September 30, 2010
Perhaps one of the insightful takes on the now widely reported case of the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman whose private liaison was videotaped by a disgruntled roommate and displayed on the web is by Peter Hansen at Jersey Conservative. In his essay, he rightly points the finger where it belongs – at the modern incivility which allows the continual public display of the one’s own private life and the life of others with whom one has differences. As Hansen explains:
The horrible irony is that a fleeting Web shot, so easily forgotten by viewers, is to the victim as shattering as a bullet. The immediate impact is over instantly, but the damage is permanent. Mr. Ravi created an image that could be dredged up from a hard drive at any moment, to haunt Mr. Clementi for the rest of his life. This goes beyond blackmail. It is the reduction of a human life into one degrading instant, forever replayed, allowing no progress and no redemption.
The modern, YouTube way of life puts everyone at the mercy of dirtbags like Mr. Ravi. All it takes is a hidden webcam to destroy anyone, anytime. In its mindless, democratized hyper-intrusiveness, our modern era has become 1984 rolled into A Clockwork Orange. There is not even a moral or prudential code of conduct by which one can avoid exposure. The whim of the vicious decides whose life is destroyed.
There is no turning back the technological clock, but the law and social opprobrium have to be brought to bear to deter people like Mr. Ravi. No doubt the Internet furies will soon descend on Mr. Ravi as if he were a medieval outlaw, and make an example of him. He could hardly cry injustice, and indeed it would make for a grimly satisfying irony. His torment would at least serve the purpose of brutally enforcing a basic social code of decency, which right now in this anarchic online society is perhaps the best that can be hoped for.
This is why as a blogger I go to great pains to make my posts about issues and not personalities; real people live real lives behind what we see on Youtube and Facebook blogging sites. Public figures certainly garner public discussion, but the vast majority of people expressing themselves on the web are ordinary citizens with lives beyond what they express online, and shouldn’t suffer personal attacks for expressing them. As someone who has had his full name used in blog post headlines personally attacking me as an act of revenge, I can relate to how the web can be abused by those without conscience or a sense of common civility. In the case Tyler Clementi it went to the criminal extreme – but we should not fool ourselves here – those who use the web as a means of damaging reputations and personally attacking people at any level are all part of the same spectrum with the perpetrator Dharun Ravi, a man for whom we should reserve our strongest disdain.
September 29, 2010
I don’t much care what happens in Maine as it is a little state of almost no consequence to anything that happens anywhere else in the world; but one candidate has actually said something that speaks to a collective national sentiment. Maine Democrats and Leftists seem to think this will hurt LePage – I know for a fact that thanks to their efforts, his campaign is about to get more money than it will know what to do with:
That more governers will share this sentiment come November. If you want to thank him, you can do so here.
September 28, 2010
I was just listening to the debate between David Berlinski and Christopher Hitchens on the question, ‘Does Atheism Poison Everything?‘ I won’t detail too much of what was said (you should watch it for yourself here) but I did note that Christopher Hitchens made a terrible blunder. At about 36 minutes into the debate he states that it is a, “filthy slander” to say that Nazism was the ‘implementation of Charles Darwin”. He further states that Darwin’s thought was, “not taught in Germany” and that Darwinism, “was derided in Germany”.
Either Hitchens was being terribly disingenuous here (something I doubt as I consider him to be a very honest person) or he was simply and profoundly ignorant of history on this count. A simple review of the relevant history will show us how.
In 1912 the 1st International Eugenics Conference was presided over by Major Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin. It was dedicated to Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Darwin, who studied and popularized the idea of eugenics. This spawned a worldwide Eugenics movement which had its implementation in government policies as well as the establishment of eugenics institutes throughout the world. Eugenics was in modern parlance, the reigning scientific consensus.
The 3rd and final Eugenics Conference was in 1932. At that conference Ernst Rüdin was unanimously elected president of the International Federation of Eugenics Societies. It was the very same Ernst Rüdin who was to head the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Rassenhygiene (German Society for Racial Hygiene) and who was one of the authors of the statute Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring which was the justification for Nazi sterilization laws, and later the elimination of the Jews.
So Hitchens is quite wrong on this count. While Nazi Germany was not the only country to implement the Darwin inspired eugenics ideas, the Third Reich was certainly the worst outgrowth of a movement which sprung directly from Darwin’s theories.
September 28, 2010
The idea that atheism is an amoral position that offers no particular view how we should behave or what philosophies we should hold is akin to saying that cutting the brake lines on one’s car doesn’t determine what direction the car will be driven or how one will plan a trip. Technically that is true, but it avoids the obvious point that doing so will certainly have an impact on one’s ability to drive anywhere at all.
September 28, 2010
Please Big Man, run for President – our country needs you in a big way.
September 28, 2010
The most important institution in terms of the education, health, and wealth of our children is the traditional biological family. The greatest enemy of the biological family in our time is the secular liberal state.
September 27, 2010
Interesting article on the New Scientist site titled Cosmic accidents: 10 lucky breaks for humanity. The article details the number of past events and variables that had to fall in line in order for humanity to exist. This just further extends the weak anthropic arguments, which along with the strong anthropic argument all but dismissed the idea Copernican Principle which has long held sway in cosmological thinking. This of course doesn’t of course deter materialists from trying to explain away why the universe seems inclined to allow life to exist, but it does force them into acknowledging life’s existence isn’t an ordinary or expected aspect of the universe.
Indeed, materialists are forced by these realities to push the explanation for our universe’s specific design beyond that which is readily observable or testable – to the multi-verse. This is exactly the strategy Stephen Hawkings adopts in his book The Grand Design. Having rejected the idea that the universe is simply intelligently designed for life, and acknowledged that the structure of the universe isn’t the result of physical necessity, Hawkings infers it must be the result of chance – specifically one result of an almost infinite number of possibilities generated by the multi-verse.
It is an interesting if not very convenient idea that we are the incidental result of a multitude of universes coming into existence as a result of perturbations of the energy in the vacuum, of which we are the one that just happens to have the correct parameters for life. Other than having no way to directly observe the phenomena of those other universes coming into existence or testing how they did so, the claim actually begs the questions since it simply extends the issue of causes and specificity to the origin and structure of the World Ensemble of universes rather than to our universe itself. It does nothing to answer where these came from or what laws govern the make up of the super-structure of the multi-verse. Indeed it would appear impossible to directly have such knowledge, and so such understanding lies in the realm of meta-physics.
Which simply brings us back to religious belief and philosophical considerations, the place materialists seek to avoid but apparently can’t.