Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The eternally echoing hipsters

This quote from the Bohemian Henry Clapp struck me by how modern it sounds. 

 “We are opposed to slavery of every kind,” he wrote, “but we are more opposed to what is stupidly called antislavery, for the simple reason that it has no distinct aim or purpose, and consists of nothing but a series of noisy and unmeaning howls.” Lincoln, Clapp charged, “has merely used the negro as a stepping-stone to power, and is now ready to kick him aside, and let him go to the devil.”

Hipster claptrap is the same as it ever was.  The more obtuse the logic the hipper it is.  I specifically think of the Americans who condemn US ethical lapses while standing next to Hugo Chavez or a Castro brother.  Those who find equality in comparing Madison, Wisconsin protests and Cairo protests.  Those who assert that abolishing the police would eradicate crime.  Those who think a total lack of government would lead to peaceful, equitable communities.

The only thing that changes is the clothing and the slang.  And even that doesn't change that much.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just wondering...

I was thinking today about the US civil war.  Or perhaps I should say the war between the states.  I wonder if the people then thought that civil/political violence was an impossibility.  That it would never come to that.  Do we delude ourselves on this point.  Can we go on hating people with different policy preferences and assigning them the most base of motivations and expect that we won't arrive at violence?  Not violence from some schizophrenic stand-in (that we conveniently say embodies all the worst of our political opponents) but violence from our hands, our fists.  I wonder.  I wonder what our ancestors would tell us about playing with fire.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

From this side of The Atlantic

Nicely said:
Over the long run, it is better to seek a simple set of rules than a perfect set of rules.
Megan Mcardle crystalizes a concept of government.  But like all good concepts it is easier to say than to follow.  Just like great artists know exactly when to stop painting so great legislators know exactly when to stop legislating.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ask and you shall receive.

Sen. Graham has a request.

I wish we could hold people accountable for their actions, but under free speech, you can’t.

Actually, we definitely hold people accountable for the things they say and their actions.  For instance, there are likely many people who will not consider joining Terry Jones' Dove World Outreach Center because of his speeches.  Lots of people probably avoid him in public.  He has certainly been excoriated in the media and in public discourse for his actions.  The problem is that he doesn't care.  What the senator is really lamenting is that some people don't care what others think of them.  That might be lamentable but I don't know what the cure for it could possibly be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Attn: "I'm all bark"

A little overstatement.

According to the criminal complaint, Windels allegedly sent an email threat to State Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) March 9. Later that evening, she allegedly sent another email to 15 Republican legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
The subject line of the second email was: "Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!" In that email, she purportedly wrote, "Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks."
"I hope you have a good time in hell," she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email in which she purportedly listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by "putting a nice little bullet in your head."
According to the criminal complaint, Windels told investigators “I sent out emails that I was
disgusted and very upset by what they were doing.”
Asked if she intended to follow through on any of her threats, Windels told the investigators "No," according to the complaint.

So in 2011 if you disagree with a politician's policy position and you'd like to express it then a death threat is appropriate.  Not that you are actually threatening mind you.  Just expressing displeasure.  How is the subject of the displeasure supposed to know this, though?  Perhaps we should rethink civility.  If we define death threats as civil then overnight we will have a much more civil discourse.