"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ann the Impaler

It's common for people on both left and right to repudiate Ann Coulter for her rhetoric and largely ignore what she says. The latest example, of course, is her critique, which seems perfectly reasonable to me, of certain unhappy ladies whose husbands were killed in the 9/11 attacks and who have decided to use their personal loss as a credential authorizing them to criticize the Bush administration's prosecution of the War on Terror. Their predictably hysterical reaction to Ms. Coulter's criticism strikes me as ludicrously immature and logically requiring instant dismissal: if you are going to use a personal tragedy as an opportunity to step on the national stage and give your opinions about political matters, you should expect criticism of both your policy proposals and your qualifications to broadcast them. You should thus be prepared to answer such criticisms or quietly step aside. Instead, these ladies act as if questioning their qualifications were unethical. Pah! Anybody who listens to them is a horse's backside, I say.

Personally, I like both Ms. Coulter's rhetoric and her ideas. Yes, she's often too much of a cheerleader for President Bush and the Republicans, but given the only plausible alternative—the Democrats, who continuously strain to prove themselves crazier than bedbugs—I can understand her willingness to accept some of the Republicans' flaws. They're like bad-tasting medicine, but at least they're not toxic and/or psychedelic like their madcap opponents.

Hence it's interesting to see David Klinghoffer, who is a very religious man and a writer of high moral sensitivity, saying nice things about the ferocious Ms. Coulter. Mr. Klinghoffer wisely goes to the heart of the matter, identifying Ms. Coulter's thesis:

Godless is actually about the calcification of liberalism into a form of religion, half-jokingly identified by Coulter with Druidism. What’s religious about secular liberalism? The theologian Paul Tillich defined “religion” as a person’s “ultimate concern.” Whatever matters most to you, whatever tells you what else should matter and why, that is your religion.

Values are by definition religious, whether you believe they come from a God (like Jews or Christians do) or not (like Buddhists). Having turned from God, secularism automatically turns to another religion, by whatever name you call it.

The Secular Church even merits to be capitalized, since it forms a fairly unified ideology. As Coulter puts it, “Everything liberals believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts.

Now, that really nails it. If one wants to predict the modern liberal's position on any issue, one could not do better than to think, what would an orthodox Christian think of this?, and take the opposite position.

That is modern left liberalism exactly.

Klinghoffer quotes some of Coulter's examples, to prove the point to any souls benighted enough to doubt it, and for the full argument one should refer to Coulter's book. It's all there in perfectly gory detail.

Klinghoffer concludes that Coulter's great value is that she pours on modern left-liberals the very same level of contempt that they pour on the right:

She exaggerates, but who cares? What is most valuable about Coulter is the trademarked contempt that she breathes forth. It’s why her books sell better than pretty much any other conservative’s do.

Obviously, dispassionate analysis should be expected most of the time, from most of us. But let’s say a word in favor of rollicking disgust poured out upon liberal pieties. There is the constant danger of inhaling too deeply from the fumes of the respect you insist on giving to those you disagree with. The result can be a subtle assimilating of some of their values.

The rhetoric of the left, with its incessant cries of Nazi and fascist and its passion for sanctions against "insensitive" talk, wants to use whatever means it can to limit the amount that its tenets can even be questioned. As noted, Coulter sees this as an open declaration of war on the body of ideas that made the West and that indeed created the modern liberal political-economic order.

Instead of turning the other cheek, Coulter recognizes that she is in a war, and, as Martin Luther suggested, she has no qualms about being a superior warrior.

I'll take that any day over the bowtied TV phonies who gladly sell their civilization down the river just to gain a spot on the panel of Meet the Press and invitations to dinner parties infested by other smug blowhards. Write on, Ann.

46 comments:

mdvoutlook.com said...

Sam, excellent post. Joe over at the Evangelical Outpost a week or two ago wrote of his disgust for Coulter and made the strange argument that he wouldn't be surprised if she turned into another David Brock. He seems to think she doesn't really believe what she says, and just does it all for the publicity. I think he is out to lunch. She may not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you actually read what she writes most of the time she is right on. The hyprocrisy of the left and MSM defines the phrase double standard as you say. It's nice to see liberals get a tast of their own medicine, especially when so much of it is the truth.

tbmbuzz said...

One of the easiest exercises in today's world is to examine the logic [sic] of a typical Leftist position and demolish it via reductio ad absurdum. Rush Limbaugh is the godfather of this technique and is still wildly successful after nearly two decades because of the limitless surfeit of ammunition so generously provided by Leftists. Ann, despite shooting herself in the foot by going overboard sometimes (frankly, her comments on the science of biology are the ravings of an ignoranus; she should stick to politics and law), follows admirably in the footsteps of the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Will Rogers and H. L. Mencken in her war against the nuttiness of liberalism.

I look forward to seeing the screech-buttons get pressed in this thread, LOL!

Francis W. Porretto said...

We've been treated to Leftists' ritual denunciations of Ann for some years now -- roughly since the publication of Slander. But with Godless, the entire Left and a disturbing fraction of the Right have dived deep into Coulter Derangement Syndrome.

Ann will outlast her critics, but in the near term, we're going to have to cover our ears a lot when the subject of her writing comes up.

Salmonella5000 said...

She ain't gonna outlast me, buddy.

S. T. Karnick said...

"Salmonella," please read our comments policy in the sidebar and rewrite your earlier post accordingly, if you wish it to be placed here. Thanks.

James Elliott said...

"Klinghoffer concludes that Coulter's great value is that she pours on modern left-liberals the very same level of contempt that they pour on the right:"

Hmm. I'd say that's total horse-hockey. Let's see, what was it Ann Coulter said about Jack Murtha just last night?

"He's why soldiers invented fragging," I believe the quote was. A rather astonishing free-word association. For those of us who don't know, "fragging" was the Vietnam War-era practice of enlisted soldiers shooting incompetent officers and noncoms while out in the bush.

Haha! Ann, you cut-up! You're advocating murder! You're such a card! You slay me!

If a liberal pundit suggested that a soldier put a gun to the back of Dubya's head and pull the trigger as punishment for his incompetent leadership of the war during his next five-hour jaunt to Baghdad, he or she would rightly be excoriated on both sides of the aisle.

"She exaggerates, but who cares?"

She lies too, but then, who cares about that, either? Certainly not the Right.

The only service Ann Coulter does this country is highlight the blatant hypocrisy of the Right. Her ideas are such that the University of Michigan should demand the law degree they awarded her back. So should her undergraduate university. I have a strong feeling that she never took a required civics course in high school.

James Elliott said...

"H. L. Mencken"

If I hear one more person compare Coulter to Mencken, I swear to god I'm going to go scholastic. Mencken wouldn't have wiped his rear end with Coulter's body of work.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And if I hear one more person confuse Coulter's rhetoric with actual calls to violence, I will do the same.

"Confuse" is too charitible. It's intentional, in an effort to discredit her actual theses.

Still, I wish she'd stop. She has a blind spot about it. It's not necessary and makes it hard for more reasonable persons to get her back.

James Elliott said...

"And if I hear one more person confuse Coulter's rhetoric with actual calls to violence, I will do the same.

"Confuse" is too charitible. It's intentional, in an effort to discredit her actual theses."

Honestly, Tom, I don't think it's a blind spot. I think it's calculated - it occurs far too often, far too frequently, and she's hardly alone. One need only spend some time perusing Little Green Footballs or reading her fellow punditos to see it. Ann Coulter doesn't have theses. All she has is rhetoric. She's the pundit version of Howard Stern; but then, that's unfair to ol' Howard.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Of course she has theses. This post points out her thesis that modern liberalism is just another religion.

Her blind spot is in not recognizing that her opponents sophistically use her hoarier rhetoric to discredit her theses or to deny she has any at all.

S. T. Karnick said...

The ascendance of Mencken to demigod author status is utterly unjustified, and the notion that Ms. Coulter is a flea when compared to the Great Sage of Baltimore is entirely laughable. Mencken would have guffawed at such idiocy himself. He was immensely talented as a prose writer, but was utterly blind in many, many ways. I devoured his writing avidly as a young fellow, but I cannot pretend that he was a great writer or even a great journalist. His views on literature and music were very sound, but his politics were utterly incoherent and silly. Mencken's brilliant prose just barely makes his frequently absurd opinions endurable. (Wodehouse was an even better composer of prose and wisely stayed away from politics.) I find that the writings of his friend and editing partner George Jean Nathan stand the test of time rather better. When compared with Mencken's political thinking, Coulter looks like a regular Edmund Burke.

James Elliott said...

"Of course she has theses. This post points out her thesis that modern liberalism is just another religion."

Is a thesis a thesis when it rests solely on logical fallacies? Isn't it merely rhetoric then? The conflation of liberalism with religion - a tired meme flogged to death on this very same website - is little more than a semantic construction, twisting the very definition of religion into pretzel shape. It is not a thesis grown from observance of events; it is a thesis in search of supporting evidence that, when it found none, was forced into rhetorical gymnastics in order to not die of intellectual starvation.

"...but his politics were utterly incoherent and silly."

I think you missed Mencken's point about politics, Mr. Karnick: that it is utterly incoherent and silly. Mencken only seems incoherent until you realize that he held all politics in equal contempt, rather like Nietzche and Eric Hoffer.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Religion is the domain of beliefs that are by nature beyond proof. Liberal political ideology doesn't qualify as a religion for only one reason: it's been disproved by experience.

However, liberals' attachment to their creed despite the innumerable calamities that have issued therefrom resembles religious faith more than any other species of human mentation. Coulter's categorization of liberalism as a religion, while not dead-center on target, is more useful than any other to date.

S. T. Karnick said...

The position that all politics is incoherent and silly is not a tenable one. It is simply a surrender to meaninglessness, what used to be called a copout. It is an altogether cowardly thing, and that is another point about Mencken: he was a bully and a coward, which is well documented. The honorable thing in judging politics is to make the choice Winston Churchill suggested: to find the least evil among these necessarily faulty options. Mencken tried to pretend that he could be above it all while commenting on it all. You can't, he wasn't, and his literary and music criticism and autobiography are his only works truly worth reading.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Rather than simply assert they exist, please feel free to point out what you think are her logical fallacies, James.

That would be on topic, and worthy of discussion. There has been little to none to this point.

James Elliott said...

Okay. To wit: Liberalism is a religion.

Fervency of belief does not a religion make. Liberalism lacks an underlying metaphysics, which religion requires (otherwise you are simply contending that all beliefs are religions - a semantic stretching that snaps the boundaries of honesty).

She uses numerous straw men. The underlying contention of her new drivel... pardon, I mean book... is that all liberals are godless. This would undoubtedly surprise the some 70% or more of liberals who believe in God. Even in the most liberal bastions only some 30% or so are atheist/agnostic. She conflates all liberals into one monolithic mass, when even the most cursory look at modern liberalism refutes such an undertaking.

She takes quotes out of context. "For people who resented being asked to "name names" during the 1950s, these liberals sure aren't shy about demanding that conservatives do the same today." She makes conclusions without evidence ("Bill Clinton is a rapist.").

She manufactures her own understanding in order to support her own theses: ""Godless" examines a set of beliefs known as "liberalism." It is the doctrine that prompts otherwise seemingly sane people to propose teaching children how to masturbate, allowing gays to marry, releasing murderers from prison, and teaching children that they share a common ancestor with the earthworm. (They haven't yet found the common ancestor ... but like O.J., the search continues.)"

Or, for example: "In fact, students are actually required to wear "Creationism Is Shameful" T-shirts in Dover, Pa., where -- thanks to a lawsuit by the ACLU -- the liberal clergy have declared Darwinism the only true church, immunized from argument. Ye shall put no other God before it. Not one." Blithely ignoring that the ruling in question was made by a Bush-appointed, conservative, Christian judge.

If denied her arsenal of lies, logical fallacies, and hateful rhetoric, Ann Coulter couldn't debate her way out of a wet paper bag.

S. T. Karnick said...

James Elliott wrote, "Liberalism lacks an underlying metaphysics, which religion requires..." Coulter argues that liberalism does have an underlying metaphysics, and she in fact examines it at great length. This suggests that you haven't actually read the book but only various critiques of it, which is not at all sufficient. You really must read the book if you are going to claim that she has failed to do various things.

James Elliott said...

Of course, there's also the fact that her footnotes are all made up. Who needs logic, fallacious or not, when you just make up your facts?

"Godless" is a work of fiction, just like "Slander."

James Elliott said...

Karnick, I in fact read the book, paying great attention to the "metaphysics" of liberalism. That she made them up from whole cloth does not make them real. That you approve of what she wrote does not make her correct.

She conflates environmentalists' revering nature to all liberals, then moves on to take other conservative tropes of liberal beliefs at face value. For example:

"Environmentalists want mass infanticide, zero population growth, reduced standards of living, and vegetarianism. The core of environmentalism is that they hate mankind. Everything liberals believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts." [That's from the first chapter.]

That's not even true. It. Is. Made. Up. Kool-Aid is bad for you, Sam. You can take anything out of context and manufacture a piecemeal metaphysics. That doesn't make it coherent or real.

James Elliott said...

By the standard Coulter (and certain others here) apply, is this a religion?

"Believing in an invisible hand that
makes everything work out economically if you just put your faith in
it and let it happen."

That's free-market capitalism. By your Coulter's definition, it's a religion.

Hell, by that standard, looking both ways to cross a street is a religion.

Devang said...

Has anybody here seen the BBC special entitled "The rise of politics of fear?" Between it and other BBC specials, those which don't make it to the US television but the world sees abundantly, it is made very clear who is religious. If anybody on the right is serious about convincing us lefties otherwise, critiquing such critiques of the war on terror might be a good start. Anything else will be considered rhetoric ad infinitum. That's the category the authors on the right seem to love, starting with "The war on christmas." That's convincing no one other than the sheep.

FYI, The rise of politics of fear includes religion-induced fear, as well as straussian ideal-induced fear and all of it's externalities.

You are a brave man, James. I took all of her books at the bookstore near me, and put them in the fiction section. One by one.

Don't worry, I didn't touch them, I wore gloves...

S. T. Karnick said...

Mr. Elliott: The passage you cite is in fact true. It. Is. True. The fact that it embarrasses you does not make it untrue.

As to your example of the Invisible Hand, it is not by any stretch of the imagination a metaphysical statement. Nor is is even remotely comparable to the level of detail on the religion of liberalism Coulter documents with such great thoroughness. Your example makes no claims about the basic nature of the cosmos, which is what a metaphysic requires. Coulter absolutely does give these for modern liberalism, which she correctly notes is based on philosophical materialism (which I state not as a value judgment but simply a definition). Whether her assessment of these matters is accurate is a valid matter for discussion, but to say that she does not establish them is simply false.

Hence, your example is not a reductio ad absurdum as you wish it to be; it is simply a groundless claim that something you dislike is a religion. In addition, it is not even close to being a valid description of free market thought. No one believes that free markets are all that we need for a functioning society or even for a good economy.

Those who wish to characterize others as failing or refusing to understand people's arguments, should be like Caesar's wife in that same regard.

Coulter establishes a foundation for modern liberals' thinking—which is far more than most liberals bother to do. The fact that those foundations are embarrassing to you should cause you to question your ideas, not Coulter's rhetoric. She's done her job, and admirably.

S. T. Karnick said...

Mr. Devang suggests that a "politics of fear" pervades the right. Yes, and catastrophic global warming, pandemic bird flu, Gulf War Syndrome, the alleged human causes behind the Asian tsunami, fundamentalist Christians teaching the Bible in public schools, the danger of politically incorrect speech, and the like are all right-wing inventions. The left never tries to scare anybody. Thanks for the clarification on that.

Devang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Devang said...

I guarantee if you look a bit beyond the rightwing echo chamber, you'll find plenty-o criticism from the left about the left. You won't even have to look hard, I promise. I expect the same from the right, and have read American Theocracy... would you like me to mention the author's thesis? How about Francis Fukuyama, Bruce Bartlett, Paul O'Neil or Matthew Continetti's books? I have plenty more where that came from.

Those books are by authors on the right, and are coherent, reality-based, and don't quote 8th grade english class newspapers as sources. As for the theoretical research done into this "Religion of liberals"--meet Greg Palast, he works for the BBC and calls the current administration an Armed Madhouse. I'm genuinely curious as to how a Bush apologist may respond to that book.

Every once in a while, a blue moon, I say it wouldn't hurt us to agree on what reality is. Everything that's been mentioned is an outright mischaracterization of what liberals are, and all it invites is me calling the right fascist (like the next paragraph). It takes real effort to not see the antagonistic view to Godless. Especially since most of it is fiction, as Mr. Elliot has stated. If liberals are Godless, the right is no more Godly than an Ayatollah. Accepted wisdom in the rest of the world, really.

I'm not afraid of anything you mentioned Mr. Karnick. Apart from global warming, the rest are strawmen you've mentioned for the sake of unnecesarily broadening the argument to make it sound irrefutable. Which it by no means is if I wasn't so lazy. But, thankyou for equating fascist tools with global warming. If I really spent some time on this line of thought, I could come up with quite a few pages connecting the fascist rightwing dots. Starting with Faux News.

S. T. Karnick said...

Devang may not be afraid of any of the things I mentioned, aside from fictional catastrophic global warming, but that doesn't mean the left doesn't incessantly try to scare people with these things. They do, as a look at any week's newspapers will abundantly confirm. And I could add the "Frankenfoods" myths, mercury in fish, DDT, and numerous other phony scares from the left.

Arguing, as the right does, that we should work to prevent further terrorist attacks on the order of 9/11 would not strike any rational person as a "politics of fear."

No, the conclusion we must draw is that the left has a habit of scaremongering, conspiracy theories (remember the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that was trying to bring down the Clinton admin by revealing Hillary's dirty and illegal financial dealings?), and manufactured public panics (Alar, Frankenfoods, etc.). As to the motives for such behavior, I'll leave it up to our wise readers to draw their own conclusions.

James Elliott said...

"Coulter absolutely does give these for modern liberalism..."

And therein lies the point I've been making this whole time. Let us, solely for the sake argument, agree that the above statement I used as an example, which is about environmentalists, meets some sort of arbitrary standard for creating a religion (Boy, is my employer a religion because it's tax-exempt and has an statement of values and ethics? But I digress). The logical fallacy - central to "Godless" and to the meme that pervades this place like a cancerous lesion - is that "liberals" are this monolithic mass that all believe the same thing. What might be a good critique or description of one group is valid for all; by which logic, that the Reformed Church of Latter-Day Saints stands for all Christians and KKK members who vote conservative are emblematic of all conservatives. I think we can all agree that Hunter Baker would be very upset if I lumped all Baptists in with Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas - nor would I do such a thing, because it would be dishonest. How is this any less true for liberals?

The reasoning that makes up the "case" that liberalism is a religion rests on assumptions that, however axiomatic they may be for conservatives here, are subjective interpretations and attributions. Reason, then, must be abandoned to continue the "debate."

I could argue that, say, Christianity is, in fact, nihilism in the classic sense, and do so effectively. That doesn't necessarily make it true, no matter how much I might want to prove it so. (I don't, it's an example; let's not go there.) I might as well argue that neo-conservatism, with its focus on orthodoxy, a view of human nature, and a focus on will-to-power is a religion.

To continue in the vein suggested by Coulter is to place all thought, all adherence to systems of analysis (say, science or a school of philosophy such as existentialism or Hegelian) is the same category as a religion. This is fine (as terms for a discussion), if that's where one wants to proceed, but it opens up the problem that, requiring as it does subjective interpretations, all religion is therefore immune to reason. And there goes the prentence that any religion can be arrived at via reason. Otherwise, the discussion descends into dishonesty.

Fervency of belief in things that are groundless doesn't make them true.

Tom Van Dyke said...

As Mr. Porretto snarkily yet sagely notes,
Liberal political ideology doesn't qualify as a religion for only one reason: it's been disproved by experience.


Hehe.

Now "modernist leftism" or some such is more accurate than "liberal." (There were those whose liberalism was vitiated by religion, once upon a time.)

What makes it a religion is that it couches everything from global warming to tax increases in moral terms.

And one need only look at Richard Rorty's philosophic stumblings in an attempt to locate the foundations of those morals. Instead, "anti-foundationalism" is the only way to get around the problem. X is good because we've decided it's good. Man has inalienable human rights because, well, he just does, that's all.

But without a foundation, why those rights are good, for what purpose, "rights" are sterile and arbitrary. The pleasant becomes the highest achievable (or desired) good, and justice becomes coarsened into "fairness."

Materialistic concepts are given a moral force, equal to any religion's idea of the good. Yet because they are without foundation, there is no reliable way to derive them, and they become solipsistic and idiosyncratic. The human condition is as a ship at sea, with no port in sight, or even in mind. There are no stars to guide by.

In this way, modern leftism passes religion's test for irrationalism. Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'.

Devang said...

I didn't say I was afraid of global warming. I said apart from it, the mention of the rest as being used for "scaremongering by the left" isn't indicative of liberals or the left I'm aware of. There's nothing else in recent history that's come close to being used, and being as effective as Al Gore's new movie. It remains to be seen how effective the movie will be.

Make no mistake, everything you've mentioned as the left's "use of fear" is being argued on merit (including global warming). While straussian ideals, by their very definition have no merits (apart from the philosophy that it will save us all from "relativism"), they are conjured up, as the needed supportive evidence is manufactured. By evidence I mean revisionism of history and reality or utter disregard of either to bolster a talking point. Once again, I refer you and readers to American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips. Who am I to go on about Strauss... really, no one. What I am talking about is Straussian ideals taken to extremes. Some of which are percieved as being effective against preventing another 9/11 regardless of how ineffective or illegal they may be. I offer plenty of proof, have a look at Iraqi news today?

Mentioning DDT and mercury in fish as phony scares from the left.. I'm going to have to start calling such statements Karnicisms: The accidental wit and wisdom from Mr. Karnick of the Reform Club. The accidental wisdom here being, kids, don't eat DDT and mercury. Now I understand you better Mr. Karnick. Microsoft is a convicted monopoly, and there are laws agaist mercury in fish for a reason based in reality.

I'm sorry for deviating so far away from the main post, but that's what happens when discussing fiction... so much symbolism! I'm only discussing that which I see linked to reality.

Tom Van Dyke said...

But "American Theocracy" is a scare tactic, divorced from reality. I didn't read the book, but caught Phillips on C-SPAN for half an hour expounding on his thesis, such as it is. The threat of an American theocracy is so 1980s.

As for Strauss, you don't understand him. Even the people who have actually read him have a great deal of trouble. But he's closer to Plato than Nietzsche.

I'm afraid there's not much common ground here, Mr. Devang. You prove STK's point by inhaling too deeply of Phillips, and Strauss was a complete opponent of historicism. We have an epistemological problem.

Devang said...

You make valid points, I don't watch much test cricket, so we have a problem. But, one doesn't need to know how a bat was made to use it (in more ways than one). Take the esotericism surrouding this administration, and you end up much closer to a religion than godless seems to.

Esotericism can be placed very comfortably in a historical religious context as well.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Y'know, Devang (I take the liberty of calling you that because we're cricket pals, and BTW, I found a secret backdoor to the BBC internetcasts---email me if you want in), I thought you might have had a legitimate point about the mercury-in-the-fish thing.

A little consulting with those-who-know-about-such-things led me to a gaping evidential hole in that theory. (Which didn't stop the People's Republic of California from mandating universal warning signs against eating fish for pregnant women, probably to the detriment of their developing fetuses, who could use the Omega-3s.)

Seems the warnings were based on a single "study" that was not borne out upon further research.

FYI.

Hey, I fell for that one at first, too. Seemed credible. Another myth, busted.

S. T. Karnick said...

Mr. Elliott's complaint fails entirely, in that he says liberalism cannot be a religion because it involves too many disparate "sects," but Christianity, which he agrees is indeed a religion, also involves numerous varieties, as he himself points out in referring to Hunter Baker and various types of Baptist. Hence his argument is false and Coulter's remains unassailed.

As to Mr. Devang's second-most recent post, Tom Van Dyke's reference to a complete refutation of Devang's parroting of the mercury scare is proof enough that Mr. Devang has no authority to make up derisive names for other people. He has utterly failed to refute a single fact I have cited. And our readers understand precisely why: because the facts are not on his side.

James Elliott said...

"Mr. Elliott's complaint fails entirely, in that he says liberalism cannot be a religion because it involves too many disparate "sects," but Christianity, which he agrees is indeed a religion, also involves numerous varieties, as he himself points out in referring to Hunter Baker and various types of Baptist. Hence his argument is false and Coulter's remains unassailed."

Mr. Karnick, I really don't see how your statement holds up to logical credibility. My argument wasn't based on "sects," but on the fact that all of Coulter's supporting "evidence" - and yours - cannot possibly be attributed to liberalism as a whole (or even partially) without engaging in subjective projection. As a thought experiment, perhaps Ms. Coulter's reasoning works; as a practical application, it fails the "does it resemble reality" test. Considering how obstinate the unwillingness to grasp the subjectivity of Coulter's underlying arguments is, I am left with no other conclusion than that it is entirely willful. (Not dissimilar to Mr. Homnick's inability to grasp the nature of moral relativism.) Thus rendering this thread of conversation completely useless. I've said what I had to say, and done so with a fair amount of clarity.

[BTW, TVD, if you'd like a professional's take on mercury exposure and developmental delays, feel free to email me - current research implies that the question of mercury is far more complex than the Seychelles study or Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. suggest.]

Tom Van Dyke said...

Perhaps, James. The point would be that legal changes were made and scares were furthered without conclusive evidence.

For the record, STK gave several examples of scare issues, and mercury was just one. It is not key to his thesis.

Further for the record, Heartland Institute didn't conduct the Seyschelles study. It merely reported on it. Heartland itself is irrelevant to the conversation, and is merely a handy ad hominem tool to ignore the study itself:

For the past 15 years, scientists have been following the 700 children on the tiny island nation of Seychelles, Africa, whose mothers ate tremendous amounts of high-mercury fish while pregnant. All the mothers ate high-mercury fish daily, resulting in blood mercury levels six times higher than those of U.S. women.

Every few years, scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center test the children's intelligence, attention span, verbal skills, memory, motor skills, reasoning ability, and other cognitive abilities. Results from the latest round of testing were released September 26.


University of Rochester. Not Heartland or other capitalist mouthpieces. Over & out.

Tlaloc said...

"Further for the record, Heartland Institute didn't conduct the Seyschelles study. It merely reported on it."

And at the same time they neglected to mention all the other evidence. That's why the Heatrland institute is relevant: they can't be trusted and they are your sole source.

For instance hey don't seem to mention that the Seychelle study is actually one of two, the other being conducted in Faroe. The Faroe study showed the opposite result, i.e. that the presence of mercury in the umbilical cord correlates with develiopmental difficulties. You can read a brief treatment about both studies here:
http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/bibliography.asp

James Elliott said...

"Perhaps, James. The point would be that legal changes were made and scares were furthered without conclusive evidence.

For the record, STK gave several examples of scare issues, and mercury was just one. It is not key to his thesis."

I don't think I mentioned "scare" issues anywhere... Am I being confused with Devang? Dang the man, he's bringing me down with his tangents.

Anyways, I'd agree that the jury on mercury exposure is still out, because of those complexities I mentioned. Honestly, I was just offering some professional input if you (or anyone else) were interested in the issue, not to hijack the thread with a tangential argument. That's why it was in the handy little brackets.

S. T. Karnick said...

A commenter stated the Heartland Institute story linked above "don't seem to mention that the Seychelle study is actually one of two, the other being conducted in Faroe. The Faroe study showed the opposite result, i.e. that the presence of mercury in the umbilical cord correlates with develiopmental difficulties." The Heartland Institute has written repeatedly about the Faroe study, and pointed out that it is simply unreliable and has no significance in light of the Seychelles study and other mercury studies. See, for example, the following: here, here, here, and here.

Tom Van Dyke said...

In fact, some of the same groups behind the current campaign were also responsible for the Alar-Apple hoax, a well-funded campaign launched in 1989 that claimed America's favorite natural snack food was laced with "poison"--a pesticide called Alar. However, the FDA, the EPA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and numerous other medical and agricultural experts concur that Alar never posed a health threat.

Heh. Seems nobody's immune to epistemological challenge.

S. T. Karnick said...

Contrary to Mr. Elliott's plaint, my argument directly addressed the logic of his contention. If the use of the word "sects" confuses him, he should feel free to substitute "varieties" or some such term. He argues that "all of Coulter's supporting "evidence - and yours - cannot possibly be attributed to liberalism as a whole (or even partially) without engaging in subjective projection." He gives, however, no basis for this statement, no proof whatever that Coulter's picture of liberalism does not underlie the many varieties of modern liberalism today. That won't do.

Mr. Elliott then wistfully asserts that his opponents are wilfully "engaging in subjective projection," fail to "grasp the subjectivity of Coulter's underlying arguments," and the other such gobbledygook. Yet he does not even try to establish that any of Coulter's factual claims are false, only claiming once again that her inteprtations are deceptive or unfair. He does not falsify Coulter's claims because he cannot. Stripping aside the rhetoric of both its aherents and its opponents, modern liberalism is precisely what Ann Coulter claims it to be: godless.

(And to answer another of Mr. Elliott's objections: the fact that some proportion of the population states that they are both liberals and Christians does not mean that liberalism as an ideology is not fundamentally godless. These people may be wrong about what their own beliefs really are, what Christianity really is, what liberalism really is, and/or a multitude of other things. In fact, only a very small proportion of the population can be said to be both orthodox Christians and modern liberals. It should be noted that only truly orthodox, strongly believing Christians could be expected to have any conflict with a possibly atheistic worldview, and that such a conflict would require that they recognize the anti-Christian foundations of modern liberalism in order to be bothered by it. It is also important to recognize that only a small minority of the people who call themselves Christians in answers to pollsters are in fact truly devout or know much of anything about Christianity; in fact their descriptions of what Christianity really means are often sadly comical. In addition to all these categorical exceptions, there are numerous people who call themselves liberals but are not the slightest bit in sympathy with the contemporary left—especially those of us who call ourselves classical liberals. These facts easily account for all self-described Christians who claim to be liberals, without at all undermining the premise that modern liberalism is fundamentally godless.)

If the fundamental godlessness of modern liberalism makes some self-described Christian liberals uncomfortable, perhaps they should consider whether they believe more strongly in their religion or their politics. Personally, I don't care what answer they come up with, as long has they have the self-awareness to ask the question.

And if the fundamental godlessness of modern liberalism makes some atheists and agnostics uncomfortable, perhaps they are not quite as comfortable with their religious position as they wish to think.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Considering that the Episcopal Church is on the verge of fracturing over the issue of homosexuality, I feel comfortable saying that I find the modern left more uniform and predictable than "Christianity."

Give me an issue, any issue, and with a 95+% certainty, I'll get your position on it right.

(But I do insist on "modernist leftism" or whatever over "liberalism." This would still include most of Europe and a likely majority of the Democratic Party.)

Tlaloc said...

" The Heartland Institute has written repeatedly about the Faroe study, and pointed out that it is simply unreliable and has no significance in light of the Seychelles study and other mercury studies. "

Funny how the scientists don't seem to agree with that conclusion. odd that.

James Elliott said...

"These people may be wrong about what their own beliefs really are, what Christianity really is, what liberalism really is, and/or a multitude of other things..."

Oh that's rich. I half expected it to be delivered in a Scottish burr. You know, "No true Scotsman..."

S. T. Karnick said...

But it's true in any accent, as Mr. Elliott confirms by not even trying to refute it.

Tlaloc said...

"But it's true in any accent, as Mr. Elliott confirms by not even trying to refute it."

Heh. If there's one thing that never seems to go out of style it's the capacity of each sect of christianity to decide all the other sects are heretics.

S. T. Karnick said...

Which of course confirms my point.