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Category: “family values”

The New Anti-Pornographers

[ 155 ] April 21, 2016 |

Some days the double entendres just write themselves. Such as when the Utah legislature and Gov. Gary “Pervert” Herbert declare that pornography is a public health hazard and promise to take a long, hard, penetrating look at the threat pornography poses to society, get to the bottom of what’s causing the problem and lick it so it never rears its head in Utah again.

The nonbinding resolution calls for research, education and policy changes “to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation.”

You will be shocked to learn the nonBDSMbinding resolution is full of the same lies about porn that the panty police have been flogging since about 10 seconds after someone drew an picture of man with a boner on a cave wall in Lascaux. (The fucking French and their accidental penisings go back a long way.)

“The resolution makes way for a multifaceted approach to solving this crisis, said Pamela Atkinson, the chair of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography board.

“She said the state is worried about 82 percent of sex offenders who started off by viewing pornography.

And I bet 90% of them were right handed! I believe the logical fallacy is known as cherry-picking?

Or maybe it’s the one known as lying through one’s teeth.

“‘They acknowledged they got involved with simple — or soft core porn — years ago,’ she said. ‘It’s not so satisfying anymore and that’s when they move on to the hard core porn. When that is not satisfying any more, they act out on real human beings. They objectify children and young women.'”

Yes that’s right. A group of people said they once saw a softly-lit tit framed by a feather boa … and She Who Rummages under Mattresses & Through Your Search History still has to imply that they said they started raping kids as a result.

Possibly because Atkinson is aware that insisting there’s a link will cause someone to whip out one of the many studies that shows there’s no correlation between the availability of porn and sexual assault.

It’s a delicate line for the Families Against Porn crowd to tread. They want women and (I assume) men who have children, to be good and scared or this shit absolutely will not work.

At the same time, if one runs around shrieking that every man who looks at film of two adults playing hide the gherkin will turn into a drooling rapist, every normal man who has looked at the gherkin video will get pissed off. The rapists, however, will appreciate yet another excuse for their behavior. Debbie Does Dallas made them do it!

The Utah Commission for Upholding Morals does acknowledge that women look at porn, but for some mysterious reason that eludes me at the moment, women aren’t expected to start assaulting anything that moves. Instead they become passive sex toys for the porn-crazed men.

Got it! The reason is the entire point of this exercise is to reinforce the patriarchal attitudes that do pose a risk to women and children. And probably make a few bucks while looking at dirty books and videos. (As an aside, this is one of the many reasons I’ve never gotten the willingness of some radical feminists to join forces with the neo-cons to fight porn. However, there’s a slight chance they’ll all wind up locked in the same room together and someone will lose the key, so I don’t object. I just don’t get it.)

Legions of men shuffling around with their pants around their ankles as they moan “Boooooobs” aren’t the only thing Utah is worried about. Porn also makes the young fellas not want to get married, and when they do get married, they aren’t happy.

WHEREAS, pornography use is linked to lessening desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage, and infidelity;

The weight bearing capacity of “is linked to” is impressive, but it is starting to show some hairline cracks.

And I can see why young men not wanting to get married is a concern in a state with the youngest average age for newlyweds. Why, they might start waiting until they’re the hoary age of 28 and then women might start waiting until they’re 26. And the next thing you know absolutely nothing bad has happened and the Committee to Re-examine Explicit Animated Media & Pornography Investigation Executive will have to find something else to do.

Merci to Trumpeter against Trump efgoldman for the heads up.

The following video contains naughty words, don’t click at work, in front of small children or in the state of Utah.


Agriculture and Commerce ^and Hate

[ 82 ] April 8, 2016 |

Tennessee has taken steps to protect the religious freedoms (a dog whistle that dropped to 10 kHz the first time it was used) of anyone who wants to call himself a counselor.

HB 1840, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, states in part

No counselor or therapist providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist; provided,that the counselor or therapist coordinates a referral of the client to another counselor or therapist who will provide the counseling or therapy.

It protects

any person, whether or not such person is licensed, registered, or otherwise regulated by this state.

I assume unlicensed persons = ministers, because you know how gay people are always lawyering up when their pastors refuse to help them as they struggle to figure out who they are or how to come out to their parents. Also – I’m guessing – the creeps at those make sure your pregnancy is a crisis centers.

Organizations such as the American Counseling Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy opposed the bill, but I’m sure there are licensed counselors in the Volunteer State who can’t wait to deny treatment to someone they find offensive. And since the bill doesn’t even contain an exception for a patient who is in crisis, they can refuse to do their jobs in a emergency without fear of repercussion. Thank goodness states like Tennessee are willing to protect hateful troglodytes from imaginary menaces by harming people who committed the heinous crime of being different, in order to gratify those voters who aren’t happy unless they’re certain the state is taking steps to make sure that someone, somewhere is being oppressed.

And talking of troglodytes, how about Jeremy Durham, one of HB 1840’s sponsors?

House Speaker Beth Harwell announced Thursday that she is moving Rep. Jeremy Durham’s office to the ground floor of a building across the street and that his access to committee rooms and the House chamber will be limited to when meetings are taking place. The move comes amid a state attorney general’s investigation into the Franklin Republican’s “pattern of conduct” toward women.

Interviews with 34 current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and interns included allegations that Durham made sexual comments and inappropriate physical contact with women working at Legislative Plaza, according to Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s memorandum to Harwell.

The allegations outlined in Slatery’s memo also say Durham used his position of power to:

  • – Obtain personal contact information from women.
  • – Initiate contact about non-legislative matters and try to meet women alone.
  • – Involve alcohol in his interaction with women.
  • – Make comments of a sexual nature or engage in inappropriate physical contact.
  • What a sterling example of humanity. If humanity were composed of Dick Cheney and puddles of sick that had learned to walk around and talk.

    Here’s an example of his earlier work to defend religious freedom.

    Durham’s colleagues also questioned previous behavior that included writing a letter on House stationery on behalf of a former pastor who pleaded guilty to child porn possession and statutory rape of a 16-year-old parishioner.

    The GOP, party of moral clarity.

    Kinder, Küche, Kasich

    [ 73 ] February 23, 2016 |

    Gov. John Kasich, America’s Last Moderate Centrist He’s Just an Old Softy, Really Republican, has a cunning plan to become the next PotUS.

    The problem? All this modernization means there aren’t enough women sitting at home, waiting to enlist in the John Kasich Army.

    “How did I get elected?” Kasich asked the crowd, recalling his first run for state Senate in Ohio in 1978. “Nobody was — I didn’t have anybody for me. We just got an army of people, who, and many women, who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and to put yard signs up for me. All the way back, when — you know, things were different. Now you call homes and everybody’s out working. But at that time, early days, it was an army of the women that really helped me get elected to the state Senate.”


    The solution? Make sure more ladies are at home with the kiddies!

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Sunday prohibiting the state from contracting for health services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions, blocking government funds to Planned Parenthood.

    Sheer. Centrist. Genius.

    (Alternate explanation – Kasich is a dick and calling him a centrist or a moderate shows a poor grasp of the meaning of words.)

    More readings from the book of JËB!

    [ 100 ] February 17, 2016 |

    Perpetual irrelevance engine Gov. Jul Bush has found another way to attack the politician he’s not running against and complain about poor women at the same time.

    “This is a place where I think President Obama missed a real golden opportunity, because he has a stable family, loving children – great, balanced children from what I can tell – a strong relationship with his wife, and he could have shown that as a model for others to emulate. And I don’t think he’s done it as much.”

    On first read I found this as comprehensible as his Look America I’m Armed! tweet. I mean, I don’t expect Gov. Jib to look at the froth-spouting howlers he’s trying to court and think maybe there’s a reason the Obamas don’t haul Sasha and Malia in front of the cameras as much as Jab would like. Neither do I expect it to cross his wobbly little particleboard desk that perhaps Sasha and Malia have expressed a desire to stay out of the limelight and their parents are honoring that wish. That would require introspection and empathy.

    (Personally, I have never once thought “Gee, I’d like to see more of the First Daughters,” either for my own personal edification or as part of some sort of grand example setting effort on the First Family’s part. I attribute this to the fact that I’m not a creep, a clown or a conservative. Create the Venn diagram at your own leisure.)

    But I read on and realized that putting on the po-face about Obama’s American Dad routine was Jam’s way of releasing the safety prior to firing a few rounds of “It’s Obama’s fault [certain] poor women continue to be single poor welfaristas when they could stop being poor if they got married.” Per CNN Transcription Services, Inc.:

    Bush, as he often does, said that marriage is one of the keys to keeping people out of poverty, pointing to federal welfare programs that he argues create incentives for single moms to stay single, because otherwise they may lose some benefits.

    Still gibberish, but I’ve heard it enough to translate it to English: In the dusty bowl of mouse turds Jug uses for a mind, if the Obamas had done enough of the strong black family thing in public, poor black women on welfare would rush into the streets and beg the one man who had avoided being the victim of a form of institutionalized racism that put him behind bars or underground to cure them of their wicked welfare-dependent ways with the power of holy matrimony. Thanks a lot Obama!

    And yes, the poverty-banishment marriage ritual can only be completed with a man. As Jot non-judgmentally observed, some family arrangements are less equal than others.

    Bush said that a family with a husband and wife provides the best environment to allow children to succeed.

    Supporting statistics are available upon receipt of requests postmarked on or before June 6, 1968.

    “There may be other forms that are equally as important and good. I’m not passing judgment,” he said. “To not try to strengthen family life, we do it at our peril.”

    Plans for strengthening family life are available upon receipt of requests post marked on or before April 15, 1921. And anyway the plan relied on President Obama and his family being good role models to their kind, so there’s no point asking Jaw to do anything about it. Back off. He’s got a gun and he’s not afraid to tweet it.

    As an aside, and perhaps my sensibilities have been blunted by close to 30 years of GOP nastiness, but Jog’s wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie shtick skeeves me out as much as the Trumpenfuhrer, and almost as much as Ted “Oleomargarine” Cruz.

    Wisdom of Children

    [ 45 ] January 31, 2016 |

    Sen. Creeponaut, family man.

    Am I surprised that Ted “Spanky” Cruz is unable to recognize non-verbal and verbal cues that clearly state “Back. The hell. Away. Old man”?

    No. I am not.

    Stand for me, not by me. (Now a post-SOTU free for all.)

    [ 114 ] January 12, 2016 |

    Here’s the text of the speech. I guess this is now a post-SOTU open post type thing.
    Reason #I’ve lost count why I refuse to regard the Republican Party as a serious political party and look askance at those who think anyone should:

    Kim Davis — the Kentucky clerk who went to jail rather than grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples — and her lawyer Mathew Staver will attend the address as well, though neither of them is saying which member of Congress invited them.

    Staver told Politico, “It’s not about the member, per se, as it is about what the member wanted to represent.”


    The cowardliness and hatred that typifies the GOP?

    Oh wait, it must be that President Obama has reduced the Republican Party to a never-ending series of dick moves.

    In that case, they’re perfect.

    [Update – Thanks to Judas Peckerwood I know now the correct answer is “President Obama has reduced the Republican Party to a never-ending series of incompetent dick moves.” ]

    Hello Muddah. Hello FADA.

    [ 14 ] January 2, 2016 |

    It’s safe to say that onsatiable describes the Republicans’ lust for the Chicken of Queerphobia. Here is a complete list of things that will happen before the GOP cuts “Discriminate against Gay, Lesbian, Transgender & Queer Americans” from its to do list:

    1. Everything else.
    2. Even that.

    But if enough hints are dropped on their heads from a great enough height, Republicans can eventually realize that their current approach isn’t working. That’s when they get all sneaky like and start futzing about with packaging. Hence The First Amendment Defense Act, which is The Marriage & Religious Freedom Act scribbled over with a Sharpie marker and a new label slapped on top. One can imagine sly dogs Rep. R. Labrador and Sen. M. Lee cackling as they hit on that brilliant idea, perhaps after a few hits of the Sharpie.

    “Mwahahaha! Let’s see the DemoncRats object to the 1st Amendment! Say are you about done with that chicken?”

    Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio co-sponsored Protect Bigots and Bedroom Monitors v. 1 (introduced Dec. 2013) and v.2 (June 2015). And now Trump has said if Congress passes it, he’ll sign it.

    The Republican presidential candidate offered his qualified support for the First Amendment Defense Act in a letter published last week by The Pulse, a conservative media outlet.“If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump writes.

    Another thing that hasn’t changed – Log Cabin Republicans. They’re still deep in denial hanging in there! President Gregory Angelo:

    … denied Trump’s letter represents a shift toward targeting the LGBT community, saying the bigger picture is he and other candidates refused to sign the pledge.
    “After a 2012 election cycle that was marred in many respects as ‘the primary of pledes,’ where demands were made of GOP presidential candidates to add their name to all sorts of anti-gay promissory notes, it’s encouraging to see the preponderance of the candidates in this cycle refusing to literally sign away their hopes of attaining this nation’s highest office by making outlandish promises to placate a overzealous fringe of the Party,” Angelo said.
    Preponderance = Bush, Graham, Paul and Trump, who said they support FADA but didn’t sign a pledge to pass it ASAP. Christie, Kasich, Pataki and Gilmore did not comment on whether they supported FADA.
    Maybe ultimately in the long run this particular bill doesn’t matter. It won’t pass because … something. Or if it does pass it won’t matter because … something else. But living in a country where supporting and encouraging hate is part of political discourse is a grind.

    Thanksgiving – Oh, to hell with it

    [ 40 ] November 21, 2015 |

    Let me start by extending my deepest sympathies to those of you who will soon sit down to a holiday meal with wingnut relatives. Especially this year. Wow. (Based on some of the comments you all have shared, I must ask: Have you considered earplugs and some sort of face shield?)

    Or really, anyone who will attend a family gathering that contains one or more people you could happily go without seeing until after the heat death of the universe.

    It’s a difficult time of the year for people who didn’t draw the Idealized Family card. One of the more noxious beliefs about the holiday season is that any differences family members have are a) Relatively minor and/or b) Should be put aside. [Begin quavery violins.] Because holidays are about family and gratitude and love and giving and togetherness.


    Even those evergreen articles about Coping with the Holidays that do address stress triggered by family lack one very important suggestion. A suggestion that I’m going to share with you right now:

    If you have family members you normally avoid like the plague, continue to do so. Square that if you have health issues that lower your tolerance for additional stress.

    But what if that means spending a holiday alone? Well gee, let’s consider the implications of spending a holiday alone. If you spend a holiday alone, you get at least one obligation-free day all to yourself.

    And on Thanksgiving that means no one will interrupt while you’re listening to Alice’s Restaurant.

    Question answered, I think.

    And then there’s Thanksgiving Day for two. It is important that couples have a full and frank conversation about what they want to do on a holiday that is associated with a large meal. They should weigh their desires and expectations against the financial, physical and mental effort involved in making the meal Special, and possibly decide – To hell with it.

    Here’s a transcript of one such conversation:

    A: So, do you want to have anything special to eat on Thanksgiving?

    B: Eh, I’d rather just enjoy the day off. But if you want to cook something special, you can.

    A: I was going to make a butternut squash pie*.

    B: O.K.

    *Update: I’ve never made one before and want to try it before Christmas with the in laws (great people, high baking standards). I will work from at least one recipe I find on the internet. Since I assume it will be sortofish like a sweet potato pie, the crust will be gingersnap crumb.

    It’s Time For Everyone’s Favorite End of Term Activity, Supreme Court Mad Libs

    [ 71 ] July 7, 2015 |


    How many bad analogies and metaphors and cliches can be crammed into a blog post? Can we learn something from bad arguments about the Supreme Court? Let’s find out!

    I wrote in a book review once that the basic distinction between Right and Left when it comes to the Constitution is “rules vs. tools”: Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect. And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.

    It’s amazing at this late date that people can write such utter crap with a straight face. Where is the clear “rule” mandating that “the equal sovereign dignitude of the states trumps the powers explicitly granted to Congress under the 15th Amendment“? Where does it say that “states must use uniform vote counting methods if not doing so might result in the election of a Democratic president in 2000 but not in any other case?” When was the text of the Eleventh Amendment changed from “another State” to “any State?” Where exactly is the “anti-commandeering” clause of the Constitution? I could go on like this but you get the idea.

    This principle turns the 14th Amendment into a Swiss Army knife and the Commerce Clause into a roll of duct tape.

    So, it turns out that re-stating the metaphor doesn’t make it any more coherent.

    They devise new uses for dusty old buggy whips like the 13th Amendment,

    What’s funny about this is that Schwarz almost certainly considers himself an “originalist.” And yet the new scholarship about the 13th Amendment is based on historical analysis. There is good evidence that the contemporary limitation of slavery to only chattel slavery does not reflect the understanding of many at the time of the founding, and there is also good evidence that 13th Amendment was read much more broadly in 1865 than it is 2015. I’m not an originialist or a believer in grand constitutional theory, so I don’t believe that these are knock-down arguments. But the fact that conservative originalists not only have no interest in this scholarship but feel free to contemptuously dismiss it should tell you something.

    and even the forlorn Third Amendment was pulled out of the back of a drawer somewhere to be cited in Griswold v. Connecticut (and is now being invoked by the Left and the Right to oppose NSA surveillance).

    This is the slightly more sophisticated sounding SCORCHING HOT TAKE on Griswold, used in lieu of the more famous one (“durr, he said ‘penumbras and emanations,’ durr.”) And, yet, if you read the citation of the 3rd Amendment in context in makes perfect sense:

    The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment, in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers “in any house” in time of peace without the consent of the owner, is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Fifth Amendment, in its Self-Incrimination Clause, enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were described in Boyd v. United States as protection against all governmental invasions “of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.” We recently referred to the Fourth Amendment as creating a “right to privacy, no less important than any other right carefully an particularly reserved to the people.”

    Douglas’s perfectly straightforward point is that many of the individual protections in the Bill of Rights are based on the underlying principle that the state cannot be omnipresent in private homes and in individual lives. (It’s true that he does not defend this point extensively here, but this is because he already did so four years before, and cites this opinion at the end of the “penumbras” sentence. Both the Douglas and Harlan opinions in Griswold should be read as summaries of arguments they made in much more extensive detail in Poe v. Ullman.) This principle was obviously highly relevant to this case, concerning the constitutionality of a statute banning the private use of contraception. And the 3rd Amendment — forbidding the state from using private residences to house military personnel except with legislative authorization during wartime — is plainly relevant to this structural analysis. It wouldn’t make sense to say that the 3rd Amendment standing alone would make the Connecticut’s uncommonly silly law unconstitutional, but Douglas doesn’t say that it does. One can agree or disagree with the conclusions Douglas reaches, but this kind of structuralist argument is a widely-used form of constitutional interpretation, and only hacks think it can be dismissed by repeating a 3-word phrase or mischaracterizing its use of the 3rd Amendment.

    And they think nothing of turning the strictest rules on their heads, so that “shall not discriminate on account of race” means “must discriminate on account of race”

    I’m not sure what copy of the Constitution Schwarz is using; mine does not contain the former phrase. It does most assuredly guarantee the equal protection of the laws, but I see nothing in this phrase that specifically proscribes every affirmative action program. (Oh, and what I said about originalism.)

    and “freedom of speech” requires restricting speech. What, you thought these provisions actually mean what they explicitly say?

    Leaving aside all the question-begging, he has a point — I don’t recall the “bong hits 4 Jesus” or “but Islamic! 9/11!” exceptions to the First Amendment either. I wish conservatives would stop trying to turn the First Amendment from a cinder block into one of those cabinets of tools they sell at the Home Depot.

    Starting Now, Roy Edroso Will Be Providing All the Content for My Entries

    [ 96 ] April 26, 2013 |

    Via alicublog, I find this quote from David Vicker of PJ Media:


    If annual sales, endorsement deals, and TV ratings are any indicator, the brand of Americanism these swamp rats are peddling is white lightning in a bottle. Down on our luck, out of hope, and sick-and-tired-of-change Americans can’t get enough of Duck Dynasty’s message, or its messengers. They take us back to the ideals that really work in this country.

    I find that idea that the popularity of a show necessarily means that its watchers ascribe to its values fascinating. Presumably :

    • “Seinfeld” meant that most Americans felt it was time to start masturbating on the honor system.
    • “Friends” signaled that Americans all wanted to get a “Rachel” and cordon themselves off into groups of six.
    • “Breaking Bad” is a sign that most Americans are about to chuck everything and start cooking meth.
    • “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” tells us that most Americans are mentally-challenged sociopaths.



    Extinction: Not a pressing concern for humanity at this time

    [ 99 ] December 5, 2012 |

    Ross Douthat is doubling down on the notion that intentionally choosing to have less children constitutes “decadence”:

    But the modern path has many possible endpoints, and it seems like an abdication of moral judgment to just practice determinism and assert that wherever a given developed country’s birthrate ends up — slightly above replacement level, slightly below, or in the depths plumbed by countries like Japan — must represent the best of all possible worlds.

    After all, if children are not the only good in human life, they do seem like a fairly important one, no? Maybe even, dare one say, an essential one, at least in some quantity, if the pursuit of the wider array of human goods is to continue beyond our own life cycle? Or to put it another way, if we have moral obligations to future, as-yet-unborn generations, as almost everyone seems to agree, surely those duties have to include some obligation for somebody to bring those generations into existence in the first place — to imitate the sacrifices that our parents made, and give another generation the chances that we’ve had? And if that basic obligation exists in some form, then surely there comes a point when a culture in which it’s crowded out by other goals, other pursuits and yes, other pleasures can be aptly described as … what’s the word I’m looking for … decadent?

    If I’m reading this correctly, Douthat is using the specter of the extinction of the human race in order to generate a moral imperative to have more children. I see little harm in conceding the point: were the human race facing imminent extinction, the moral calculus might plausibly look a bit different.

    Fortunately, we’re in no such situation. Here’s a global population growth chart, showing three projections for population growth, high, medium and low, generated by the UN two years ago. In the high growth rate scenario, the population in 2100 is 16 billion and growing. In the middling scenario, the global population is leveling off at around 10 billion. In the low scenario, the global population will continue to grow to over 8 billion until around 2050, when it will level off and begin a decline, remaining above 6 billion in 2100. (My own read of the demographic projections is the most likely scenario lies between the low and middle projections; leveling off somewhere north of 8 billion but south of 10, with a more gentle decline than the low suggestion projects).

    So, it’s safe to say that Douthat can retire his fears of decadence-induced extinction of the human race. He further argues that while in theory we could deal with the challenge of population decline in wealthy societies through greater immigration, as “humanists” we should seek to maintain those populations through children instead, because we’re so rich that we can provide better childhoods than other people.

    This is spectacularly unconvincing. A broad commitment to something we might plausibly call humanism might very easily lead to the opposite conclusion: that providing an opportunity to migrate to a wealthy society for people suffering considerable oppression or mired in hopeless poverty scores at least as high on the humanism scale as having a not especially wanted additional child. I would also submit that a humanist commitment to the well-being of future generations is, first and foremost, concerned with the quality of life of those future people, rather than quantity in which those people exist. (Is Douthat a closet Parfitian?) Given our rather pathetic lack of progress to date to scale human consumption to a level that doesn’t dramatically alter the earth’s climate, a somewhat lower population at some point in the future might be worth pursuing as a necessary but not sufficient condition of ecological stability, despite the policy challenges it presents.

    I’m in agreement with Douthat that a sense of obligation toward future generations is an important moral value, and a general duty to contribute to the care, cultivation, protection and education of children is a central way in which the duties associated with that value are discharged. From there, however, it does not follow that people should feel a moral obligation to have children when they are uncertain or unenthusiastic about doing so. It’s a duty that can be discharged in a variety of ways, including the support of the sort of family-friendly public policies Douthat mentions in his original column, as well as contributing of the care and support of children and parents in one’s extended family, community, and social circle. There’s no reason to conclude, with Douthat, that such an obligation can only be discharged through having (more) children of one’s own.

    In political commentary, a little nudity goes a long way.

    [ 33 ] May 2, 2010 |

    At the conference in Manchester, I attended a panel by Roger Sabin and Martin Barker titled “Doonesbury goes to Iraq,” and it mostly concerned what is, from a European perspective, the rightward turn in the politics of Trudeau’s Doonesbury after B.D. had his leg blown off.  Their argument, briefly, is that focusing on B.D.’s gradual acceptance that he had suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder transforms him into an object of sympathy for both the American right and left; and that, as such, PTSD represents a political common ground that is, to the rest of the world, rather unsavory.  For example, if an American soldier kills civilians in Iraq, from the American perspective, that soldier suffers a trauma; whereas from the international perspective, that soldier may have committed a war crime, etc.

    It was an impressive argument, but it didn’t sit well with me because it relied too heavily on the notion that, unlike Vietnam, the United States military is a volunteer force.  It ignores both the extent to which stop-loss has been used to plug recruitment shortfalls and the class politics at play in all military recruitment.  If you want to claim that the United States military is used to achieve imperialists ends, there’s an argument to be made there; but if you want to claim that United States soldiers knowingly support an imperialist agenda, you have your work cut out for you.

    All of which is only to say, it seemed odd that these sharp British scholars were taking Gary Trudeau behind the woodshed for being implicitly conservative when there are so many explicitly conservative cartoonists who better express the ideological incoherence of the foreign policy and cultural politics of the contemporary right.  Granted, they might not consider actual conservative cartoonists worthy of their attention, and I can see why.  Consider Chris Muir, a.k.a. the man who unwittingly proves that white male Tea Party aficionados only listen to arguments proffered by scantily clad women.

    The only interesting thing about Muir is how bereft of his ideas his “strips” are: he finds the conservative talking point of the day, imagines a domestic scene in which his female characters would be fully or partially nude, and combines them into a poorly drawn political burlesque.  How formulaic is he?  He could continue his strip indefinitely without ever needing to “draw” again in his life.  To demonstrate the validity of this claim, I’ve done Muir the favor of remixing some of his recent output into entirely new comics:

    They do, I admit, border on the absurd, but I’d consider that an improvement.  I suppose I understand then why Sabin and Barker decided to treat the implicit conservatism in Trudeau then: they probably had a difficult time believing that folks like Muir realistically represent conservative thought in American politics.  Would that they were correct.


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