February 9, 2016

Your Freedom is Worth More Than My Feelings

Stephen Fry on taking offense

"I'm offended by that" and "I find that offensive" are statements about the person making them. They tell you something about how this person feels. They are not indicators of any sort of objective metric of offensiveness. No such thing exists. They tell us nothing about the likelihood that something is offensive in any absolute sense; they are merely statements about how the person making them feels with regard to what he or she is labeling as offensive.

February 7, 2016

A Super Bowl Compilation

Super Bowl

Planning to watch the big game today? It is kind of hard to believe this is the 50th Super Bowl. I'm still not sure if I'll bother to watch it this year or not. I don't particularly care for either team, but I really despise the Broncos. I guess that means I'll root for the Panthers if I watch the game.

For someone who probably watches the Super Bowl only about half the time, I sure have written about it often. Here are some examples:

February 5, 2016

God Talk in Political Speeches as Virtue Signaling

virtue is its own reward

Have you heard the term virtue signaling? I've encountered it only recently, but the concept certainly is familiar. In this article from The Spectator, James Bartholomew takes credit for being the first to use it.
I coined the phrase in an article here in The Spectator (18 April) in which I described the way in which many people say or write things to indicate that they are virtuous. Sometimes it is quite subtle. By saying that they hate the Daily Mail or Ukip, they are really telling you that they are admirably non-racist, left-wing or open-minded. One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous.
I suspect virtue signaling is something we've all seen, especially on social media. The appealing thing about it, as Mr. Bartholomew points out, is that it requires no effort whatsoever. In essence, the person reaps at least some of the benefits of appearing morally virtuous without needing to do anything.

February 3, 2016

Learning to Appreciate Art After Discarding Christianity

Duchamp Fountaine
Marcel Duchamp, via Wikimedia Commons
This post was based on one I wrote back in 2007. Rather than updating the original, I decided to revise it as a new post.

I have often heard that great art is supposed to be provocative, eliciting strong and not necessarily pleasant emotions in those who experience it. Mediocre art may produce mildly pleasant feelings ("Oh, that's nice"), but the great art that ends up being remembered often involves much more than that.

Great art, it seems, is not something one just encounters causally but something one truly experiences. It may involve an aspect of confrontation, forcing the audience to experience powerful emotions or encounter new ideas. Even when great art produces unpleasant emotions, we often say that the audience is actually changed for having experienced it.

It has taken me most of my life to comprehend what I now regard as a simple truth about art, and I cannot help but think that my early indoctrination into Christianity was one of the factors which stunted my growth. I realize that statement will require some explanation.

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