I’m delighted to report that the pledge drive to fund Ari Armstrong’s and my new policy paper in defense of abortion rights is rolling along on schedule. So far, we’ve received 28 pledges for $1,560. That’s over the threshold — HOORAY! So thank you, thank you to everyone who has pledged so far!

However, I’d love to collect a bit more in funds before tomorrow’s deadline, if possible. Why? First, some people don’t pay their pledges, so I’d like a bit of wiggle room for that. Second, I’d love to use any extra funds to promote the paper after it’s completed. Third, a bit more money raised would be good for CSG’s court challenge to Colorado’s campaign finance laws.

You have until tomorrow at midnight to pledge. Please do pledge, if you want to support this project! Any amount is welcome, and your pledge is not due until the paper is published on September 17th.

You can find out more about Colorado’s 2014 “personhood” ballot measure here. If you have any questions about the project or pledging, please email me.

Here are some of the comments that people have made while pledging… which I’m sharing because I appreciate them so much:

While we need staunch defense of abortion rights everywhere, this project is of personal interest to me because my daughters live in Colorado, and I want them to have the fullest protection of their rights possible there.

Thank you for using sane reasoning to argue for positions that I care about. I support your cause, and wish that as a student I could contribute more. Hopefully soon as a professional I can help more.

It’s very important that you write this. Personhood laws destroy reproductive rights, and destroys Republicans’ commitment to and reputation for supporting freedom and individual rights.

I am looking forward to the updated paper. I found the original very interesting and informative.

Keep up the good work! Look forward to the update and to the defeat of Amendment 67.

Me too!! Again, please pledge before tomorrow at midnight if you want to support the writing and promotion of a new paper in defense of abortion rights!

 

After a hiatus in 2012, I’m sorry to report that “Personhood for Zygotes” is on the ballot again in Colorado in 2014. However, I’m pleased to announce that Ari Armstrong and I will update 2010 policy paper in defense of abortion rights in light of the very much changed political landscape. Once again, we need your support to make that happen!


Colorado’s New “Personhood for Zygotes” Amendment

Despite the defeats of “personhood” measures in 2008 and 2010, the crusaders against abortion rights have returned with yet another attempt to grant the full legal rights of personhood to fertilized eggs.

The ballot question reads:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings? (Full Text)

If successful, this measure would outlaw therapeutic and elective abortions, common fertility treatments, and popular forms of birth control. It would subject women and their doctors to intrusive police controls and unjust criminal prosecutions. It would force Coloradoans to abide by the deeply religious and sectarian view that the fertilized egg is imbued with rights from God.

Due to its misleading wording — particularly its talk of “protecting pregnant women” — 2014′s Amendment 67 will likely fare significantly better in the polls than the “personhood” amendments proposed in 2008 and 2010. It’s unlikely to pass, but that doesn’t mean that abortion rights are secure. The dangerous ideology of “personhood” has spread like wildfire in the past four years among religious conservatives. In the 2012 presidential election, every Republican candidate except Mitt Romney endorsed “personhood for zygotes.”

The ideology of “personhood for zygotes” must be steadfastly opposed — based on a firm understanding of rights in pregnancy — not merely because “it goes too far.”


Support a 2014 Paper in Defense of Abortion Rights

To combat the dangerous ideology of “personhood” and defend abortion rights on principle, Ari Armstrong and I will publish a new version of their policy paper on the “personhood” movement. The updates to the paper will focus on the new language in 2014′s Amendment 67, the widespread embrace of “personhood” by the Republican Party in the 2012 election, the synergy between “incremental” and “personhood” approaches to abortion bans, the defeat of a “personhood” amendment in Mississippi, and more.

However, that work depends on your support! The update to the paper will only go forward if at least $1500 is pledged by August 20th. That will help pay for the many hours of work this update will require. If sufficient funds are pledged, the 2014 paper will be published by September 17th.

So, if you want to help defend abortion rights in this 2014 election, please pledge! Any amount is welcome, and your pledge is not due until the paper is published.

Note: Due to efforts of the Center for Competitive Politics on CSG’s behalf, I hope that she will not have to report on funds collected for this project, as she’s been obliged to do in prior elections. Time — or rather the judge — will tell. In any case, pledges for this paper are helping us have a viable case with which to challenge Colorado’s onerous campaign finance laws.

If you have any questions about the project or pledging, please email me.

 

I found that photo on Facebook a while back, with the following caption:

This photo was posted on STFU, Conservatives Tumblr page last night [here]. The reason why I’m sharing it is not because of the photo itself (which is epic in it’s [sic] own right), but for the comments it generated.

One person wrote, “but then again, its kind like putting a meat suit on and telling a shark not to eat you”.

STFU responded (with bolded text):

We (men) are not fucking sharks!

We are not rabid animals living off of pure instinct

We are capable of rational thinking and understanding.

Just because someone is cooking food doesn’t mean you’re entitled to eat it.

Just because a banker is counting money doesn’t mean you’re being given free money.

Just because a person is naked doesn’t mean you’re entitled to fuck them.

You are not entitled to someone else’s body just because it’s exposed.

What is so fucking difficult about this concept?

Bravo.

Indeed. Also, Laura Jedeed has some really excellent comments on rape and this image too.

Happily, the rights of women in western countries are more widely recognized and better protected today than at any other time in human history. That’s a huge achievement, and part of why I’m grateful to live in modern America.

However, more progress awaits us. One example was in the news last year:

A recent court case just exposed a barbarity in California law, namely that it’s not rape to trick an unmarried woman into sleeping with you by pretending to be her boyfriend.

Julio Morales was convicted and sentenced to three years in state prison for entering an 18-year-old woman’s bedroom and instigating sex with her while she was asleep after a night of drinking at a house party in 2009. According to prosecutors, it wasn’t until “light coming through a crack in the bedroom door illuminated the face of the person having sex with her” that she realized Morales wasn’t her boyfriend. Holy shit.

But a panel of judges overturned the conviction this week because of a law from 1872 that doesn’t give women the same protections as married women because, as we all know, single women are always down for nonconsensual sex, even when they’re asleep and/or purposefully tricked into the act.

The court admitted that “If the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband” it would be rape. But since there was no ring on her finger, it’s not!

Eugene Volokh had some comments here. I agree that rape by fraud shouldn’t be a punishable offense, except in cases of impersonation of a lover or spouse. (I’m not sure of the case of mere friends.) As Eugene says of such impersonation:

It is, thankfully, apparently a rare sort of lie; it is very far outside the normal level of dishonesty that people expect might happen in their relationships; it is one for which there is no plausible justification or mitigation; and criminalizing it is unlikely to sweep in the garden variety lies that, unfortunately, often appear in people’s sexual and romantic lives.

California law obviously needs to be updated.

Here’s another example. The 2012 election was replete with politicians making ridiculous and offensive comments about rape in order to rationalize their across-the-board opposition to abortion. Most notable was Todd Akin’s justification for denying abortions to women pregnant due to rape:

… from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Conservatives need to recognize that forced pregnancy — not just pregnancy due to rape but any unwanted pregnancy — is a morally abhorrent violation of rights, not a gift from God.

Alas, the third example hits closer to home for me. In a February 2012 podcast, Leonard Peikoff said that a man is entitled to force himself on a woman if she has a few drinks with him and then goes up to his hotel room. Thankfully, he corrected that a few weeks later, but only in part. By a rather strange analysis, Peikoff concluded that a woman cannot withdraw consent after penetration. In reality, that means that the man can do whatever he pleases to the woman after penetration, even as she kicks and screams and yells and cries in protest. That’s seriously, seriously wrong — and dangerous too.

On a more positive note, you’ll find my own views on the nature and limits of consent in sex in this podcast. (It’s a pretty lengthy discussion… about over 40 minutes.)

Ultimately, my point here is that the rights of women matter — and they’re not yet fully protected. The image at the top of this post reminds us of that. The fact that she’s half-naked doesn’t make her any less of a person with the absolute right to forbid another person access to her body.

That’s a lesson that some people still need to learn, unfortunately.

 

Many liberals think that they’re smarter, more compassionate, and more sophisticated than conservatives — and they prance around as if they’re something special.

Many conservatives think that they’re more righteous, more upright, and more educated on economics than liberals — and they prance around as if they’re something special.

As as outsider, let me say, (1) such attitudes might make you feel warm and fuzzy, but they just seem silly and offensive to people outside your in-group and (2) you need to get out more, because political views don’t predict a person’s decency or honesty or intellect or knowledge.

Of course, many libertarians and Objectivists are guilty of the same kinds of offenses, including myself on occasion. Still, I try to avoid being smug just because I hold political beliefs that I regard as right. That way, I hope to actually reach people — to convince them to rethink their assumptions. And in return, I’ll check my own assumptions in face of a good argument or new evidence. The process is — or should be — a two-way street.

Mostly though, *le sigh*

P.S. This message was inspired by Greg Proops. Paul and I attended the live taping of his “Proopscast” last night. (That was accidental: we wanted to hear him do stand-up comedy.) The episode isn’t yet posted, but it will be soon, I imagine. Parts were funny, but the smug liberal shined through a bit too brightly at times.

Apr 082013
 

In this video of her interview with John Stosell, Ann Coulter says many objectionable things…

…but the worst is probably that we shouldn’t even talk about drug legalization until the welfare state is dismantled. That’s bad enough in and of itself, but it’s even worse given that conservatives don’t want to dismantle the welfare state, but rather merely to shape it in their image. Hence, on her approach, the gross injustices and dangerous police state engendered by the War on Drugs will go on and on forever.

Conservatives say the same in opposition to immigration reform too — with similar results. I discussed that view on the this February 2013 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the podcast here:

The road to hell is paved with such conditional defenses of liberty, which are really just rationalizations for statism.

 

In his recent article, Why I’m Canceling my SI Subscription, Andrew Klavan is up in arms about the supposedly hostile leftism of culture — Sports Illustrated in particular. It begins:

I am going to let my subscription to Sports Illustrated lapse when it runs out this year. I hope lots of other people will do the same. Like too many other publications, the magazine has become dishonest, dishonorable and even occasionally despicable in its conformist, lockstep left-wing bias. Republican politicians and conservative positions are routinely insulted in articles having nothing to do with either. Yawn-inducing left wing predictability is brought to the discussion of every issue. No SI writer is allowed to disagree with leftism ever. Despite its great photographs and occasionally good athlete profiles, the magazine has remade itself into crap in the name of political conformity.

For me, the Super Bowl issue with its smarmy and poorly reported article on religion in football was the last straw. The article was not an offense to God, it was an offense to journalism. Mark Oppenheimer, a left wing anti-religion writer for the left wing New York Times, among other left wing venues, does the left wing hit job on football players of faith. …

Despite all that overblown rhetoric, he cites just one one example from the article. Here is the offending quote:

It’s clear that for a substantial number of athletes and coaches, there is no tension between being a Christian and being an aggressive athlete. On the contrary, many of them argue that football builds character and thereby makes a man more of a Christian — a commingling of faith and football now accepted by fans.

But is that a mistake? Just 50 years ago such coziness between public Christianity and football would have seemed absurd. Athletes were nobody’s idea of good ambassadors for religion; they were more likely to be seen as dissolute drinkers and womanizers — more the roguish Joe Namath than the devout Roger Staubach.The aggressive, violent play preached by coaches of an earlier generation was accepted as natural precisely because sport was pagan, not Christian. Christianity was peaceful, charitable and pious. Sport was bloody, ruthless, impious.

In the 1950s and 60s that antagonism began to soften…”

That’s it. Not only does that example not support Klavan’s hyperventiliating about left-wing bias, but it also equates public expressions of Christianity by private individuals with conservativism, such that any skepticism about that is nothing but left-wing bias. In fact, (1) most political leftists are Christians, and (2) many devout Christians are uncomfortable with the loud expressions of faith often heard from football players.

Are conservative Christians unaware of just how silly this makes them look to anyone outside their echo chamber?

Alas, I think not. Lord have mercy on us!

 

Gary Johnson offers an excellent analysis of the 2012 election results in this op-ed published in Huffington Post: Standing Still On A Down Escalator. He’s right that the Democrats don’t have any kind of mandate. His truly telling comments, however, concern the GOP’s defeat:

As for the Republicans, we are reading and hearing widespread shock that they couldn’t win an election after having systematically alienated virtually every voting group in the nation other than white men over the age of 40.

It was a great plan for the Republicans: Go to shameful lengths to tell Hispanics they aren’t welcome, even though they are the fastest growing demographic in the country. Tell women their bodies really aren’t their own to manage. Call themselves small government “conservatives” while espousing that government should tell us who we can marry and supporting laws like the Patriot Act, FISA and the NDAA that give government powers the Founders never dreamed of.

While doing and saying all this, on the key issues of the economy and war, the GOP managed to conduct an entire campaign without demonstrating enough difference with President Obama to compel anyone’s vote one way or the other. “Debating” which decade in which we might expect a balanced budget and simply putting a slightly different wrapper on the same foreign policies obviously didn’t cut it as real challenges to business-as-usual.

Combine this lack of differentiation on the budget and foreign policy with scary stances on the so-called social issues and immigration, and the result is the Republicans’ embarrassing failure to replace a president who is presiding over the worst economy and the most dangerous foreign policy in a generation.

Hear, hear!

Mr. Deity and The New Testament

 Posted by on 8 November 2012 at 2:00 pm  Conservatism, Funny, Objectivism, Religion
Nov 082012
 

Mr. Deity isn’t so thrilled with the new ideas that his son is peddling in the New Testament, but he’s going to enlist Ayn Rand to help him.

(The second half of the video on the election isn’t worth watching.)

Aug 102012
 

When I saw this image on Facebook a few weeks ago, I was utterly aghast. See for yourself:

Communism has been attempted in a multitude of countries around the globe. The result has always been shortages, privation, starvation, labor camps, misery, and death. What kind of evasion must be required to think that the results would be any different in America?!?

Alas, we see the same kinds of evasions from the mainstream progressives and conservatives in America. They demand more spending on welfare programs, even while deficits balloon. They want to stop the drug trade, heedless of the cost to innocent lives and civil liberties. They want stricter immigration laws, even though that makes criminals of hard-working people seeking to improve their lives. They want more government regulation, even at the cost of strangling business. In essence, they continue to advocate policies that they know have failed in the past — and that they should know will only fail in the future.

I love the quip, “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the way of politics these days. The vast majority of people deeply misunderstand individual rights — or worse, ignore them entirely. Without the guidance offered by those fundamental moral principles, the result can only be one variant of bad judgment after another.

(If you were hoping for an optimistic ending to this post… sorry!)

Funny Versus Offensive

 Posted by on 15 May 2012 at 8:00 am  Communication, Conservatism, Election, Politics
May 152012
 

As a follow-up to my recent webcast discussion on poking fun of friends’ ideas online, I’d say that this kind of image is objectively offensive:

It’s not just partisan tripe. It’s collectivist tripe. It’s totally unjustifiable tripe.

People deserve to be judged as individuals. Many liberals are thoughtful people, while many conservatives are flatly dishonest. Liberals tend to be better than conservatives on many important issues: separation of church and state, abortion rights, drug legalization, immigration, limiting police power, and so on. Most conservatives are utterly wrong on those issues, and many will not listen to reason.

When I saw that image in my Facebook feed, I reposted it with the following snippy remark:

I’m pretty sure that such partisan crowing and sniping never convinced anyone of anything. Also, I’m quite sure that people of every political persuasion are enamored of their own set of myths and dogmas. How about working on being more persuasive? It’s harder than you think.

More than anything else in politics, I loathe unprincipled partisan bickering. “My team is GREAT! Your team SUCKS!” is harmless enough in sports. But in politics, people’s rights — and hence, people’s lives and values — are at stake. Is it too much to ask for some concern for principle, i.e. individual rights? Alas, based on the 2012 election so far, we have every reason to expect nothing but unprincipled partisan bickering.

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