like New York, New England, California, Wisconsin, and Maryland. It happens in red states as well. Liberals are correct; everyone else is immoral if not downright evil. No, let's write that the way liberals say it: e-e-e-e-vil.

I am a political moderate

Actually I think you're left of center as far as the country as a whole goes. Only by Madison (or San Francisco or Hyde Park or Upper West Side) standards would you be thought moderate to conservative.

Jenner said...

Ann,
I agree with your assessment of how lefties come off to others, or at least to me - setting themselves up as the good people. But what makes a person join that crowd instead of the conservative crowd, which you state does not sneer at you?

Robert said...

@ Traditional guy

Push back is a reference by Glenn Reynolds to Obama's "Push back twice as hard" line.

It has been quite the useful rallying cry for those opposed to Obama.

Heh.

Wince said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Actually, Instapundit says "incapable of fully understanding what 'it will be hard' actually means."

"Incapable of understanding" doesn't necessarily apply to intelligence.

Indeed, in the modern welfare state, for many it may be the "smart, competent" choice for the prospective, ill-equipped parent from the standpoint of self-interest.

Where right and wrong enter the picture is the impact on the offspring, which relates to the qualities of emotional maturity, empathy and altruism in opposition to the short-run utility maximizing incentives created by the welfare state.

Note what I said yesterday:

The remainder was a criticism of the cultural overlay portrayed by the media.

Sawhill "agrees" with with Qualye on the cultural side because, on the economic side, she see's no policy alternative to continuing to subsidize (ergo, incentivise) the very behavior that her research suggests leads to poor outcomes.

Lyssa said...

It's wrong because it's hard, because the risk of bad results to innocents, even with the best intentions, is too high. I don't understand why these 2 arguments (it's wrong or it's hard) are being treated as separate - they are the same.

Is drunk driving "wrong"? Do we have any debate about this? Millions of people drive drunk every year, with no bad results, other than, perhaps, a slightly more stressful drive (it will be hard). But there is a high risk for bad results, really bad results. Hence, wrong.

Anonymous said...

Smart and able people are, in modern days, often unaware that tradition and religion contain the wisdom of centuries on how life can be successful and live together in peace, and suppose that the olden days were dark and ignorant compared to this free and enlightened time, and we do not need such primitive tools.


This is one of the irrational exceptions to their otherwise absolute reverence of evolution.

Kchiker said...

"But what makes a person join that crowd instead of the conservative crowd, which you state does not sneer at you?”

Well there might be an issue of what she actually believes....

As far as conservatives not sneering at her...um...there are people in both political silos sneering at her in this very thread.

Ann Althouse said...

"But what makes a person join that crowd instead of the conservative crowd, which you state does not sneer at you?"

I guess I didn't say what I meant clearly enough. The right-wing sneerers are not sneering at me because they don't live around here. I don't have them in my face.

Bill said...

"I am not surrounded by pious, overbearing right-wingers"

Right. Although, this certainly describes most of your commenters.

Of course your blog is conservative. Look at the people who comments. Pretending it's remotely moderate is just silly. You constantly use words like "lefty rag" but don't really reciprocate for the other side. Voting for Obama that one time doesn't make you "moderate."

cubanbob said...

Free@Last said...
Ann voted for Obama because she wanted to feel good. As demonstrated in this post, Ann does not share any external set of principles. Instead, it all emanates from her. It is all squishy an impressionistic.

5/28/12 9:04 AM

I'm voting for Romney so I can feel good by otherwise paying less taxes to support slugs thus leaving me with a little more of my money to enjoy things that make feel good.

Ann's problem it would seem to appear is that contrary to evidence provided her by her lying eyes the great and good social experiment conducted by LBJ and the democrats over the last fifty years has been a failure and a 'moron' like Quayle has been proven right. If the republicans were to rollback the welfare state to the much more modest goals of those program's initial goals, support for widows of working-class men with minor children, the social ills of the last fifty years would right themselves in one generation.

Bill said...

Althouse going to Liberty U. would be equivalent to her going to Cooley--not only is it a career-destroying move, but the law school is a horrible TTT school that should never have been accredited.

SGT Ted said...

In fact, what bugs me the most about lefties — what motivates me to go after lefties much more than righties on this blog — is they way they set themselves up as the good people and prance and stomp all over the place shaming and blaming the people who won't agree with them. Having lived in Madison for the last quarter century, I am fed up with their domineering bullshit.

Hear, Hear! I think the exact same thing.

Chip Ahoy said...

The lady who owns the nearby pot shop, sorry, the medical marijuana dispensary, told me she is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I agreed those are good positions to maintain.

Seeing Red said...

Smart and able people might think this veneer of technology & modernism explains why we don't need those old-fashioned notions.

My epiphany came when I was talking with a recent Ph.D in History who was foaming at Heller. She couldn't understand why the great unwashed masses still needed guns to protect themselves after studying 6000 years of recorded human history.

cubanbob said...

Bill said...
"I am not surrounded by pious, overbearing right-wingers"

Right. Although, this certainly describes most of your commenters.

Of course your blog is conservative. Look at the people who comments. Pretending it's remotely moderate is just silly. You constantly use words like "lefty rag" but don't really reciprocate for the other side. Voting for Obama that one time doesn't make you "moderate."

5/28/12 9:18 AM

Voting for Obama in 2008 given what was known about him was the triumph of foolishness over fiscal sanity. Voting for him again is confirmation of being stuck on stupid.

ndspinelli said...

The great Michael Chricton, who eviscerated Global Warming and the liberals who pushed it, made a compelling case that it is an organized relgion. There are "truths" that require a leap of faith. There are a set of right and wrong behaviors. There are consequences for those who engage in the wrong behaviors. There is a hierarchy and an organization to support the hierarchy, etc.

Kchiker said...

"The right-wing sneerers are not sneering at me because they don't live around here. I don't have them in my face.”

In my view, an online sneer is as much of a sneer as a sneer made in my immediate proximity. I guess the in-person sneer is more...well, personal. And perhaps less for sport.

pm317 said...

@Althouse:In fact, what bugs me the most about lefties — what motivates me to go after lefties much more than righties on this blog — is they way they set themselves up as the good people and prance and stomp all over the place shaming and blaming the people who won't agree with them. Having lived in Madison for the last quarter century, I am fed up with their domineering bullshit.

Perfect. This is exactly what has happened to me in the last 5 years and especially after watching the Democratic Primary 2008 closely. There is a notion that righties are hillbillies which absolves them of their ignorance. But the lefties with their arrogance and exalted self need to know better to deserve what they think of themselves.

Rabel said...

Kchiker,

Not all, but most, of those "moralistic voices" live primarily in your head.

Quite a few seem to have taken up residence in the Althouse head too.

Most conservatives I know have more of a live and let live outlook on life within a few fairly broad and sensible moral restrictions.

For example, being gay if fine - your business - but parading down the street wearing a thong, a giant dildo, and a lot of glitter is not so good. So call me a prude.

As to your comment on rationality/justification, there is a perfectly rational reason for a moderate or conservative or liberal to vote for Obama.

Many have been convinced by the propaganda of the Democrats and the media that Obama is someone other than who he actually is.

It is rational to vote based on misinformation if you believe the lies.

buster said...

I think Althouse lost the argument yesterday. And lost it badly. Whether or not it's hard it's also wrong. And the important point is that it's wrong not that it's hard.

Seeing Red said...

Saw a bumper sticker that said THINK that was the big word that was easier to read. The rest of it was something like your child doesn't need validation from a bumper sticker - yes we have an honor roll bumper sticker on our car.


She was driving a Prius - better known as a PIUS.

Lauderdale Vet said...

It’s interesting, watching young children learn martial arts. At a very young age, you’d think that it would be pointless – but it’s almost magical, seeing the progress of tiny children who had the attention span of gnats come around to actually listening to an adult for 45 minute straight, learning their left from their right, counting to ten in multiple languages. Then you watch the next phase, as young adults learn how to master forms and application, climbing the ranks until they earn their coveted black belt, only to discover that what they actually accomplished was to simply learn the alphabet, and what a long road ahead it is to begin writing poetry.

“dominate their minds”. Why do you have to describe “It’s wrong” in such terms? Why can’t it also be viewed as loving, and gentle guidance? - a place you travel through, not to. Sometimes it is hard to learn nuance without the benefit of a solid foundation.

To be transparent, I don’t even participate in organized religion but I respect the people who do. Where you see domineering dogma, it seems, I see a patient kind of love. It’s true, there are those who Betty Crocker their way through religion, but from my perspective here on the outside, those are the ones who are doing it wrong.

edutcher said...

It's what I've always called the "How dast thou" attitude about Lefties. The idea that anyone with an alternative, much less dissenting, or even critical, point of view shouldn't be allowed to voice it.

(I do believe at one point the New Lefties actually said something along the lines of, "Free speech is too important for everyone to be allowed to have it")

Bill said...

Right. Although, this certainly describes most of your commenters.

Of course your blog is conservative. Look at the people who comments. Pretending it's remotely moderate is just silly.


The blog can be moderate and still have a lot of Conservative commenters; witness Michael Barone's latest column.

(and, yes, I think Bill wants to us to use "moderate" as a euphemism for Lefty)

PS At the risk of being upbraided by the Professor, I'd say Ann is fairly Conservative on fiscal, political, and foreign policy/military matters, centrist (but with a Rightish lean on some things) on Constitutional rights, but Liberal (as opposed to Leftist) on social issues.

I draw this from some of the material in her posts.

Brian Brown said...

even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong

Then what is it?

Because it sure as hell is not simply "hard" as actual facts indicate.

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors

And this sums up the left's view of America, perfectly. Tens of thousands of pages of fin regs, Obamacare, social security, light bulb bans, etc, etc, etc.

Kchiker said...

"Kchiker,

Not all, but most, of those "moralistic voices" live primarily in your head. “

A blog comment which includes the phrase “call me a prude” probably includes a few moralistic statements, whether or not I might agree with those statements.

I certainly offer you kudos for your psychic insight.

Seeing Red said...

There is a notion that righties are hillbillies which absolves them of their ignorance


Hence guns.

You're voting against your self-interest. Unless you talk to me how do you know what my self-interest is?

Paco Wové said...

This is exactly what has happened to me in the last 5 years and especially after watching the Democratic Primary 2008 closely.

For me it was the aftermath of 9/11. There I was, a good little Gore-voting Clintonian Democrat, and suddenly the people I had thought my ideological allies started saying the most loathesome things; much of it driven by what seemed like a profound distaste for America as it is, rather than the dream America that they wanted to enforce on everybody else.

Oh, and the Republicans gross me out too. Where to go?

Matt Sablan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kjbe said...

I don't like it.

Well, sorry to hear that, I guess. You know that a lot of your complaints fall back on you, don't you (as the do with everyone)? That you're letting what bothers you rent space in your head?

And, I've often wondered, what you hope to accomplish with all your Madison headbanging - hoping to shame some change...to turn the tables? You're a smart lady, smarter than I in many ways, but at least I know that's a fool's errand.

Seeing Red said...

What I think in the end is people this this is the USA and it's not going to change, the money's not going to run out and the bubble will really never pop.

Richard Dolan said...

" ... overuse morality talk ... blaming and shaming ... overbearing ... sneering ... gasping ... domineering bullshit ..."

That's quite a collection of verbs you've got going there. It sounds like the animating ideal behind it all is a 'golden mean' of manners. Morality talk is OK until overdone; preaching is fine but only in small doses and -- above all -- without too much enthusiasm.

Does this remind you of anything? On this Pentecost weekend (yes, it"s a double-header with Mem Day), it reminded me of old NYer cartoons about the high-WASP approach to religion, morality and life. Dont't want to be too pushy, too certain, too Catholic.

Paddy O said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

The trouble is that we're all insufficiently smart to process all the complex factors, partly because we aren't smart enough and partly because we don't have access to knowing all the factors involved.

We're like teenagers, thinking we know the world much better than we do and so laughing at the rules thinking they don't apply to us, because I hate you dad.

Seeing Red said...

Bill Whittle's essay Wolves, Sheep & Sheep Dogs. Excellent reading, along with the old USS Clueless.

Matt Sablan said...

Ugh. My last post was a mess. Let's try again.

---
Following the logic here, we just need to get enough conservative comments on the Daily Kos to make it a conservative blog or liberal comments on Red State to make it a liberal blog.

What's the threshold, so I know how much effort is required?

On the post itself: "Look at what is being admitted. There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong."

That is an issue, I think, most people have with the elites in both parties. It is why you are seeing grass roots efforts (in the Tea Party and Occupy movement, and before, in the Coffee Party and other unsuccessful attempts to bring down the haughty Democrat institution, which started by conspiring against Hillary). People, as a whole, are tired of our supposed betters telling us we're dumb, racist hicks. For those on the right, that is a normal day of reading the local paper, the WaPo, the NYT or listening to CNN or any news channel except, may be, Fox. But, the people on the left are just now realizing that their party leaders think the same thing about them, if even that highly. Witness how the press is hurt so badly by Obama’s indifference and dismissiveness of them.

They thought they were special, but the cool kids still treat them like they are garbage, because that’s what those in power – on either side, really – think of them. This is why Obama did not "evolve" on gay marriage until money was at stake, and why the DNC is ready to abandon the recall vote. They don’t really care about them in the same way that the average human does; it is all politics, ends and means. The average members of both parties are getting ticked off that they are being treated as tools, but more so, that they are realizing that. The two parties are going to radically realign soon because of this. Which is something I would've posted a blog about if I wrote politics on it.

Comanche Voter said...

Well out here in California--Bel Air, Brentwood, or Berkeley--it's all "cowpies" to borrow a phrase from The Won.

Live and let live--and everybody has an opinion just as everybody has a nose is not in their vocabulary.

Automatic_Wing said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Right, so what can society do to help these less intelligent citizens make good life decisions if "domineering bullshit" like morality is off the table? Clearly, what's being done now isn't working.

pm317 said...

Oh, and the Republicans gross me out too. Where to go?.

Cruel neutrality (to repeat Ann's words), baby!

We are the ones who keep both sides sane. At least try.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

What you don't like is judgment, which is typical lefty bullshit. It's also why men have been condemned the way we've been:

We - I - do care about right and wrong.

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Oh bullshit. You want to see a gray area where there is none. Your image of yourself as "really smart" is a self-deception, constructed to feed your all-important self-esteem. I may not be humble, but I know humility, and I think someone like you - who's probably never had a serious asskicking in her life - has to prop yourself up that way because, without it, you don't know what your true worth is, so you're determined (or compelled) to over-exagerate. Book-learning ain't all that. It's pretty clear to me that, if anything, alone it can tend to confuse. I know I've seen my share of women, tough as nails, who - without your education - have a better understanding of which way is "up."

They didn't just raise boys, but men, and we love them for it.

I - as a man who's challenged and been challenged - know what I'm capable of. (The point of the movie, "Fight Club.") I know who I am. Maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but deadly none-the-less. And, because I know the dark side of humanity, I've positioned myself, firmly, on the "good" side. That's what my mother(s) were striving for.

It may ultimately have to be merely an intellectual exercise for you, but you'd be "really smart" to decide that's where you're coming down, too.

I'm watching,...

Saint Croix said...

it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Sex isn't? Abortion isn't?

I think a whole host of choices we make are moral choices. And we don't want to think about the morality involved, out of laziness and selfishness. So we don't think about them. But the moral issues are still there.

We have sex because it feels good. It's fun. It's orgasmic.

But sex leads to babies. That is knowledge that we have. And this knowledge puts moral pressure on our selfish desires.

Kchiker said...

"It may ultimately have to be merely an intellectual exercise for you, but you'd be "really smart" to decide that's where you're coming down, too.

I'm watching,...”

Wow. Moralizing and condescending with just a touch of “I won’t be ignored, Dan”....

Matt Sablan said...

"(The point of the movie, "Fight Club.")"

The point of the movie was to take people's money. Which is the double irony of the movie.

vet66 said...

kchiker; I can't vote for Obama because he is not qualified to be the leader of the free world. It is inconceivable that any rational person could simultaneously suffer from white guilt while believing that community organizing would ever work on a global scale. It doesn't even work on a local scale because it encourages an end justifies the means moral relativism.

As far back as I can remember the democrats in power have made our daily lives problematic. LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Obama have engaged in feckless leadership, failed to respond to clear and present dangers, engaged in failed monetary policies, weakened the military, and created class warfare within the citizenry while establishing a ruling elite of limousine liberals whose hypocrisy knows no limits. And mostly through inherited wealth.

The Crack Emcee said...

Kchiker,

When you speak of people on THIS blog...I have yet to see a single conservative commenter who would allow that there is ANY POSSIBLE rational justification to vote for Obama. To them, an Obama vote means you are either irrational, racist, or consciously trying to bring America down.

I can think of rational reasons to vote for Romney but I’m curious to hear if any conservative commenters will grant the same in reverse.


The mind boggles. All I can see is reasons to reject them both. Romney, to me, is just a new set of problems, selected to fix those which would've corrected themselves anyway. What I'm saying is "Anyone But Romney" was the right impulse but we blew it.

I know - not what you were looking for - but that's the way I see it.

bagoh20 said...

Personally I'm fed up with people who think it is superior and intelligent to not take a side. They can't just say one thing is better, without some qualifier that proves they are not an ideologue. In the process, they end up saying nothing. There seems to be a belief that there are always two equal sides to any issue. That no matter how evil one side is, it needs to get an equal share of consideration. Doing that is a habit based in fear and insecurity.

It identifies you as a fair weather friend more concerned with avoiding commitment that doing the right thing. They seem to be saying: "What if the devil wins? I need an out, just in case.

Seeing Red said...

Kathleen Parker wrote I thought a great article years ago and basically said if we don't judge, there will be nothing left of Western Civilization to judge.

We're shit apes, if we don't judge we go down to the lowest common denominator.

Seeing Red said...

--As far back as I can remember the democrats in power have made our daily lives problematic. LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Obama have engaged in feckless leadership, failed to respond to clear and present dangers, engaged in failed monetary policies, weakened the military, and created class warfare within the citizenry while establishing a ruling elite of limousine liberals whose hypocrisy knows no limits. And mostly through inherited wealth---


Ahhh, longing for the good old days of feudalism before that pesky US Constitution written by dead white males.

Like my daddy said, they lived it.

Kchiker said...

"The mind boggles. All I can see is reasons to reject them both.”

I think there are usually if not always reasons to reject both (major) candidates...in any election. So I guess we agree to some extent. Where we differ is that I’ll be voting for one of them.

Paco Wové said...

"There seems to be a belief that there are always two equal sides to any issue."

"There seems to be a belief that there are always two and only two sides to any issue."

FIFY.

You're a witty and insightful guy, bagoh20. But why is it always "The only alternative to their Kool-Aid is my Kool-Aid"?

Stephen A. Meigs said...

People with money tend to support a system in which money mainly determines reproductive success, as opposed to a system in which mating preferences play a large role. Clearly balance is needed. Traditionally, it was much easier for males to father children without responsibility. In many countries, e.g., France, only married fathers were forced to care for their children. And practically, in other countries, proof of paternity could be hard to prove without modern DNA tests. There is unbalance now.

The balanced state is a fairly narrow range. If success is too determined by money, love stops playing much role, and since it is only love that ultimately causes increased morality, if success becomes determined especially by income differences, that becomes excessively dangerous because income differences are especially likely to be caused by corruption in a society with little morals. On the other hand, in a society where there are trivial income differences, and where success is determined mainly by how many females have sex with you or by how well you can entice a male to care for you, sexual preferences are likely to become especially warped (e.g., determined by addictions or manipulations) and divorced from anything beautiful or what society needs--it's a nightmarish world of drugs, alcohol, and females getting sodomized.

I think people are rather confused about the purpose of marriage. The advantage of marriage is not its forcing otherwise uncaring fathers to care for their progeny. Rather it is its allowing women who want to prostitute themselves to prostitute themselves fully and completely without shame. Good females won't prostitute themselves, which causes the males they have children with to get a more fitting amount of affection. Still, a good male should look to marry a female he cares for the most among those who would have him, because if good males never married, it would be hard for a bad woman without stigma to prostitute herself utterly by choosing marriage with an unloved male over sex outside wedlock with a (quite possibly bad) male with more fit genetic characteristics. Males committing to caring before caring helps ensure moral males get more sex outside marriage than bad males, and still allows bad males to be selfish by spending excess time before marriage chasing responsibility-free sex. What's morally bad is not the same as what is reprehensible, i.e., deserving punishment. If there be no opportunity to be bad, there be no opportunity to express love. And love is what encourages the evolution of morals.

Unselfishness that is otherwise than through mutual children, e.g., unselfishness at the workplace or unselfishness in giving to charities, though it is at times appropriate, is inherently secondary and more corruptible than unselfishness in the mating sphere. Only when the unselfish rewards people give mainly involve mutual children will there evolve a strong association in people between moral insensitivity (the inability to judge the moral character of others) and the ability to deceive as to one's own moral character. And this association is key for morality to work, because it is much easier to judge moral sensitivity directly than to judge moral character directly. Morality can only arise if it is beneficial to be a moral person. And it is only a benefit to have the unselfishness characteristic of morality if fellow moral unselfish people love you better for having it, which they can't do if people can't distinguish naturally moral people from people faking a moral nature. Love in the mating sphere is important, and a Quayle-like world that renders it largely meaningless is a morally bleak one indeed.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

" "The only alternative to their Kool-Aid is my Kool-Aid"?"

That's another way of doing it. Where you say: I'm above all of this. I have a different vision that neither of you can see.

If you have that, then you make the case, and I'll taste your Kool-Aid, if the ingredients aren't poisonous. But, if all you have is that both sides are wrong, then you are just avoiding the choice, and standing by waiting to see who wins.

I'm libertarian, and agnostic, so I don't even like Kool-Aid, and I have no problem with people crossing over ideological lines like I do on many issues, but I know evil when I see it, and I don't feel any compulsion to defend it just to sound smart, or avoid being associated with ideologues when they are right about something. I don't drink the too-cool-for-the-room Kool-Aid either.

damikesc said...

Right. Although, this certainly describes most of your commenters.

Of course your blog is conservative. Look at the people who comments. Pretending it's remotely moderate is just silly. You constantly use words like "lefty rag" but don't really reciprocate for the other side. Voting for Obama that one time doesn't make you "moderate."


Voting for a Republican once or twice in her life for President hardly makes her right-wing.

As far as her commenting on "lefty rags", I suspect she likely never reads "righty rags". I don't see her being a NewsMax reader, for example. Maybe I'm wrong.

And the NYT claims it's unbiased...but, man, read the comments and you see a vast left-wing wave. On basically every column they have that allows comments.

Ditto Washington Post.

So, do commenters determine if something has a bias or not?

Oh, and the Republicans gross me out too. Where to go?.

Go where you fit best. I've voted Libertarian about as often as I voted Republican. The GOP is hardly assured my vote on a year to year basis. Heck, in my state, the state party liking you is a solid enough reason to not vote for you.


For me, since the government is unlikely to lead my life better than I will, I'd prefer to allow myself to screw up than to have others screw up for me.

Saint Croix said...

The trouble is that we're all insufficiently smart to process all the complex factors, partly because we aren't smart enough and partly because we don't have access to knowing all the factors involved.

Yes, exactly. Althouse is putting herself in the God-like position of superiority. She accuses other people of being stupid, incompetent, and immature. Not her, of course! She can handle being a parent. But these other people. They are incapable of making a decision involving a complex set of factors. So we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong."

Yikes! The Obama voter rears her ugly head.

This idea that some people are ready to be parents, and other people are not, bah. Next you'll be proposing a licensing board and a government test!

You sound just like Obama here. "Those simple-minded people clinging to their religion. They need to be dominated. Let's invent morality so we can control them."

Big Mike said...

Picking up on what Pogo wrote at 8:50, there's a reason why Niall Ferguson listed the work ethic, described by him as "a moral framework and mode of activity derived from (among other sources) Protestant Christianity, which provides the glue for a dynamic and potentially unstable society ..." [emphasis mine] as one of the West's six "killer apps" in his latest book: Civilization: The West and the Rest.

There's something wrong -- morally wrong -- when unmarried and unemployed women have their children subsidized by the taxes collected from young couples who have to postpone having their own children since those same taxes mean they don't have enough cash left over to raise children of their own. Certainly my wife and I felt that way back when we were one of those young couples who couldn't afford to have children while unmarried women living in subsidized apartments nearby had three or four or five.

And it's perfectly fair to point out that part of Quayle's speech also addressed the problem of absentee fathers.

PS: If you decide to go over to Amazon and order up a copy -- and I'll vouch for Civilization as being both thought-provoking and yet an easy read -- don't forget to go there through the Professor's link.

PatCA said...

"Look at what is being admitted."

Why is it so terrible to admit that human beings are such frail things? We are mammals, and sentient beings also, but which side predominates?

This is to me the crux of the difference between Right and Left. The Left thinks we are perfectible; the Right knows we are flawed.

I came to the conclusion years ago that if God didn't exist, we would have needed to invent Him. Morality helps modulate behavior that if unchecked would make life unbearable.

ricpic said...

What Quayle said about single parenting being a very inferior substitute for a mother and a father is right wing? No, it's common sense. But label common sense right wing and it's full speed ahead on our madness agenda, fellow libs. Sounds like a plan!

The Crack Emcee said...

cubanbob,

Voting for Romney in 2012 given what is known about him is the triumph of foolishness in search of fiscal sanity.

Big Mike said...

@Paco, who to turn to?

First, which Republicans are you talking about? There's a fight going on under your nose between the social conservatives, and the fiscal conservatives. The intersection of these two groups is non-null (for you math-challenged, that means that there are plenty of people who are both socially and fiscally conservative) but my impression is that the vast majority of my fellow fiscal conservatives are more likely to be at least somewhat socially liberal.

There used to be fiscal conservatives in the Democrat party, and they were called "Blue Dogs." But the Democrats have been systematically purging them (after the primaries on April 25th, the Blue Dog Democrat caucus is down to less than half of its pre-2010 strength).

I find it irksome to be linked by party membership to people who deny evolution, but that's more palatable than to be in the other party which is utterly ruthless in enforcing its own orthodoxy. Darwin-deniers are wrong, but they don't hurt me. Keynesians are wrong, and they are bringing us to the brink of bankruptcy as a country.

ndspinelli said...

Crack, I was banned for months by saying the things to the Queen that you just did. I guess you get Negro points. There are no dago bonus points.

Mitch H. said...

Some people just like the smell of their own tarts. I guess.

I am in love with this typo.

And Ann, christ almighty, go read "Gods of the Copybook Headings", and get over your elitist, arrogant bullshit, why don't you? We can't arrange the world for the sole benefit of the brilliant and lucky, you know. And anyways, what the hell *did* you say to your kids when they kept coyly asking "why", anyways?

Would you recommend playing touch-football or ballroom dancing beside a cliffs-edge because someone who's coordinated and lucky would never go plunging over the edge, or would you denounce it as dangerous, foolish, and yes, even "wrong"?

traditionalguy said...

I had a thought while working out, that the inherent reaction of Western man to the terms "right and wrong"is their use in Judeo-Christian scripture that merges Right into the concept of a reward to be paid to the righteous, and merges wrong into the concept of a punishment sure to catch up to the unrighteous.

Everybody used to know that. But today the PC trained generation has swallowed the lie that every action is neutral...So if you can get away with it, then it is Right for you.

The Crack Emcee said...

ndspinelli,

I guess you get Negro points.

Nah, don't go there. I think I get crackhead points.

BTW - I just got off the phone with a friend who A) told me he broke up with the first love he's found in years because she cheated on him, and B) also told me of another friend who broke up with a woman whose family he'd been supporting as his own (she, two boys, her parents) also for cheating. The second one was like a kick in the nuts because the guy was really dedicated to being the decent family man, talking to his girl several times a day, being very conscientious.

With women today, it just doesn't matter anymore,...

Pianoman said...

The Professor is correct in her assertion that both the Left and Right hold certain beliefs that can be seen as a "moral code". One big difference between the two is that the Left pretends that it doesn't.

It's similar to "media bias" charges from Left and Right. In general, the Right-leaning media admits that it's biased. But the "MSM" pretends that it's not.

"There are no moral absolutes!" shrieks the Left, while pounding the pulpit over things like same-sex marriage, climate change, second-hand smoke, and heterosexual AIDS. "There is no good and evil!" they scream, while denouncing Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Karl Rove as evil people.

In short: You folks on the Left have a moral code too. But like the movie Fight Club, one of your morals is, "Don't admit that we have morals".

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Well said, Ann.

Ken said...

Ann,

when I am a political moderate

You are so full of shit. John McCain was a political moderate, whereas Barrach Obama's voting record showed (when he voted anyway) that he was the most extreme left senator at the time. To vote for Obama over McCain and claim to be a political moderate is to either lie or not understand who the 2008 candidates were, i.e., you're a political ignorant.

Big Mike said...

@Mitch, yes, it's remarkable that the war-worshipping Kipling would still be able to speak to our times, isn't it?

Bender said...

What you don't like is judgment, which is typical lefty bullshit. It's also why men have been condemned the way we've been:
We - I - do care about right and wrong. . . . You want to see a gray area where there is none.


It is even more fundamental than not liking judgment, Crack. It is abundantly clear that that Althouse is a relativist, what she does not like is truth as truth, truth as an objective and absolute reality, rather than something that is subjective and relative and can be manipulated into whatever is desired.

That self-deceptive image of being "really smart" is part of that. Another part is this falacious idea that "morality" is relative and unrelated to reason, that it is "a set of socially agreed upon rules that we follow by rote rather than reason," which is an understanding of morality that can and has justified slavery and genocide.

What they do not like is truth, including moral truth, which is derived from right reason, from the basic natural law to "do good and avoid evil," with the understanding that what is "good" is that which is consistent with truth, including the truth of inviolability of the human person. Instead, they want the power to have their own truth, their own morality, they ability to choose for themselves right and wrong. As you say, they think themselves "really smart," but eating from the "Tree of Knowledge" does not make one smart, it leads to self-deception and confusion instead.

It is a sad situation, really, because often (or at least sometimes) such people are well-meaning. But in their hubris and abhorence for objective truth, they really do make things worse, not better; it is what keeps humanity out of "the Garden."

Anonymous said...

She may not read righty rags, but she listens to Rush Limbaugh, what's the difference?

As far as not being ostracized by the community you live in, perhaps living in areas in which one political side dominates and you happen to be a centrist, well there will be no getting away from having one side or the other bug the hell out of you on occasion. I do admire you for being bothered though, proves you are still a centrist, despite leaning increasingly right.

Moralizing lefties? NO, no absolutely no moralizing here at Althouse. None whatsoever.

cubanbob said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Lets cut them off the public teat and conduct a Darwinian experiment. They will either sink (unlikely) or swim (likely). Either way its a win-win.

cubanbob said...

The Crack Emcee said...
cubanbob,

Voting for Romney in 2012 given what is known about him is the triumph of foolishness in search of fiscal sanity.

5/28/12 10:56 AM

So what are you saying? Vote Obama and not vote at all?

Tell me, where is the viable, electable fiscally sane alternative candidate? Or do you want Obama to win just to hasten the collapse so we can start over from zero?

David R. Graham said...

Funny post. Veers towards using"bullshit" as an epistemological term of art. A lot of emotional power behind usage and the post.

Michael said...

Professor, I think you are mistaken that the sneering you are the target of in lefty environs would be repeated in conservative ones. On the contrary, most conservatives that I know keep their sneers to themselves as it would be rude to sneer. Also it could well be that there is business to be done and it is not a good move to piss off potential clients or customers. Your customers, of course, are of no concer to you since they appear year after year. You can piss them off to a fair thee well since you are tenured and since you live in a silly bubble very disconnected from the really sharp elbows of reality. Ditto most lefties.

rhhardin said...

The movement of moral argument is supplying reasons, not disagreeing.

rhhardin said...

I disagree with Frankfurt on bullshit.

Not caring about truth isn't quite right.

The word knows more than that.

Paco Wové said...

First, which Republicans are you talking about?

Big Mike, I realize on reflection that bagoh20 properly took me to task for my original shallow and flippant comment, and I can't take the time and space right now to properly answer that question. But to put it in a nutshell -- I can see voting for Romney, though only in a "least worst" sort of way. I could never see myself voting for Santorum under any realistic circumstances.

roesch/voltaire said...

For Althouse to call herself a moderate while writing:what motivates me to go after lefties much more than righties on this blog — is the way they set themselves up as the good people and prance and stomp all over the place shaming and blaming the people who won't agree with them, seems a bit hypocritical on several counts and a number of you have noted that . I see a thin skinned Althouse who loves to take umbrage over the slightest comment from liberals, while ignoring the Jonah Goldberg types who write with high moral cliches from the right-- hardly a moderate position.
I've lived in Madison for seventeen years, perhaps in a far more diverse neighborhood than Althouse/Mead. My immediate neighbor is a hard core right wing property owner and Walker supporter, while the on the other side two women who are Anti-Walker. Still none of us prance and dance all over the place, but we do watch out for each other's property and at Christmas we share cookies and wine while debating the general state of things-- and that I consider a moderate response.

damikesc said...

She may not read righty rags, but she listens to Rush Limbaugh, what's the difference?

Rush tends to actually do a really solid job of explaining where he came up with his conclusions. Some beliefs are simply wrong --- but he's more accurate than, say, Paul Krugman on almost any issue.

And, yes, that even includes economics, which Krugman has apparently forgotten everything he ever claimed to know to keep his mantle as parrot for the Left.

Can you say the same for the Left? Can YOU explain where the hell Ed Schultz came up with his asinine beliefs? How about Stewart? Colbert? Maher? Heck, name a Progressive in modern society and tell me how, intellectually, they came to believe what they state they believe (we'll ignore how seldom they abide by their professed beliefs).

This is likely unfair because not only can you not do so, those people cannot do so either.

Rush is many things, a "righty rag" ain't one of them.

I could never see myself voting for Santorum under any realistic circumstances.

Ditto here. Nor Gingrich. Nor Paul (his economic policy makes sense, but foreign policy is completely idiotic).If Santorum had won, I'd have voted Johnson without a second thought.

Ross said...

@Kchiker

I can think of rational reasons to vote for Romney but I’m curious to hear if any conservative commenters will grant the same in reverse.

5/28/12 8:55 AM


Certainly there are rational reasons to vote for Obama. One such reason is if a person is showered with entitlements. The lady in the video has a rational reason to vote for Obama:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P36x8rTb3jI

There are many people like that who have an entitlement mindset. Rational short-term? Yes. Rational long-term? No, but many people do not think long-term. The problem with the long-term is summed up in this quote:

"The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." -Margaret Thatcher

damikesc said...

I've lived in Madison for seventeen years, perhaps in a far more diverse neighborhood than Althouse/Mead. My immediate neighbor is a hard core right wing property owner and Walker supporter, while the on the other side two women who are Anti-Walker. Still none of us prance and dance all over the place, but we do watch out for each other's property and at Christmas we share cookies and wine while debating the general state of things-- and that I consider a moderate response.

Grand.

To ignore what the citizens in Madison have done for the past year is to close your eyes to reality.

And she, I'd imagine, lives somewhat near the university where the problem is exponentially worse since you have mind-numbed students who believe themselves to be right (and nothing is worse than a college dunce thinking him/herself to be enlightened).

Althouse criticizes conservatives routinely. I just don't see a lot of "BURN THE HERETIC!" talk out of the conservatives she criticizes. It's just "We disagree" and that's about it.

Progressives, on the other hand, engage in virtual jihads against her.

Fen said...

she is socially liberal but fiscally conservative

I've always found that to be a cop out.

And stupid, considering our entitlement system is now funded by China.

Seeing Red said...

--I've lived in Madison for seventeen years, perhaps in a far more diverse neighborhood than Althouse/Mead. My immediate neighbor is a hard core right wing property owner and Walker supporter, while the on the other side two women who are Anti-Walker.----


Interesting choice of words. How do you know the women aren't hard core left wing?

you name the right, but the left is passive, they're just anti-Walker.

Saint Croix said...

we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

You stink of the Nietzsche!

And I know Nietzsche went mad, but what I found out today is that it was syphillis that made him mad.

Syphillis is an interesting disease as apparently it makes you a raging megalomaniac. For instance, one rumor is that Hitler had syphillis. Other people argue that Lenin had it. Idi Amin, ditto.

Al Capone had syphillis, too. Not known for his political ideology, of course, but he would sometimes hit people with baseball bats.

On the positive side, some have argued that Beethoven, Van Gogh, and Christopher Columbus were all inspired by syphillis. So maybe it's a wash. So to speak.

My suggestion would be to enjoy any art created by a syphillitic madman, but I would avoid any of his uglier political theories. So read Nietzsche for funsies, but I wouldn't jump to mind-domination or ruling our inferiors or anything like that.

bagoh20 said...

" I realize on reflection that bagoh20 properly took me to task for my original shallow and flippant comment..."

First off, Paco, you are exceptional to accept criticism without doubling down. It's rare, refreshing and saves a lot of space where commenters just go back and forth ad hominem on minor points because each got his idea challenged a little. Thanks for that, and the compliment earlier too.

What you said was not shallow. You just assumed the natural thing: that if I am always against one camp, then I'm in the other. That's usually right. I just tried to explain that I'm not quite as knee jerk as I know I sometimes come off.

Like Althouse, I am harder on the left, but unlike her, it's not because they irritate me. It's because like many, I think their ideas are extremely dangerous, as is proven by the last 100 years of history. Their ideology just requires totalitarianism. No matter how nice the people may be as individuals, they cannot have their way without putting their boot on my neck. The nice ones just don't realize it.

The right needs to try and get more of them to understand that, and how bad that is for everyone.

harrogate said...

"Look at what is being admitted. There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of 'right' and 'wrong,' even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong."


On point and beautifully written.

The Crack Emcee said...

cubanbob,

So what are you saying? Vote Obama and not vote at all?

No:

1) I'm telling you what to do.

2) I'm offering a way out based on reality, and not the game as it's playing out in the mediasphere.

In 2008, with the candidacy of Obama, I said we were dealing with Oprah's NewAge cult. Some people - including Ann - saw it temporarily but let it go. (It wasn't until recently, after years of being called a fool, the evidence was clear I was right.) Luckily enough, I could vote for McCain back then, avoiding immediate contact with the issues presented. NewAge is pretty noxious, but also fractious, unorganized, and - because of that - dangerous mostly to those in it. You'll notice that, whether it be Obama, Oprah and Arianna, or many of the other leaders of their movement, things have not worked out well.

Cont'd.

The Crack Emcee said...

In 2012, we face a different cult. And a different kind - much more organized, totally insular, and much more dangerous - but not just to the people in it but to our republic as well.

Cultism, still, is an issue only a fragment of our society is aware of or concerned about - mostly artists, I think, because we have been the target audience for spreading their message - so our country is walking blindly into their clutches. That's what I'm warning against.

I've said all along that Obama and the Democrats were going to lose, that the economy would improve, and that we should go with a conservative candidate to steer us clear. But just as I said Obama was the wrong man to be our "first black president," because of his cultish outlook, Mitt Romney is the wrong man to replace him for the same reason.

Cultism is "garbage in/garbage out" and - while YOU may think (as Obama's supporters thought) you're hiring Romney for one thing - WE'RE actually going to get a whole lot of stuff never bargained for. It's inevitable.

So I say stop this election now. I'm not going to dwell on how because, I know, there's no way to make that happen if the American people - left and right - don't see the danger. (The movies, TV shows, etc., aren't coming fast enough to make everyone aware of what we're dealing with.) The Republicans want to get rid of Obama. I get that. But, like a parent watching their impulsive kid recklessly backing the car too fast out of the driveway for the first time, I'm dreading what I know is coming. 

Tell me, where is the viable, electable fiscally sane alternative candidate? Or do you want Obama to win just to hasten the collapse so we can start over from zero?

Never. Personally, I'd draft Thomas Sowell in a second. Whether he wanted the job or not. At gunpoint if necessary. He could pick the cabinet of his choice, and do whatever the fuck he wanted, because he's sane, rational, understands the issues - especially economics - and is beholden to no one and intellectually beyond reproach. He's what we need in a president.

Electing a follower of a greedy child-raping con man just isn't going to do this country any good - and I don't know how anyone could imagine it will.

The Crack Emcee said...

That should read:

1) I'm NOT telling you what to do.

ricpic said...

EVERYTHING is a matter of right and wrong.

The fact that we all, every last one of us, backslide from the effort to do what is right and recline into what is wrong doesn't make the moral commandment disappear. All it means is that we are human, ergo weak. But to quote Saul Bellow, "We know, we all know." And what we know is that we have a duty to do what is right. It may be the strongest argument for a diety: nevermind how often we backslide, evade, run away, rationalize not doing what is right: we know, we all know.

Paco Wové said...

Still none of us prance and dance all over the place,

Don't sell yourself short, R.-V. You prance and dance around here with the best of them.

roesch/voltaire said...

Okay Bag those liberals in their Hamiltonian guise have built the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the land-grant universities, the interstate highway system and through the military the internet system--all terrible and dangerous projects according to you, and how are you different from what Althouse claimed about the left ? The only boot on my neck during my years of social activism came from the right, and the few times my life has been threaten, I assure you it was not from any liberals--

Amartel said...

There are domineering personalities on the right, left, and in the middle. (E.g., those sanctimonious undecideds referenced by Bagoh, I think, who will not deign to engage themselves in debate and make their political decisions based on some odd-ass notion of fairness.) The thing is that progressive culture dominates the schools, media, law and many other aspects of our society. Being the dominant culture means you can take short cuts, imply presumptions, not work as hard arguing your point. The unexamined life in which authority is not questioned and people do not THINK, in or outside the box. The dominant culture allows adherents to berate, shame, and scold dissenters as "haters," "racists," "sexists," etc. and walk away feeling like the winner. Which is really annoying especially coming from people who claim to be "intellectual" or at least intellectually superior.

roesch/voltaire said...

Paco ah so you have gone to the Harmony Bar where you have seen me prance and dance to Paul Cebar. You got me and I confess.

Paco Wové said...

The only boot on my neck during my years of social activism came from the right,

unfortunately, that boot apparently cut off bloodflow to the brain and R.V.'s thinking has never been the same since.

Paco Wové said...

you have gone to the Harmony Bar

No, but thanks for the tip -- sounds chock-full of cheeseheady goodness. I'll try to remember the next time I'm in Madison.

The Crack Emcee said...

cubanbob,

I made a post out of our dialogue - good questions, man!

bagoh20 said...

"Okay Bag those liberals in their Hamiltonian guise have built the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the land-grant universities, the interstate highway system and through the military the internet system--all terrible and dangerous projects according to you,"

First, those liberals are not our liberals. Our liberals couldn't do those things if you gave them the entire national budget and 100 years. They would spend all the money and time without moving a single shovel of dirt.

I'm also sure that an educated guy like yourself is aware of the incredible graft, waste and mistakes involved in those projects. Often nearly killing the project before some capitalists showed up with their greedy little fingers to get the damned thing done.

What you think of as liberal successes of the past did not succeed because of leftists. They succeeded in spite of them. They were always mostly wrong, but now they are powerful and wrong, so now the private sector can no longer overcome the drain they put on it.

Tell me some things happening now with living liberals that you are proud of, that are worth their cost, and are sustainable - some truly impressive accomplishment like we used to pull off before the liberal ideas came home to roost and bankrupted everything we try to do.

We went from not even knowing if we could survive in space to landing on the freaking moon in a single decade. We can't even build an average skyscraper in that time today.

A great nation is a shell of what it was before liberal ideas got embedded in everything we do. We can't afford anything anymore. Nothing is worth the cost, we just do things because we can borrow the money, not because they make sense financially. In other words, we do things just to spend the money. That's modern liberalism dressed in it's favorite Keynesian stilletos.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Glenn Reynolds used to be a reasonable guy. Read his archive- he used to write long posts that used legal reasoning to find the truth.

Then he had to deal with a few years of lefty propaganda and personal attacks. Now, he's like Brietbart.

Instapundit is all about doing unto the Left what the Left has been doing for decades. I think the turning point was the 2004 election, when Reynolds decided that the Democrats were so dishonest that he wasn't going to be impartial anymore. The stakes were just too high.

On the post topic, we will always have a morality. The question is whose morality. What's right and wrong isn't a question we can dodge. If something isn't condemned then it's OK. That's a moral choice.

I understand the Althouse distinction that moral choices don't have to be enforced by the government. That's fine, but they have to be endorsed somehow. If we aren't allowed to pass a law, and we aren't allowed to call people out for their bad choices, then what's left? Simply depending on people to do the right thing?

How's that working out?

Boomers don't like being told what's right and wrong. Freedom, liberty, personal choice, self-actualization, blah blah blah.

What about the mess that they made? Who's cleaning that up?

cubanbob said...

The Crack Emcee said...
cubanbob,

I made a post out of our dialogue - good questions, man!

5/28/12 4:22 PM

Thanks! Unfortunately Mr. Sowell isn't on the ballot and no he can't be drafted for the job. In the meantime the libertarian party is not a credible electoral alternative so the best that can be hoped for in practical political terms is the TEA Party becoming the libertarian wing of the Republican party and in time that will become the ascendant wing of the party.

Big Mike said...

@bago, very well put (at 4:43). In the immortal words of Lyndon Baines Johnson (father of the modern welfare state) today's liberals couldn't pour urine out of a boot if you wrote the instructions on the heel.

Only he didn't say "urine."

Dante said...

Look at what is being admitted. There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Obviously, one of the factors that make them incapable of understanding is "EXPERIENCE." Because the implications is they are going to understand how hard it is. In one way of thinking, the morality has sprung up around what has worked, like families.

That's why I don't like lefties. They are willing to throw out thousands of years of experience as "old fashioned," "unenlightened," or "not nuanced enough" in favor of stupid ideas that cost taxpayers money.

Methadras said...

You may pretend to understand the leftards, but there is no greater moralist than a leftard. In fact, they will moralize you to the point of death if they could and in the past they have.

The Crack Emcee said...

cubanbob,

Unfortunately Mr. Sowell isn't on the ballot and no he can't be drafted for the job. In the meantime the libertarian party is not a credible electoral alternative so the best that can be hoped for in practical political terms is the TEA Party becoming the libertarian wing of the Republican party and in time that will become the ascendant wing of the party.

Yeah, I know. I went to a TEA Party gathering on New Years. While some guy was attempting to push supplements on the crowd, others were getting big applause by declaring their desire "to create a Heaven on Earth."

It'll definitely be hard to get there with a gun in my mouth, but I'll do my best,...

jeff said...

"Yeah, I know. I went to a TEA Party gathering on New Years. While some guy was attempting to push supplements on the crowd, others were getting big applause by declaring their desire "to create a Heaven on Earth.""

Well then Crack, I guess you're right. I guess all the tea parties I attended where they were primarily concerned about constitutional government and unsustainable spending were just a clever ruse to hid their true agenda. thank goodness your here to expose ALL of the tea parties in the United States. Good job.

Thucydides said...

Lefties and progressives operate on the emotional, so their impassioned pleas to help themselves to your money and effort or their sneers at you for not going along with their plan is all based on emotion.

Conservatives, Classical Liberals and Libertarians are much more prone to look at empirical evidence (does the program work? Is the temperature actually changing? How many people were employed by this measure?), and when things are not working as planed or promised, they don't sneer but go back to the evidence and look for solutions. They actually are good people rather than just thinking they are...

RonF said...

I have yet to see a single conservative commenter who would allow that there is ANY POSSIBLE rational justification to vote for Obama.

If you are a net tax consumer then it is entirely within your self-interest to vote to re-elect President Obama.

There are two kinds of tax consumers. Those who receive payments from the government without doing anything to earn them (e.g., people on welfare), and those who do something to earn them (e.g., police, firemen, DMV clerks, social workers, etc.). Some of these people will always be needed (e.g., cops, firemen). The demand for others - social workers, DMV clerks, etc.) is variable. Every time the government creates or expands an entitlement, the people who receive it and the people who administer it increase in number and are given an incentive to vote for the people who ensure that they expand and continue. They have a rational basis for voting for President Obama - and in some states (Illinois and California come to mind) they outnumber the tax producers.

Don M said...

It would be rational to vote for Obama it it would put Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out of business.

Since Obama was elected, and AS and JJ are still in business, then what little reason there once was is gone now.

Of course if you believed the 'rose fertilizer' that Obama was spreading, then it doesn't speak well for your intelligence, but if you believed it, you could give him a try. After noting that his speeches were good for plant growth, and that alone, then there is no reason at all to vote for him.

David R. Graham said...

"Boomers don't like being told what's right and wrong. Freedom, liberty, personal choice, self-actualization, blah blah blah.

What about the mess that they made? Who's cleaning that up?"

Absolute truth, as if from Sinai, Horeb, Olivet or Kailas.

SH said...

For the record the republican party grosses out most republicans. Where to go.... indeed.

As to sneering, the left owns it. I have non conservative views on many things but conservatives have never given me a hard time over them. The fact I agree on others seems to be enough evidence I at least gave their position consideration. They don't care for leftists who claim to be moderates...

Q said...

Look at what is being admitted. There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.



I think that your characterization of what's being admitted is .. what's the word .. wrong.

It is not correct to say that "those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong".

We could say that "those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors are better able to avoid the negative consequences of our wrong actions".

Or to put that more starkly, those of us with sufficient money can buy our way out of a lot of unpleasantness.

FrancisChalk said...

“Having lived in Madison for the last quarter century, I am fed up with their domineering bullshit.”

While I don’t question the sincerity of your sentiments, I am equally confident that a certain amount of assimilation on your part has taken place during that quarter century—how could it not have? Thus, while you now seem to imply the “method” is off putting, your original post clearly questioned the veracity of Quayle’s “message.” A classic liberal argument technique when loosing: shift to an emotion-trumps-facts approach.

Your professorate brethren are, no doubt, pleased with your progress these past 25 years.

Will Profit said...

I'm a first time visitor to your site. I followed the Instapundit link. I have no other reason to be here than that You voted for Obama didn't you? It's pretty obvious .

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors

Well, to be fair, Burke thought that most of the intellectuals behind the French Revolution were insufficiently smart and emotionally stable to be recreating human society from abstract first principles as well. And he was right!

So it's not just those poor girls on "Sixteen and Pregnant" that we want to take the car keys and whiskey bottle away from.

Nate Whilk said...

Kchiker wrote, "I have yet to see a single conservative commenter who would allow that there is ANY POSSIBLE rational justification to vote for Obama."

Let's hear what you consider are the best of those rational justifications.

Kev said...

cubanbob said:

Lets cut them off the public teat and conduct a Darwinian experiment. They will either sink (unlikely) or swim (likely). Either way its a win-win.

I've long thought that this would be a wonderful way to dramatically decrease the number of "takers" in our society. I tend to believe that most people, when given a sink-or-swim option, will rise to the occasion and become contributors to society. It's also better for people to be treated like adults and take responsibility for their own actions, rather than expecting government (and, by extension, us) to be their parent, Fairy Godmother, etc.

BTW, this is my first time here since Christmas break (I think), and I have to say that I'm pleased with the higher level of discourse in this thread and its predecessor.

Seerak said...

This is to me the crux of the difference between Right and Left. The Left thinks we are perfectible; the Right knows we are flawed.

If the Left thinks humans are "perfectible", it necessarily means that they, like the Right, believe that humans are flawed according to some arbitary, prior standard. That's some pretty significant agreement there over a wide range of philosophical issues. The difference over whether man's "defective nature" can be "fixed" is rather peripheral by comparison, philosophically.

The genuine opposite to both of these kissing cousins is the viewpoint that human nature, just like the rest of nature, is part of the given of physical reality, which exists prior to morality and, rather than being subject to it, provides the base of facts from which it begins. (Human character, on the other hand, is indeed subject to morality, but that's because where human nature is part of the givens of nature, we each author our own character by means of the choices we make. Don't be conflating the two.)

PhaseMargin said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Interesting. It's a complex matter to determine that even controlling for superior education, wealth, and all those other factors, that single parenthood is more likely to impact an innocent life negatively than the converse isn't a sufficient reason to call single parenthood "bad" or, heaven forbid, "wrong"?

So you wouldn't view it as "wrong" or "bad" to abuse a fetus through smoking during pregnancy? It's just a choice by the mother for her fulfillment and usually doesn't harm the baby, so why should we judge smoking while pregnant as "wrong"?

I'm sorry, but a moral system that doesn't view an action that is more likely than not to cause damage to an innocent bystander as wrong isn't much of a moral system. We can debate how "wrong" this is, but the fact that it is wrong should be pretty apparent.

el polacko said...

@jeff: this crack fellow lives in a world where tea partiers are nothing but religious pill-pushers, gay men are jungle-fevered sex-maniacs unable to resist pawing at him in alleyways, and women are all demonic bitches, risen from the underworld to lead him on and then dump on his magnificence in favor of the bacchanalian orgies of new-age-cults that keep his pure message of truth from reaching the masses. it's a colorful, if demented, take on things. i've learned to simply scroll past his comments.

Kirk Parker said...

"If you are a net tax consumer then it is entirely within your self-interest to vote to re-elect President Obama."

Not necessarily. A careful parasite might consider what would happen if it killed the host, and scale back its consumption accordingly.

Tom Grey said...

even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

Instead the Politically Correct make it a matter of legal and illegal, when they agree with the laws (like against normal light bulbs, or requiring seat belts or airbags or helmets or....).
Or they claim some other psuedo-morality, like "rights of women", in order to force Catholics to pay for immoral contraception.

Let's not forget the, often Church supported, attacks against the rich as if becoming rich is immoral, in the name of "social justice".


Why vote for Obama? Because Romney is a wimpy flip-flopper.
(Somebody wanted a conservative to
Why vote for Romney? Because Obama is worse.

FX Turk said...

I think it's a massive disappointment to find out that Professor Althouse is really just another post-modern thinker who believes that language is only a weapon to be used to create power structures. I can think of at least one other reason why public discussions of the morality of any action are a good thing, but it requires that we think more of ourselves than a post-modern perspective of words and consciousness allows.

wef said...

There are a whole lot of people who are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors,.....

de Maistre and Hayekian response: not merely a whole lot, but every freaking one of us ....

so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong," even where those of us who are really smart and able to process complex factors know it's not really a matter of right and wrong.

de Maistre and Hayekian response: Who's "we" that can provide this structure? But, yes, we all, smart and stupid, depend on some starker structure of morality. The danger is that the smart ones are clever enough to fool themselves into thinking that they are analyzing correctly the "complex factors" - when in reality they are the most apt to be rule-bound and reactionary and simplistic. They often think that Morality is adjustable and design-able - and, yes, sometimes wealth and status cushions them when nature has her way with such fatal conceits of intellectuals.

Unknown said...

Coercion is not a Christian value. Many of the people I go to church with do not understand me when I say this. But it is true. It is (the) one thing I have learned over years of reading the fathers of the Church, the Bible, and anything else I can get my hands on.

Suasion is not coercion.

damikesc said...

Never. Personally, I'd draft Thomas Sowell in a second. Whether he wanted the job or not.

I'd, personally, prefer a President who didn't want the job at all (nothing worse than giving power to somebody who desperately wants to wield power), and I think Sowell is a brilliant economist (Krugman wishes he could be a Sowell) --- but if a conservative black doesn't wish to go through the never ending shitstorm that his life will be thanks to Progressives who love black folks in theory, I cannot fault him. His kids and family will be attacked relentlessly and to what benefit? To be called an "Oreo" or have "Stepnfetchit" jokes made at his expense?

I doubt Sowell will care, but he has a family and they might not have the same thick skin he has. My wife doesn't like it when her father insults me for my beliefs. I have told her I don't care --- which is true. I don't remotely care what he thinks about anything --- but it bugs her nonetheless so I don't discuss anything with him because it bugs her when he calls me names or what have you.

There is some definite baggage to being President, particularly if you're a conservative, that one has to keep in mind.

He's what we need in a president.

True. But our Congress tends to be full of brain-dead ballot monkeys who can't tie their shoes without the help of their aides. As President, he will be stymied by the likes of Reid, McConnell, McCain, Schumer, et al in the Senate who can't properly manage a fart. There is a core of people who would absolutely be effective at working with him towards getting things done, but outside of maybe 10 names, who can he REALLY rely on to do the work that will be demagogued to all hell no matter how utterly trivial some of the cuts will be.

Heck, cutting PBS causes people to threaten suicide and nobody friggin' watches PBS except for rich snobs who could support it without gov't subsidies or tiny kids who could always switch over to Nick or Disney Jr instead. Lord knows Sesame Street would easily find a new home should PBS fold.

Yeah, I know. I went to a TEA Party gathering on New Years. While some guy was attempting to push supplements on the crowd, others were getting big applause by declaring their desire "to create a Heaven on Earth."

There's definitely some social cons in the Tea Party movement. What group doesn't have the elements you don't want to deal with? You're a musician and, no doubt, you've had to deal with complete sociopaths because of that.

But for what you're looking for, they are the only remotely viable option. The Libertarian Party is a joke whose platform seems to consist solely of "Dude, WEEEEED!". Much as the two party system sucks, it is what we have. Make one of the parties what you want it to be. That is what the Tea Party is trying to do. They are taking over the GOP at the local level and building up. It is, presently, our only hope at remotely rational spending.

As an aside, why won't a President ever veto a bill for being too vague? Why the heck do we want the EPA to determine its own rules?

Brian Brown said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Okay Bag those liberals in their Hamiltonian guise have built the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the land-grant universities, the interstate highway system and through the military the internet system--


Utter crap.

The idea that "liberals" were ever, or are for, advanced military research is silly & obscene. (Note: you have not the foggiest clue how the Internet came about)

Further, the idea that "liberals" want another canal, dam, nuclear plant, oil refinery, or anything of the sort built in modern America is even more silly & obscene.

Everything you post is a lie or in service to a lie.

Naut Right said...

Just because some have the wherewithal to weather, thrive even, the consequences of challenging accepted moral teachings doesn't impute a repudiation of the standard a moral teaching imposes. That is exactly what Quayle was refering to vis-vis Murphy Brown and single motherhood.
Casual observation would suffice a proof if statistics didn't drown us in other proofs.
Closing your eyes so that re-ordering license to liberty blinds you to these consequences means we have to peel your eyelids open for you.

Jonathan Card said...

I wouldn't speak for Mr. Reynolds, but I would offer the following correction to summarize my beliefs: all people are insufficiently smart, competent, and emotionally stable to make a decision involving a complex set of factors, so we need to dominate their minds with a starker structure of "right" and "wrong".

My belief is that moral systems tend to contain wisdom and arose memetically, and so they arose with no one aware of why they were successful answers, only that they were successful. So, to reject something in favor of nothing because we don't know why one something is better than another something seems foolish to me.

R.C. said...

Prof. Althouse, you say you are reacting to an overbearing moral assertion made by the right (when such things are more commonly made by the left).

And you say it's an overbearing moral assertion that targets (or takes "shots" at) women. (Unless you've changed your mind about who is being shamed by the Quayle quote since your original post.)

But Quayle's quote contains three moral assertions. Only the first targets women, and is not overbearing. The latter two don't even target women, but target, respectively, men and media (specifically the Murphy Brown show).

Let's review them. Quayle's three assertions are:

1. It's morally wrong to procreate "irresponsibly";

2. It's morally wrong for fathers to abandon their children;

3. It's morally wrong for society (government, academia, mass media) to undermine the cultural-ingrained fear of single motherhood and its attendant difficulties, since these difficulties are real, do real damage to the child and the mother, and are avoidable by the woman making correct choices. "Correct" in this case means avoiding the aforementioned harms to herself and the child; and since it is immoral to voluntarily harm oneself or one's child, "correct" means morally correct.

Those three assertions do not include any moral condemnation AT ALL of women who become single mothers through no fault of their own. (One can't call that "irresponsible"; it would rather be "involuntary.") So Quayle certainly isn't overbearing to THAT group of women.

Now, it does admittedly assert that it's morally wrong for women to become single mothers, at their own option, "irresponsibly." But you can't object to that: "Irresponsible" in that context *means* "morally wrong" (in a particular way; reckless of the likely harms). So Quayle is saying it's morally wrong for women to opt to become single mothers when it's morally wrong! How can you object to that? It's a tautology!

So the only moral objection in the whole quote which targets women is one to which no-one can logically object.

But I suspect you've shifted your ground. In your first post on this topic you sounded like you were defending women against potshots; but I think it's actually Quayle's THIRD moral assertion (not his first) to which you object.

In that case, you're not defending "women"; you're defending the Murphy Brown writers.

More on that in my next.

Dan said...

"When you speak of people on THIS blog...I have yet to see a single conservative commenter who would allow that there is ANY POSSIBLE rational justification to vote for Obama. To them, an Obama vote means you are either irrational, racist, or consciously trying to bring America down."

I have a difficult time finding rationalizations, never mind rational justifications for supporting a guy like O for prez. The guy is supposed to be so intelligent, but won't release his transcripts to prove his track record in that regard. He seems to have been a "community organizer" (and I don't know what that is) and an adjunct (not full) professor...and not much else. His previous election opponents mysteriously dropped out of his elections, which I find highly suspicious in the Chicago/Illinois milieu. I give zero credence to the birther BS, the idea that he is somehow treasonous or whatever. I think he's just clueless and mean, and benefits from the affirmative action strain in the American polity today along with a nice flair for public speaking.

If there's a reason to vote for Obama, the only one I can really find is if you hate Romney for whatever reason and want to pull the lever for the alternative....or if you're the type who feels that the government's right place is to provide for all of us. Obama seems to hold that view and can probably be depended on to support any new government program or any extension of an existing one. He might also appeal to someone who feels it's important to send the message that the US can be led by someone of any skin color I guess.

On any important policy issue though, Obama seems by my lights to either be on the wrong side or be claiming to be on one side while doing the other (claiming to be a "fiscal conservative" while proposing a budget so liberal that he couldn't garner a single vote in congress...TWICE).

Oh...and I do like the viciousness with which he's prosecuted the war against Islamism in most cases. I dislike the way he claims pacifism while he's at it...but I go more by actions than noises and he has shown a much more bloody outlook on Islamist enemies in many instances, particularly the way he's blanketed most of the Middle East and Northern Africa with the new drone network and killing LOTS of terrorists.

I'm making a good faith effort here to find reasons to vote for Obama. The above is the result. Wish I could do better...because against any reason that makes sense to me it looks like he actually has a legitimate shot at reelection, and if we have another 4 years of this guy I'd like to believe he'd actually pull back on spending and stop with the race-baiting and quit apologizing for everything and actually LEAD.

R.C. said...

Prof. Althouse,

In my previous post I showed that of Quayle's three moral assertions, only the first targeted women for acting immorally...but that it was written in such a way as to only target women who were acting "irresponsibly" as having committed a moral error. Since acting "irresponsibly" is by definition a voluntary, unnecessary foolish act, and one which in this case risks harms to mother and child, nobody can argue with Quayle's statement. It's tautological: It's immoral to have a child immorally.

But I think you're not so much defending women as you are the Murphy Brown writers, who are the target of Quayle's THIRD moral assertion.

The question before us is: To what degree does the Murphy Brown storyline and others like it in other shows not "help" (to borrow Quayle's word)? Does it reduce the formerly-existing overall cultural fear of opting to raise a kid when the kid's father will be predictably absent?

If so, then to the degree it reduces that fear, it is morally wrong. Why?

Well, because EVEN UNUSUALLY RATIONAL PEOPLE don't engage their powers of reason for every decision in their lives. Much of our day-in-day-out decision making comes from "the gut": from habit, from tradition, from reflect reactions.

That doesn't mean the resulting decisions are unreasonable ones. It may be that the right decision is the decision that accords with culture and habit and tradition.

Making a decision in accord with tradition and culture, means only that IF the tradition and culture are well-reasoned, THEN the person relied upon someone else's prior reasoning rather than "doing all the math themselves" in real time, at the critical decision juncture.

Now, Prof. Althouse, I probably don't need to tell you that a woman's reactions to amorous proposals tend often to fall in that category of decisions which are heavily influenced by tradition, culture, habit, "gut instinct," and the like. Perhaps every woman ought to pull out a slide rule when the possibility arises -- some guys would find that hot -- but most don't.

To say that men and women's decisions are influenced in this way doesn't say anything bad about men and women. At worst, it says we're human, not Vulcans. We don't always calculate our morals correctly, or have time to calculate them when the moment of deciding arrives: So we need a little backup from culture.

Therefore, it is important that culture offer well-reasoned advice on such topics, causing men's and women's "guts" to have well-formed instincts on such matters. Such cultural features are the infrastructure in which human beings operate at peak performance and peak freedom.

Yes, peak *freedom*. Nobody's liberties are curtailed by doing something culture considers foolish or fearful, so long as it isn't ILLEGAL.

But people's liberties ARE harder to make good use of when the culture that surrounds them makes it difficult to distinguish quickly and easily between bone-headed life-crushing moves and moves which are likely to promote the health and happiness of oneself and one's children.

So should the Murphy Brown writers have been arrested for undermining the wisdom of culture that depicts single-motherhood as a thing to avoid? Of course not.

But should they have been criticized for the storyline as an immoral act? Certainly. What's wrong with criticism? And in this case the criticism was accurate, and thus helpful in raising the issue and maintaining a little bit of the previous cultural wisdom against voluntary single motherhood.

Or it would have done so, had it been uttered by anyone other than Bambi-eyed Dan Quayle. But leftists and some moderates found the opportunity to badmouth Quayle too tantalizing to stop and evaluate what he said for accuracy.

So it goes.

R.C. said...

Oops. In the preceding post I meant to say "reflex reactions" not "reflect reactions."

Sorry.

Brian said...

It you hold a utilitarian ethics, "It's wrong" is pretty close to a summary or a conclusion that we come up with once we survey the likely negative consequences of a course of saction. (As against a duty ethic which declares that "X is wrong" by fiat, because I say so or because God says so or because the community says so.) So it's nor something that we refined, intelligent people tell the rubes. Once we identify harmful courses of action, "it's wrong" is something we tell ourselves.