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Comments by b-psycho
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On “Confederates in Love

About your remark on "white trash" (& by extension its synonyms)...

The specific nature of the epiphets has a dual purpose that most other slurs don't bother with. Note that merely saying "trash" doesn't bring up race at all, or that "hillbilly" or "redneck" have their origins in geography & labor (tendency to work outside with the sun beating down where no hat can adequately shield). That is, they're class markers in a racial shell, which is why even white people will call other whites by these terms without the slightest of thought: they're effectively calling them defective, not living up to the status that (to the one saying it) is the default & entitlement of Whiteness. It's the difference between saying someone is inferior because of their race & saying someone is an inferior example of the whole.

"Honky" or "cracker" don't have this feature, but the former sounds like 70's slang a la Jive Turkey, Solid & the like, while the latter just hasn't taken off much.

As for your larger point about sacrifice, valor, etc: the question as always is "for what?". We evaluate & judge such things because otherwise we're faced with the absurdity of every sacrifice being Worth It simply because it's a sacrifice, every death a brave one even if it consists of merely jumping off a cliff for no reason. We question the statues because otherwise everybody would have one.

On “Empire of Straw

Would he oppose said order being imposed or directly influenced by outsiders?

On “Will’s Affront (An Untimely Post)

So you're a white supremacist, Wade? "black brains" as an insult?

...ok, forget I ever though it was worth discussing anything with you, since you think I'm subhuman.

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Wade:

Of course, there’s a more traditional ideal of liberty which one finds in, say, Hegel or the New Testament. According to that ideal, liberty is the freedom to be a truly moral human being—one who is enslaved neither to an institution nor to sin and pleasure (e.g.–and pertinently–sexual promiscuity).

That assumes that one is "enslaved" by merely making decisions that some grand arbiter of morality disapproves of. "Freedom" only to do as you're told is a contradiction.

 

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What is unclear about what I said? That woman is a human being with free will, the guy by ignoring her No treated her like a hole in the wall. If anything should be shamed, it's that.

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Wade:

Sodomy used to denote an unpardonable offense, a “crime” that dared not speak its name. Today, however, respected pundits like Andrew Sullivan openly write about the pleasure they derive from “sodomizing” other men and being “sodomized” by them in turn. Distinguished figures like President Obama urge the citizenry to celebrate “sodomy”.

I can't recall Obama urging a celebration of sodomy. I can recall him however saying that he no longer sees a problem with same sex marriage -- which is a good thing since no one has any business infringing on the relations of consenting adults regardless of what they think.

The days when people were routinely jailed or even murdered for simply exercising their sexual preference were terrible, and deserved to die out. The shift you lament is towards individual liberty, may we never turn around on this path.

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A conveniently defined virtue of theirs that completely disregards possible disagreement. Oh, and seems to always fall on the woman.

What about the moral character of the type of person who treats the bodies of others as if they're means to an end, unattached to a free willed human being who makes the decisions for its use? Where's the shame on them?

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That wasn't supposed to be a reply to your comment, I don't know why it showed up that way. Didn't see your message until now.

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If I'm reading your interpretation of George Will & those who agree with him on this correctly, their view is effectively that The Real Blame falls on modern civilization failing to interpret the human body itself as a curse or object of shame as their chosen religious & cultural traditionalism would prefer.

Not exactly a surprise, and I'd say you're spot on in interpreting them. However, the reason that it's considered "unspeakable" is that it's a humongous insult to the very concept of individual agency & self determination, not to mention widely missing the point. To say in the context of a rape allegation that people should not like sex so much is a non-sequitur.

On “Turning the Torture Discussion into a Non-Discussion

Given the continual and flagrant violation of the convention by numerous signatories

They suck too, and anyone lecturing other countries about human rights that themselves violate such conventions should shut up until they stop violating it.

 

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If bringing the laws into conformity with the convention against torture doesn't mean torture gets prosecuted, then what's the point of agreeing to it beyond empty PR gesture? Either it's binding or the whole thing is a lie.

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The opponent was referring back to what he wrote while still with the administration though.

Back to the Senate: the basic obligation to my understanding is that, according to the treaty, measures to discourage or prevent torture are to be taken up, torture is to be a criminal offense, and no exceptional circumstance can be invoked to excuse it. According to that understanding, those that carried out the program have committed crimes & those that ordered & agreed to the program are by admitting to & defending it confessing to a criminal conspiracy and should be charged.

(That is, if treaties, constitutions, and "rule of law" actually mean anything. I know they don't though, so not holding my breath.)

The Exception discredits the basis for even tolerating the existence of the rule. It's like if an opponent suddenly could change the rules during a game of chess if they thought they were losing too badly -- might as well just flip the board & walk away.

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To say a treaty ratified according to the constitution can't contradict the constitution doesn't really say anything. In the act of ratifying it they effectively said that it is compatible with the constitution, if it wasn't then they had a simple solution: reject it. I suspect that rider was basically an empty sop to the type of people that shriek about the UN threatening "sovereignty" somehow.

Practically speaking on the hypothetical, I don't see how his response can be read as mere neutral acknowledgement. His position was to provide legal advise & opinion, by providing that opinion he was at the least saying that it was beneficial to his employer. There was no fence available to sit on, and considering what he has said since then I doubt that he was simply swallowing doubts of his own to please the boss at the time.

As for "self-defense exception"... if you have someone restrained enough to be able to torture them & threaten to mutilate a family member of theirs, self-defense left the barn a long time ago. I'd be vastly more concerned about the right of self-defense for the innocent being threatened in the process.

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I didn't go to law school or anything, but I did pay attention in American History class. Article Six of the Constitution combined with the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture appear to contradict John Yoo's answer.

 

On “…and, Ultimately, to Destroy (3): Acceptance

CK:

Why do you think IS exists?

Result of the US invading Iraq & further stirring up sectarian conflict, this time in the form of the Shia regime deciding it was Payback time for what Sunni rule had done. In response, Sunni have to an extent thrown in with the militant Islamist elements that emerged post invasion. Similar elements in Syria that were present in the fight against Assad (a fight the US was partially backing) came to link up and decided to try erasing the border between them.

There are some on the Left that debate whether the empire is uniquely calculating in its actions vs being uniquely unobservant or even dumb. Personally, I think both give the elite too much credit, by each defining them apart by more than money and power. For the most part, I think those in control of the empire simply pursue their self interest and try to make the most of things however they can -- it's the scale, their means, & their goals that's the distinguishing factor. Maximizing utility just looks different when your tools are billions of dollars & state of the art weaponry as opposed to what you and I have at our disposal.

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Why IS exists to begin with suggests it's highly relevant...

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There's a difference between knowing *of* people via articles & media, and knowing them as we know ourselves & our close friends. We observe, we aren't immersed in their cultures and meeting with them every day. Their goals, fears, and desires are a blurred, incomplete picture to us as a result.

Our interpretation as common people is flawed inherently. The interpretation of the ones that actually wield power here, though, has a different problem: it is deeply selfish, constructed with "what's in it for us?" as its key consideration & treats people as means to that end even if it means escalating the doom they already face. The portrayal of concern on the part of the stewards of the US foreign policy status quo is like a firefighter who themself fuels & starts the blaze they claim credit for trying to put out. We keep being told to follow the fires and feel like they're being dealt with, but what does it mean while the arsonist is still loose?

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It's not so much "our" interests that are the issue, to extent it can ever be said that any of us common folk can possibly have a meaningful interest in places we know nothing about. It's the interests of the Western ruling class that have been trying to cancel out the interests of people in the rest of the world, by manipulation and force. The rest of the world has no reason to trust the empire and its allies even if it claims to have good intentions, and neither do I.

Indifference implies non involvement. For it to apply we'd have to actually get to try standing down.

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How is it diminishing them to consider them the best arbiters of their own interests? I oppose empire precisely because I see them as equal human beings with their own goal, views & interests, that no one has the right to decide for them.

The explanation you give here rings more of paternalism than humanism -- others as children and only children.

On “Incredibly Obvious Solutions to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

To accept liberality in personal relations while rejecting it as general principles appropriate for a society to follow suggests that some people can and/or must be presumed undeserving of its benefits. If it is an exclusive club, what are the admission criteria, and how were they created & agreed upon?

As for your remark about oppressive discrimination... I'm not going to get into a Who Was/Is Oppressed More game. History is littered with details of the various ways and times that mankind has divided and conquered each other so deeply that it's not worth sorting out unless one were planning to write a book about a particular example. My interest on the matter stems from the view that ALL such behavior is reprehensible anyway (there is no reason to treat others as lesser en masse. On top of the aggression involved, it erases individuality), so weighing X vs Y is besides the point.

On “Islamic Statism and Historical Necessity

This quote:

ISIS draws on, and draws strength from, ideas that have broad resonance among Muslim-majority populations. They may not agree with ISIS’s interpretation of the caliphate, but the notion of acaliphate—the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition—is a powerful one, even among more secular-minded Muslims

Imagine if various Islamophobes read the above, and how they would interpret it.

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There is a strain of christian conservative in the West that tends to describe the inevitable end result of the reformation as amounting to widespread abandonment of the faith itself. Frankly I'd be fine with them turning out correct, considering the alternative those still fighting it generally have in mind...

BTW: I get the strong feeling that Hamid's remark about IS drawing from relatively popular belief in the region is already somewhere being willfully misused.

On “us v is (What’s So Funny… 2)

The discussions about rebuilding the Syrian government by outsiders just... What gives anyone other than Syrians the right to even attempt to decide how things go in Syria?

Why is it so far-fetched to desire a world, if it is to be interconnected, that is so by peaceful commerce & discussion rather than by being constantly reconfigured by whoever has the most & best arms? What gives anyone the right to claim such authority AT ALL?

Does it all simply come down to "we can, so we will"?

On “IS or ISIL or ISIS or Daesh as “existential” threat

If it's part of the definition of a nation, how can it ever be set aside? Pakistan (or any other country, though I assume you know why I picked Pakistan...) looking the other way shouldn't be seen as a failure of duty like you describe of if the US government backed off?

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Far as I've heard, other than the ransom for the specific hostages the closest I.S. has had to a demand of the US was to cite the bombings as motivation for the beheading. So I'm not sure where demands come into the parallel in the way you describe.

To go back to that parallel, another question: would the same or similar cause appear with the killing of Pakistani people by Americans on Pakistani soil? After all, if they have responsibility to citizens while overseas, then clearly they have responsibility when they're at home.

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