Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Ninth Circuit extends 2nd Amendment

You read that right. The crazy-lefty Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco. The heads of rightward one are exploding like the Martians' when they heard Slim Whitman yodeling.

Second Amendment extended.


It would have been impossible to incorporate the rest of the Bill of Rights against the States and not the Second. Once the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd was applicable to individuals not just state "militias" the decision by the Ninth Circuit or anyone else should have been a foregone conclusion.
The Ninth is seen as a rogue court by righties, I meant. "Rogue" mostly meaning "we don't like its rulings."
Basically they are re-affirming what States and local governments are already doing. Gun carry, concealed gun, and gun sales ordinances/laws already assume this. Does it not?

Now as a rogue circuit, I'm sure simply because it is the Ninth Circuit that the NRA will see this as bad won't it.

The NRA will have its way until the tipping point. I suspect it will take something like a shoot out in the Mega Baptist Church of Birmingham by a gun toting congregation over open or closed communion before that happens.
Tell me again why guns can't be controlled like license plates or voter registration?

What's the danger?
First off, on the ruling, in light of the Supreme Court's declaration in the Heller case, this makes sense. The tendency over the past 75 years of SC jurisprudence has been to extend federal rights to states and localities via the 14th Amendment. Since the Supremes decided last year the 2nd Amendment applied to individuals and not state citizens as they are legally constituted as a militia under state law, the 9th Circuit's Ruling is in line with this tendency.

To answer Feodor's question - for the same reason we can't silence Nazis, anarchists, or Glenn Beck. A "right" is fundamentally different from legal permission. There is no "right" to own a car; thus the state can regulate everything from the fuel-efficiency right down to the tire pressure necessary to keep the vehicle from being a hazard to others. If owning a gun is a right individuals possess (in traditional contract thinking, a right is something the Constitution does not grant; rather, the Bill of Rights recognizes areas of personal and private freedom that are not within the purview of the state to regulate), then the state has a huge burden in attempting any sort of regulation at all (the "fire in a crowded theater" scenario - the clear and imminent threat test, in legalese - while still operative where speech is concerned, is rarely invoked; the Smith Act cases in the 1950's that targeted the CPUSA is probably the most famous one).

I never said anything here, by the way, about whether or not I like or agree with the decision. In fact, the wording of the 2nd Amendment is pretty clear, to me, that it pertains to "well-regulated militia", which qualifies "the people" a great deal. The Supreme Court, however, disagrees, and until the Constitution is changed, or the Supreme Court changes its mind, we have to live with it.
Geoffrey's a bit longer winded than I am. Constitutional scholars are more divided on the militia issue than that. Hamilton's Federalist paper #29 sets the limits on the "regulation:" Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year. In other words, the only "regulation" for the ordinary citizen is to make sure the people ARE armed, not members of semi-professional organization, treated elsewhere in 29.

It's interesting that people from the left side of the spectrum often believe in unenumerated rights such as abortion implied by a right to privacy, but shy away from a specified right, certainly one that in practice would not have been questioned for free men by the Framers, and would therefore be an unenumerated right at least at the level of any others detected in the "penumbra" of the Constitution.

Feodor - On a practical basis, you may want to consider that registration and licensing issues would, like the drug laws, be much more severely practiced against members of already disadvantaged communities than the typical white NRA type. Now this may be a good thing in a practical (body count) sense considering the murder stats, but perhaps would be a sort of biased paternalism with which you might be uncomfortable.
Contra to TStockmann, the black community -- at least here in the north -- would be just fine with extra special control of guns, including the ones owned by the police.

Letting white America shoot it out among themselves -- as seems to be happening -- is just letting white folks enjoy their liberties.
As for GKSs comments, what says I have no right to own a car?

Seriously, one what basis am I denied that right? If I can build or pay, how is obtaining a car not an expression of my right as a citizen?

What I do not have a right to is to pollute the air more than my neighbor or to ignore traffic laws or to avoid culpability if I use my car in a dangerous way or am party to an event where someone else uses their car in a dangerous way.

These things do not bear on my right to a car.

The control of guns is not taking away any rights to own. It is regulating that right.

Just like the regulations on my right to vote and the regulations on my rights to life, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness.

I still don't see the constitutional problem to regulative control that is any different to the regulations of these other inalienable rights.
Ya know what? Unless you've got some kind of statistical reason to say that, it was no more useful than some of my kin declaring that there's no reason to be concerned about this bizarre movement toward freedom and multiculturalism because everybody they know flies a GD Confederate flag.

Bullshit called, Feodor. Your arrogance called. Your own damned faults called.

Quit being such a judgmental ass with your brothers. Poke. Prod. Challenge. But for Christ's sake quit acting you're ahead of anyone on the walk of life. You're ahead or behind only one thing: where you used to be.
Re, "As for GKSs comments, what says I have no right to own a car?"

I DO. And if I get enough people to agree with me, then your dreamed-up "right," under law, become clear even to you as a mere privilege. I do.

Not even I can take away, or get enough people together, to merely legislate away your constitutional right to own a damned gun.
WTF are you talking about, Sam?
As for the second are you saying the majority defines rights?

Surely not. That's certainly not American democracy, and I don't if it's any existing nation's notion of democracy.
Are you talking about what I hear black folks saying up here in Yankeeland?

You want recordings or transcripts?

They really do want guns gone. You think they don't care seeing another young son gunned down? They would vote guns gone in a second.

It's white folks upstate that halt that wish.

The city has extremely draconian sentencing if a gun is involved.

Unless the perp is a policeman.
Look up Sean Bell, November 25, 2006
My arrogance is not your problem right now.

My being right is your problem right now.
Or are shooting your six guns over "whites shooting it out amongst themselves"?

That was just decoration for the reverse paternalization of TStockmann.
The percent of deaths by gun: white male in 2003 were 16.0 and black male it was 35.6 per 100,000.

In 1970 it was 19.7 of white males dying that way but 70.8 of black males dying by gun per 100,000.

Now that is a wild statistic. Don't know if I believe the 1970 figure.


Propinquity generally determines who we kill. So like race usually kill like races. That said, then each community banning guns would protect that community the most.
Trick is how do you regulate them legally. That's the hidden message in the 9th courts decision and the loop hole in the SCOTUS ruling. Think creatively.
Feodor -

I'm not arguing what the black community (What? No "people of color??" This isn't a, oh, Asian issue too?) might want; I'm arguing what they would get , the likely consequence of where the consequences would fall based on other patterns of law enforcement, or even voter registration differentials. Community-by-community banning - even if it were constitutional - would be completely ineffective as they have been because weapons are so portable. A drive to registration and regulation would catch out a higher percentage of owners-of-color (I'm starting to like that locution, especially since it's bullshit) and the proportional consequence of penalties, whether confiscation, fines, or jail time, would be a heavier burden on them. I'm fine with the community which seems to have appointed you its spokesman being willing to accept this in hopes of reducing violence; I cassandra on without expectation of being heeded.
A good reason to own a gun, Perez Hilton!
Frankly I don't know where the Asian community generally lands on the issue of guns.

But I have conversations with parents and grandparents of children in Brownsville, Bushwick, Crown Heights, East New York, and Bed-Stuy every week.

Four years ago I had the same kind of weekly conversations with parents in Manuta, Powelton, Carroll Park, Yorktown, Kensington, Germantown, Hartranft, Overbrook.

These are neighborhoods in New York and Philadelphia with very high percentages of African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans. However, particularly in Philadelphia, other people of color are moving in with increasing numbers.

Especially if the families originated in the West Indies they tend to be very law and order oriented, strong supporters of those in authority.

I heed people of color when the issues is power or force or violence in our society. Because people of color have the broadest experience with these kinds of things.

You think Abu Ghraib was a complete shock in these neighborhoods? Folks hated that our country did such things and received it as a terrible, horrible mark on the American character.

But shocked? No.

What color were the soldiers in the pictures?

So I heed them. Who do you heed?
If we're going to argue that the Federalist Papers form a basis for claiming everyone has a right to be armed, then what about the other part of that quote, i.e., "it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year"? I don't recall there ever being an occasion when there was a mandatory meeting of everyone in a community for the purpose of discussing defense against invading forces.

Given that public health data consistently show that gun owners have a much higher risk of dying from violence than non-gun owners, I'll pass on keeping weaponry in the house.
My step father used to belong to that part of the Churches of Christ that was called the "one cuppers."

This was because they did not believe in a tray of shot glasses filled with grape juice for communion.

The New Testament says, "Jesus took the cup," not "the cups."

Jesus was not a great enough prophet to see mega-churches arising in his own kingdom, apparently.

And neither were Madison, et al.

Original intent. One cup. Ten guns.
Contra DrLBj, poverty determines who we kill.
Great points, all. I apologize for my edginess with Feodor last night, at the end of a long day. Carry on, y'all.

Oh, I especially like Nan's point about calling the "militia" to meet once or twice a year. I'd be all for mandatory training for gun owners, and required meetings like that.
ER baby:

You really need to read my comments - or at least Hamilton quotes - way more carefully. Hamilton was not proposing "training", he was proposing at most the equivalent of an equipment inpection. I doubt mandatory militia training would be constitutional.

Nan: You don't have to like constitutional rights - it is what it is, not simply a document that says "do the desirable," and your objections are anachronistic. Yes, the idea that the government could forbid a law-abiding citizen the right to own a firearm would have been considered a gross and almost imcomprehensible infringement on the rights of the people at the time the Constitution was drafted. I understand both circumstances and attitudes have changed. There is also an amendment process in which anti-gun people stand no (zero) chance of succeeding. Neither you nor I have to own a gun - but other people get to do so. And you have no say in the matter.

Feodor: of course you don't know what Asians as a community - if you can use "Asians" as a single collective and presume there's a community in this context - think about guns. It's why your Orwellian use of the even broader term "people of color" is so amusing.
Well, all I said was I'd be in favor of mandatory training, whether that's what any of the FF intended or not. BTW, I have put my money, and my guns, where my mouth is in that regard. When I was livng in Texas, they passed a gun safety-course requirement for getting a hunting license. I was grandfathered in, but I took the course anyway. For what that's worth.
Weapons-handling/safety handling isn't "militia" training, and doesn't strike me as objectionable in any way. It's interesting that people were grandfathered in, presumably for political rather than legal reasons. It would be interesting to see if annual or semiannual firearms inspections would be considered too burdensome by the USSC in conjunction with a registration program that passes muster.

I haven't a clue what the requirements are in my state or locality.
I'm using "militia" in the sense that I think it was meant when the amendment was crafted: able-bodied men (now women, if they insist) able to answer a call to arms. Not a permanent organization.
I do know what Asians think of you, though, TStockmann.

And I think they are right.

You claim such "communities" are mythological/language strategies? That they have no basis in reality?

I would agree on this basis: eliminate white hegemony and all its trappings in our culture and its exercise of power and the conditions that form "the Asian community," "the black community," and the supra "people of color," etc., will disappear.

Until white people stop seeing color and unconsciously reiterating the color line various groups will continue to self-identify themselves according to where they are place on that line and how they strategize to make their way in the world in response and resistance to it.

But that will also mean not having too many people like you, who collude while claiming clarity.
This is all I would need:

"I'd be all for mandatory training for gun owners, and required meetings like that."

This would go a long, long way to culling out mental instability and criminality.

This is what I'm asking for, oversight like Motor Vehicles.
There is definitely an Asian community in OKC.

Which reminds me of a GREAT line I heard in a Def Jam (or whatever it's called) poetry jam thing several years ago now. The Vietnamese guy poet was poetizing (wth do you call it?) about, well, about being an Asian guy in the larger culture in the U.S.

The setup: Some unreconstructed redneck told him: "Go back where you came from!"

The next line: "What? To Oklahoma City?!"

I. Love. That.
The Constitution of the United States says you have no right to own a car. Rights are clear and simple things, and they delineate the limits of government action against us as individuals, action that would prevent us from acting in ways that are part of our "natural" (pre-state) existence. Thus, the first amendment guarantees the freedom of speech, religious practice, assembly, etc. The various police-power limitations in the fourth and fifth and sixth amendments are pretty clear on this issue, as well.

Owning a car? Like the so-called "right to privacy", which Justice William O. Douglas invented from "penumbras" and other misty entrails that only he seemed to perceive coming from the Constitution - it doesn't exist. I do not believe there is a Constitutional "Right" to privacy; that is a Supreme Court invention. I feel the same way about the way the Court has construed the 2nd Amendment in the Heller case, and how the 9th Circuit has applied it in this case.

That doesn't mean it isn't the law of the land. I just happen not to agree with it. The only way to change things now is to change the Constitution, or hope for other justices, at some point, to interpret the law differently. The former is a lousy way to do business. The latter, then . . .

As for "poverty determines who we kill", I'm not even sure what to do with a sentence like that.
I don't dislike any constitutional rights I can think of, although I will say that the picking and choosing just which part of a sentence to emphasize (e.g., "right to bear arms" and not "well regulated militia") when ascribing those rights kind of annoys me. The fact I personally do not want any firearms doesn't mean I think other people should be forced to give them up. If they want to up their risk of dying violently, it's their right to be stupid.

I work in public health. I know the stats concerning violent deaths. Gun owners are more likely to be shot by an acquaintance or a family member than by a stranger, and they're also twice as likely to die by suicide than non-gun owners. So if people want to up their (and their children's) chances of an early, violent death by owning multiple weapons, more power to them. They won't be missed much by the rest of us.
Actually, Nan, on this whole issue, I kind of fall where you do. I grew up in a house with a sixteen gauge shotgun, a 20 gauge, a classic Winchester .30-.30 lever action repeater rifle, and a .22. I learned to clean and shoot various guns at an early age, took the hunter safety course required by NY State, and even got my hunting license. Now, I won't have any guns in my house, because even with safety precautions, they become these dangerous looking playthings.

I honestly do not have any wish to "take away" any one's guns. Of any kind. I believe, however, that regulating gun ownership, including doing background checks on purchases, putting in delays for purchases, purchase limits, etc., are pretty commonsensical ideas. Yet, I don't get all heated up about it, either, because I also agree with part of the NRA's propaganda that people who use weapons in the act of committing a violent crime would find a way to get a firearm outside of legal restrictions.

Just like I believe, personally, that there are some things that should not be said publicly but support a person's right to say them, I believe it might be nice to have a world where people had common sense when it came to firearms. Unfortunately, we do not, and so we are left with the imperfect governing our imperfect world. It might not even be the best we can do, but it is what we have.
Re, "Now, I won't have any guns in my house, because even with safety precautions, they become these dangerous looking playthings."

If I had little kids in the house, I'd probably let my single brother or someone else keep my guns until they were bigger. Same if I regularly had little kids coming to my house. But that, sadly, is a rare event.

Bird makes me a grandbaby, and I'll be havin' someone babysit my weapons during their visits. Or, I'll use it an an excuse to buy a gun safe!
Where does the constitution take away my right to own a car?
You have a right to the property you own. What you do not have is the specific right to own any specific thing. If property-ownership were a right as you seem to be describing it, everyone would own all sorts of property.

If you are arguing that, once owned, a vehicle cannot be taken away without due process of law, I would agree. If you are arguing that you have a "right" prior to any legal structure stating otherwise to own a car, and that your purchase of said vehicle is something that inheres even in a state of nature, I would seriously wonder what you are smoking.
ER - my father was looking to get rid of his firearms six or seven years ago. He was polite enough to ask me if I wanted them and I said no. My brother made noises about them, but his wife put her foot down and that ended that. In the end, my nephew, my oldest sister's son, got them. He has a small boy, and so he owns a locked gun cabinet. That is certainly his choice, and the guns will be taken care of, and used properly, because my nephew is a responsible gun owner.

There are differences of opinion based upon misconceptions. The idea that the US government is going to take away anyone's firearms post facto is ludicrous. Logistically, it would be a nightmare, regardless of the Constitutional issues involved. I still see no problem with registration, licensing, even training requirements - but the Supreme Court sees things differently, and that would be the law of the land.
Everyone does own all sorts of property. Aside from the public and eminent domain, land preservation, etc., people own vast lands, whole mountains, beaches, planes, hotels, spacecraft, oil wells, water, even the air above and the earth below.

Do you mean, as you said, that the Constitution says I have no right to own a car?

Or are you rather saying that the Constitution speaks to a broad right under which we can interpret the car as a species of that right that is not specified in the Constitution?

And if the concept of "property" can be selectively ascribed in its species, why can't guns? Who owns a functioning flintlock they intend to use as defense?

I'll grant that anyone of age can own a flintlock and not have to register it.

Everything else is not original intent.
I hope you wack jobs get every thing you want the next 4 years. This country has lasted longer than most already.
I'm ready to go.
I think he/she meant 8 years.

Especially since their side has lost all courage whatsoever and only show up when they can hide their face.
Original intent is a bad way to read the Constitution. I'm not one of those who think we need to stop thinking once we reach 1789, or 1866 (after the 14th Amendment). The Constitution is a living, breathing document.

That being said, rights are very specific, concrete things, enumerated not emanations and penumbras from this or that or some other collection of rights. That is why I do not believe there is a Constitutional Right to privacy. There is a Constitutional Right to free speech, free assembly, to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures (however one defines that qualifier), from self-incrimination, from the loss of life, liberty, or property absent due process of law, or if not so, with fair and just compensation (the "takings" clause).

I'm not even sure what you are talking about - a right to own a car. It's a fantasy. There is no right to own a car, or to health care, or to own your own home. Those just don't exist. Pretending they do doesn't make them so exist. I'm completely flummoxed by whatever it is you are attempting to say.
Do I have right to walk down the street?
Now you're being ridiculous.

Actually, technically no, you do not have such a "right". You have the freedom to do so. What you do not have is the "right" to do so. Freedoms and rights are two very different things. Rights are specific things, spelled out in the Constitution of the US. The freedom to act (or not to act) is something we possess, to be sure, but always under the aegis of the state's ability to regulate such actions for the public good. Rights exist to extend the boundaries of personal freedom in specific cases against the intrusion of the state.
Freedom is simply securing the environment in which to exercise the rights I do have. If I do not have the right to walk down the street, then that is an abridgment of my liberty and wrongful imprisonment.

If I am free to walk, the necessary assumption is that I have the right to walk.

Rights are an inalienable imperative. Freedom is simply a state in which one holds one's rights.

Obtaining a car is an exercise of the same right of liberty. I can do with my body as I wish. Habeas corpus. Denying my right to obtain and use a car if I meet safety and social regulations is first, concerning acquisition, an abridgment of my liberty and two, concerning use, unreasonable seizure.

If all you read for rights are the amendments, you lose almost everything.

And among everything is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And again, concerning the need for a well regulated militia requiring the owning and bearing of arms, we have fudged to the point of unreason on many other amendments:

"the right to a speedy... trial"

"in suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right to a trial by jury..." remains unincorporated under the Fourteenth

"excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines..." blown away by the ability to flee the country in flights to Bali.

And finally:

"the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people..."

When does the right to bear arms as currently allowed rise to a level as to be construed as denying or even disparaging an environment that secures the right to life?
God, GKS, what the hell do you think liberty means?
And I am fine saying an AK-47 is built to deny or disparage the right to life and liberty and happiness.
Where else are we to look for our rights than to the text of the Constitution as interpreted by the Courts, and under specific acts of legislation enacted under its aegis by Congress? While contract theory, the reigning philosophical background to the Constitution, was pretty clear that "rights" were indeed "inalienable" (although the document that refers to rights as such, the Declaration of Independence, has no force of law in the US), it should be clear that, in fact, rights are just what we say they are and nothing more.

It is for this reason I object to the very notion of a "right to privacy". It just isn't there. Even in penumbras and emanations. You want a right to privacy, put it in the Constitution.

As far as your list of the adumbration of various rights, that only proves my earlier point that the Constitution is far more aspirational than descriptive.

We are speaking, in this thread, of the way the Second Amendment to the Constitution has been interpreted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, under a previous Supreme Court ruling that said the Second Amendment applied to individuals. I never said I agreed or disagreed with that ruling; in fact, my general consideration of gun control in general is apathy (to be blunt). I simply don't care all that much about the issue. Personally, I believe it would be nice if people could be trusted with firearms, but experience has shown they cannot. At the same time, people can't really be trusted with much of anything, because, as the old saying goes, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I might not believe it necessary for myself, or any other individual, to own an automatic weapon. If the Supreme Court says otherwise, that's the law of the land.

Again, I wouldn't get too het up about it, to be honest.

As for what my limit is on the social harm done by the over-rampant use of rights, the same argument has been made by tyrants and bullies against everything from freedom of the press and speech to assembly. For that very reason, I find it a bit scary to have the argument used in this context.
Geoffrey: It is because of arguments like yours (the danger of enumerating rights) mentioned in the ratification debates about Bills of Rights( that the following amendment was included as 9 or the original 10:

Amendment 9 - Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
O f course you could side with Judge Bork that some of portions of the Constitution are simply inkblots.

If you treat the Constitution as merely aspirational, then you remove the bulwark of protection of unpopular rights. I would mention in passing the horrendous state of current constitutional law of declaring an American an "enemy combatant" rather than charging them with treason, with full legal protections and process. This type of thing is still an anomaly. the Constitution is written so that the ties go to individual rights over the government, and the major move over the past two centuries has been toward defining these moves more broadly.
I do not "treat" the Constitution as aspirational. In actual fact, it is so. Its various clauses are violated constantly; the search and seizure clauses might as well not exist under current case law.

I am not denigrating the Constitution when I say that rights are only what we say they are. Far from it. I am speaking about how our law actually functions. The goal, obviously, is to meet the standards in the Constitution some day. We aren't there yet.

My own preference would be a repeal entirely of the Second Amendment. Allow the states, and even the federal government to regulate and limit firearms ownership. Until that happens, I was merely stating the way things are, not the way I would like things to be.

And, BTW, I REALLY don't like the argument that because of inner-city violence, or black-on-black crime, we have a duty to set aside a portion of the Constitution. The Bush Administration used that argument to get away with war, torture, illegal wire-tapping, and on and on. I may not like the way the Court ruled in Heller, or the 9th circuit ruled in light of Heller; that doesn't mean I like the counter-argument that Feodor presented any more.

Abstract nouns are inherently suspect. Hegemony is a largely empty concept, and the term is also Orwellian. White is inaccurate and unuseful. And you really need to get away from your silly American parochialism about race.

I do appreciate your expanded portfolio, speaking for the Asians too. Are you married to one also? I'm very broad-minded about polygyny, as I am about most affective orientations.
Geoffrey: Well put, but the key modifier in my reply was "merely." As you say, there are gaps in practice, but it weakens and delays the subsequent corrections to treat the document as aspirational, rather than the practice as aspirational - and the danger in using other than original intent as the starting point to define the words is that the words then become arbitrary. This is not to disagree that explicit appeals to norms (like "cruel and unusual") may not involve the famous evolving standards of decency, but this is not the same as expanding a sentiment into a statute. Allowing the government to dial back a previously acknowledged freedom violates the aspirational telos anyway. I respect your admission about respecting disagreeable but constitutional decision - I'm in a minority that thinks that Dred Scot was actually the correct decision, given the Constitution at the time, although my sympathies are naturally with the civilly disobedient citizens who violated the law.

In terms of local and even state governments banning firearms, I stand on my original contention that this does not have much of an effect. Consider that the USSC case revolved around Washington DC's longtime prohibition, which certainly did not result in even a relative absence of gun crime in that locality.

btw - the Fourth and Fifth amendments add up to a pretty good start on a right to privacy.
Does TStockmann read anyone other than Orwell post eighteenth century?

Abstract nouns are inherently suspect.

Like... Americans. Brasilians. Philosophers. Tennis players. Chinese. Social Network. Rose. Ivy. Fruit. Vegetable. Strike. Ball. Check swing. Balk. Quadratic formula. Mass. Energy.

Yeh. We can do without all those.

Orwell tells us how the holders of power play language games to obfuscate the exercise of their power.

TStockmann tells the objects of power players what they are allowed to call themselves.

TStockmann is the object of Mr. Blair's wrath, not a loyal reader.
Gee, Feodor, I remember mentioning Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Edward Said and maybe even Thomas Kuhn (might have been with someone else) in conversations with you before.

Let's take a good look at your list:

Americans. Hmm, in what sense would it be useful to describe "Americans," regardless of, say, age. Oh, admission to the country through checkpoints without a visa. No, there are such things as "Americans" - but whether you would choose to include long-term undocumented aliens in that category would be a political decision, and change the early condition is a different matter. Are they Americans, Feodor? careful - the choice is ideological.

Brasiliens. same thing.

Philosophers. Ayn Rand? Hmm, maybe. Charles Schultz? Dostoevsky? Shakespeare? Darwin?

Tennis players. Hmm, what do I (who has played); my neighbor (who can actually play) and Arthur Ashe have in common? I mean, besides all of us being people-of-at-least-some-pigment? Not really much. Not very useful

And i could go on, but I know you see the point. Derrida made many such similar points. He;s also post-18 century, i believe. the book look pretty new anyhow.

Look, I know you want to find allies for your segment of the black community, but postulating "hegemony" is only going to work with other people who aren't winning, and the arrogance of trying to rope them in rhetorically as "people of color" is just tendentious. The long-time Black American experience isn;t even the same as a first generation African immigrant, let alone the 40+% of the US Berkeley student body which has been the plurality on campus since californian voters ended affirmative action (hegemonic whites are underrpresented. It's all different, see! even more than tennis players.

Now do you want to make an argument for your position, or do you just want to emote some more?
Orwell's going to have parse this smattering of idiocy for me.

Except to ask whether you include Puerto Ricans and those from the Northern Mariana Islands among "Americans"? Or how about those from Guam or US Virgin Islanders? And how about American Samoans? They certainly sound like Americans.

What constitutes being an American, TStockmann? How do you count them? Taxation? Representation? Passport? Ability to vote? Vote in Federal elections? Serve in the American military?

How about native Panamanians that serve in the US military but remain Panamanian citizens? Probably not Americans, right? Serving in Vietnam, Thailand, etc. in the US army, navy, air force.

How about persons of foreign birth who are allowed to vote in some states if they declare an intention to seek citizenship but are not yet citizens.

So yes or no, TStockmann, put your money where your mouth is, American or no for all these? And come up with a definition that everyone can generally agree with so as to prove that American is not an abstract noun.

Get back to us when ready.


As for your post-racial pollyanna, as I've done before, Tboy, I'll point you to your grade level of resource and ask that you Google "people of color" and see what you find.

I think you'll find that I'm not roping anyone into anything. I am listening with respect to the experiences of people who are subject to social forces that I am not.

Their testimony is something you don't appear to respect.

Why I choose to bear being subject to the complexes of your neurotic and narcissistic feelings of inadequacy and your anxious perseverations is a question I'll ask myself tomorrow.

But I tell you what. Some day when I need a great belly laugh, I'll ask you where you stand on the merits of "Latino/Latina" and "Hispanic."

Or the advantages or disadvantages between "Native American" and "American Indian," and whether they are Americans or if rather they are the only true nominative Americans and the rest of us are just pretenders -- which would be your native state.
Or would you rather try the Rose, Ivy, or just how to classify the duckbill platypus?

Or how about defining gender for the hermaphrodite, who happens to be my third wife, or is he my first husband?

When you're ready, Tboy, we know these things take time to think through.

Even though they are not abstract.
One thing for sure Feodor you do indeed follow the second great commandment.

F:"Why I choose to bear being subject to the complexes of your neurotic and narcissistic feelings of inadequacy and your anxious perseverations is a question I'll ask myself tomorrow."

It is obvious you love all of us as you love youself.
Or if you want to break the code for science, and get a Nobel for it, tell me how you define mental illness and classify the various presentations of it in a way that doesn't descend into abstractions.

Now that would indeed be contributory.

And clear up some things for yourself along Axis II issues.
You're not going to get empty southern politesse from me, Jo.

That you take that for love is simply the undercurrent of passive aggressive social personality that keeps the south enthralled with millennial expectations that someone will save them soon from change that keeps moving the goalposts on them.
Ah Feodor, now you've got it. Indeed, those are all possible inclusions and exclusions from "Americans," depending on the purpose of the term, an almost perfect case of "family resemblances." See, that's why I don't define the word at all in abstract, and think it's useful to use that kind of analysis when contemplating exactly with whom or what The Clash may have been so bored. So why do you then ask me to define similar terms, when it's a contingent exercise? I don't have a ready made definition for that or any other such term. It's meaningful to ask (which you do by implication) whether I believe someone who otherwise isn't allowed to vote in an American election but who is serving in the American armed forces should be allowed to do so, or whether the inability or unwillingness of the US government (also a collective and worth exploring in this context) to actually expel undocumented aliens means they have to be given a full spectrum of rights, but not whether they are "Americans." As you probably know, our hemispheric brothers aren't always thrilled that we have appropriated "American" to describe ourselves anyway. I know you cling to Kant, but surely you're willing to throw plato overboard? At least the conventional Plato?

I'm glad you mentioned mental illness. Not only wouldn't I define it for the reasons originally mentioned, but believe Foucault's take on it as a specifically distorting term within power discourse is accurate. In other words, it's unusually dangerous. On a pragmatic level, I don't think that the metaphor of "illness" for most behavior pattern labelled such is helpful at all. In terms of science, I think it's best treated as a collection of practices, again with family resemblances, and issues like whether the social sciences are sciences in the same sense as chemistry depends on whether you're trying to establish more power for sociology in the absence of results similar to chemistry. You, of course, may prefer anthropology, since it's all about listening and watching and narrative rather than inconveniently statistical.

Okay, that's enough for now. You've seen my (sorry, not really mine) methods. Apply them, Watson!

On another note - I'll tell you what. You're not willing to talk in anything but emotion-laden buzzwords and abuse, so i'm still not getting what's on your side of your argument other than people you like. I'm not going to wade through the usual level of sludge on the internet to see if your neglected voices have anything to say. I might hit something really stupid to begin with and miss something worth while. If you think there's a book i should read as a start, tell me what it is and I'll read it, reporting back to you. As an honorable man, I'd like you to do the same for one book of my recommendation. Deal?

Ah, and my word verification is "futter" - how lovely!
F: "That you take that for love is simply the undercurrent of passive aggressive social personality that keeps the south enthralled with millennial expectations that someone will save them soon from change that keeps moving the goalposts on them."

Feodor, you Yankee liberal you!
Re, "That you take that for love is simply the undercurrent of passive aggressive social personality that keeps the south enthralled with millennial expectations that someone will save them soon from change that keeps moving the goalposts on them."

I think I smell alcohol on Feodor's breath. Or something!
I'm from Texas and I only drink on weekends.
Now that TStockmann's attention is centered on the casuistic process by which he applies nouns like "American," so as to avoid "abstract" and "contingent" exercises, I'll ask the follow up question:

Somewhere there is a definite group of people who have dropped a shit load of political and military power on two nations of this world in the last seven years.

Most of the world calls this group of people by an abstract noun. But that is clearly wrong as abstract nouns are inherently suspect.

Since TStockmann doesn't believe in the efficacy of abstract nouns, my question is this:

Can TStockmann give us the names and numbers of the members of this group who have acted with such massive agency in the world? For surely the real effects have been done in the real world far away from any abstraction. So give us the real names. Crunch the real numbers.

Granted he may miss a Panamanian or two, a Samoan here or there. A margin of error is to be expected.

I'm no longer asking for a definition of the term, as TStockmann says that such is not possible since it must be applied on a case by case basis. So all I want -- on the basis of TStockmann's terms alone -- is the case list for the real agents of two wars in two foreign countries.

Who are these Americans, specifically?
Good News, ER!

I have become a gun owner.
As for Foucault, TStockmann is more than welcome to come on my site and discuss depsychiatrization and antipsychiatrization, as I doubt anyone here is all that interested.

If you do come, TS, bring your abnormals with you.
I'm sorry, Feodor. Are you asking me for people paid by the US Government who have worked on its behalf (knowing all of that should be parsed) in Iraq and Afghanistan? I assume you'd include direct hire employees, contractors, subcontractors and people who receive informal payments? Does this add up to "Americans?" Well, no - the security guards on US facilities tend to be contracted employees from several continents. I'm sorry to be so dense, but I'm not sure what you're fishing for.

I appreciate the reference to yrou website but no book rec? Not one book on hegemony and racial identity? If it's any help I'm old skool, so I've done the literature on negritude from back when - Fanon and Cesar and Senghour and all that.
I'm following your terms. I'm fishing for your clarity on the Americans who have exercised agency in the real world in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You're the one uncomfortable with the operative power of abstractions, not me.

If it is the case that you have read Césaire, Sédar Senghor, Fanon and have turned your back, then there is surely nothing I can say, nor perhaps a female moralist can say that could persuade more, wound more your callous archiving of the horrific passages of Renan, Colonel de Montagnac, Marshal Bugeaud, or General Gérard.

You are freed to live your madness.
I'm still sorry - what does "exercised agency"" mean? I'm all in favor of verbs, and geez, "agency" carries everything. Ordered people to do things? Did things? Both? Any particular things you have in mind? And most of all, why is this an interesting question? Do we need to know to turn the names over to the ICC? What?

Okay, just to get it straight - there are no contemporary books of theory on your topics that are worth reading; the decision to accept the world view you espouse or not accept the world view is emotional, akin to a conversion experience, and based on horror and sympathy; analysis is only possible within a previously accepted framework, and your major arguments will be pathos, ridicule, and hoped for social pressure? Is that really it? Man, it's like trying to find out what makes someone tick and finding out they don't. Tick, I mean.
You could save your soul in a trial by fire, though. No book learning's going to trouble your prideful independent, analytical, constructivist self is it?

Try this, though:

Come up here to New York and find an all white barber shop in my neighborhood and an all black barber ship in my neighborhood. It's not hard, they are only some three blocks apart.

Spend about thirty minutes or so listening, talking, joining in. And then, when a time comes they seem to be all looking at you paying attention, tell the room that you agree with what happened in Jasper.

Now this is New York, mind you.

So, if you would, count for me the number of white men who know what you are talking about. Of course, you want have to. You'll see the blank stares in their faces, minds searching for meaning.

Now in the black barber shop, notice, on you hurried way out, if there is a single customer not reaching for scissors.

Maybe there's a four year old boy getting his first professional buzz cut.

That would be the solidarity of abstract identity about to beat your fucking ass.
Not worth reading for you. Morality is a category of will.
Catching up ...

Anonymous: Perez Hilton? I never knew he existed before the dust-up with the beauty contestant gal. Gotta give him credit for knowing how to get press.

Anonymous: "Wackjobs." Whatever. You do understand that while of my regulars think differently, I am a gunowner and am in favor of the recent reaffirmations of my personal Second Amendment rights?

ERIC: Howdy. Cool. If you have need of one, or even want one, knock yourwself out. But it cracks me up, this odd rush to stock up on weaponry.
Feodor - Hold it, I apologize. I think I get it now. The decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq were made by the President, with the approval or acquiescence of the Congress. Something more than half of the voters reaffirmed those decision by re-electing him and nearly every Congress member, so therefore permitted all subsequent actions. Civilians and military mmebers who participated i9n any capacity were the proximate agents, whether deployed to those countries, neighboring countires, or elsewhere. There were large number of indidivuals from assisted counties who assisted, with the strategy largely drawn up by the USG, in both Iraq and particularly in Afghanistan. Their names can be drawn from duty rosters, tax returns, contractor records, and elsewhere if there is a reason. I'm not sure what the failure of people who opposed the war means in terms of their "agency."

I think that's reasonably concrete, but then I would.
Oh, but some errors on my part - some Congress members did actively oppose Iraq at least, so "Congress" is an inaccurate collective.

You have this terrible problem of imagining me in positions of violence and rejection, hoping I get knocked off (or on) my ass on the way to Damascus. Occupational hazard, I suspect, but not a mental illness by any definition.
There are always moneychangers in the Temple, eh, and we KNOW wjd.
Hmm, also - is that really true? Black people beat up other people for saying things they don't like? Maybe even stab them? Is that like whistling at a white woman and getting lynch? Would your scenario work in any person-of-color hair place? Feodor, seriously why do you always end up sounding like a racist about black people? It's really creepy considering what you're trying to say, and I'm really not being facetious.
(I'm pretty much leavin' y'all to your own devices in this row, but Feodor, yer 11:44 a.m. comment rings with truth all the way to Oklahoma -- and, this line: "the solidarity of abstract identity about to beat your fucking ass" -- bravo! Great words, in perfect order, and by keeping the f-bomb scarce in general around here, your use of it there kicked.)
wjd? "

Who Jesus did"?


You didn't hiccup regarding "white barber shop" and "black barber shop"?

I thought you would have denied their concrete existence.
Jeez, ER, that wasn't very bright. I suppose the ideologically motivated Oklahoma City bombing is best characterized as as "abstract identity" kicking someone's ass pretty thoroughly. No one is denying that people do things for all sorts of constructed reasons, just denying that contructions aren't constructions. It's why Feodor is calling me a constructivist. Some days you're a lot more R than E.
Sorry, but I would have grabbed my scissors long before now and have a go at you.

Black folks are more patient. Noble. Exceptional. They are better than we are.

They usually don't get all messed up in the head with Heidegger, Derrida, de Man and shit like that.

That's because the black experience is a profound theological experience.

And why Uncle Toms are so identifiable; they deny the theological experience of suffering and survival.
Feodor: It wasn't that hard to parse the sentence. White people are people you'd define as white. Black people are people whom you think would define themselves as black and accept each other as black. Now naturally both "black" and "white" are unstable constructs, but they're certainly useful for your purpose assuring me that everyone woud react the same other than the child.

Still thinking about you and black violence. Someone once told me there was a "bad black" act that young black men sometimes use, out of anger they're considered dangerous already and they say what the heck. Now assuming you don't actually think blacks are expecially prone to violence, are you're doing the same thing once removed, by threatening me with your wife and a babrbershop full of guys innocently getting their hair done? It's not really scary on the web.
TStock, somedays I *am* more R than E. But I recognize the poweer of rhetoric. The mere mention of "Jasper" by a white peep in a group of black peeps, especially in a barber shop if there is substance to now conventional wisdom surrounding barber shops, woudl dangerous, powerful rhetoric. And, Feodor's using Jasper in that example is good rhetoric, especially the last line.

Thou pribbling earth-vexing clack-dish!
As I said, you are freed. I'm just noting my fantasy life now; it's not about you.

I'm not interested in Uncle Toms.
Ah, okay, you';re not serious - I figured out you couldn't possibly be condemning a black person wh developed an interest in Heidegger or Derrida as a Uncle Tom. The character, by the way, did not deny suffering, and i'd argue that Beecher did not disparage him for his choice, though she did illustrate another thoroughly approved alternative. of course it was emigration back to Africa, but there you go - the nineteenth century in a nutshell.
You puling varlet, hiding neath a name your side ne're gaveth you!

So he gets style points or there was actually some substance I missed?
Okay, another question: what would a black man have to say in the white barber shop that would elicit a similar violent reaction from the less-noble, more impatient inferior patrons?
No, more than style points. I mean, I haven't been following the underlying discussion that closely -- the abstract identity thing -- to be honest. But I'm sure there would be a solid, three-D response to any foolishness perpetrated surrounding Jasper, thou wayward boil-brained nut-hook!

I don't think white barber shops are the same kind of social settings as black barber shops -- are they? -- so I actually don't think that's an apt comparison.

There are dirt-road beer joints over in my neck of the eastern Oklahoma woods. Any black man simply walking in likely would be hustled right back out, bloodied and thrown down in the gravel, at least. A black man walking in and giving anyone any lip whatsoever might very well be killed or worse, thou frothy knotty-pated flap-dragon!
ER: "There are dirt-road beer joints over in my neck of the eastern Oklahoma woods. Any black man simply walking in likely would be hustled right back out, bloodied..."

Hell ER, they'd do that to anbody wearing shoes.
Your state scares me sometimes, possibly because i wear shoes. As a would-be oppressed minority, I've always wondered how a beating might prove I could have more sole, and now i know.

Thou poxy frequenter of mental stewes, thou of slops-shod arse, and of thy loupy-dyke maundering of the page

And now off for the weekend
Scares me a lot of the time.

Have a good 'un, thou droning spur-galled flirt-gill!
So . . . we've moved from the Second Amendment, through a brief but fun discussion of contract theory as it pertains to the US Constitution, via a brief mention of Foucault to the reality - or lack thereof - of "abstract nouns" (universals). That, and issues of racial identity, what books different people read, and even the f-bomb.

Such are the vagaries of blog comments.
You didn't compliment the Shakesperean insults!

Hey, that's why this blog is like few others: erudition all around, redneckery and asshatterry all around, with the occasional fundies interloper.

I love this place.
Thou tottering ill-nurtured mammet!
Ill-nurtured mammet? I much prefer rogue. . .
Thou frothy rude-growing horn-beast!

I'm sorry TStockmann has left before we had some more space and time to circle back to main issues.

It does seem to me that in his responses, either 1. he's not clearly remembered what happened in Jasper, or 2. he would consider my mention of Jasper as emotive -- which would be a very disturbing reality.

I have said before that Black Folks are not shocked by Abu Ghraib. And I can say, as TStockmann was wondering, that people of color in general are not shocked by Abu Ghraib, not the ones who give thought and reflection to these things.

Jasper is less than 1% of the evidence such folks remember, evidence which has long ago delegitimized the shock response.

Emmitt Till's name is still mentioned in informal conversation from month to month among black folks. I confess that he does not come to my mind unbidden, but his murder is a ready-made, ready-at-hand living metaphor for others. Like the Kennedy assassination is for my people. Right there on the tip of the tongue, free to quickly associate on the horizon of discourse.

This would again be evidence of abstract communal construction of identity. Black folks. Latinos. People of Color.

Jasper has implications that millions abstract to themselves for reasons that cannot be experienced by whites.

They have seen their "god-given" or "nature-given" or "universal reason-given" rights abridged, destroyed, denied, delayed.

And now GKS has constructed a thought program that says I do not have the right to walk down the street but I do have the freedom. Which I can only surmise means that he suggests means that rights are negotiated and freedom is a vacuum.

I think Rosa Parks and César Chávez would disagree.

And what happened to James Byrd, which TStockmann calls emotive arguments and GKS calls metaphysical mirage.
What happened to James Byrd, like thousands of other lynching victims, was a brutal atrocity, pure and simple. Why is it necessary to construct fantasies of moral order in order to say such things? Or is the strength of my moral outrage at such violence in the name of race somehow lessened because I don't believe in such things as rights?

I fail to see any connection between the castle in the air of which you speak, Feodor, and the specific instances you name. I also see no reason to think it necessary to insist that your construct of moral absolutes is far better than my own. You are not the only person who feels sympathy for the victims of hate, or suffers with those who suffer.

I see no need to congratulate myself on a philosophical level for doing this.
Ah, Feodor, I do like it when you actually imply a question, especially when the answer might disturb you. What do i think of Jasper?

I think for your crowd Jasper is "the good atrocity," one of the very few in recent memory were the villains and victims line up with your ideology, with a clear racial motive to boot. You'd like it to be an indicator of something huge. I reference the stats before, on both reported hate crimes per se and white-on-black murders. Instead, it is striking horrific because it is such an anomaly. While the murderers may have been propelled by a culture of racism, they acted as individuals, were caught and severely punished by white-dominated jury.

It will be well to contrast what happen to Yankel Rosenbaum in your neck of the woods - an actual racially-motivated mob murder, with a acquittal sometimes characterized as a "jury nullification" by a largely black jury, and more race-conscious shenanigans after. I think perhaps it would be useful to always evoke both the Jasper and Rosenbaum incidents simultaneously - a truly mischievous collective noun. What would we call it? Another undercutting collectivity would be that Jasper is drag Willie Horton - true crime, political use. Can you name that collectivity?

Look, this is not to say all murders are equal, because the real lynchings were one of a number of methods that were by intention and result, acts of terror, meant not only to kill but to subjugate, and if it wasn't always an explicit tool of those who actually had power, it might as well have been. That wasn't Jasper. That time is - for now - gone. That's why Jasper is such a comforting morality tale for the racially polarized, an ironically named black swan, outnumbered by hundreds and thousands to one by violence that really is an effective attack on the well-being of [communities], but were the causes become abstract and not a matter of agreements. There are some forms of rage, moral outrage, that feel good.

Gosh, I really go on. I think your points about police violence are even more interesting and we should explore in another thread. But I think you're thoroughly undercut the notion of a "people of color" - how many Koreans would know whatthe to you seminal fact of Jasper "means" or particularly care if they did? Some collectives are bigger fantasies than others.
This comment has been removed by the author.
"I think for your crowd Jasper is "the good atrocity," one of the very few in recent memory were the villains and victims line up with your ideology..."

Lips dripping with interposition and nullification.

Robbie Tolan
Sean Bell
Abner Louima
Amadou Diallo
Rodney King
Reginald Denny
OJ Simpson

One of the very few.

Hundreds and thousands to one.

Random googling result:

Nearly half of the nation's murder victims in 2005 were black, and the number of black men who were slain is on the rise.Most of the black murder victims — 93 percent — were killed by other black people, the study found. About 85 percent of white victims were slain by other white people. I wonder how many People o' Color?

the number of black people slain dropped over the last 10 years, from 10,400 in 1995 to almost 8,000 in 2005.

But the murder rate among black men rose slightly between 2004 and 2005, continuing several years of dips and increases.

Two years ago, 6,783 black men were murdered, up from 6,342 in 2004, the study shows.
I count more than 70,000 black men dead in 10 years, as well as thousands of black women. More than a Vietnam's worth of casualties. How many white-on-black hate crime murders? I was being very conservative.

And OJ Simpson? Sheesh. And I do notice what went without reply from my post.
You've been avoided so many substantive points of mine that I thought I could be a little lazy on Sunday.

Besides, since "agreement" is an abstract concept existing in the abstract intersubjective space shared by abstract consciousness, one cannot reach agreement with John Locke.

So why are your worth my time if I cannot expect mutual openness to be moved, however incrementally.

Enough to say that your concrete examples simply participate, in part, just as mine do, in the realities of race relations as built on the history and experience of this country. They are not entirely defined by these abstractions, but they are evidence of phenomenological remainder that is unexplained in any other way.

I'm formulating a longer response for GKS at his site. As he agrees to actually engage. He reciprocates respect.

You and I have not done so with each other since you were an asshole. I've seen not reason to alter.
You...you...you're going to prom with Geoffrey instead of me?

I fall upon the thorns of Life.

I bleed.
Like I said, GKS puts out. You're just a hand job.
I'm sure he feel terribly in the morning
You guys.
In the end, TStockmann wants me to answer his atheism.

And that I just cannot do.

One has to enter through a door to see.

Staying on the portico in order to maintain eyesight with the mothering agora just doesn't cut it.
Feodor -

I that's what you're thinking, no wonder you're frustrated. I understand that your notion of ethics derive in part from your religious sensibility - or possibly produced it - as I pointed out to ER, there's not much clarity which came first in that chicken-and-egg. I don't argue "ought" issues with you per se because your oughts, like those of Mark or the other right wing religious folks who used to spend more time here - aren't really arguable, except to point out inconsistencies, and even then if consistency isn't part of an ethical system, it's hard to argue it should be. I'm also not going to use emotional or social appeals to get you to change yours - it's nothing about which I care and I don't like those methods. I know it's frustrating to you that I'm not terribly susceptible to that sort of appeal either. It's not interesting to me either that you head in that direction - it's like being scolded by street preacher.

On the other hand, I am concerned with clarity, as you point out, and think that analysis, whether linguistic or rhetorical, allows everyone to see exactly how arguments fit together. And I'm not nice about ethos appeals and appeals to doubtful or self-interested authority. My analysis may be incorrect and is necessarily incomplete, but I do try to make it as honest as possible and don't mind being called on it when someone sees something I don't - in fact, I like it; that kind of correction is a gift. You think of it as casuistry or sterile, but i think that's because you can't just rant or sing or reproach and get assent to whatever you contend.

I also like disputing or introducing matters of fact, offering alternative interpretations or sources, seeing if any of my small store of reading is applicable. I don't have a particular standard ideology, at least by American categories short of a hazy pragmatism.

My manners are, of course, execrable, but that's always been true and is as true in person as on the web. Feel free to ignore me for that or any other reason, but don't be concerned that I'm trying to use you to contend with my ontological status. I don't believe ontology is a useful concept.
F - Oh, and just a free association. In high school I just thrashed a copy of Walter Kaufmann's Critique of Religion and Philosophy. The centerpiece of the book (as I remember it) was a series of three dialogues between Satan and a (naive) Christian, a Theologian, and an Atheist. Satan disposes of the first two in his expected fashion, but when he hits the atheist, their discussion just keeps hitting brick walls - not least because of the atheist's smugness and lack of emotional affect. The dialogue closes with Satan exploding something like: "I'm just trying to make you a little human before you come down to join me. I argue with Christians and theologians and to tell the truth, I like arguing with them. But you! I wish you'd go to heaven!"

I hope you don't mind the comparison with a fictional Prince o' Darkness,.
I don't have religious sensibility problems as much as I do philosophical sensibility problems. Your philosophical atheism results from being pinned by the absolute divorce between subject and object.

I, too, ultimately rest unsatisfied by the ontological argument.

But it is the absolute quality of that divorce for you that makes our conversation impossible. (And this is far, far from Orwell). In constructing your trust on the end point -- so far -- of your education, you have merely settled for progressivism. You do not ask what blind alleys may be as fresh as Feyerabend or Rorty's chidren. You take the latest for the greatest. In other words, in fact in David Foster Wallace's words to the Kenyon graduates, you have indeed learned how to think deeply but you have not learned how to control how you think deeply. "What is water?" the young fish ask after the old fish asks them how the water is.

I'm asking you to wonder how the water is. But, alas, no.


Both my wife (yeah, that one) and I have moral pain regarding the killing in Jasper. But the additional data (and I just know you'll love this) is how there is a phenomenological remainder of identity and terror that my wife has in some region of the self that does not happen with the same unconscious self-threat for me. It only happens, for me, in conscious relationship with people who (for reasons outside the control of self-scripting and perhaps first absent of will but then almost always proudly) identify in a way that news can become personal, familial, communal terror. It is prepped by stories from dads and uncles, mothers and grandmothers. It is prepped while watching television. It is prepped by watching how the day goes for one's classmate with her teacher, her afternoon of horse-riding. It is prepped by how differently store help rush to inquire what they can do for you that is somehow different from how they rush to help your classmate.

It is this abstract, socially ingrained, communally and personally held fabric of identity that describes a socio-historical epoch that serves as datum that remains unexamined and even threatening to your philosophical denomination, founded so absolutely as it is on the protestant divorce of word from act. They, at least, are trying to get that back.

You build puzzles with the pieces and game me.

Sorry, I'm not up to being your evil twin.

You offer nothing for the benefit.
Nope. The Bloom in me is proud. Don't tell DrLBJ about the Bloom in me, though.
I know you hate this, but two texts come to mind here:

The opening anguish of James Agee in Let Us Praise Famous Men.

And the nirguna and saguna distinctions of Brahman as I learned them first in Eliot Deutsch's Advaita Vedanta.

In addition to Wallace's commencement address to Kenyon College.
Okay, as a gesture of respect I read both the Agee and the Wallace. I'm skippng the veda - I read the Bhagavad-Gita back when and would have to have it on stronger authority than yours that more Hindu scripture is worth my time. And Thoreau's characterization of it as "pure intellectuality" doesn't do it for me either, either source or commendation.

The Agee I had encountered once before personally though not read (indirectly, of course, it's thoroughly memed.) Interestingly (to me) it was also regarding Agee's opening remarks - a friend of mine in college was asked in class what he thought of the book by his prof. He said (reported by another friend), simply and bitterly, "I think Agee is a liar." That is, a liar about caring and being anguished - he thought that the book was still a scam on the subjects and the opening was simply a way to pre-empt that criticism. I don't think it was coincidental that this guy, Alex, was from the most disadvantaged background of any of us (though not sharecropper level), although that doesn't make his defensive reading correct. I'll take a look at the book itself when i can get it - the preface was on Amazon - because the families might be more interesting than Mr. Agee. Stance bores me - it's adolescent. But reportage can be golden.

The Wallace commencement address seemed as platitudinous and preachy as he acknowledges the genre to be and denies he's being. I did enjoy the delicious irony of his description of most suicides as "already dead" before they pull the trigger. The whole central part of the speech falls apart on his assertion of "worship" and you can plug in my analysis here, and his attempts to credential himself with the antireligious crowd by initially seeming to agree with some of their objections was pretty bald. By the way - if you read Infinite Jest and can recommend it, i'd like to hear why. None of the other people who picked it up would, each time I've asked.

I do appreciate the recommendations. More on your previous post later.
Deutsch's book is not Hindu scripture. It is a straitforward outline of the philosophical system of non-duality, or advaita vendanta. Brahman is the unity of reality, the experience of which (Saguna Brahman) is Brahamn-with-qualities as interpreted and affirmed by the mind from its necessary limited standpoint. It is that about which something can be said and is also a spiritual experience. But Nirgana Brahman is Brahman-without-qualities, "just that transcendent indeterminate state of being about which nothing ultimately can be said."

The via negativa, as it were. A way out of the western prison.
I do appreciate and share the inability to connect with Hindu scripture.

Buddhist sutras and Zen koans are more moving and helpful to my thinking and acting, though many are timeless but to you perhaps insipid and mediocre truisms.
And I mean these things descriptively about me not prescriptively for you.
Okay, I will eventually have a look-see at the Deutsch too. Your characterization of the resolution is similar to the famous ending of Wittgenstein's Tractatus.

7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

Of course I'm not a child of the Tractatus and i also recognize the link to the traditional (Western) notions of ineffability and the Peace That Passeth Understanding, but still.

It sounds as if you might have read the post on my old blog about Evil Genius/Evil Twin, but you're right - that's not what's going on here between the two of us. Evil Twins are those I agree with but whose programs I find distasteful for other reasons, warnings about tendencies I already have. Definitely not you. Evil Geniuses are the very cream of the opposition, the ones who can get me to reappraise or refine my own opinions. Obviously you have to have some shared sense of method to get here - or an overwhelming sense you may want to ditch your method and commit intellectual adultery with a new mistress. Yes, Rorty, Rawls and Feyerabend fit into here for me once upon a time, as did Thomas Merton. I don't have one now - i don't think Singer, for instance, is a challenge if you don't accept the basic moral format and I'm done with the bout.

I don't think your intellectual/spiritual path uses these mechanisms - you need to have initial sympathy to connect since your touchstones are emotional and social. Your growth would be within a content framework, not simply within a method. And it's why it may take someone like Geoffrey telling you you're being a sanctimonious twit to get you to consider whether you are being that.

It's funny we agree about the Hindu scripture, because I was actually framing your position on race in terms of its younger brother, Buddhism (variety not important because the 4 Noble Truths are basic, as far as I know). I'm in agreement with you on the first. Obviously not on the actual details of the next three.
My touchstones are emotional and social because I am constitutionally a Romantic (sources other than the sheerly Rational; "emotional" is your word) and Sacramental (which is necessarily social; the whole world is a sacrament).

Given the Romanticism, one can understand why I find a great deal of common agreement with DrLobojo and GKS. The suspicion of enlightenment structures and power. When talking to the dark side, this is the lane from which I bowl. GKSs pietism and empiricism clears the decks of inherited conceptualizations that could get in the way of an intuitive, constructivist response to the world. DrLJBs gnosticism is a therapy to having been trained as a young man in the dark corners of state power and security. He now distrusts organization and organizational power as corrupting. My Romanticism agrees.

My Romanticism is rather more benignly born, growing up to find frontier protestant religion in mid-America (specifically Texas) to be a shallow and coercive rationalistic pragmatism. The world was feared, but I did not want to fear the world. So it became mythically, mystically beautiful. Now having met more of its death and blood than I ever imagined, its beauty is more terribly born but no less more large than methods of reason, especially those that lower expectations to the level of language games.

The Sacramentalist is the other pole of my dialectic, romantic in style but highly structured metaphysically. It is difficult for solidly American culture to understand. Partly for being non-linguistic in it reasoning, and partly for being almost completely non-individualistic (Social), even for the hermit.

This is the lane from which I criticized my own and the cultural protestantism. Richard Rodriguez says that no matter where one's family comes from, one will become an American in a deep structural way (even if it is simply the semantic structure) in no time at all. One can be a Catholic mestizo from Mexico, but the cultural style is a most powerful "hegemony," and will dissolve alterity.

I think he is largely right and that becoming American is a very mixed achievement. And Protestantism is one of the few mothers to that auspiciously hobbled mixture.
Re, "the whole world is a sacrament"


"Life is Grace" -- Beuchner(sp?)

Amen again.

God help me keep this in mind. Life is throwing me some big, painful, sad loops right now.
Richard Rodriguez's Days of Obligation is also on my bookshelf. Although i liked it, it appears I am immune to good influences. To no-one's surprise.
Days was O.K.

I liked Brown.
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