November 25, 2005

RIGHTS INCUR OBLIGATIONS:

Freedom, if others are restrained: Laws that override the rights of some protect the civil liberties of many (Edward Spence, November 21, 2005, Sydney Morning Herald)

A central argument that provides ethical support to the new laws is the social contract argument. First raised by Plato 2500 years ago, it was developed in its modern form by the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes said the legitimacy of the state and its citizens is rationally and ethically mandated by a notional social contract under which individuals agree to constrain their "anything goes" unlimited freedoms for the sake of security, safety, civility and public order which the state guarantees on the basis of mutually acceptable moral principles.

However, the state only holds power in trust for the collective good, and its legitimacy is ultimately founded on the implied consent of its citizens. Whereas the state has an obligation to protect and preserve the security and safety of its citizens, the citizens have an obligation to abide by the ethical and legal principles upon which the state is founded.

When individuals through deeds or words threaten the security of the state and the safety of its citizens the government has a legal and ethical obligation to do whatever is needed to protect its citizens. A government that fails to do so would rightly be deemed negligible and held culpable for such negligence.


It's republicanism -- though it's necessarily based in Judeo-Christianity, not reason --- and it's why we were right to burn witches.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 25, 2005 3:54 PM
Comments

Civilization and the security it brings is more than a mutal defense agreement. G.K. Chesterton on the theory of the social contract:

Morality did not begin by one man saying to another, "I will not hit you if you do not hit me"; there is no trace of such a transaction. There is a trace of both men having said, "We must not hit each other in the holy place." They gained their morality by guarding their religion. They did not cultivate courage. They fought for the shrine, and found they had become courageous . . .

The Ten Commandments which have been found substantially common to mankind were merely military commands; a code of regimental orders, issued to protect a certain ark across a certain desert. Anarchy was evil because it endangered the sanctity. And only when they made a holy day for God did they find they had made a holiday for men.

Source: Orthodoxy

Posted by: David at November 25, 2005 4:23 PM

" ... we were right to burn witches."

What do you mean "we", Paleface?

Posted by: ghostcat at November 25, 2005 8:34 PM

How do witches threaten " security, safety, civility and public order"? Show me one man or woman who was ever harmed by a witch.

Hysterical accusations based on ignorant superstitions have killed many thousands. It is anti-witch hysteria that is the real threat to civility and public order. The government is only justified in defending society from real threats to its citizens, not imaginary threats.

You really need to move on from this witch obsession of yours, Christian civilization has.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 25, 2005 9:41 PM

Robert:

Yes, we burned enough to make them conform to societal norms.

Posted by: oj at November 25, 2005 9:47 PM

Tghis is rare common sense from the SMH, Australia's second most commie newspaper after the melbourne Age.

Posted by: Amos at November 25, 2005 9:48 PM

Wat does "burning witches" have to do with revealed religion.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 25, 2005 10:19 PM

Robert D.: Good points.

Robert S.: Good question.

OJ: So there's no evidence of harm by witches, which proves all witches have been "scared straight" by the Salem trials, which proves that witch-burnings are a good idea? And this from one who claims to be so adept at spotting Just So stories in biology....

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 26, 2005 1:02 AM

We should recall that Hobbes held that the basic consideration for the social contrat was the providence of security by the sovereign. When the state fails to provide protection, it has breached the contract and the subject (or citizen) reserves the right to defend humself.

Just because the right to life is central to the contract, this princiopal obtains even against the sovereign itself. When the black helicopters come for you, you may take your weapons from the wall and sell your life dearly.

Hobbes wrote in the context of his time, but the ideas have contemporary relevance. An order from Leviathan to give yourself up to looters by turning in your weapons, as in the New Orleans hurricane situation, is not a legimate order.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 26, 2005 2:18 AM

There were a whole heck of a lot more posts here yesterday. What happened to them?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 26, 2005 5:36 AM

Guys, why bother?

OJ will just delete, edit, and reword posts in a despicable and cowardly fashion like he did to Rob D and me in the Hitchens thread.

Posted by: Anon at November 26, 2005 7:09 AM

Papaya:

Jose Padilla didn't do any harm either, he just tried.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 8:39 AM

Jose Padilla didn't do any harm either, he just tried.

Typed, apparently, without a hint of irony.

Jose Padilla is a religious fanatic.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 26, 2005 8:58 AM

"What does burning witches have to do with revearled religion?" Ex 22:18

That was then. Now the very real danger is that the black tide of mud of the occult comes flowing back as soon as we let down our guard against it.

We may see it already in many of its manifestations of pantheism, animal worship and worship of polymorphous perversity. C.S. Lewis' Space trilogy, especially That Hideous Strength, expresses this well.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 26, 2005 9:40 AM

Lou, will the Black Mud Occultists be the ones flying the black helicopters? I can't keep all of the different threats to Western Civilization straight.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 11:31 AM

Robert:

What did we do with the black helicopter crew after OK City? Suppressed them. Even if they're laughable we don't allow folks who oppose society to operate freely. It's not even a controversial point.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 11:38 AM

Well sure, they blew up a building and killed hundreds. I just wonder what the occultists have been up to that we should worry so much.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 11:55 AM

two guys did. we repressed them all. Every shlub in cammo who liked running around in the woods and filling his bunker with canned goods and Krugerands.

What did we do with the Mormons when they wanted Utah to allow polygamy? How does polygamy hurt you?

We require conformity to our cultural norms as the minimal basis of free citizenship.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 12:01 PM

I'll challenge you to provide some proof on the rigor of this supposed crackdown. The government does not have the power to outlaw thoughts or sentiments unless they lead to illegal actions. Most of the "black helicopter" crowd remained law abiding, and they were not arrested or forced into re-education camps.

Likewise with occultists. All we require them to conform to is the law. As long as their black masses or bizarre makeup don't pick any pockets or break any legs, they are as free to follow their philosophies as you are.

But anti-occultist hysteria has caused harm, as during our modern "witch trials" against day care providers like the McMartin trial in California. The government is also responsible for protecting the public from false, religiously inspired inquisitions.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 12:35 PM

Yes, the day care scare was an excellent example of how ruthlessly we treat pedophiles though they're just sexually-oriented differently than you or I.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 12:51 PM

OJ:

Unfortunately, the McMartin preschool is an excellent example of how abominable "witch" hunts destroy the lives of law abiding citizens.

(I happened to be working at an engineering firm two blocks away from the McMartin preschool throughout the whole trial. After the trial was over, I was in the KABC control room during a talk radio show with the defendants as guests, free to discuss their case. It was spine chilling, and should be extremely cautionary to anyone thinking witch hunts are a good idea.)

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 26, 2005 1:08 PM

They weren't pedophiles, they were wrongly accused.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 1:16 PM

Robert, The connection between the black tide of mud of the occult and the black helicopters is admittedly obscure to moderns who hase lost the distinction between the state, Hobbes' Leviathan, and civil society. The distinction is buried in C.S. Lewis, but is closer to the surface in the U.S. Constitution and in the Federalist Papers.

In our system, the state is to be the servant of society, not its master. It was the state, in the persons of red-coated, jack-booted thugs, the black helicopters of their day, which marched to sieze the weapons of civil society at Concord.

Now it may happen that folk-enemies, such as witches, or perverts, or those historicaly aggrieved, gain leverage within a coalition of outsiders to attain considerable control over the state. This danger is greatest when they pretend to be doing it "for the children." or for "freedom" or "privacy," or some such hijacking of the very values of civil society.

Recall that Janet Reno rose to power as a prosecutor of trumped-up child-abuse cases and that she waived that same bloody shirt at Waco. Recall also that McVey had been motivated by reaction to the BATF abuses in the Weaver case.

The phony child-abuse cases are an excellent illustration of how the state deforms the instincts of civil society to gather power to itself.

Shilling for the jack-booted thugs is not the way to defend the values of our civilization, for the power which Leviathan thus assembles will be wielded against those very values. We are seeing this to some extent in the abuse of the "hate-crimes" concept.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 26, 2005 4:36 PM

OJ: Poor analogy. There is evidence that Padilla was at least a terrorist wannabe. But is there any evidence that any of the Salem witches (or other burned witches) were 1) real witches, and 2) a real threat to anyone? I've never seen any.

The last "witch" I met was an overweight woman at a party in Berkeley. She complained about the inadequacy of the hors d'oeuvres, and thus didn't seem particularly in control of Dark Forces or anything else. She wasn't a threat to anything except nearby food. Burning seems a rather draconian for her, don't you think?

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 26, 2005 5:40 PM

Lou,
The fear and hysteria that can lead ordinary citizens to acquiesce to the abuses of power by prosecutors and law enforcement agencies can come from any cultural sector of our society. It can come from militant feminism, animal rights zealotry or strident fundamentalist Christianity.

OJ imagines that our conformism has much in common with the religious absolutism and witch-hunting excesses of our European past, but our liberties rely on a conformity with an anti-absolutist tolerance for other cultural norms. It is a limited tolerance for sure, but it doesn't allow any cultural norm an absolutist control over society, even for the majority. It no more allows witch burning as it allows the forced conversion of Jews or the sacrifice of Christians to lions.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 6:31 PM

Robert:

Or blacklisting communists or interning radical Muslims....

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 8:18 PM

Robert:

Which is why we should persecute Freudians.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 8:23 PM

Papaya:

Perfect analogy--witches were witch wannabes.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 8:23 PM

Blacklisting was an industry initiative, not a government action.

Define "radical" Muslims. That would be Muslims who have known ties to terrorist organizations. We're not rounding up Muslims on the street.

Can you cite one prosecution of a person for being or wanting to be a witch in the last 200 years?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 8:59 PM

Robert:

Yes social pressure is generally adequate to force conformity. Of course, it wasn'yt private citizens who jailed communists.

Exactly, we're rounding up ones who reject our constitution.

We don't need to persecute witches anymore--our ancestors won that battle. We haven't prosecuted an anarchist or communist in awhile either. Won those too.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2005 9:04 PM

We didn't win the battle with witches, we put an end to a cruel and unjust abuse of government power: witch trials.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 9:53 PM

the salem witch trials were more like a public lynching; what, one town hanged 4 - 5 people ? that's a slow day in the 'hood as far as body counts go. the u.s. hasn't had any really outstanding abuses of government power because we haven't had a leftist government...yet.

Posted by: clarence darrow at November 26, 2005 11:43 PM

Of actual witch trials, I wonder how many were directed against those who actually believed themselves witches, and how many were directed against those whom others had concluded were witches, based upon being most or all of: old, ugly, mentally ill, and female.

I'll bet very few of the former, and nearly all of the latter. It is noteworthy that very few convictions were obtained in the absence of torture.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 27, 2005 7:50 AM

clarence:

Tell it to the Nissei

Posted by: oj at November 27, 2005 8:32 AM

Robert:

What about the Indians? Anarchists? Communists? Bundists? ...

Posted by: oj at November 27, 2005 8:42 AM

Papaya:

But is there any evidence that any of the Salem witches (or other burned witches) were 1) real witches, and 2) a real threat to anyone?

You see a difference there? I'm not sure anyone from that era would have understood why. Yes, it was an gruesome injustice born of hysteria over the corruption of children in a pious, fragile community where survival was frequently imperiled (Indians, famine). It is perfectly legitimate to condemn the execution of the innocent, which was done by many firm believers at the time and explains why so few were executed compared to elsewhere. Cotton Mather's father and many other churchmen took him on on evidentiary and proof issues and even old Chuckles himself expressed remorse in the end. The real lesson here is that early American Puritanism rejected witch-burning almost as soon as it begun (in stark comparision with elsewhere), but nobody seems top want to draw that lesson 'cause it's more fun to keep harping on bad old crazy Christians.

But that is only one part of our modern take on Salem. The other, expressed or implied here frequently, is that paganism is a benign "lifestyle" choice entitled to the same respect and deference as the Judeo-Christian faiths. Lots of candles and cool dancing under a full moon and then back to the office, but no big deal. There is no justification for fighting or trying to extirpate it.

I'm amazed at how many modern types who see the need to be ever-vigilant over the dark menace of creeping theocratic Christianity are so casual, if not downright supportive, of paganism, and I wonder whether that doesn't reveal them as anti-Christian or whether it is just reflective of the fact that they are so far removed from the religious mindset that they lost all critical judgment. They should think a little harder. Here is Himmelfarb from the excellent One Nation, Two Cultures:

Another article in the same issue of the Chronicle recounts a similar experience by an instructor of creative writing. For more than twenty years Kay Haugard had been reading with her class the famous story by Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery", about a small down where a woman is stoned to death by a crowd, including her husband and two children, as part of an annual scrificial ritual to make the crops grow. Until recently, the story elicited from her students expressions of shock, horror and uneuivocal moral indignation. Lately she has been receiving quite different reactions. One student tells her that the story is "neat" and that she "liked it", another that it is "all right" but not "that great". Yet another explains that the stoning seems to be like a rligious ritual, in which case she cannot pass judgment on it or even decide if the author approves or disapproves of it--this, Haugaard observes, from a student who objects passionately to killing whales and destroying rain forests. Another recalls a theory he had once read about cultures that require occasional bloodshed; "It almost seems a need," he coolly observes. An older student, a nurse, explains that she teaches a course at the hospital on multicultural understanding: "If it is part of a person's culture, we are taught not to judge, and if it has workled for them..." Not one student, in a class of twenty, spoke up in opposition to the moral obtuseness and cruelty portrayed in this gruesome tale."

As evil as Christians and Jews can be, Christianity and Judaism start with the premise that man is fallen and end up being about about peace, celebrating life, being good and doing right. Paganism says man is just great and ends up being about killing and death. Whatever their sins, the folks at Salem understood that very well and you might remember it the next time you whiff that incense in the cool Wicca shop.

Posted by: Peter B at November 27, 2005 9:30 AM

The real lesson here is that early American Puritanism rejected witch-burning almost as soon as it begun (in stark comparision with elsewhere), but nobody seems top want to draw that lesson 'cause it's more fun to keep harping on bad old crazy Christians.

Peter, we're not harping on the bad old Christians, we're harping on OJ. Yes, the Christians, to their eventual credit, realized that the persecution of witches was an unjust abuse of power that targeted innocents. Try to explain that to OJ.

You make a valid point with regard to the non-judgmentalism of the modern multicultural movement. Atheists/rationalists are not on board this trend, for the most part. To us Wicca is just another form of religious superstition. James Randi goes after New Age babbledy-gook as hard as he goes after traditional Christian supernaturalism. But we have this thing called the First Amendment which guarantees the free expression of religion, so what are you going to do about the crazy Wiccans?

For your part you can try to win these souls back to Christianity. If it is the true faith then it should triumph in an environment of free choice and the competition of ideas. But many of your own faith are trumpeting post-modernism as the victory of Christianity over Atheism, and subjective faith over objective knowledge. Funny thing, though. That ends up enabling all forms of subjective faiths. Let 1 million faiths bloom. The triumph of faith over rationalism is also the end of Christianity's foundation in objective truth. You can't wow the Pagans with Scholastic logic coupled with empirical science anymore. You have to make your faith more emotionally appealing than the alternatives.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 27, 2005 12:09 PM

Robert:

Be careful, though. The fact that it may not be a good idea to let Orrin play with matches shouldn't lead you to have any reactive sympathy for the object of his wrath. Wicca may be populated pretty much by marginal eccentrics and harmless nuts (angry ones, though), but so were the early German nationalist societies that loved to go a-wandering and talked about the environment, the mystique of the forest and how cool Odin was.

Behind all the chanting and spells, the objection to paganism is the same as the objection to radically individualist secularism--the absence of any shared notion of objective right and wrong and the preaching of relativism based upon the supremacy of the individual will. In previous arguments we have had here, you have argued that rationalism and self-interest can guide and anchor the atheists, but I trust even you would have misgivings about this in the context of a touchy-feely irrational mysticism. I wouldn't be as restrictive as Orrin about Abrahamic faiths (I'd include the established Eastern religions) but I can't find fault with his argument that objective external morality should be the test of whether any faith merits respect or constitutional protection. We're in big trouble if we've reached the point where our notions of religious freedom compel us to accept paganism as an equal and shield it.

Posted by: Peter B at November 27, 2005 2:06 PM

Peter,

I don't think that you can design an acceptable orthodoxy of beliefs that will satisfy the needs of the many and yet avoid religious conflict. Our Republic is founded on a commitment to religous liberty. We can't all agree on first principles, but we can find common ground with regard to governing principles. The Williamsburg Charter, I believe, represents the best approach to preserving our liberties in a nation of diverse faiths.

The Inalienable Right:

Nothing is more characteristic of humankind than the natural and inescapable drive toward meaning and belonging, toward making sense of life and finding community in the world. As fundamental and precious as life itself, this "will to meaning" finds expression in ultimate beliefs, whether theistic or non-theistic, transcendent or naturalistic, and these beliefs are most our own when a matter of conviction rather than coercion. They are most our own when, in the words of George Mason, the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, they are "directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence."

As James Madison expressed it in his Memorial and Remonstrance, "The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right."

Two hundred years later, despite dramatic changes in life and a marked increase of naturalistic philosophies in some parts of the world and in certain sectors of our society, this right to religious liberty based upon freedom of conscience remains fundamental and inalienable. While particular beliefs may be true or false, better or worse, the right to reach, hold, exercise them freely, or change them, is basic and non-negotiable.

Religious liberty finally depends on neither the favors of the state and its officials nor the vagaries of tyrants or majorities. Religious liberty in a democracy is a right that may not be submitted to vote and depends on the outcome of no election. A society is only as just and free as it is respectful of this right, especially toward the beliefs of its smallest minorities and least popular communities.

The right to freedom of conscience is premised not upon science, nor upon social utility, nor upon pride of species. Rather, it is premised upon the inviolable dignity of the human person. It is the foundation of, and is integrally related to, all other rights and freedoms secured by the Constitution. This basic civil liberty is clearly acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence and is ineradicable from the long tradition of rights and liberties from which the Revolution sprang.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 27, 2005 3:20 PM

to the contrary, neither we nor any other society have much trouble defining the orthodoxy they'll tolerate. At the moment the deviations we're least tolerant of are Islamicism, white separatism, and pedophilia and the "others" we're most violent towards are the very young, very old, and the disabled. That'll change over time though.

Posted by: oj at November 27, 2005 3:25 PM

Those are behaviors, not faiths. Yes, we enforce a standard of acceptable behaviors. It's not the "Islam" that we don't tolerate, it is the behavior of plotting terrorist attacks. Anyone can be a white supremacist in philosophy, it's when you wrap a chain around a black man's neck and drag him to death behind your pickup truck that we intervene.

You are trying to equate religious/philosophical orthodoxy and behavioral conformity, without success. Arresting criminals is not the same as supressing religious or moral viewpoints.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 27, 2005 4:14 PM

Of course you justify the stuff you want repressed, we all do. And if some guys who've only thought about it get swept up in the net so be it. That's the point.

Posted by: oj at November 27, 2005 4:18 PM

Robert:

If you believe that, why are you so keen on forced assimilation for aboriginals, whose social and cultural dissipation is tied pretty directly to their historical pagan roots? Do you think the Founders had them in mind when they were talking about religious freedom? And surely you don't seriously argue that many of the posters here with a chip about Islam aren't aiming at many more Muslims than just those who plan terrorist attacks.

Those are beautiful words and sentiments, but to take them as literally and absolutely as you seem to want to do implies you assume all faiths are more or less equal and are equally private and innocuous. My goodness, Robert, I can't believe it is we who are trying to convince you that religious belief can be a dangerous thing.

Posted by: Peter B at November 27, 2005 5:33 PM

And furthermore, isn't it a fair consequence of your absolute, literal reliance on abstract first principles here that you don't really care about what is actually going on around you or what the consequences might be or what human nature might lead to, the pinciple comes first, now and forever. Welcome to France.

Posted by: Peter B at November 27, 2005 5:38 PM

Peter,
Yes, of course religion can be an incubator of dangerous activity, but we outlaw the dangerous activities, not the religions. If you outlawed every religion that has led some of its adherents to anti-social behavior, you'd have to outlaw Christianity as well.

The difference between the US and France is that me do more than to just legally tolerate Muslims. We welcome them into our social sphere as well. People who are well integrated into society don't become jihadis against that society.

When you pre-emptively isolate people from society based on their religious beliefs, then you're actually encouraging the kind of anti-social isolation that leads to the dangerous behavior. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Social integration of minoritys requires acceptance on the part of the minority and the majority as well.

If you read the whole of the Williamsburg Charter, you'll find that it acknowledges that religious liberty requires more than the high-sounding ideals:

The Issue Is Not Only What We Debate, but How

The debate about religion in public life is too often misconstrued as a clash of ideologies alone, pitting "secularists" against the "sectarians" or vice versa. Though competing and even contrary worldviews are involved, the controversy is not solely ideological. It also flows from a breakdown in understanding of how personal and communal beliefs should be related to public life.

The American republic depends upon the answers to two questions. By what ultimate truths ought we to live? And how should these be related to public life? The first question is personal, but has a public dimension because of the connection between beliefs and public virtue. The American answer to the first question is that the government is excluded from giving an answer. The second question, however, is thoroughly public in character, and a public answer is appropriate and necessary to the well-being of this society.

This second question was central to the idea of the First Amendment. The Religious Liberty provisions are not "articles of faith" concerned with the substance of particular doctrines or of policy issues. They are "articles of peace" concerned with the constitutional constraints and the shared prior understanding within which the American people can engage their differences in a civil manner and thus provide for both religious liberty and stable public government.

Conflicts over the relationship between deeply held beliefs and public policy will remain a continuing feature of democratic life. They do not discredit the First Amendment, but confirm its wisdom and point to the need to distinguish the Religious Liberty clauses from the particular controversies they address. The clauses can never be divorced from the controversies they address, but should always be held distinct. In the public discussion, an open commitment to the constraints and standards of the clauses should precede and accompany debate over the controversies.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 27, 2005 8:48 PM

As far as aboriginals go, I've never stated that they should not have the same rights to self-expression as the rest of us. It is just that we are now, through historical circumstances, thrown together as a single people, and we can't pretend to live as separate nations on the same land. They are welcome to their ancestral spiritual beliefs, and through treaties are welcome to portions of their ancestral lands, but they can't expect to live as they did in the past. It is up to them to reconcile themselves to the present as best they can.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 27, 2005 8:56 PM

We welcome them and turn them into us. France lets them stay "others".

Posted by: oj at November 27, 2005 9:50 PM

Exactly.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 27, 2005 9:51 PM

Yes, it's the conformity that's key. That's the entire point. American Muslims will be as deracinated as American Jews in a couple generations.

Posted by: oj at November 27, 2005 9:54 PM

manzanar would run you $200/day to stay there now. not exactly a gulag. how many people died in the internment camps ? what's that, i can't quite hear you ? oh, zero. hmmm hard to see that as making your point. how many of those people would have died had they stayed in japan ?

Posted by: clarence darrow at November 28, 2005 3:06 AM

Robert:

Spoken like a man who has an abiding belief that he can ignore cults and subversive creeds because there will always be a solid, common sense middle that will keep us anchored in the right place no matter how many wacky ideas are out there. I used to think that about the West until Durban and 9/11.

What bothers me about your analysis is you seem to see only complete open tolerance and default deference or dramatic legal oppression--nothing in between. It isn't that we aren't locking them up that worries me, it's that no one speaks out to our youth about where belief in these creeds can lead them personally, and us collectively. My goodness, we've got all kinds of amateur Koran scholars around here ready to condemn the theological errors of a billion Muslims in faraway lands, but Wicca and its like are viewed with a kind remote, puzzling charm that is untouchable by decent folks who believe in freedom. Until our own kids fall under its sway, that is, and maybe not even then.

No offence, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that you view religion and religious folk the way a modern kindergarten teacher views her charges---all a little crazy and rambunctious and needing tight surveillanace to keep them under control, but all good and innocent and equally deserving of hugs and candy.

Posted by: Peter B at November 28, 2005 5:33 AM

Jeff:

Did your horror at the McMartin injustice (born, I trust you will agree, of a corruption of psychology, feminism and law--nothing religious here) pre-date the trial and its outcome? Did you, contrary to 90% of polled Americans, suspect it was a crock from the beginning? Don't forget, the country stood by and watched that scientific/secular outrage for six years. The folks at Salem seem to have smartened up a lot quicker than that.

Posted by: Peter B at November 28, 2005 5:54 AM

The funny thing is Robert and Jeff are perfectly happy to McMartin the Church. We're all willing to harm innocents in our own just cause.

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2005 7:26 AM

clarence:

Yes, we can always justify the concentration camps we approve of--you want to be sent to one?

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2005 7:30 AM

i would rather be in manzanar than new hampshire, or alabama or mississippi, etc. anyway the point isn't me being in a camp, it's whether the u.s. government has ever perpetrated the kind of attrocities that leftists governments routinely commit. and the answer is "no", except of course in your basement.

Posted by: clarence darrow at November 28, 2005 12:27 PM

clarence:

We won WWII. Had we started losing to the Japanese Manzanar would have been a death camp.

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2005 1:51 PM

Peter:

Re: the McMartin travesty.

At first I was part of the 90%, but pretty quickly I noticed something very odd: nearly all the accused were women. Possible? I suppose. Likely? Hardly.

I disagree with your characterization of it as scientific/secular. Those things have nothing to do with the hysteria that is a witch hunt.

But the whole thing illustrates this very clearly: witch hunts almost never catch any witches.

They do, however, crush the people that don't get burned.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 28, 2005 11:34 PM

Jeff:

That's, of course, quite wrong. You're making a pretty silly mistake of only calling witch hunts those that don't catch witches. Pedophilia is endemic in the child care and teaching professions, as among all jobs that allow adults access to children--like the clergy. The relatively few innocents who get caught up or the general taint on the Church are prices we're quite willing as a society to pay to get the genuine witches.

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2005 11:41 PM

This from the first para of your cite:

[the study] concludes that far too little is known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct by teachers or other school employees, but estimates that millions of children are being affected by it

So, they no nothing, but claim everything.

Which is only slightly less astonishing than you giving any credence to anything whatsoever to something coming from the education establishment.

In your hunt for witches, all you, or the Church got, was innocents.

But hey -- you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, right?

After all, it worked for Lenin.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 29, 2005 10:02 PM
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