« Today's vocabulary word: madrassas | Main | Open Thread »

November 12, 2004

Comments

I respectfully disagree. The holy war being urged by Dobson and his ilk against people like Edward is only marginally different from the holy war being urged by jihadist radical clerics overseas. The fact that Dobson is not calling for violence explicitly does not change the underlying message: theocracy over democracy.

and frankly i'm sick and tired of being slandered by association with michael moore and barbra streisand. the repub. lunatic fringe is now demanding its pound of flesh. well guess what. since we democrats lost the election fair and square, it is YOUR responsibility, von, and the other moderates in the repub. party to start pushing back. Each party is far too much in thrall to its extremist wings, and now is the time for the repub. moderates to flex what muscles they have to prevent their extremists from doing too much damage to the rest of us.

best of luck. i'll be cheering for you from the sidelines.

Francis

The fact that Dobson is not calling for violence explicitly does not change the underlying message: theocracy over democracy.

Dissent-quashing!

As much as I dislike Dobson, he's got a perfect right to say whatever he likes. And you've got a perfect right to excoriate him for it. Like it or not, that's one of the things that makes a democracy a thing of beauty. Once you start dictating to people what they can and cannot say, you're being an authoritarian, the threat of which is what has you worked up to begin with.

Uhh, Slart, shouldn't you be dissenting to von's post saying Edward shouldn't say something in dissent, instead of dissenting to a dissent to his dissent of the dissent?

von: it's my understanding (which may be wrong) that a madrassa is just an Islamic religious school, not specifically one that calls for violent jihad or supports the Taliban or whatever. I could be wrong. But if I'm not, then I'd think that Edward's use of the term is on target: people who want to remake the curriculum according to their own religious doctrines are precisely trying to transform them into religious schools.

Yes, rilkefan. I mean, no.

A little internal debate going on; I'll need a few minutes.

I also respectfully disagree, perhaps with more respect but still strenuously. Madrassas do not just refer to terror-training schools or even extreme Wahabbist schools. The main gripe against them that I've seen is that they are rigidly religious schools, in some places forcing students to do nothing more than memorize the Qu'ran in languages they don't even know. There's still an element of hyperbole in Edward's comparison, perhaps, but I think it's apt overall given the replacement of scientific method with religiosity, and think it's wrong-headed to consider the entire concept of a madrassa to be so wedded to terrorism that it gets its own Godwin Corollary.

Darn you hilzoy, you beat me! That's what I get for bothering to link.

What hilzoy said. Some might take exception to von's implicit equivalence of "madrassas" and terrorism. The point here, I think, is that the imposition of a particular religious doctrine on public education is something to be resisted strenuously.

Let's save this word for true madrassas, and not weaken it by rhetorical hyperbole

Since the word madrassas means "school" in Arabic, it seems that you are misusing it as well. According to wordIQ:

The word can also appear transliterated as madrasa, as madrash, or as madressa. The word is used in Arabic in all the contexts that the word school is in English: for private, public and parochial schools, and for any elementary or secondary schools, whether Muslim, of other religions, or secular. Like the English word school, madrassa is not used to refer to a university

The word has, of course, been hijacked to refer to schools whose teachings are based on Islam, and according to one recent Business Week article, the militancy of such schools is greatly exaggerated:

Politics played a major role in financing these schools. And nowhere has the growth of madrassas been more of an issue than in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and Gulf States with majority Sunni populations wanted Pakistan to serve as a buffer against the Shiites who had come to power in Iran in the late 1970s. So they bankrolled madrassas in Pakistan. The Saudis in particular exported Wahhabism, a particularly rigid expression of the Islam faith that relies on strict interpretation of the Koran. But while religion plays an important role in the schools, jihadism by and large doesn't.

"They may train people who are more bent on a religious view of things, but that doesn't necessarily mean a militant curriculum," says Vali Nasr, a professor of Middle East and South Asia politics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif. (It's believed that few of the Wahabbi madrassas teach violence. However, they're extremely conservative.)

So it appears both of you are misusing the word. All of which has become redundant in the 10 minutes it took me to look this up, but oh well.

von, I have no problem with not calling them madrassas. But I think the new liberal blog policy of calling Bob Jones "Radical cleric Bob Jones" is a good one.

I've had it with being called a hater of God's people by people I've never met.

Is it OK to call the spiritual leader of Bob Jones Univ. an Ayatollah?

Von, so what do we call people who seem to want to have the same kind of power the Taliban had? They don't have to do precisely the same things. After all, America is not Afghanistan and Christianity is not Islam. Say there is a group of people who to all obvious measurements and data - not to mention their actual words - show that they want to turn the US into a religious theocracy. Now, wouldn't that be something that should be opposed, and if they actually seize power, people we might have to kill in an uprising to take back our country?

I'm certainly not saying that is the case, but it's pretty clear that the US isn't supposed to be a theocracy and there's foundation level documents that back up this belief.

Luckily, Dobson really isn't in power and we really don't have our government taken over by a theocracy so we don't have to rise up and take back our country. But Dobson and his ilk really do want a theocracy. And if they ever did get their dream, they would be the moral equivalent of the Taliban in pretty much every meaningful sense of the phrase.

So using the word "madrassas" seems quite the appropriate literary allusion to refer to Dobson and the rest of those jackals.

Just because it is nasty doesn't mean that it isn't appropriate.

Interesting debate. In regard to what madrassas are/have become in semantic terms (simply religious schools or training grounds for terrorists) I would note one historical point. One of the justifications for the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II was the 'fact' that they went to Japanese schools where they were supposedly indoctrinated into Emperor worship which, by extension, turned them into enemies of the US. Bear in mind that over half of the Nisei (second generation Japanese-Americans who were born in America and therefore were American citizens) were under 18, so because the schools had some component of nationalism and respect for Japan, this became a 'fact' that they were being indoctrinated the internement was therefore justified. See here and here for current day attempts to link the notion of these schools to the potential of espionage, attempts that reveal far more about the mentality of those who hold such views rather than any historical reality.

With the greatest of respect, von, I wonder if we are seeing some of the same thing in your phrase "Let's save this word for true madrassas, and not weaken it by rhetorical hyperbole." I certainly realize that terms can evolve and become weapons to denounce (My favorite example is 'anarchist', but I will leave an explanation of that to regular reader anarch as I've always been interested in how he decided on his handle) Perhaps the term madrassa is too far save, I don't know. But if it is, what does that say about our attempts to understand Islam?

One of the most heartening things about the aftermath of 9-11 was the rush on books about Islam. One of the most depressing things is how this thirst for information was fed by gallons of neo-con koolaid representing Islam as the threat to our civilization, done by lumping all forms of Islam into a 'we hate the West' mold. I only hope that 50 years from now, we can see how we were mislead by this and regard the neo-cons in the same way we look a DeWitt or a Bendetsen.

To end on a bit of a funny note, about 3 years ago, when the question of what madrassas were was all over the news, one piece of CNN's stock footage was of a student at a madrassa memorizing the Koran, rocking back and forth. Being CNN, you could see this footage every hour or so. My daughter, who was 2, whenever this came on, would go over to the tv and thinking that she was supposed to return what she thought was a bow, would start bowing to the TV.

Keep up the good work... you can marginilize yourselves even more so...

"People who want to remake the curriculum according to their own religious doctrines are precisely trying to transform them into religious schools."

Presenting opposing views is not creating religious schools.

Just so we can be clear... can someone point me to an animal that we are currently watching evolve into another species? Can someone show me proof of a dog producing a non-dog? Or did all evolution just decide to take a breather?

Now, I happen to accept many parts of evolution... but for people to be sceptical of a theory that can't be competely proven doesn't make them the religious fanatics that Edward intentionally compared them to.

i agree with hilzoy and francis wholeheartedly.

and von, i don't understand why your comment wasn't put on edward's thread, where it belongs. and it's not the first time this has happened.

Presenting opposing views is not creating religious schools.

There are many opposing views within Biology as to the nature of evolution, and those should be taught - if merely for the sake that I think it makes for more interesting teaching that way. But the opposing viewpoints of Creationism or Intelligent Design simply cannot be considered Science. Given the religious overtones of both, it's bringing religion into to the schools. The madrassa talk is hyperbole, but this isn't exactly a secular disagreement going on here.

Just so we can be clear... can someone point me to an animal that we are currently watching evolve into another species? Can someone show me proof of a dog producing a non-dog? Or did all evolution just decide to take a breather?

Given that the dog itself is an evolutionary companion to man, you've hit something there. Look at the wild variance in dogs, which exists entirely through selective breeding, and you can see that evolutionary mechanisms have quite a wide pallette to work with even in the short-term. If you're looking for jumps from one species to another - that's a hard one but it can be shown to be possible, but has not been observed (as far as I know, which isn't much.)

Uh, joe-joe, knowledge of evolution is not marginal, no matter what fringe preachers like Dobson might claim. It's an interesting rhetorical jiu-jitsu to make claims like you do. But it doesn;t mean you're right.

Just so we can be clear... can someone point me to an animal that we are currently watching evolve into another species?

It'll make more sense once you get to junior high, joe-joe. Assuming you go to a decent school. In the meantime, Cichlid speciation isn't the example I was looking for (I thought there was something published recently about a strain of human head lice that were no longer able to mate with human pubic lice) but it was the first one I ran across.

Phlogiston is an "opposing view," dude. Epicycles are an opposing view. Maybe you'd prefer to use those models too...

Microevolution via natural selection, as in The Peppered Moth (not a Sherlock Holmes mystery):

"In pre-industrial England, a species of moth, the peppered moth (Biston betularia) occurred. Almost all peppered moths were gray with dark flecks, but very rarely a black moth was observed. The color forms are illustrated here; note that they belong to the same species; they reproduce with each other, and the color difference depends primarily on alternate alleles for a single gene. The black moths were presumably produced by mutation: biochemical change in DNA that makes up the genes for a trait.

In industrial areas, because black moths avoided being eaten by birds, they survived better and therefore reproduced more (had higher fitness.) As a result, each generation, more and more of the offspring born came from black parents and inherited the black coloration, since the color differences between moths (gray versus black) are genetic. After many moth generations, almost all the moths in industrial areas were black. Black coloration is an adaptation to an environment with black tree trunks; that is, it has evolved through natural selection because black individuals have higher fitness in forests with black tree trunks than do gray moths."

"ObWi Six" makes it sound like you're all in the docket together on conspiracy charges or something.

Just so we can be clear... can someone point me to an animal that we are currently watching evolve into another species?

Sure. The studies you are looking for include Lokki and Saura 1980; Bullini and Nascetti 1990; Vrijenhoek 1994.

Now, I happen to accept many parts of evolution... but for people to be sceptical of a theory that can't be competely proven doesn't make them the religious fanatics that Edward intentionally compared them to.

If a theory could be completely proven, it wouldn't be a theory. When skeptics refuse to advance counterarguments in their attack on scientific theories, the "religious fanatic" flag rightly gets thrown. If you want to argue science, please do so. I gave you the names of the studies, what do you find lacking in their methodology?

Whatever one thinks of people like James Dobson, it's worth noting that they are seeking to impose their own particular view of the world through traditional American political means: advocacy, organization, donations, etc. When they break out the AKs and start implementing frontier justice (e.g. pushing stone walls on top of gay people), then we can bust out the moral equivalence.

That's what you were trying to get at, right Von?

I suppose Von might object to referring to the CIA as the ISI or Mukhabaret given the recent news.

Let's see;

Public education used as indoctrination mechanism to promote state-sponsored religion---check.

State-sponsored and controlled media--check.

Highest law enforcement officer in land promotes torture--check.

Allow intelligence community to become political arm of Executive Branch--check.

One day, someone might liberate this country and make us safe for democracy.


With all due respect, Von, I suspect a careful study of history would show that almost all theocrats seem reasonable at first.

The time to stop these people is now, before they've siezed power.

Jonas,

"If you're looking for jumps from one species to another - that's a hard one but it can be shown to be possible, but has not been observed (as far as I know, which isn't much.)"

That's really the point is it not?

radish,

"Cichlid speciation"

In the link you provided are your fish still not fish?

VeniVedi,

"The Peppered Moth"

In the link you provided are your moth's still not moths?

And felix it seems your plants are still plants.

The point is that there is much room for debate. But, it seems that many here want to silence those with other opinions about the nature of the universe.

radish, felixrayman, thanks for the erudition injection into the conversation, but "your plants are still plants". Come back when you can show ladybugs evolving into orange trees in real time.

Hey, since people here probably know serious stuff about cichlid speciation and can enlighten my doubt on a point: how does one exclude the possibility that the fish had evolved in changing environments and had a library of genes available to call on, so don't show adaptation in (what I thought of as) the classic sense of discovery of new methods?

praktike: Whatever one thinks of people like James Dobson, it's worth noting that they are seeking to impose their own particular view of the world through traditional American political means: advocacy, organization, donations, etc. When they break out the AKs and start implementing frontier justice (e.g. pushing stone walls on top of gay people), then we can bust out the moral equivalence.

I think you mean deer rifles, not AK's. We have had scattered shootings of OB/GYN's for performing abortions, bombings of family-planning clinics, and fatal beatings of homosexuals. These aren't centrally organized acts, they are currently very rare, and I don't hold Dobson or Falwell personally accountable for them, but frontier justice is not exactly a hypothetical here.

In the link you provided are your fish still not fish?

What...next, you're going to want to see sperm whales change directly to plankton, or vice versa? Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

That's really the point is it not?

Not the point of Creationism or Intelligent Design, no. If you're genuinely interested in seeing what evidence exists regarding mutations to new species, I can ask my girlfriend as she did some research on this very point precisely because of its relevance to this debate.

And it is one that I think Scientists need to get a little more enthusiastic about explaining to those who bring it up. A high school biology teacher of mine, who deliberately liked to make my life miserable, put me on the Creationism side of a Creationism vs. Evolution debate that we had. We won the debate, by hammering this point, because the evolution side had no idea how this worked.

The point is that there is much room for debate. But, it seems that many here want to silence those with other opinions about the nature of the universe.

There's room for much debate, as I pointed out before. But not on the terms where an completely alternate theory, on completely different timescales, with completely mystical mechanisms becomes a constructive one.

joe-joe: In the link you provided are your fish still not fish?

In the link you provided are your moth's still not moths?

And felix it seems your plants are still plants.

"Fish" is not a species. It is a superclass Pisces. Neither is "moth" a species. It is a subset of the order Lepidoptera. Nor is "plant" a species. It is a kingdom, Plantae.

Of course, like species, these are all arbitary human categories describing natural variations in living things, but they all represent much larger timescales in the evolutionary process than does speciation, however arbitrary it may be as a marker. And speciation represents very large timescales itself, certainly much longer than our lifetimes in most cases. I don't stand on a mountain, fail to feel the earth move, then proclaim that the planet's surface is static and unchanging. And I sure as hell wouldn't want such simplistic reasoning taught to my kids..

The point is that there is much room for debate. But, it seems that many here want to silence those with other opinions about the nature of the universe.

Skepticism is healthy -- indeed it is critical to science -- and it should be taught to children. But that doesn't mean we should throw competing claims at impressionable kids indiscriminately. Would you have our children taught that our astronauts might have landed on the moon, but that it might also have been faked in a TV studio? Or that bacteria and viruses might cause infectious disease, but that it might also be an imbalance in one's chakras? Or that the English language originated in the destruction of the tower of Babel? It becomes a problem of signal-to-noise. If you wish to offer your kids such competing claims for serious consideration, that is up to you. That is not the proper role of the public schools, though.

Highly recommended reading for anyone wanting to argue either side of this debate:

The Talkorigins FAQ.

The Talkorigins Evolution is a Fact and Theory FAQ.

Talkorigins Intro to Evolutionary Biology FAQ.

Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution FAQ.

And felix it seems your plants are still plants

None of the references I cited dealt with speciation in plants.

What you asked was:

can someone point me to an animal that we are currently watching evolve into another species

The answer is yes, someone can and I did. What you are now asking is, to paraphrase, "can someone point me to an instance of evolution working in a way that no scientist in the field of study is claiming that evolution works".

The answer to that is no.

Is archeopteryx no longer considered a transitional species? Is there any reputable (ie, scientific) doubt that birds are descendants of dinosaurs?

(My favorite example is 'anarchist', but I will leave an explanation of that to regular reader anarch as I've always been interested in how he decided on his handle)

Lo! thy dread Empire, Chaos! is restor'd;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And Universal Darkness buries All.

[That was the original impetus, though I must admit there've been plenty of other... shall we say cross-pollinating? germs throughout the years that have led me to keep it.]

Hey, since people here probably know serious stuff about cichlid speciation

Not me. Brief fascination with sharks many years ago, followed by a detour through hymenopterans and out of real bio altogether into systems theory. May I pontificate anyway?

how does one exclude the possibility that the fish had evolved in changing environments and had a library of genes available to call on...?

Talk about a controversial question. Me personally I don't exclude it. In fact as a proponent of punctuated equilibrium I'm kind of stuck with the "gene reservoir" interpretation of junk DNA whether I like it or not, because without it it's hard to come up with a suitable genetic mechanism that accelerates morphological changes without screwing up the organism's overall viability.

joe-joe's "the fish are still fish" critique is actually helpful here, even if he's way off on the time frames. It's perfectly legitimate to ask how fish become fowl in so many years or so many generations. Actual mechanisms and rates of morphological divergence are still awful murky -- that's why people use genetic divergence when they want to figure out how closely related things are. Nice and clean and subject to statistical analysis and simulation and so forth.

Thus my suspicion that the "reservoir" hypothesis has some merit. The fact that we're having so much trouble drawing reliable pictures of morphological drift despite having a pretty reasonable grip on genetic drift suggests to me that the gradualism is not the whole story.

However.... Neo-darwinist punct. eq. talks a good game but it's way too soon to get cocky. Last year I saw (in a book -- wish I could remember which one) a very persuasive argument that comparing genetic drift with morpho drift over the entire course of evolutionary history suggests that punct. eq. type events as a pattern have been gradually replaced more and more by gradualism! YMMV.

These aren't centrally organized acts, they are currently very rare, and I don't hold Dobson or Falwell personally accountable for them, but frontier justice is not exactly a hypothetical here.

I disagree.

Paul Hill was aligned with the Army of God which has substantial ties to Operation Rescue. (Note: OR has been in a state of flux recently because of 'difficulties' in founder Randall Terry's personal life as well as the somewhat bizarre tactics of new OR head Flip Benham).

Falwell, until very recently, has been a big benefactor of OR.

If you do a little research on the anti-abortion movement, you'll find these killings and bombings almost always can be traced back to OR--and to some extent, groups like Falwell's.

By definition, the writers on this blog will disagree from time to time. We all accept that in agreeing to write here. I do wish to note that I'm more in agreement with von's point than disagreement, but not as it assumes my intent. As I noted on that other thread

Interesting comparison, but I think in the real madrassas they teach that the infadel needs to be killed.

It's meant to be a bit tongue in cheek Joe-Joe, but note that originally the madrassas were more scholarly than infidel-killing oriented...unchecked, things can, er, evolve that way.

I think it's time to be specific in our national dialog and note that madrassas means "school" and more importantly not forget how some of those schools were hijacked by fanatics and keep in mind that that should serve as a warning to us here.

I think Leo has a long way to go before she should be compared to a terrorist, granted, but she shouldn't be going as far as she is without folks speaking up and calling her on it.

If nobody's going to post any posts, how about an open thread? Anyway, here's the Bush admin at least doing something to to address the situation in Sudan.

In other unsolicited opinions, _The Incredibles_ is visually stunning, excellent overall, a bit long with noticeable let-down in the last act, and its aynranding was annoying but bearable.

I neither found "The Incredibles" long nor anywhere close to Ayn Rand territory. Sure it emphasized the importance of living up to your individual potential, but it also demonstrated very nicely how everyone working together, using their own gifts, can overcome odds that a single individual cannot.

And it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time.

If we're hijacking this thread...does anyone find themselves bizarrely moved by the "Sorry Everybody" website?

Not that there aren't plenty of pictures that I object to for one reason or another, and a few I find downright offensive. But the overall effect...something about regular people standing up and being counted, and seeing people differentiated from their government.

I think Leo has a long way to go before she should be compared to a terrorist, granted, but she shouldn't be going as far as she is without folks speaking up and calling her on it.

But compared vis-a-vis what? If my friend is going all-out to do something, and I say 'Wow. You're like Osama: you stop at nothing,' it should be patently obvious that I'm not suggesting my friend is a terrorist willing to kill non-combatants. I'm isolating a specific trait in common between both, and using that commonality for some purpose (in this hypothetical, for comedic purposes [lame comedy, but nonetheless]).

When people compare Xian fundies to the Taliban, they're not suggesting that xian fundies are going to support al-qaeda or kill civilians. They're isolating the totalizing and theocratic impulse common to both. Why? One of the reasons the Taliban was so bad was their unilateral imposition of their religious conception on the society around them. That's the common element, and the efficacy of the metaphor relies on the hidden premise that the recipient of the metaphor shares the negative judgment of this imposition.

Also, as much as I dislike and fear the Christian right, this is a lot more worrisome:

The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."

I know, it's anonymous sources and there is politicking going on on all sides. However, Royce is a good reporter, and it is hard to see whether there is a conceivable way to get this story without anonymous sources.

Maybe Scheuer and Kappes will talk. Of course the usual suspects will then dismiss them too, on the now-familiar argument that critics of the administration are not reliable sources because they, er, criticize the administration.

ah, crap. Does that fix it?

this article doesn't use incendiary words like "purge", but offers more specifics, so if anything it's more troubling.

Last week, Deputy Director John E. McLaughlin retired after a series of confrontations between senior operations officials and Goss's top aide, Patrick Murray. Days before, the chief of the clandestine service, Stephen R. Kappes, said he would resign rather than carry out Murray's demand to fire Kappes's deputy, Michael Sulick, for challenging Murray's authority.

Goss and the White House asked Kappes to delay his decision until Monday, but they are actively considering his replacement, several current and former CIA officials said.

Kappes, whose accomplishments include persuading Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to renounce weapons of mass destruction this year, began removing personal photos from his office walls yesterday, associates said.

A handful of other senior undercover operations officers have talked seriously about resigning, as soon as Monday.

also:

Within the past month, four former deputy directors of operations have tried to offer CIA Director Porter J. Goss advice about changing the clandestine service without setting off a rebellion, but Goss has declined to speak to any of them, said former CIA officials aware of the communications.

The four senior officials represent nearly two decades of experience leading the Directorate of Operations under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The officials were dismayed by the reaction and were concerned that Goss has isolated himself from the agency's senior staff, said former clandestine service officers aware of the offers.

The senior operations officials "wanted to talk as old colleagues and tell him to stop what he was doing the way he was doing it," said a former senior official familiar with the effort.

further down:

The four former deputy directors of operations who have tried to offer Goss advice are Thomas Twetten, Jack Downing, Richard F. Stoltz and the recently retired James L. Pavitt.

They "wanted to save him from going through" what two other directors, Stansfield Turner and John M. Deutch, had experienced when they tried to make personnel changes quickly, one former senior official aware of their efforts said.


re the update: von - I think I would be more inclined to agree with you if a) this continued and became more prevalent and b) it didn't involve unilateral verbal disarmament.

Fair point regarding (a); as for (b): waiting for "multilateral" disarmament is a proposal to wait forever. Someone must make the first move.

von - re b) - ok, how about the guys who won the last few rounds holstering their wedge words?

regarding the metaphor...there are so many more offensive metaphors being used by folks upset by this trend. "Texas Taliban" is one I find offensive (for the exact reasons von finds madrassas offensive), so I understand where von is coming from, but I chose madrassas specifically because it represents what I see as the biggest threat here...the progression from a religious curriculum into an intolerant, anti-intellectual environment. I disagree that it means only "infidel"-intolerant ideology incubator to those who read my original post; I give our readers more credit than that.

Let's not mix words though, Leo is insisting that "facts" be added to textbooks that purposely spread hate/misinformation about homosexuals. This is dangerous for all the gay students in those schools. Her chosen wording:

Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide.

is horrendously irresponsible. Forget how unscholarly this is (i.e., "homosexuals" includes "lesbians," so why the redundancy? "more prone" than whom is not clarified, and is she qualified to insert such a statement into textbooks?), why is she singling out homosexuals at all here if not to spread hatred? I imagine opinions vary on why the Bush daughters are seemingly more prone to self-destructive behavior than Chelsea Clinton seems to be as well, but it's not appropriate for state education officials to insist that such a statement be inserted into textbooks.

I imagine opinions vary on why the Bush daughters are seemingly more prone to self-destructive behavior than Chelsea Clinton seems to be as well, but it's not appropriate for state education officials to insist that such a statement be inserted into textbooks...

...without photographs.

That’s an insufficient defense, however. Metaphors are contextual, and draw upon the most common meaning of a term known to the reader

When such metaphors bear no relation to reality, they deserve to be corrected. It is you, not Edward, that is providing the more egregious misinterpretation of the word - a misinterpretation that a quick google search could have avoided. I may be wrong, and if so, I assume you will provide me with the evidence you have that Islamic schools are more likely to produce "galactically-dangerous idiot(s)" than secular schools in the same regions.

If not, you are arguing that we should not upset the prejudices of the majority, no matter how false they may be.

Von...You 'da man. Guess you are feeling your oats with this election. Should the name of this site be changed to Red State Redux or Tacitus 2? Not only have you Counter-threaded Edward but dissed he and Hilzoy at the same time. You've jumped the shark even sooner than i ever would have predicted. Congrats. Another update on how you're being misunderstood, please!

It's "dissed him". As for the rest: huh?

ah, monday morning quarterbacking. i should never post after a sunday night margarita fest. please tone down above post about 2 notches (still don't like counter-threading though).

is it really 'him and' instead of 'he and'? it doesn't sound right for some reason.

A contextual metaphor discovered in a dusty attic:

Arlen Spector, apparently of his own volition, was recently spotted stumbling out of the recently resupplied conservative foxhole on one side of the battleground and moving toward the cutoff, liberal foxhole on the other side waving his handkerchief (not pristinely white; but not completely non-white). Just as weapons were being lowered cautiously and trigger-fingers relaxed in the foxhole he was heading toward, a hail of gunfire rang out and Spector fell. Satellite imagery and night-vision binocular technology seem to confirm all wounds located in his back, suggesting he received unfriendly, friendly fire. Not sure Spector is dead yet; some movement detected.

A quick digital scan of the horizon detects no madrasses near the battlefield. Unconfirmed rumors indicate a Christian cross momentarily rose above the mist just before the incident.

Lieutenant Von, a recent defector but an able trusted soldier and officer, is requesting volunteers to venture into no-man's land to check Spector's pulse and to establish visual contact with the troops in the opposite foxhole from whence the gunfire erupted.

Private John Thullen may volunteer, but only after airstrikes are called in to take out some enemy positions. He would suggest the new tactical bunker-buster nuclear weaponry be deployed. Should these requests be denied by higher-ups and the order given anyway for this suicide mission, Private Thullen is writing a last letter home and kissing his you-know-what-goodbye.

still don't like counter-threading though

I disagree -- a counter-thread fosters cross-communication. The whole point of ObWi is to have the left and right engage; you can't do that by ignoring the disagreements among the ObWi regulars. And Ed's more than capable of counter-counter-threading, if he thinks it's necessary.

is it really 'him and' instead of 'he and'? it doesn't sound right for some reason.

It's "him and" because Ed and Hilzoy are direct objects in the sentence it question.

It's "him and" because Ed and Hilzoy are direct objects in the sentence it question.

All hail the Grammar God!

You're right, von. Those who equate the fascism, intolerance and violence of Islamic extremists with Christian conservatives have gutted their own arguments with excess hyperbole. It also betrays no small amount of bigotry toward conservative Christians, not to mention a scary ignorance of a whole broad spectrum of believers. The Jesusland term is an insult used by bitter leftist losers, and it does nothing to solve their rather serious problem of persuading a majority of voters to their side.

While the definition of madrassa may be broad, it was used by Edward in the context of the extremist schools of the Taliban and the Saudi-funded breeding grounds for up and coming terrorists.

The Jesusland term is an insult used by bitter leftist losers

Excess hyperbole, indeed. Please either follow the posting rules or leave, OK?

Thank you.

...breeding grounds for up and coming terrorists.

You mean like Army of God?

Or Christian Identity?

Phineas Priests, perhaps?

Perhaps Mr.Dog was referring to the NRA who gave us Timothy McVeigh. Who's to say when tarring everyone and everything with such a broad brush?

the NRA who gave us Timothy McVeigh

It's the thought that counts, I guess.

But compared vis-a-vis what? If my friend is going all-out to do something, and I say 'Wow. You're like Osama: you stop at nothing,' it should be patently obvious that I'm not suggesting my friend is a terrorist willing to kill non-combatants. I'm isolating a specific trait in common between both, and using that commonality for some purpose (in this hypothetical, for comedic purposes [lame comedy, but nonetheless]).

How about an interesting but true story--I worked on a case where a Middle Eastern employee worked for a finance company. He was ruthless in deals and in the late 1990s he and his co-workers joked that he was a finance 'terrorist' because he would do anything for a deal. One co-worker called him 'bin Laden' after Clinton tried to bomb the real bin Laden. When the guy did something really crazy and had to be terminated, all the e-mail jokes came out in a lawsuit he brought against the company. It wasn't pretty.

"It's the thought that counts"

Guess a two-minute google doesn't make me informed.

Hmmm...NRA's responsible for McVeigh because he was a member?

Does this mean we can blame Harvard for Ted Kaczynski? Who do we get to blame for Ed Gein? Wisconsin? Ag subsidies?

Ex-member. Apparently one who read and took to heart a lot of far-right gun literature, some from the NRA. Anyway, how about Jadegold makes his case and then you reach a conclusion?

Hmmm...NRA's responsible for McVeigh because he was a member?

Would madrassas that preached hate and violent Jihad against the West be responsible for the actions of their graduates?

Ah, you were being skeptical, rilkefan, rather than sarcastic. My apologies.

No blood no foul, but in any case I wasn't at the time being either skeptical or sarcastic, far as I know - I was just expressing ignorance beyond a smattering of info possibly consistent with the thesis - but admittedly one-sentence comments are dangerous.

felix,
Excess hyperbole, indeed. Please either follow the posting rules or leave, OK?

Those who have used the derogatory term Jesusland are leftists who are bitter about losing the election. What excess hyperbole? What posting rules were broken? Who made you the posting nanny?

Jade,
Using the Army of God guts your argument. They're a discredited group condemned by virtually all Christians. You're grasping at straws in your attempts at moral equivalence between Islamic extremists bent on violent jihad versus Christian conservatives.

You're right, von. Those who equate the fascism, intolerance and violence of Islamic extremists with Christian conservatives have gutted their own arguments with excess hyperbole.

Bird Dog,

When you find someone who EQUATES the two, let me know. The metaphor I used COMPARED the two.

While the definition of madrassa may be broad, it was used by Edward in the context of the extremist schools of the Taliban and the Saudi-funded breeding grounds for up and coming terrorists.

I've explained this three times now. It was used in the context of how a focus on religion in schools can create an anti-tolerant, anti-intellectual environment. Is it hyperbole? Yes. I've said so. Did I go to anywhere near the lengths to draw the comparison some are going to in order to dismiss it? No. I used it in a headline, tongue-in-cheek, and never mentioned it again. The way some are going on about it makes me begin to suspect they're trying to change the subject.

As regards violating the posting rules, the term "leftist losers" is the culprit. And everyone here is equally responsible for maintaining the civility we strive for, so no one asking for a judgment on a term should be called or considered a nanny.

Further on "gut[ting] arguments with excess hyperbole".

To whose mind?

Does it really make a rational person want to embrace intelligent design or inserting hatred toward gays into textbooks because someone employs a hyperbolic metaphor in a headline to an otherwise balanced post?

I find that rather difficult to believe.

Slart: Hmmm...NRA's responsible for McVeigh because he was a member?

This might also be a fruitful time to ask whether or to what extent Desert Storm was responsible for Timothy McVeigh. But maybe we should figure out what we all mean by "responsible" first. For example, are madrassas responsible for jihadis or not? If so, does that extend to madrassas which don't actually teach military tactics?

The Harvard example I would definitely have to take issue with. And I think you should avoid Ed Gein, since his mother's fundamentalism seems to have contributed significantly to his pathology.

Bird Dog, telling people that they're grasping at straws when they have you tied over a barrel makes it awful hard for them to view you as anything other than an object of amusement... Just a flesh wound, right?

Edward, you made the equation, so you deal with it. Evoking the term madrassas when discussing certain Christian-oriented views in public schools is no different than Julian Bond talking about the Taliban wing of the Republican Party. There's no question that you purposely inserted some hyperbole. We all do. But the issue is excess hyperbole, which is what you were trafficking in. Not a winning strategy for those in the minority party.

Radish, the first signs of the delusion is when you think you won an argument that you actually lost.

Edward, you made the equation, so you deal with it.

You seem to be taking this quite personally Bird Dog. Is that to suggest you support Leo's efforts?

Not a winning strategy for those in the minority party.

Oh, and I've had more than my fill of this attitude lately.

There may be a reality to facing a greater struggle in the next four years with regards to achieving the progressive goals I'd like to see this country achieve, but anyone who thinks 1) we'll ever see them my moving toward the right (as if the right won't just move more right) or 2) a 51% majority represents the sort of mandate that justifies that kind of bombastic arrogance, is a poor student of history.

And I think you should avoid Ed Gein, since his mother's fundamentalism seems to have contributed significantly to his pathology.

Really? And the occurrence of Ed Gein-like pathologies among fundamentalists is what, approximately?

In other words, if fundamentalism were to blame for Ed Gein, it'd be Night of The Living Dead all over again. So I think you're making my argument more than discounting it.

The Harvard example I would definitely have to take issue with.

Good. That was the point.

For example, are madrassas responsible for jihadis or not?

I wouldn't say that in general. I'd say some of them are part of the problem, perhaps.

If so, does that extend to madrassas which don't actually teach military tactics?

Military tactics aren't the problem, they're just the problem's baggage. I can know military tactics and be no risk to the lives of those around me.

Leo who, Edward? This is about your rhetoric. As for "attitudes", if you don't believe it's important to bridge the religious gap between the Democrats and Christians, it's no skin off my nose. Hey, in fact, ignore what I said earlier. Alienate away. Demonize those Christians, the more the merrier.

Wish someone would bridge the religious gap between Republicans and Christianity.

I'd recommend American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing to anyone interested in McVeigh's motivations.

AFAIK, it's the only book that secured interviews with McVeigh, his family and friends.

If you read it, you'll understand the OKC bombing was perpetrated by McVeigh (with assistance from Terry Nichols) based upon McVeigh's NRA-inspired beliefs the US Govt. was going to seize gunowners' firearms.

Using the Army of God guts your argument. They're a discredited group condemned by virtually all Christians.

Guts my argument? Oh my. Someone's been reading the Tactitus & 101st Fighting Keyboardist Book of Style again.

The Army of God is an offshoot of Operation Rescue which unfortunately enjoys all too much support from conservative evangelical groups--including James Dobson's and Jerry Falwell's

Like I said, Jade, all you've got are extreme fringies who've been roundly condemned by 99.99% of the Christian community.

Bird Dog: Radish, the first signs of the delusion is when you think you won an argument that you actually lost.

Truly an answer worthy of tacitus.

Jade: ...enjoys all too much support from conservative evangelical groups--including James Dobson's and Jerry Falwell's
Bird Dog: ...roundly condemned by 99.99% of the Christian community

Boy, some people really just can't be parodied, can they ;-)

Slart: And the occurrence of Ed Gein-like pathologies among fundamentalists is what, approximately?

Beats me. You were the one who brought up a serial killer as a counterexample to a "pernicious influence" hypothesis. I was doubtful that a fundamentalist-raised serial killer was the best choice in this particular context.

Slart: In other words, if fundamentalism were to blame for Ed Gein, it'd be Night of The Living Dead all over again. So I think you're making my argument more than discounting it.

Er... no. that's not... heck I'm not even sure what you're getting at there. You're basically saying that fundamentalism can't be a contributing factor because any such contribution would imply that all fundies are pathological? Is that really what you meant?

radish, if you're going to blame fundamentalism for a particular pathology, how can you do so with a straight face unless fundamentalism correlates strongly with that pathology over some large (>>unity) number of samples?

You say it was fundamentalism; maybe the poor sod's brain was just miswired. Point is, you don't know (unless, of course, you do. In which case, please share), and saying that you do in the absence of evidence is, well, just what many people are accusing Bush of doing. So I'm thinking this is not a particularly good path.

Ditto for McVeigh. The NRA has a rather large membership, and let me count how many decided to blow up a building full of people...

You say it was fundamentalism

I said fundamentalism contributed significantly, which I understand to be the concensus view of path-psych people. Y'all seem to have interpreted that as saying that fundamentalism is correlated 1:1 with psychopathology, and furthermore that I was talking about Christian fundamentalism rather than fundamentalism in general. Straw men.

Basically I get the impression y'all are hearing what you expect to hear reagrdless of what I say...

Leo who, Edward? This is about your rhetoric.

My rhetoric was about Terri Leo' rhetoric, Bird Dog. The full context here is critical to why I don't believe my metaphor was as out of line or willfully alienating as you seem to think it was. I believe her rhetoric is very dangerous.

As for "attitudes", if you don't believe it's important to bridge the religious gap between the Democrats and Christians, it's no skin off my nose.

This myth has got to end. My father attends a fundamentalist church twice a week (the same Church Ashcroft does). My father is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. There's no gap at all.

The gap is between those who believe religious doctrine should determine public school curriculums and those who don't.

Basically I get the impression y'all are hearing what you expect to hear reagrdless of what I say...

That's because you want to have that impression. ;p

I said "fundamentalism contributed to this particular instance of psychopathology." You have now attributed to me two other, distinct positions, neither of which can be derived from what I actually said:

1) "fundamentalism guarantees/implies pathology."

This position is implied by your comment that "In other words, if fundamentalism were to blame for Ed Gein, it'd be Night of The Living Dead all over again."

2) "fundamentalism was the sole cause of Ed Gein's pathology"

This position is implied by your comment that "You say it was fundamentalism; maybe the poor sod's brain was just miswired."

In both of those cases your comment doesn't make sense without my having taken the position mentioned, but in neither case did I actually take that position.

That's because you want to have that impression.

You're probably right. I was out on thin ice there and I got nervous ;-)

On a lighter note, "A 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich a Florida woman says bears the image of the Virgin Mary was back on eBay after the Internet auction house initially canceled bids that went up to 22,000 dollars."

Wish someone would bridge the religious gap between Republicans and Christianity.

Amen to that.

Ditto for McVeigh. The NRA has a rather large membership, and let me count how many decided to blow up a building full of people...

Islam has a rather large following, let me count how many decided to crash some airliners...

Or blow up a couple of embassies, or bomb a US warship, or blow up the WTC on a previous occasion, or...

Nineteen, just on 9/11. So, we're at 19 to 1, and I haven't even begun counting past the first event. And that's not even counting the planning, funding, and logistics.

Or the people who've blown themselves up on a near-daily basis both in Iraq and Israel. Bravo, good comparison.

In other news, a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin Mary garnered enough votes in the U.S. Senate to win the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee. James Dobson, founder of Focus on ther Family, protested the move as he put forth his own nominee, a 14-year-old fried bologna sandwich bearing the image of Christ casting Senator Arlen Spector into a lake of fire.

Over in the august House of Representatives, Republican leadership struck a rule prohibiting representatives from serving in their positions if they have been convicted of felonies in their home States. This, despite a massive, angry letter-writing campaign to dislodge a current high-level Republican individual for questionable ethical conduct.

Ah Slarti, and here I thought your ObWi nickname would be the "Statistics God."

Do the analysis. What percentage of NRA members is represented by McVeigh vs what percentage of the world's Muslim population is represented by the terrorists you cite?

It doesn't matter, Edward. McVeigh's membership in the NRA has not been demonstrated to be any sort of factor at all. A few dozen members of the same organization, now, is a pattern.

And I really don't care all that much whether they're Muslim, Hindu, or Zoroastrian. I only care about their intentions. If there were a band of McVeigh-like creatures out there hell-bent on wreaking whatever havoc they could, I'd want to eliminate them just as badly.

But I thought there was a band of McVeigh-like creatures out there hell-bent on wreaking whatever havoc they could, but the US government successfully infiltrated them and broke them up.

We haven't been as successful infiltrating al Qaida, so there's not as much of a substantial difference as some would have us believe IMO.

McVeigh's membership in the NRA has not been demonstrated to be any sort of factor at all. A few dozen members of the same organization, now, is a pattern.

Do the math, Slarti. Really.

Membership of NRA, versus total number of Muslims worldwide.

Do the math, Slarti. Really.

Membership of NRA, versus total number of Muslims worldwide.

If it were at all relevant to my point, rest assured I'd have already done it.


If it were at all relevant to my point, rest assured I'd have already done it.

Somehow I'm not assured. It is absolutely relevant to the point you tried to make.

It is absolutely relevant to the point you tried to make.

One person failing to understand is a coincident. Two is a trend. Three, now...

So I feel I must attempt to clarify by pointing out that any calculation of correlation coefficient of religious affiliation to terrorism in any way validates (or invalidates) unsupported claims of causality between NRA membership and the blowing up of a building in Oklahoma City.

So, are we all square now? Or do I need to explain again?

The point it is relevant to is this one you tried to make:

Nineteen, just on 9/11. So, we're at 19 to 1, and I haven't even begun counting past the first event.

Are we all square now, or do I need to explain again?

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