All entries by this author

‘Lumières!’ Next to ‘Torah, Bible, Koran’ *

Mar 17th, 2006 | Filed by

Enlightenment values again under threat from fundamentalism, terrorism, concentration of media power.… Read the rest

Judith Shklar on Putting Cruelty First *

Mar 17th, 2006 | Filed by

‘To put cruelty first, therefore, is to be at odds with both religion and politics.’… Read the rest

Not Barking in the Night

Mar 17th, 2006 2:39 am | By

Some more house-circling, since Jonathan asked me a question, which seems eccentric after wondering why I keep talking, but never mind.

Jonathan points out that Norm does mention the point about falsifying the evidence; true; a fair cop; I should have looked harder and qualified what I said. But, he only mentions it, he doesn’t address it, and since it’s most of what I’ve been wondering about, I still say he’s been talking past me rather than ‘settl[ing] things pretty definitively’.

Ophelia also stands by her view that Holocaust denial shouldn’t be a criminal offence – from which the inference is surely unavoidable that this is a liberty right that she not merely notes as a legal fact but

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Because I Just Got a Real Estate License, That’s Why

Mar 16th, 2006 8:47 pm | By

Hmm. I had moved on to other things for the moment, while still planning to say another word or two later if I got around to it. But I’ll say another word or two now, out of irritation. There’s nothing like irritation to cause one to say a word now rather than later. (See, this is where misanthropy comes in. Lycanthropy too, if you argue with wolves. That’s a swell movie with Kevin Bacon – Argues With Wolves.) I’ll tell you why, since you ask.

I’ve been following with some interest the discussion between Norman Geras and Ophelia Benson about David Irving’s imprisonment. Norm’s most recent post seemed to me to settle things pretty definitively…The best sense I

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Yes Yes and Black is White and Gray is Red

Mar 16th, 2006 7:13 pm | By

John Gray is naughty. He’s not Leon Wieseltier, he’s not Steve Fuller, but he’s doing the same strawmannish kind of arguing. Why do people do that? It’s odd. Why do they attack things people don’t claim? If the claims haven’t been made, what is the point of attacking them? I mean, what do they get out of it? What is their aim? Wouldn’t you think the point would be to say what is wrong with what the person did actually say, so as to alert readers to that and persuade them of what’s wrong with it? What’s the point of saying what is wrong with things the person didn’t say? It just seems like a waste of time … Read the rest

Not so Fast

Mar 16th, 2006 5:52 pm | By

It’s great that the Home Office is taking on forced marriage. But in looking at their page on the subject, I was unable to help looking at things in the margin of that page, which prompted feelings of dread and nausea and revulsion. So I clicked one of the links and the feelings got worse. Is this just me? See what you think. The page in question is called (the nausea begins already) ‘Faith Communities’.

Multi-cultural communities are often multi- faith communities and this should be fully recognised in policies aimed at promoting diversity. Fostering understanding and respect between different faiths is vital in practically implementing community cohesion strategies.

Partly it’s just the language. It’s the irritating insistence on … Read the rest


Mar 16th, 2006 5:23 pm | By

Just to let you know, a system crucial for B&W’s functioning seems to have shut down completely, so if it all freezes or disappears, that’s why – it’s not because I’ve run off to the fjords.

Meanwhile I’ll just keep going as long as it works. Who knows, maybe that will be years!… Read the rest

John Gray on Dennett and Wolpert *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

Relies on claim that belief is peripheral to religion, and calls others ‘naive’. Hmm.… Read the rest

Intelligent Design and Stupid Education *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

Cultural critics of ‘the dominance of the scientific elite’ lay the groundwork.… Read the rest

Home Office: ‘Faith’: Forced Marriage *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

‘Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis.’… Read the rest

Foreign Office on Forced Marriage Unit *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

‘Forced marriage is not a religious or cultural issue – it is a global human rights abuse.’… Read the rest

UK Drive to Reduce Forced Marriages *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

‘Forced marriage is a form of domestic violence and a human rights abuse.’… Read the rest

Julian Baggini on Treating Nations as Responsible *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

What is not ultimately fair or philosophically defensible is sometimes nevertheless indispensable. … Read the rest

John Sutherland Talks to Julia Kristeva *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

Claims she has ‘patented’ three ideas.… Read the rest

Anti-abortion Group Posts People’s Addresses *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

Call people ‘baby murderers’ then provide their addresses. Nice.… Read the rest

Letters on Wiesltier’s Review of Dennett *

Mar 16th, 2006 | Filed by

Everyone thinks it’s stupid and bad and awful. Very pleasing.… Read the rest

Take That, Leon

Mar 16th, 2006 1:58 am | By

Now this is satisfying. A lot of people telling the infuriating smug NY Times what a crap review that review by Wieseltier was. It would be all the more satisfying to see Wieseltier admit as much and express remorse and embarrassment at the horrible juvenile abusive spittle-flecked tone of it – but this is satisfying all the same.

Sam Harris:

Wieseltier writes with triumphal smugness about the “excesses of naturalism” that apparently blight Dennett’s work. He might as well have pointed out the “excesses of historical accuracy” or the “excesses of logical coherence.” If utter naturalism is a sin, it is one only from the point of view of religious faith — a faith that has grown ever more

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Out of Order

Mar 15th, 2006 10:42 pm | By

Not a good day. A frustrating day, a malfunctioning day, an irritating day. Email problems – or perhaps correspondent problems. It can be so hard to tell. When someone ignores several emails, you may decide ‘well, I guess I can take a hint (however belatedly)’ and stop emailing, but then when the same person emails on unrelated subjects, you think ‘Hmm, did my emails not get through?’ so you ask – only to be ignored again. Then you scratch your head until the blood drips onto the floor and the cat squalls in alarm, wondering whether what we have here is an email problem or an irritating correspondent problem. This causes bad temper and a strong desire to be in … Read the rest

Sympathetic to Husbands of ‘Difficult’ Women *

Mar 15th, 2006 | Filed by

Well, after all, she did remove her burqa.… Read the rest

Taliban ‘Roving Envoy’ Goes to Yale *

Mar 15th, 2006 | Filed by

Blames Ministry of Vice and Virtue, though he defended it in the past.… Read the rest