June 22, 2017

Dismissing Calls for Civility as Privilege

Be Courteous Share the RoadThere have been quite a few articles like this one from The Clarion-Ledger appearing across various media outlets lately. I've seen several over the past couple weeks. It seems that even Ted Nugent got in on the action. Of course, it isn't like these public appeals for civility are anything new. I recall seeing an even more impressive flurry of them back in 2009 when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted "You lie" during a speech President Obama was giving to Congress. Little did we know at the time that those days might soon be remembered fondly for their civility compared to the times in which we now live.

I tend to agree with most of these calls for civility. I can usually appreciate where their authors are coming from (though not so much in Nugent's case). I typically find myself thinking that those who write such articles have a valid point. I too would like to see more civility. I'd like to see people treat one another better. And of course, I'd like to see far more reason and far less tribalism.

But these sentiments are not what this post is about. Instead, I'd like to comment on one of the more common objections I've heard to the calls for civility: that calls for courtesy or civility are primarily a way for those with "privilege" to maintain it. Evidently, only those with privilege can concern themselves with such things. Those without privilege have no such luxury. In essence, the claim is that appeals to civility are vehicles of oppression.

June 20, 2017

Democratic Infighting

Democratic Donkey - 3D IconI had CNN on for about 30 seconds tonight. That was about 30 seconds too long. But seriously, I'm glad it happened. It was on just long enough for me to hear one of their pundits say that even if Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff wins the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, it will be followed by infighting among Democrats over which aspect(s) of their candidate's message were most effective. I laughed out loud as I turned off the TV. That was one smart pundit!

Of course, there was nothing funny about this analysis. In fact, it is seriously depressing. It speaks volumes about the state of the Democratic Party at the moment, a state in which the party seems to be stuck ever since the last presidential election.

I do not necessarily think that the 2016 Democratic primary created major rifts in the party that weren't there previously, but I would agree that it deepened some of the existing rifts and brought others to the surface. I'd also agree that it left many of us on the political left feeling increasingly frustrated with the party and its leadership. But what I find even more frustrating than that is how little the party leaders seem to have learned that could be helpful moving forward.

Atheist Groups Doing More Than Atheism

kaleidoscope art
I think that one of the main problems with trying to establish any sort of atheist community, from a small group of people who meet face-to-face to a large coalition who gather online online, is that atheism is virtually content-free. I say this not just because of the limited meaning of atheism but because atheism is primarily a reaction to religious belief. If an atheist community were to try to limit their focus to atheism (and I'm not suggesting they should), it seems that they'd be dealing with no more than two broad areas:
  1. Criticism of religion (e.g., explaining what is wrong with religion, why it is irrational, how it is detrimental to human progress)
  2. Promotion of atheism and/or secularism (e.g., encouraging others to make the break from religious belief and attempting to facilitate this process by providing a range of supports, working to strengthen the separation of church and state, attempting to improve public opinions of atheists)

June 18, 2017

A Well-Rounded Approach to Obtaining News From Reputable Sources

news quality
This image comes from Vanessa Otero and can be found on her website.

It is becoming clear to me that it is no longer possible to get all of one's news from any single source and feel like one is not only not missing anything but that one is getting reasonably accurate information. Multiple sources are required to obtain the full picture and avoid confirmation bias. I have grown tired of much of the hyper-partisan narrative-over-facts approach that seems so common, and so I decided to do something about it.

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