August 16, 2017

My New Favorite Thing on Twitter

withdrawing from conversation on Twitter

Helen Pluckrose (@HPluckrose) is one of the many fantastic people I follow on Twitter. She's a secular humanist in London. She also happens to be one of the very few people I follow on Twitter who regularly interacts with people with whom she disagrees without being disagreeable and resorting to name-calling. Yes indeed, she's a rare treasure!

August 14, 2017

Progressive Responses to Charlottesville

make art, not war

A recent article by David Weigel in The Washington Post reported on the conclusion of the Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta. As suggested by the title, Progressives quickly organize responses to Charlottesville, it mentioned how those at the conference were responding as they learned about the violence in Charlottesville. I realize they were dealing with rapidly unfolding events, but a couple of the responses struck me as...well...disappointing.
One of the first responses came from Mikey Franklin, a digital director of the labor-backed Good Jobs Nation campaign, who had found a print shop that could quickly make T-shirts. Franklin made a black-and-white shirt reading “Punch More Nazis,” then was dogged by questions about them, then printed 30 more.

August 13, 2017

What If Nobody Showed Up When the Far-Right Came to Town?

Lee Park, Charlottesville, VAI support the free expression of views I find objectionable, and I welcome non-violent protests even when I disagree with the reasons for the protests. As long as those protesting do not interfere with others who are not involved in the protest, I'll support their right to protest. I have been consistent in condemning violence at speeches, protests, and rallies, regardless who starts it or who commits the worst acts of violence. And so, I unequivocally condemn the recent violence at the "Unite the Right" event in Charlottesville, VA.

Now, here's a fun hypothetical for you to ponder amidst all the righteous outrage. Imagine that a horde of alt-right, white supremacist, neo-Nazi types are descending on your town in order to hold some sort of speech, protest, or rally. What do they most want? Attention. They crave media attention, but they also want a good turn-out from counter-protest groups. The more, the better. Some are looking for a fight, but almost all are hoping for a public spectacle. The angrier the counter-protesters are, the better.

What do you suppose would happen if those who were understandably inclined to counter-protest the event decided to stay home instead? Imagine the horde showing up to find no counter-protesters, no spectators, and few reporters, most of whom would leave as soon as they realized there were no counter-protesters. The horde's only audience would be the police officers who were there to keep an eye on them. Why, it would almost be as if the entire town had decided to deprive them of what they most wanted, rendering their event ineffective!

August 11, 2017

Nuclear Threats and Climate Change: The Toxicity of End Times Theology

Consider the important decisions facing those in the highest levels of the U.S. government with regard to North Korea's nuclear program and/or the scientific consensus pointing to the role of human behavior in the global climate crisis. In both cases, the sort of decisions made are likely to affect all of us. Thus, I think we have a shared interest in wanting such decisions to be made by rational actors. I find it terrifying to think that these decisions are likely to be made by people who have embraced the "end times" theology of fundamentalist Christianity, some of whom seem to be eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus and who might even be motivated to hasten the apocalypse they imagine.

Over the years, I have written many times about how those who don't believe we have a future should not be placed in charge of it. This strikes me as one of the most obvious truths there is, but we in the U.S. have certainly not embraced it. We continue to elect fundamentalist Christians who have little motivation to think long-term because they expect Revelations to unfold any day now. Such beliefs, assuming that they are sincere and that one is unable or unwilling to make important decisions without being influenced by them, should be disqualifying.