I always delete random illiterate religious spam from Philosophy in Action’s Facebook Page … but not until I’ve made proper fun of it.
Back in January, the internet was agog over the report that a pastor objected to the 18% gratuity added to her bill for being part of a large party by writing on the receipt, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?”
The proper answer, of course, is provided by Grumpy Cat:
Your waitress offers you a genuine service, in exchange for your tip… God, not so much.
However, what I find particularly interesting about the story from an ethical perspective lie in the details of what happened at the restaurant and afterwards.
[Chelsea Welch's co-worker [at an Applebee's in the St. Louis area] had waited on a large party hosted by Pastor Alois Bell of the World Deliverance Ministries Church in Granite City, Ill. As is common at many restaurants, an 18 percent tip was automatically added to the bill.
Pastor Bell crossed out the automatic tip and wrote “0″ on the receipt, along with this message: “I give God 10% why do you get 18?”
Welch, who did not wait on Pastor Bell’s table took a photo of the bill and uploaded it to Reddit where it soon went viral. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical,” Welch told TheConsumerist. “I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining.”
Bell, who did not see the humor in this, complained to the restaurant’s manager. Bell told The Smoking Gun she did not expect her signature to be all over the Internet.
Applebee’s confirms that Welch was fired. In a statement, the company says:
“Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.”
Pastor Bell told The Smoking Gun she is sorry for what happened and points out that she left a $6.29 cash tip on the table.
“My heart is really broken,” she told them. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and my ministry.”
As this story makes clear, the waitress didn’t intend for anyone to be able to identify the pastor in question, and she took measures to prevent that identification. Alas, the power of the internet was too great. Also, the waitress reports that the pastor “contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.” (That’s a quote from the article, not from the waitress.)
On the one hand, I understand why Applebee’s fired the server who posted the receipt. The restaurant wants its customers to feel secure in their privacy while on premises, particularly in their dealings with their employees, particularly in their financial transactions.
Nonetheless, in this age of social media, people’s expectations of privacy must change… or they will get burned. If you’re in public, your antics might be broadcast far and wide across the internet for other people’s amusement. Then, if you act petulant and bossy about that, as this pastor seemed to do, you’ll be lambasted even more.
Ultimately, a person needs to be responsible for his own privacy. That requires thinking in advance about what he wishes to keep private or not. That requires attention to what he says and does in view or earshot of other people. That requires being selective about what he emails or posts online. That requires providing appropriate context for public actions if he wants to avoid being misjudged.
A rational person does not broadcast his private activities to the world, then blame others for taking notice.
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I just ran across this passage in an otherwise merely annoying sports column on athletes and steroid use:
This past Christmas Eve, my son and daughter made Santa cookies, wrote him a letter, even left four carrots for his reindeer. As we were putting them to bed, I remember thinking, Man, I wish they could always stay like this. And by “this,” I really meant, I wish they could always just blindly believe in things being true despite mounting evidence against them.
Oy vey! The “blind belief” of faith is not a virtue — neither in adults not in children. It’s the rejection of reason’s requirements of empirical evidence and logical argument. To the extent that a person lives by faith rather than reason is the extent to which he imperils his life and his happiness. (For more on what’s wrong with faith — including why faith and reason cannot be reconciled — I strongly recommend George H. Smith’s Atheism: The Case Against God.)
Interestingly, the sports writer indulges in fairly arbitrary doubts about athletes and steroid use in the rest of the column. Given that kind of irrationality, it’s hardly surprising that he longs to enjoy the comforts of the opposite kind of error.
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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!
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These strange emails just keep rolling into my inbox:
From: Akaki Date: Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM Subject: Nice article but wrong there ia a flaw in your argument. To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Diana I read your article “Why Be An Atheist?” with great interest.
Its a great article, and it had opened my eyes. But there is a serious mistake in your argument which you may not have noticed.
Brgds S. K De
Really, that’s all that he said! The article in question is actually the text of a talk that I gave to a small group of Objectivists waaaay back in 1999. It’s here: Why Be An Atheist?
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Might the government of a free society ever be justified in banning the veil? I’m on the fence on the issue. In some cases, I’d say — very tentatively — that such a ban might be justified as a means of protecting rights. How so?
First, I don’t think that the veil could be banned on the grounds that it represents some kind of threat, implicit or otherwise. The veil signals the subjugation of women, not jihad. In contrast, the mere wearing of KKK garb is clearly an unspoken threat in certain circumstances, such as when a parade of clansmen march up and down the street of a new black family in the neighborhood. Such would be cause for vigorous investiation, if not arrests.
The case of the veil is far more similar to the following scenario:
Imagine that people from a certain far-away country keep chattel slaves. This slavery is not merely permitted by law, but encouraged by most of the culture as just and proper. Those slaves are marked not by their skin color, but rather by certain kinds of jewelry — loose manacles that limited movement and a mouthguard that prevents most speech. If seen without the manacles and mouthguard in public, a slave would be severely beaten, if not killed.
Some people from the slave country immigrate to a free nation. In free nation, chattel slavery is absolutely forbidden and regarded with abhorrence. Nonetheless, some of those immigrants bring their slaves with them — and keep them as slaves, out of the sight of the law. These slaves are so ignorant of their proper freedoms that they don’t know that they have rights, nor how to seek assistance from the law. Also, some slaves think that slavery is their proper condition in life, due to being raised with that ideology beaten into them, literally and figuratively. Of those who want to live free, they fear that any attempt at escape would mean death: they know that their owners, aided by other immigrants from the slave country, would seek them and likely kill them.
Law enforcement in the free nation works diligently to identify and free any chattel slaves imported into the country, as well as prosecute the slaveowners. However, because the immigrant community from the slave country is so insular, that government is unable to do so effectively. Slaves — in their manacles and mouthguards — can be seen walking the streets. If these slaves are questioned about their condition by law enforcement or others, they’ll deny that they’re slaves. They’ll say that they’re wearing the jewelry of their own free choice. Some will have a look of fear in their eyes. Others will warmly defend the jewelry as a positive good because they don’t want to move or speak much.
At its wits end and unwilling to tolerate slavery within its borders, the government of the free country bans the manacles and mouthguards as tools and symbols of slavery. They hope that the slaves — freed from the restrictions of their jewelry — will be able to interact with other people in society in normal ways and thereby escape their bondage. Of course, howls of protest are heard from the immigrant community, including from some slaves, about this violation of their rights to wear what jewelry they please.
However, the government argues that to wear the jewelry is to be a slave — symbolically and in fact. The clear symbolic meaning of the jewelry — as well as its isolating effect on a person — cannot be ignored. The manacles and mouthguard are not just some wacky jewelry: they’re part and parcel of a massive violation of rights. In addition, the government cannot know that those who claim to want to wear the jewelry actually want to do so of their own free choice, precisely because the jewelry marks a slave. The word of a person wearing the jewelry might actually be coerced by his or her master. Hence, the government bans the wearing of that particular kind of jewelry.
Is that just and proper? Perhaps so.
A proper government must doggedly protect the rights of all people within its jurisdiction. Apart from murder, slavery is the worst possible violation of those rights. Slavery cannot be tolerated, nor can slavery be voluntary. To speak of the derivative rights of the slave — like the right to wear certain jewelry — is sheer nonsense. Given the violation of his fundamental rights, that can only mean the “right” of his master to force him to wear the jewelry, if the master pleases. Only once the slaves are free people — free from the domination of and violence by another — can the question of their right to wear jewelry be sensibly discussed, because only then can they do so or not of their own choice, rather than by force or permission.
Hence, I doubt that to ban the jewelry would be a violation of rights — or perhaps, it’s a minor and temporary violation of a trivial right for the sake of securing the fundamental liberty. A person must be free of slavery — free of forcible domination by the will of another — before he can be free to choose anything else, including what to wear.
Similarly, millions of women living in Muslim countries and enclaves elsewhere exist in virtual slavery to their fathers, brothers, and husbands at present. Some women embrace that subjugation, yet it’s still indefensible. The veil is part of parcel of that slavery: the veil is a symbol of subjugation, as well as a means of isolating women from the broader culture in which they live. Many women are forced to veil themselves, under threat of violence.
So to speak of the “right to veil” ignores the fact that these women are not yet free to refuse to veil. They must be freed from their subjugation before they can exercise a free choice to veil or not. That might require banning the veil for a time, to allow them to become full-fledged members of the society.
Notably, I don’t think that banning the veil could be justified in the United States at present: most Muslim women are free to veil or not, as they see fit. I’m more sympathetic to bans on the veil in Europe, as the subjugation of Muslim women within Muslim enclaves is a serious problem. Even there, however, other measures might be far more effective — better policing, shelters from women fleeing their homes, posters informing women of their rights, and so on. I’m more inclined to support banning the veil in Muslim countries seeking to westernize — and hence, liberate their women from bondage. It’s a minor measure, and instantly liberating for many women. Alas, such might force women from devout families into complete seclusion, which would be worse. Hence, even in such circumstances, different measures might be more effective.
As I said, I’m up in the air. What do you think?
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Georgia Rep. Paul Broun said in videotaped remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell” meant to convince people that they do not need a savior.
The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman’s banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell.
Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats. He sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
“God’s word is true,” Broun said, according to a video posted on the church’s website. “I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
Broun also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days. Those beliefs are held by fundamentalist Christians who believe the creation accounts in the Bible to be literally true.
It’s not surprising that this [unprintable term] is a politician, but it’s scary that he’s a doctor.
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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.)