Friday, May 10, 2002

How do you pronounce "Fortuyn"?

When chalk is outlawed, only outlaws . . . etc.

Saw this last evening. I found it fascinating, but not very encouraging. I have referred to groups like al Qaeda, the Palestinian terrorists and the Iranian Ayatollahs as "Apostate" Islam. This program convinced me even more.

One segment of the program focused on a woman in Malaysia who was trying to obtain a divorce under the Sharia law there and was continually blocked because her husband would not consent, even though he had married another woman without telling her and became abusive when she found out and complained. She started reading the Quran for herself and found that it didn't uphold the decision of the Sharia court, but it didn't really matter.

The inferior status of women has been referred to again and again in answering the question of what went wrong with Islam. This program shows it clearly.

It seems to me that a lot of what is wrong with all religions is that nearly all of them claim that divine revelation ceased 1500 or more years ago and that scholars and intellectuals who came later were somehow entitled to guide the religion instead of God.

Read the item, Sins of Commission about the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. What I don't get is why the president hasn't moved to do away with the whole thing.

Read the item, Sins of Commission about the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. What I don't get is why the president hasn't moved to do away with the whole thing.

Things are pretty good in Utah

We don't seem to have anything more serious to argue about than highschool mascots. The Salt Lake Tribune -- Other Devils Lurking at High Schools

Springville is my hometown, but we moved when I was nine. As fate would have it, I ended up attending Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Illinois, whose teams were called the Blue Devils. I always thought the name was kind of lame and anachronistic, but I never thought it was evil.

Brink Lindsey has to be the best writer on the cloning controversy I've read anywhere. His prose is clear and cogent, and he is honest and civil to boot. In one paragraph, he goes to the heart of the issue and sweeps away the legal arguments (like the Slippery Slope):

But if we allow the destruction of embryos created for no purpose whatsoever (as in the case of abortion and, more exactly analogously, the use of IUDs), why should we not allow the destruction of embryos created for a very good purpose -- namely, the alleviation of suffering? Until we are at the point of having serious questions about the personhood of the embryos involved (and I believe such questions arise relatively early in a pregnancy), it seems to me that the case for legalized therapeutic cloning is stronger than the case for legalized abortion. Indeed, it is stronger than the case for the presently humdrum, unquestioned legality of IUDs.

Monday, May 06, 2002

The Knee-jerk Response

Brit Hume is the most undermentioned newsman on all television, even if he's just on cable. Tonight his "all stars" included Bill Kristol, Jeff Birnbaum and Juan Williams. What I found interesting was the alarm of the latter two at the opinion of the former that there is unlikely to be any "peace conference" involving Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat. It was as if he had demanded an end to the First Amendment. After watching that with Tivo, I switched into the middle of a Newshour interview with Tom Friedman, who was moved with compassion and concern that we are misunderstood by young Muslims throughout the world. Now Friedman is no fool. He knows that the problem lies with the Islamic states themselves and the anti-West propaganda they allow to foul their airwaves, and has said so frequently and eloquently, hence his Pulitzer prize this year, but he just can't admit that there may be no way to change this through peaceful means. There is an unstated presumption among the moderate and leftist commentariat that THERE MUST BE A PEACE PROCESS, even if the Palestinians have no leader with whom to negotiate. Arafat is not a leader. He's a puppet of the terrorists. If he made peace and achieved a Palestinian state, he wouldn't know what to do next. He has achieved all of his success by playing a double game, claiming to be a revolutionary leader in public, while undermining any hope of stability and peace in private. We know this, as well as we know anything, yet we can't give up the security blanket of the PEACE PROCESS.

This has never been so clearly displayed as this evening. The Islamic world seems enthralled to the sick paranoia of its own media and the monomania of its militant dictators. Yet we think that we can change them by repeating the same rituals that have taught them how to pacify us in the past while they pursue the same aims they always have, the destruction of Israel. It's neurotic and obsessive, but our intelligentsia and State Department can't help themselves. Nothing to them is worse than a failure of the peace process. They know the story of Neville Chamberlain, but they can't see how it applies today. And, sadly, Colin Powell seems to have caught the same fever.

Eric Peters on National I.D. on National Review Online is, well, wrong. First of all, most of the things he warns of--loss of privacy, easy tracking, etc.--are already out of the barn. But airport security is almost as big a joke as the INS.

Without some fast, accurate and reliable system in place to allow eliminating the negatives, those people for whom there is no reason to be concerned, it will be impossible to 1. return to normal air travel; 2. track aliens who violate their visas or otherwise need watching; 3. keep an eye on known criminals and terrorists. Of course, someone will say that such aims are incompatible with a free and open society. If that's true, then we can just toss in the towel right now, because we have no faith in our system or those we hire to protect us. It's like having a bodyguard who you're sure is out to get you, so you avoid him.

The big myth driving all of this is that the FBI wants to keep dossiers on all of us. This is just nuts. Does anyone think these people don't have enough real work to do? Or that they have the means and methods that would allow such a thing, even if they had the personnel to do it?

The recurring nightmare of 1984 and Brave New World is just not possible in a country with as many nervous nelly judges as the United State. If we were in France, however, . . .

Sunday, May 05, 2002

I just found this article, Security versus Civil Liberties, published last February. This is one area where I differ with the libertarians. I think that a lot of what we think of today as civil rights are, in fact, just privileges we've gotten used to, but which are not guaranteed by the Constitution, nor even compatible with it.

Examples include "the right to be anonymous" as one talk show host called it. The "right to privacy" is also illusory and mixed up. And the establishment clause and other First Amendment provisions have been twisted into anti-religion laws and distortions ranging from mere nuisances, like demonstrations, to excuses for defiance of law. Personal privileges have been allowed to trump civic responsibility, and we now find ourselves unable to take common sense measures to protect ourselves from suicidal murderers, even as we submit to intrusive and pointless searches at airports and relinquish nail clippers and tweezers, while the INS grants favored status to our enemies.

We have heard endless twaddle about rights, but next to none about the responsibilities of citizenship in this land. Yet, without the latter, the former are doomed. As we cede more and more responsibility to our government, we find ourselves in quandaries like that of the gay community, demanding a quick cure for AIDS while refusing to provide information critical to epidemiological measures to combat it. Everyone wants to be safe, but no one wants to be tested or questioned about their contacts. We want better schools, but without standards or homework. We want freedom for our own utterances, but want "hate speech" abolished. We want everybody to be guaranteed health and prosperity, but we don't like "Big Government"--note the latest farm bill. We think of ourselves as rugged and independent individualists, but demand that the government make sure we don't fail.

But stop for a moment and consider the word independent. It implies freedom, but its basic meaning is self-reliant, not depending on someone or something else for support, self governing. How many of us today can really claim true and complete independence?

We have lost our understanding of the social contract, and until we rediscover it, we will not be safe.