Open Thread

Feb 25th, 2011, in Asides, by

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545 Comments on “Open Thread”

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  1. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 3:08 am

    What eh?

    In the winter of 2003, when George Bush and Tony Blair were frantically gathering support for their planned invasion, Professor Thomas Römer, an Old Testament expert at the university of Lausanne, was rung up by the Protestant Federation of France. They asked him to supply them with a summary of the legends surrounding Gog and Magog and as the conversation progressed, he realised that this had originally come, from the highest reaches of the French government.

    President Jacques Chirac wanted to know what the hell President Bush had been on about in their last conversation. Bush had then said that when he looked at the Middle East, he saw “Gog and Magog at work” and the biblical prophecies unfolding. But who the hell were Gog and Magog? Neither Chirac nor his office had any idea. But they knew Bush was an evangelical Christian, so they asked the French Federation of Protestants, who in turn asked Professor Römer.
    He explained that Gog and Magog were, to use theological jargon, crazy talk. They appear twice in the Old Testament, once as a name, and once in a truly strange prophecy in the book of Ezekiel:

    Read on:

    http://www.englishbaby.com/forum/LifeTalk/thread/399817

  2. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 9:06 am

    C’mon, this is splitting hairs. ‘Gog and Magog’ is only a metaphor used in many languages to indicate that big forces are involved with a bit of a doom scenario. Bush might have used it in this context as the expression originated in the Middle East. He had a predilection for using strong metaphors to underline his policies. See also “the axis of evil”.
    This isn’t a compliment for Jacques Chirac that he had to summon up some scholars to explain its meaning.

  3. avatar rustyprince says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Berlian, I actually agree with you on the MSM media treatment of Sarah Palin. Given that concession can you tell me how maintaining the alliance with Saudi Arabia post 911 was an act of a powerful, warrior president defending the hegemony of the USA?

    America is sinking, an overextended oaf with no sense pretending its still a virile youth. Ironically the only way out of its current chasm may well be to erect trade barriers, an action more likely to be pursued by the patriotic Republican base if only they were immune to the banking/saudi/aipac lobbysists – who actually preside over the waning mess and who’s loyalty is mercurial.

  4. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 10:01 am

    C’mon, this is splitting hairs. ‘Gog and Magog’ is only a metaphor used in many languages to indicate that big forces are involved with a bit of a doom scenario. Bush might have used it in this context as the expression originated in the Middle East. He had a predilection for using strong metaphors to underline his policies. See also “the axis of evil”.
    This isn’t a compliment for Jacques Chirac that he had to summon up some scholars to explain its meaning.

    ET, I don’t blame Chirac a bit. That I don’t know the meaning that this expression according to you has is neither here nor there – but neither does the Big Webster or the Oxford Dictionaries online ( though they have the words Gog and Magog).

    The (online) Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable has this: “Gog and Magog – in the Bible the names of the enemies of God’s people”.

    Mother Jones provides a fuller extract of the conversation allegedly based on an interview with Chirac by the French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice:

    Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

    This bizarre episode occurred while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to unleash the Iraq invasion. Chirac says he was boggled by Bush’s call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”

    After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal.

    ….In 2007, Dr. Romer recounted Bush’s strange behavior in Lausanne University’s review, Allez Savoir….Subsequently, ex-President Chirac confirmed the nutty event in a long interview with French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, who tells the tale in his new book, Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai (If You Repeat it, I Will Deny), released in March by the publisher Plon.

    I am not in the least surprised. That Bush was (is?) a bit of a religious crazy of a type that seems unfortunately rather common over there is known from other sources.

  5. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 10:20 am

    According to an article in The Guardian Bush has in an interview, given when he was out of office, denied that he is a religious fundamentalist, that he believed that he was chosen by God for the presidency or that he saw the war in Iraq as a religious mission.

    But see this:

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5402.htm

  6. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Bush may have referred to The Book of Revelation and I wonder if Chirac may have ever heard of this too, although it is a part of Western heritage. Anyway, everything depends on the context and the mood metaphorical expressions are used in conversations and presentations. Afterwards they are analysed and scrutinized word for word and interpreted or twisted conform to the journo’ s leanings. The titles above the YouTube videos speak volumes, e.g. R. Santorum saying that “scientists are immoral” when he only referred to the types à la Dr. Mengele and Unit 731 in Harbin.
    The smear campaign in America’s presidential elections has already started.

  7. avatar Oigal says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Fair go ET, Santorum is being smeared????

    Here is a guy that openly states college education is only for Snobs or religion and state should not be separated (and we see how well that works here). Of course, we could discuss his position on contraception and women in the workforce which is essentially the old barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen plan.
    Here is a man courting the hillbilly vote by declaring that higher education should not be the one thing that a modern US should not be aiming for?

    Then channeling the very best of our resident looney local homophobes old RS manage to equate consensual sex relationships as a prelude to sodomy, adultery, bestiality, pedophilia and serial killers and everything in-between.

    On the plus side, every democrat in the country is rooting for him as he will ensure an Obama shoo in.

    Some RS classics…

    Rick Santorum has said in recent days—that John F. Kennedy’s speech on the separation of church and state made him “almost throw up,” that President Obama has a “phony theology”—the one I really can’t get over is the one he made Saturday about higher education. In a speech at the Americans for Prosperity forum in Michigan, Santorum said “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob.”

    “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” and “Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.”

    Plenty more, the guy is veritable food lot for comedians.

    Witness the defence between this loon and John McCain. RS refused to correct one of the haters when she continually refered to Obama as an Arab and Muslim (In fact, one of RS comments was about Obama coming back to his Indonesian Muslim roots).

    In a similar situation McCain slapped down one of the irrational in this fashion

    At one point, McCain grabbed the microphone from a woman who had begun to say she didn’t like Obama because he is an Arab. “No, ma’am. No, ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man, a citizen who I just happen to have serious differences with on fundamental questions.”

    Just a shame JM was not a decade or so younger one might hold some hope for the US.

  8. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Oigal, dont worry, I would never vote for Santorum. He isn’t made of presidential stuff in my eyes. But he is a clear example of a pendulum swing to the far right after it had been pushed to the far left before.

    AB
    re Gog and Magog. I’ve heard the expression several times in different settings but in the same context and I didn’t need the Big Webster or the Oxford Dictionaries to understand.

  9. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    re Gog and Magog. I’ve heard the expression several times in different settings but in the same context and I didn’t need the Big Webster or the Oxford Dictionaries to understand.

    Well you were lucky then because these dictionaries wouldn’t have helped you, being unacquainted with the “secular” meaning you came up with. In addition I have checked the first few pages of Google references but found no example there of the meaning you grasped so easily. However, my Dutch dictionary goes a bit in your direction : “hostile power thought of as monsters”.

    But Bush was, if the quote in Mother Jones is correct, more specific than that. Let me quote his words to Chirac again:

    “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

    The question is whether that Jean-Claude Maurice, the French journalist whose book is the source of this story, had indeed that interview with Chirac and whether Chirac used the words ascribed to him. I understand from the French Wiki on Maurice that he is a rather distinguished newspaperman. And from an article in the French journal L’Express, dated 26/2/2009, it is clear that he didn’t have a single but a dozen interviews with Chirac. I therefore think it unlikely that he would have just made it up – and even more unlikely that Chirac would have made it up.

    Is the quotation as given in Mother Jones a faithful translation of what Maurice came up with? L’Express gives the first half of that quotation saying that Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East and that biblical prophecies are being fulfilled.

    Sorry ET but it looks as if your attempt to defend Bush against the charge of religious bigotry won’t wash.

  10. avatar Oigal says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    But he is a clear example of a pendulum swing to the far right after it had been pushed to the far left before.

    It must be me because I really don’t get this pushed to far to the left. I am assuming we are not referring to Bushes as left so that only leaves BO. Besides a pretty average attempt at what is the norm in most western countries in providing universal healthcare, I remain bemused at what is the great swing to left that BO has wrought. It can’t be defence as he is the confirmed Osama Hunter and king of the drones. It can’t be his business policies as GM will confirm.

    Perhaps by suggesting that a a tax system where Romney pays at a lower tax rate than his secretary is loony is probably more commonsense than radical left.

    Rather than a pendulum thing, I thing the whole spectrum as in Australia has moved to the loony right as opposed to the intellectual conservative right.

  11. avatar Oigal says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Re Gog and Magog

    I will side with ET as my idle youth was spending idling away reading pulp comics from the USA. Magog was the resident and re-occuring evil/monster creature in particular in the Joker/Batman type comics. If I recall correctly, the names also appear as a HG Wells dark evil as well.

    Indeed probably drawn from the dark resources of the christian past but fair to say morphed for popular culture into a term the general great mass of ominous evil. It’s a long bow to draw from the use of those names to suggest another great crusade had begun or was the intent. The Frenchman was probably still smarting over “Freedom Fries”

    Or alternatively he may have be referring to

    “The Magog homeworld is a creation of Kroton, a half-human, half-android creation. The Magog homeworld is a series of planets/moons all interconnected that encircle a Sun. Each of the planets is hollow where the Magog live. The Magog have smaller craft in which to attack their preys ship by blasting their way in like an arrow.”

  12. avatar stevo says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Santorum has a firm grasp of the issues that really matter in a troubled America. Now the economy & health are all sorted, we can start doing gods work:

    Internet pornography could conceivably become a thing of the past if Rick Santorum is elected president…Santorum says in a statement posted to his website, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”

    If elected, he promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”

    Maybe the great Satan America has seen the light, after all those years of hanging out with the Taliban. :(

  13. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I

    t’s a long bow to draw from the use of those names to suggest another great crusade had begun or was the intent. The Frenchman was probably still smarting over “Freedom Fries”

    What is Bush supposed to have said again:

    Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.

    So there is clearly more than just the use “of those names” here.

  14. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Arie Brand
    Like I said in my remark about Santorum and “Scientists are immoral” everything depends on the context and mood of the presentation or conversation. Hyperbole is an often used instrument by politicians – even among themselves – to draw attention to and ‘dramatize’ what would otherwise be a dull affair.
    But if in the heat of the moment a politician during his speech shouts “The End is Near” you can bet your ass on it that some creepy journo will sell it to his tabloid that this candidate must be an member of an occult sect or a Latter Day Saint, corroborated by a scholarly review on a Massachusetts campus.
    This is why – unlike you it seems to me – I’m quite sceptical about outside quotes, even from so-called independent reliable sources, unless I know the full story. I can hardly believe that a man of obvious erudition like Chirac wouldn’t have heard of Gog and Magog as a part of the biblical prophesies of The Book of Revelations or understood Bush’s allegorical allusions to it as hyperbole. If not and if he took Bush’s words literally then he along with the rest of the world’s political establishment must have been flabbergasted how a loony Bible freak could have made it through the maze and pitfalls of the American democratic system with all its industrial and financial lobbying.

  15. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Oigal

    It must be me because I really don’t get this pushed to far to the left. I am assuming we are not referring to Bushes as left so that only leaves BO.

    Left and right for the pendulum are to be understood in their generic sense. Besides back and forth how else can a pendulum swing? I wasn’t referring to particular policies but to a general uneasiness among the American public that some issues have been pushed out of balance, that consensus about ‘Americanism’ (what distinguishes America from the rest of the worlld) has waned, and that America has lost its moral compass.

  16. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I can hardly believe that man of obvious erudition like Chirac wouldn’t have heard of Gog and Magog as a part of the biblical prophesies of The Book of Revelations

    Why would he have wasted his time on The Book of Revelations? I haven’t done so either and not having had the benefit of comics the allusion was foreign to me as well. According to the Mother Jones story Chirac’s office couldn’t help him either – neither could the French Federation of Protestants because it sought the help of that Lausanne Professor in Old Testament Studies. So it appears that knowledge of this particular Bible book is not part of general intellectual equipment in the West.

    The idea that Bush was just speaking in hyperbole is even more far fetched seeing other things we know about the man. Incidentally, I have seen quite a few comments on this matter but nobody assumed that Bush was just using hyperbole. You appear to be alone in this, as you seem to be in your specific knowledge of the Book of Revelations.

    must have been flabbergasted how a loony Bible freak could have made it through the maze and pitfalls of the American democratic system with all its industrial and financial lobbying.

    Come on, can you still say that with a straight face? Look at and listen to the present crop of conservative candidates.Yet none of them appears to be as ignorant as Bush to whom, among other things, the English language often appeared to be an unfathomable mystery.

  17. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    ET, see this short essay from The Nation about Bush’s general use of religious language. The Gog and Magog story is not even referred to here:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/bushs-religious-language

  18. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Why would he have wasted his time on The Book of Revelations?

    AB if you find taking time to be informed about one’s cultural heritage (unless you deny the influence of Christianity on Western culture) a waste then I guess you must have lived either in the ivory tower of some academic discipline or you must have skipped many classes as a student. If even the rest of Chirac’s cabinet couldn’t help him I suggest they take some time off, come out of the elitist confinement of the Elysée to watch a movie (maybe The Da Vinci Code) and get in touch with the culture – even the popular one – of their political hinterland.

    As to your stance on America in general and conservatives in particular I believe berlian biru has already given his opinion. I’m not going to repeat after him.

  19. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    ET I think that few people would pick on the Book of Revelations when discussing christianity as part of the West’s cultural heritage.
    Your Sunday school teacher must have had a bee in his bonnet about it.

  20. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Oigal
    re the swing of the pendulum let me give the example of pornography, to which stevo already has alluded.
    First it started with Playboy, showing freshly bathed American beauties, towel still in strategic places, a liberation from morality preachers (comparable to the MUI who consider Lady Gaga haram and want her banned) and a sigh of relief for every young bloke over 15.
    Then came Penthouse, pushing the pendulum a bit further, no more towels, but still acceptable to the vast majority. Slowly hardcore pornography slipped in (forgive the pun), in the beginning still under artistic veil. When even this became mainstream and to keep the cash rolling the pendulum was pushed farther more into downright obscenity and now it has reached the level of pure grotesqueness. Not even is it wrapped up in a brown paper bag, it’s pushed right in your face.
    That’s when the pendulum swings to the right.

  21. avatar ET says:
    March 19th, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Your Sunday school teacher must have had a bee in his bonnet about it.

    Never been to school on Sunday, but I still remember the Book of Revelations as the most spectacular, hence the most remarkable of all Scriptures.

  22. avatar Oigal says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 7:29 am

    ET, Although perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed :-) I reckon I have grasped the concept of the pendulum theory. I just don’t believe it applies in USA or Australian politics at the moment. Both countries have had long periods of conservative governments and currently have (if you must label) a more left leaning government.

    However reality is no one from the recent political past would recognize these governments as what was the traditional left. Unfortunately it is as if the whole lot has been picked up and move as a whole to the right. What you have now, is traditional centre right parties wallowing in the base noodle nut territory of the far right and the traditional leftist parties occupying the centre.

    The only real problem with that the leftist parties have maintained their core inability to manage an economy or have any real project management skills, whilst the conservative parties have taken their business and economical acumen and ability way over into the dank and loony and thus unelectable .

    Seriously, a major presidential candidate from a party that traditionally represents business and the economy derides education and learning as being “for snobs”??

  23. avatar berlian biru says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 9:31 am

    the traditional leftist parties occupying the centre.

    Inadvertently you prove ET’s theory. The left adopted right of centre economics (and made a hash of it inceidentally) but they have trumped conservatives in every other field to the point that left wing ideas which only the day before yesterday were considered “looney left” are now perceived as the only sensible options, the sign of moderate, reasonable thinking chaps.

    Conversely ideas that only the day before yesterday were regrded as utterly mainstream are now dismissed as “far right” and in many ways actually criminal.

    At the risk of reopening a hornets’ nest from another thread the issue of gay rights is an obvious example. Twenty years ago gay marriage was considered absurd, a nonsense, the sort of thing stand up comedians would joke about, now a conservative government in Britain is considering making it law. Similarly mainstream Christian thinking on sexual morality was accepted as just one of those things, today if a preacher claims that homosexuality is immoral, he could quite literally face criminal prosecution. Catholic adoption agencies were shut down by government decree for refusing to conform to government policy. Homosexuality is taught to young children in schools in a way that frankly would have left our parents’ generation gasping in shock.

    Now you may regard this as a good thing, I personally make no comment one way or the other. What you cannot deny however is that once extreme left wing ideas are now regarded as the moderate centre ground and once commonplace conservative ideas are now regarded as the domain of the knuckle dragging far right.

    Conservatives won the economic argument, the left won all the rest. I take my hat off to them. Can’t imagine how they achieved it as according to Arie all the leading advocates of this policy who for decades led the “long march through the institutions” didn’t really exist, were of no importance if they did and anyway they’re all just a phantasmagoria of right wing nutjobs.

    Odd that, how no one wants to take credit for such a stunning victory.

  24. avatar Oigal says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Well no BB although that is a classic example of the conservatives losing their way.

    Which ideas of the looney left are now mainstream, the best you throw up is the Gay Marriage “chestnut”. Leaving aside the why should anyone care who someone else wants to marry as there is no rational argument against it (shed load of religious fear mongering and hate tho). The fact is to the vast majority of the population gay marriage or not is a non-issue.

    Which great platform ideas of say the current governments in the USA or Australia qualify as “looney left”? Universal Health Care seems to have been adopted in bi-partisan way in most developed countries for decades, tax reform would seem to be an obviously rational platform unless you can justify the endless and mindless loopholes provided to those that can afford them. Defence? Well I have yet to see a huge difference between the parties.

    Of far greater concern of who someone decides to marry I would think, would be a a major political party that actually has representatives touting creationism should be taught as a science in public schools, that college education is for snobs or universal health care will end society as we know it.

    Twenty years ago gay marriage was considered absurd, a nonsense, the sort of thing stand up comedians would joke about, now a conservative government in Britain is considering making it law. Similarly mainstream Christian thinking on sexual morality was accepted as just one of those things, today if a preacher claims that homosexuality is immoral,

    Not sure where you are even going with this as these same comedians would be making jokes about equal rights for women in the workforce, or take it back another couple of decades we could all be rolling in the aisles with the Sambo jokes.
    As for Christian thinking on morality, you have a point far. As I am aware the Catholic position is still contraception is an evil, despite the untold misery of unplanned pregnancies and disease in third world countries. Of course, so is divorce no matter how often he beats you. You will forgive me if I don’t look to religion on what should be a rational social standard.

    Again, it always comes back to what exactly is this great socialist, leftist platform that has been enacted that so threatens the US or OZ? Surely it cant be just the gays?

    After all of the above, nothing changes the fact governments of the “left” seem to be universally inept at implementation of policies and basic economics (the Australian Government may go down in history as the most inept in the nations history). However, incompetence does not equal evil nor a planned assault on the fabric of society.

  25. avatar ET says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Arie Brand

    I still can’t believe that someone with your literary interests hasn’t heard of Gog and Magog or the Book of Revelation. I did some research in Wikipedia and it seems that they are even well known by the Lord Mayor of London

    Despite their generally negative depiction in the Bible, Lord Mayors of the City of London carry images of Gog and Magog (depicted as giants) in a traditional procession in the Lord Mayor’s Show. According to the tradition, the giants Gog and Magog are guardians of the City of London, and images of them have been carried in the Lord Mayor’s Show since the days of King Henry V. The Lord Mayor’s procession takes place each year on the second Saturday of November.

    I think Chirac must have consulted the wrong people to get his information and Webster and Oxford Dictionairies are not as complete as they pretend. Gog and Magog also feature in Irish mythology and their presence is even felt down under in the Royal Arcade of Melbourne (see picture). And not surprisingly they are also mentioned in 2 surats of Al Qu’ran.

    Now don’t come and tell us that you also never heard of ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

  26. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    ET, you keep evading the main issue namely that Bush’s babbling about his millenarian expectations showed some of his real motives in his unprovoked invasion of Iraq . That Chirac, his office staff, the French Federation of Protestants and yours truly had never taken the trouble to get briefed on Gog and Magog is not even a side issue.

    BB the idea that a “long march through the institutions” from the left has taken place is a con of which you seem to be a victim rather than a fellow perpetrator. The fact that you could only come up with gay rights shows the slenderness of the thread you are holding on to.

    I have, in fact, seen over the last ten years quite a different thing: a short and quite brutal march through American institutions, mainly those having to do with the administration of justice, from the neocon right (though Obama is a fellow perpetrator).

    So now we have in the land of the free and the home of the brave:

    Warrantless arrests
    Imprisonment without due process of law
    Indefinite detention
    Torture
    A list of Americans marked for assassination

    The only presidential candidate who has warned against this accelerated march towards a police state is Ron Paul who has proposed the repeal of the Patriot Act as one of the main points on his agenda. He has among people bamboozled by the fake phenomenon of a left wing “long march through the institutions” not a scintilla of a chance to be elected.

    We have also seen the ready acceptance of war crimes such as:

    Unprovoked aggression (“preemptive war”)
    The wanton killing of civilians (“collateral damage”)
    American soldiery playing video games with live people (“correct rules of engagement”- see the video “collateral murder” released by Wikileaks here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0)

    In general the American army has been violating both American laws against war crimes as well as the Geneva Convention.

    It seems to me BB that these things are a bit more important than the question whether a fellow has a right to marry another fellow, whether or not a woman is boss over her own belly and whether nudity in pornography has progressed from the square centimetres of skin exposed by the full length bathing suits of yesteryear to those limited by virtually nothing.

    It is a con and a smoke screen.

  27. avatar berlian biru says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Leaving aside the why should anyone care who someone else wants to marry as there is no rational argument against it (shed load of religious fear mongering and hate tho). The fact is to the vast majority of the population gay marriage or not is a non-issue.

    Again confirming my point how profound the sea change in “reasonable thought” is.

    I am making no judgment on whether gay marriage is a good thing or not. What I am pointing out is how a concept that was inconceivable previously and only tentatively put forward by fringe advocates on the far left (as we have agreed, left wing politics today is about social issues not about economics) has now become mainstream and those people who only a generation ago would have opposed such a move for perfectly normal and non-controversial reasons now find themselves suddenly sidelined as members of some sort of right wing lunatic fringe.

    It’s amazing how effective it has been.

    It’s not just gay rights, it’s other issues, immigration and race, marriage in general, rights of transgendered, abortion, children’s corporal punishment, euthanasia, education in general, family law, the arts, police and justice etc.

    In so many fields ideas that were previously the monopoly of the oddball extremes of the left are now simply taken for granted as normal and mainstream by the media, academia, the judiciary and the government and those who oppose these ideas are effectively and immediately portrayed as braying, barking mad fascists.

  28. avatar Arie Brand says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Moral entrepreneurs once opposed:

    Forms of punishment like being broken on the wheel, burned at the stake or disembowelled

    the chaining of mentally ill people to the wall and displaying them for entertainment

    Inhumane treatment in prisons

    slavery

    child labour

    the harsh treatment of children in general

    capital punishment

    Etc.

    They were often reviled for their efforts by the then BBs – now people hardly understand how these practices were once seen as natural and self evident.

    Reforms were often initiated by courageous individuals, moral entrepeneurs, who managed to wake up the lethargic consciences around them. Look at the efforts of the first British prison reformer, John Howard, or Dorothea Dix and Dr. John Galt in the US. Look at the small group of individuals called the Clapham Sect that was so effective in the abolition of slavery. And as far as the cruel treatment of children is concerned, particularly in sub standard boarding schools, Dickens has on his own done more for that than could have been done by squads of blue book compilers.

    The contemporary reforms that seem to upset you, BB, are also often the result of individual efforts rather than a left wing “long march through the institutions”. It is true that among the liberal left there were probably more people whose consciences could be woken up than was the case among the rigidified right. But an organised “long march through the institutions”? – I remain convinced that that idea is a con designed to mobilize the ignorant and change resistant mass for ulterior political purposes.

    I find it strange BB that the alarming changes I discussed in my last post don’t seem to upset you at all.

  29. avatar stevo says:
    March 21st, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Reforms were often initiated by courageous individuals, moral entrepeneurs, who managed to wake up the lethargic consciences around them.

    Does that include these reforms Arie? & did the BB’s of world revile them, as you suggest? :

    So now we have in the land of the free and the home of the brave:

    Warrantless arrests
    Imprisonment without due process of law
    Indefinite detention
    Torture
    A list of Americans marked for assassination

    And who were the “reformers” who suggested the following?:

    Forms of punishment like being broken on the wheel, burned at the stake or disembowelled

    the chaining of mentally ill people to the wall and displaying them for entertainment

    Inhumane treatment in prisons

    slavery

    child labour

    the harsh treatment of children in general

    capital punishment

    Etc.

    At some point all those barbaric acts were once seen as reforming and progressive. Some one had to think them up and put the systems for change in place to allow this to happen. Possibly the “Aries of the day”

    Reforms were often initiated by courageous individuals, moral entrepeneurs, who managed to wake up the lethargic consciences around them.

    And here are a few of them: Hitler, Mao, Stalin Etc…. All of these examples claimed to be reforming the system for the benefit of the people. All were left of centre in their policies, interestingly.

    The point I am making is that not all reform is good. As you have pointed out, when we look back at history we often find things that are appalling by contemporary standards. But you are ignoring the fact that these things may have been seen as progressive improvements in morality, at the time. You seem to be assuming the moral high ground, but history and evidence is not on your side.

    It is often a matter of personal opinion as to what is an improvement and what is not. As an example, I am personally oppossed to capital punishment, but many are not. I am strongly against corporal punnishment and see it as nothing more than disgusting barbaric torture. But some in Singapore see it as part of decent civilised society, that protects its people.

    I think your wrong to assume your point of view is morally superior, not withstanding I may largely agree with it.

    (This is where Oigal comes in shrilling I condone child Norwegian rape victim refugees being broken on the wheel, burned at the stake or disembowelled before being tossed in the sea and machine gunned. I hope your smarter than that Arie & can see my point ;) )

  30. avatar berlian biru says:
    March 21st, 2012 at 7:49 am

    The reformers who got slavery abolished were white, English, conservative, devout Christian men, and in those five defining characteristics you get the perfect summation of all that is most rejected by the left today.

    Just for the record the people who most opposed slavery are almost exactly the same type of people today who loathe abortion, euthanasia and other such “reforms” of the left, and are despised in exactly the same way as the anti-slavery lobby was despised back then.

    But Arie wants to contend that opposing public funded obscenity, the promotion of abortion, teaching condom use to elementary schoolers, forcing religious organisations to close because the government dislikes their moral teaching, supporting the break up of traditional families, the mass importation of unassimilated foreigners into a society without thought for the future, liberalising the laws on dangerous narcotics, continually lowering the age of sexual consent, limiting freedom of speech and association to only those the government approves of etc is exactly the same as supporting disembowelling people then frankly he’s gone so far off the deep end that there’s little I can do to help.

    It does at least prove that I am right when I point out that anyone who merely suggests that left wing “reforms” may have gone too far will instantly be met, not with rational debate, but hysterical accusations of nascent Nazism.

    The left do hyperbole very well.

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