Don’t Dis the Wiccans, Tea-Partiers!

A few minutes ago I read Bill Whittle sneering at “mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors”. I tried to leave a comment there; it went into moderation, and I lost my original in the browser shuffle. I can’t guarantee that the following is a word-for-word copy, but it’s pretty close.

Hey! Hey! Don’t lump all Wiccans in with the left-wing rent-a-mob crowd. It’s true that some our more vocal people fit the stereotype, especially in the Dianic wing of the movement. But there are lots of quieter Wiccans who are gun-toting libertarians like me; for us, the rejection of monotheism and “faith” is continuous with the rejection of One-True-Wayism in all its forms. Thomas Jefferson might say of us that we have sworn on the altars of our gods eternal hostility towards every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

Wiccans are potential allies for the Tea Party movement, as long as it remembers that America was founded on religious dissent and doesn’t fall into an unholy alliance with bigoted religious conservatives as the GOP did. That choice didn’t play well with the general population of independents and moderates, either; heed the lesson.

Here’s the disturbing part. There are now two comments on that post, and mine isn’t either of them – suggesting that Bill Whittle did a moderation pass and shitcanned it. If true, that’s deeply disappointing news about both Bill Whittle and the movement in which he claims to be a principal figure. It puts some point on the left-liberal accusation that Tea Partiers are a bunch of reactionary know-nothings wearing fiscal conservatism as mere camouflage.

Mr. Whittle, I’m making a noise about this because I think your attitude about Wiccans — whatever it actually is — is a good proxy for your movement’s ability to see beyond tired stereotypes and fratricidal culture wars. Are limited government and individual liberty your actual goals? If so, can you recognize potential allies from wherever they hail?

Much — including the future of the Tea Party movement, and perhaps the future of our country — may turn on your answer.

UPDATE: It now appears that the apparent disappearance of my comment was due to technical difficulties. I apologize to Bill Whittle for entertaining dark suspicions of him personally, and note that he disclaims being a spokesperson for the movement. The larger question about the willingness of the Tea Party movement to (sorry for the PC phrase…) embrace diversity, is still open.

309 thoughts on “Don’t Dis the Wiccans, Tea-Partiers!

  1. Agreed. While a lot of Wiccans I know are left or at least left-leaning, I know of two for sure who are card-carrying Republicans and several more who are minarchist libertarians, they just don’t talk about it as much as the lefties. It’s very disappointing that Whittle would stereotype us like that because it shows a huge closed-mindedness on his part and it reflects negatively on the party as a whole. If there’s one thing I’d like Whittle to know about Wiccans and neo-pagans it’s this — think about it: if we’re this open-minded about religion, how open-minded are we about politics?

  2. Eric, I think know Bill better than you do. He has no problem with your religion at all. He likes open debate, and wouldn’t have quashed a comment like yours. I think you’re overreacting here.

    He didn’t say that all wiccans are nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors. Since you aren’t a “nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestor”, he’s not talking about you any more than if he made a comment about someone else named “Eric”. And you can’t deny that the stereotype resonates precisely because so many womyn have adopted Wicca as a feminist statement of the superiority of their inner Earth Mothers, a rejection of the patriarchy inherent in a God the Father, Son, and Spirit (the latter of unspecified gender), or something like that.

  3. >I think you’re overreacting here.

    Fine, I’ll know I’m overreacting if and when my comment actually appears on his blog.

  4. I think you misinterpreted him.

    He was painting a stark contrasting characterization of the differences between the Tea Party movement and the astroturf stage-managed lefty protests. Just the way he strung together that sentence indicates some form of satire….it’s a shame he threw the word “wiccan” in there, thereby ruffling your feathers, but I don’t think it was a serious assault on your kind.

    Like it or not, there are many “wannabes” that pretend to be Wiccans in some attempt to establish mystical cache, get laid, whatever….and they do look like utter twats in doing so. I know better, and have known serious Wiccans that are wonderful enriching people, but Joe Shmoe doesn’t – for him, Bill’s characterization is meaningful, and so Mr. Whittle’s use of language in this instance was effective in making his point of contrast.

    Sucks for your ‘tribe’ to be used in such a way, but you’re a big boy now ;)

  5. I’m seeing an ESR “Awaiting Moderation” posting

    >>>

    2. Eric S. Raymond:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hey! Hey! Don’t lump all Wiccans in with the left-wing rent-a-mob crowd. It’s true some of our louder people, especially on the Dianic wing of the movement, fit that stereotype all too well. On the other hand, there are plenty of quieter Wiccans like me, gun-toting libertarians for whom the rejection of monotheism and “faith” is continuous with the rejection of One-True-Wayism in all its forms. Thomas Jefferson might say we have sworn upon the altars of our gods eternal hostility against every from of tyranny over the mind of man.

    Wiccans are potential allies for the Tea Party movement, as long as it remembers that America was founded on religious dissent and doesn’t fall into an unholy alliance with bigoted religious conservatives the way the GOP has. That didn’t end well for them with the general population of moderates and independents, either; heed the lesson.

  6. >I’m seeing an ESR “Awaiting Moderation” posting

    Oh, good. If it passes, all is well I think. If so, it will be interesting to see how the red-meat conservatives in Whittle’s regulars react.

  7. Political parties and movements are blunt instruments. They are slogans, not nuanced policy. What is the slogan for the tea party? “We want less government.” That is about the unifying theme, along with, perhaps, “Throw the bums out.” Dig in deeper and there are huge amounts of policy difference once you step beyond that. I think this is a movement to be nurtured, even though I don’t agree with everything that everyone says. Although I am not a lesbian, an anarchist or an opponent of our current wars, I could imagine that many lesbians would also support this movement, as might many anarchists and many people who have principled objections to the various wars we engage in.

    Or to put it another way, I wouldn’t take it personally. Regardless of what they might say, the basic goals of the tea party movement would be a large bonus to Wiccans, lesbians, anarchists and those opposed to the war. Substance matters more than words.

    In regards to censoring your comment, I think it is distinctly possible that Whittle, who seems a Christian man, doesn’t even know that Wicca is a serious religious belief. This mistake may well be an honest one, treating it as if it is an FSM religion. Consequently, he could well have read your comment as a troll. To put it another way, he could have moderated you out because of ignorance rather than malice.

  8. >I’m seeing an ESR “Awaiting Moderation” posting

    How does that work? Are you a co-editor on Whittle’s blog or something?

  9. The only reason I can see your post (and snagged a copy for you quickly) is that the Pajamas Media site is so shitty that it does mistakenly put up others’ posts for me to view when it shouldn’t. Only you should be able to see your “awaiting moderation” post….while your session is alive. Maybe Buckaroo Banzai is maintaining the software. Or Forrest Gump. At least the content is worthwhile.

    I shut down my browser, relaunched, and now your post is gone again.

    The two posts that are there were from last night and early this morning….Bill is popular, he may just have a huge pile to chew through.

  10. >I wouldn’t take it personally.

    Only half of my grouching is because I’m “taking it personally”. I wasn’t humbugging when I was said I was seriously concerned about the ability of the Tea Partiers to reach — or even see — beyond the traditional conservative base. If they can’t, they’ll limit themselves and almost certainly fizzle out.

  11. Ha this is the first I’ve heard the phrase “rent-a-mob”. Love it.

  12. I wouldn’t make too much of this. I don’t think Whittle would block your comment; it seems more likely that it is a glitch in the blogging software, you know that happens sometimes.

  13. Well, aside from a boss I had as a kid and his New-Agey circle of friends, I admit I don’t know a lot about your religion. However, I suspect the image Whittle was attempting to conjure was probably closer to what you rightly call the “chiliastic religion” that drives otherwise sane people to believe the carbon-larded sky is falling, based on the flimsiest of scriptures.

    I guess the description would have worked okay if he substituted “treehugger” for “wiccan”, but it would’ve lost some of its real meaning. There is a rather obvious religious urge driving these eco-weenie brigadiers, and while it may not be precisely (or remotely?) “Wiccan” it is certainly not Judeo-Christian. The Left views Christian planetary stewardship and conservationism with the same baleful eye it views everything else they profess to believe in.

    I agree generally with the idea that intelligent, freedom-loving people need to forge new alliances across traditional borders. But I think it’s going to be damned hard to reconnect that trust circuitry. The “tranzis” (yes, I do quite like that term!) expertly poisoned a lot of wells during the 70′s and 80′s, loading academia with revisionists, social engineers, identity politicians and “End-of-History” screwballs who lauded any worldview that unplugged the West from its glorious history.

    esr: If your comment gets through, I can almost guarantee that *someone* will attack it. Hey, it’s the Internet, after all! While I imagine its a bitter pill to swallow, maybe you should try some self-effacing humor instead of biting back at them. Taking back the country is going to mean lots of strange bedfellows, and that will probably include more than a few very Christian fundies who strongly believe you are going to burn in Hell.

  14. The thing to note is that from day one certain religious identity turds have been trying to co-opt the “Tea Party” movement and make it into their “Christian America” thing.

    I agree that if they do that they will become moribund in short order. We’ve already got two religious identity political parties, we don’t need a third.

  15. >If your comment gets through, I can almost guarantee that *someone* will attack it.

    Oh, I’m expecting that. But I don’t intend to snarl back if that happens. I’ll take a soft, reasonable line. After all who better than me (e.g an articulate gun-toting libertarian who can speak conservative language if he has to) to open a few minds in that crowd?

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Hell’s Kitchen”, from Dream Theater’s Falling Into Infinity album. Lovely.

  16. >There is a rather obvious religious urge driving these eco-weenie brigadiers, and while it may not be precisely (or remotely?) “Wiccan” it is certainly not Judeo-Christian.

    That’s…complicated. There is in Wicca a strong strain of ecstatic Gaianism, no denying that. Scratch a Wiccan and you’ll find someone for whom nature is the grandest cathedral and whose attitude towards the biosphere as a whole at least borders on mystical awe. Yes, that includes me! How we combine that experience with the rest of our beliefs about the rest of the world is what varies.

    On the one hand you’ve got your more traditionally religious types who simply import the whole edifice of faith, dogmatism and eschatology from the Judeo/Christian tradition and give it an eco-mystical paint job. On the other hand you’ve got people like me and Morgan Greywolf, essentially rationalist mystics who treat our “religious” experiences as just another datum to be integrated into an consilient scientific view of the universe. For us, “mystical awe” can mean more than “hm, that’s an interesting enjoyable thing my brain is doing”, but doesn’t necessarily mean more than that.

    (Sociological note: statistically, rationalist Wiccans have an extremely strong tendency to be computer geeks in the daytime. Make of that what you will.)

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Back on Terra Firma” from the Hellecasters’ Return of the Hellecasters album.

  17. It could simply be that he’s composing / planning a reply prior to releasing your comment from the moderation queue. The comments that I saw posted weren’t exactly engaging.

    It could also be that the authors of the shown comments are white listed.

    I wouldn’t take it personally, yet.

  18. esr:
    > That’s…complicated.

    Well, I’m an admitted ignoramus when it comes to this flavor of religion thought, particularly the modern forms of it. I think I’m bit more well-informed than the average person when it comes to recognizing the historical differences between, say, a druid and a “Satanist”, but the actual experience of the religion is about as mysterious to me as Scientology or Mormonism. Regardless, I think you did fine job explaining a nuance that certain people on the Right might be missing.

    Personally, I don’t care a lick which god someone claims allegiance to (as long as it doesn’t thirst for my blood, the way the Wahhabi one does.)

    One favor: Since were fighting on the front lines together, would it be too much to ask for you and Morgan to turn all my lovely neighbors at the U.N. into toads? I know it would be hard to tell the difference, but if this is at all possible it would be greatly appreciated. ;)

  19. >Since were fighting on the front lines together, would it be too much to ask for you and Morgan to turn all my lovely neighbors at the U.N. into toads?

    To quote the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Some people claim this has already occurred…” :-)

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Science Fiction” from Michael Angelo’s No Boundaries Album.

  20. So esr is an easily offended, PC kinda guy. Who’d’ve thunk it?

    ESR says: Errrr…no, not hardly. See this for the most direct possible evidence.

  21. > Well, aside from a boss I had as a kid and his New-Agey circle of friends…

    BTW, I haven’t thought about this guy in years and years, but I have mostly good memories of him. While I confess I wasn’t aware of his actual politics (if he had any), he and his wife certainly didn’t fit the mold of “nihilist anarcho-Maoist(s)”. They were hardworking small business owners.

    I think the crowd Whittle is really talking about are the hordes of unthinking children who think being righteously indignant about everything qualifies as a political statement. These are the sort of dim bulbs who find Rosie O’Donnell funny (in the traditional, non-ironic way), misquote “1984″ as though it were a proletarian gospel and believe every public utterance of Jesus Christ’s name is advertisement for the missionary position. It’s the white guy in the dashiki hanging out in the “African Studies Department.” It’s the crunchy granola performance artist, miming the waterboarding of Khalid Sheik Muhammed at the Poetry Slam. They are such a fuzzy, unserious herd that one struggles to neatly define them. “Morons” seems too vague and “tranzis” seems too specific.

  22. I posted a comment about this over at Whittle’s site, and it seems that either I’m whitelisted there or there’s some kind of software bug, because it looks to have gone through. Hopefully this gets sorted.

  23. Interestingly, I visited the site again and now I see “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”; I didn’t before. So there is definitely some sort of software glitch complicating matters.

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “California Dreamin’” from Gary Hoey’s album Monster Surf.

  24. >They are such a fuzzy, unserious herd that one struggles to neatly define them. “Morons” seems too vague and “tranzis” seems too specific.

    The lost children. Willi Munzenberg’s lost children.

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Sticks and Stones” from the Travis Larson Band’s album Rate of Change

  25. I would’ve been strongly tempted to shitcan esr’s comment as well because Whittle’s post in NOT about wiccans and esr’s comment is pretty far off topic. Whittle used “wiccan” as a throw away word in a throw away phrase designed to give a particular image of a fringe person who might attack the tea partiers.

    Esr claims not to be offended, but I’m having trouble seeing why else it would matter. For example, I’m jewish. If “jewish” had been substituted for “wiccan” I wouldn’t’ve thought twice about it. Why? Because while there might actually be “jewish nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors”, I’m a “jewish NON-nihilist NON-Maoist NON-lesbian NON-eco-weenie NON-anti-war protestor” so it pretty obviously isn’t me he’d be identifying. And if I were a “jewish nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestor”, realistically, I probably wouldn’t be too thrilled with the tea parties. In other words, realistically, the tea party tent will probably never be quite that big.

  26. >esr’s comment is pretty far off topic

    Huh? Whittle’s post has a major theme about left-liberals writing off Tea Partiers as a narrow, bigoted bunch of rednecks. How is it off-topic to point out politely that Whittle seems to be trading in stereotypes that may impede the movement’s ability to reach outside the traditional conservative base?

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Soma Hoiliday” from Erik Norlander’s album Music Machine

  27. Bret Says:
    >“jewish nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors”

    Actually what struck me about this (and Whittle’s original characterization) is, can you truly be religious, a nihilist and an eco-weenie all at once? Eco-weenie are puerile and easily herded, but they never struck me as “nihilistic.” In fact, a bit a nihilism might be welcome in them, since it might temper their inclination to buy into every faux-naturalist meme flung their way. Can jews and wiccans and Christians simultaneously be nihilists? Well, “secular Jews” can be, but I don’t know of anyone who is Christian or Wiccan by blood. There’s no such thing as a “secular Christian.” It’s not one person wWhittle was describing, but a spiderweb of astroturfing goofballs.

    > I would’ve been strongly tempted to shitcan esr’s comment as well
    > because Whittle’s post in NOT about wiccans and esr’s comment is
    > pretty far off topic.

    I admit sort of thought this too. Or at least, that he would hold it limbo for awhile so it wasn’t at the top of the page. Maybe if Eric had tackled a bunch of the articles main points first, then added the Wiccan part as a final aside it would be less likely to be (mis?)read as a PC gripe.

  28. BTW… I mean, I’m not a Jew, but I probably would’ve been a little pissed Whittle wrote ““jewish nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors.” Not only is it specifically nonsense, it’s tantamount to loading the enemies guns for them.

    Also, I don’t think anyone would describe Judaism as a “fringe religion.” Maybe that’s what’s eating Eric. “Wiccan” was the very first qualifier in that throw-away string, lending it a bit of extra rhetorical weight. But it’s probably the case that when he writes “wiccan” he’s referring more to their numbers more than to their politics: a very small group of people who claim to speak for a very large one.

  29. esr wrote: “Whittle’s post has a major theme about left-liberals writing off Tea Partiers as a narrow, bigoted bunch of rednecks…

    Okay, different readers are going to interpret it different ways. Other than the one sentence (paragraph) in which the word “wiccan” appears, I personally didn’t see that theme directly represented anywhere in the rest of the post. And I read that paragraph as an aside that basically says, “Well the mainstream media characterizes the tea party movement as X, but as someone with personal experience, I’m gonna tell you how it really is.”

    So if Whittle wrote it per my interpretation, he would consider your comment to be off topic. If he wrote it per your interpretation, then it would be on topic.

    Even so, I suspect your comment will show up eventually unless the comment software ate it.

  30. jrok wrote: “Well, “secular Jews” can be, but I don’t know of anyone who is Christian or Wiccan by blood.

    I would say that anyone who’s not religious but whose ancestors are all of religion X could be consider a secular X. There’s no reason X couldn’t be Christian or Wiccan. Judaism isn’t a race so the blood thang doesn’t really cut it there either.

    Anyway, I think Whittle’s phrase was simply satire/parody and wasn’t to be taken so seriously.

  31. >There’s no reason X couldn’t be Christian or Wiccan.

    I respectfully disagree. “Secular Jew” only makes sense because the Jews are a deme as well as a religion.

  32. Fiscal responsibility is certainly important, and a I think even a lot of people on the left (myself included) could get behind a movement promoting it. The problem is that we think, as you suggest, that these people tend to be the type who believe that Obama was born in Kenya (even if he were, he would still be a natural citizen and thus eligible for the presidency) and that Obama is Muslim. They are (in our slightly victory-blurred eyes) the people who lump all Muslims together with terrorists and vice-versa. They don’t seem to be the type to staunchly defend a well-thought-out political position but, instead, the type to blindly follow Fox News without ever checking references anywhere but maybe Newsbusters. This may be a subgroup of the general movement or it may not exist at all, but if this is the type you encounter when dealing with them, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  33. > Judaism isn’t a race..

    Yeah, I know that. I just mean that it is an ethno-tribe, and is often used as a non-religious descriptor.

    > I would say that anyone who’s not religious but whose
    > ancestors are all of religion X could be consider a secular X.
    > There’s no reason X couldn’t be Christian or Wiccan.

    I mean granted there are probably a few Christians in the Middle East who’s ancestors are all Christians, dating back to the creation of the religion (by Semitic Jews). But Christianity is by definition not a tribal descriptor. It’s more like a viral ethos, spread by a variety of means and across ethnic, tribal and national borders. I can’t speak for Wiccans… perhaps there is such a thing as a secular Wiccan, designated by tribe. But I doubt it. Did any Northern European pagan tribe survive Constantine, the Council of Trent, the Great Schism, The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Renaissance, The Ages of Exploration and Reason and The Industrial Revolution in an unvarnished-enough state to be considered “ethnically Wiccan?”

    > Anyway, I think Whittle’s phrase was simply satire/parody and wasn’t to be taken so seriously.

    Yeah, I agree with this. I actually thought it was neat little jab, and it reminded me a little of the fun we had on this thread, when a bunch of us were trying to pin down the correct stereotypes for Dems and Repubs. I enjoyed Eric’s contribution of “brie-nibbling urban white NPR listener who couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag.”

  34. TO: Whomever Made This ‘Anonymouse’ Article
    RE: Heh

    I generally do not support evil as a basis for any political belief system.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    P.S. You never REALLY know a wiccan until you meet them in the dark of night when you least expect it.

  35. You’re only disappointed because you expect people to want the truth even when it goes against what they believe. Obviously, this is not the case.

  36. esr wrote: ““Secular Jew” only makes sense because the Jews are a deme as well as a religion.

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree somewhat with your respectful disagreement for two reasons.

    1. The definition’s fuzzy, but I don’t think that even religious Jews are a deme, since people can and do convert to Judaism and intermarry. Secular Jews even more often have substantial non-Jewish ancestry in my experience. There’s really no such thing as a pureblood Jewish person.

    2. But really the main point of being a secular X, is that most people only climb so far out of the box constructed by their upbringing. You’re still stuck with many of the morals, eccentricities, colloquialisms, and perspectives that your ancestors of religion X imparted on you even if you completely reject the religious component.

    So while “Secular Christian” may not be completely proper terminology (and perhaps partly because of the deme thang), I personally consider most American Agnostics to be Secular Christians (not hard-core Atheists because they’ve essentially converted to the religion called Atheism).

  37. Help me understand why I should give a nanosecond of flip because some wiccan has his panties all in a bunch because his comment on someone else’s blog is not being serviced fast enough.

    The guy’s right, though … the term “secular Christian” makes zero sense, no matter how hard you flog it.

    Oh, and Ben? You left out one simplistic stereotype, although for the life of me I can’t seem to find it. Maybe you did barf all of them in a single paragraph after all. You know what’s hilarious? You’re criticizing someone else for shallow thinking. ROTFLMAO.

  38. The point of America being founded on religuious dissent is a good one to stress.
    But characterizing whether or not some blogger posted your comment as being a proxy for the whole tea party movement is just a wee bit off the ranch, don’t you think?

  39. Paul: I certainly did not. We leftists are one big bundle of shallow thinking, and all of our conclusions fit into our worldview just like yours. But generally we put research into supporting it. How many people do you know that watch MSNBC and nothing else? I’m willing to bet that number is a lot smaller than the number of folks you know who watch only Fox. Honestly, the world is full of stupid people. I’ve chosen the group of stupid people I agree with and you’ve chosen the one you agree with.

  40. You start, “Hey! Hey! Don’t lump all Wiccans in with the left-wing rent-a-mob crowd.”

    Then you label, “bigoted religious conservatives” because, of course, that’s what all conservative religious people must be.

    and later say, “red-meat conservatives ” since Whttle’s strongly conservatives are all that, certainly.

    So, you’re easily offended when lumped with a larger group and then you condescendingly paste with a broad brush, doing the exact same thing that caused you to get offended and then, oblivious to the irony, expect to be taken seriously? Come on! I guess if I was going to call names like you do so well, it would have to do with your apparent intellectual capacity, not whatever religion you are so easily offended about.

  41. Well, the Wiccans who encouraged my youngest stepdaughter to stop taking her meds, thereby causing her to freak out and mess up her life yet again, rank pretty low in my book.

  42. I did not do a “moderation pass” and I did not “shitcan” anything. As a PajamasMedia blog, the version of WordPress they are running has its own internal moderation and spam filters that have amazed me for their seeming randomness.

    Your comment or comments will be approved once the moderator has time to get to them.

    My point was to show that the Tea Party movement is in fact the face of Mainstream America. To make this point, I had to make a list of advocacy groups that were NOT mainstream America. Perhaps we can agree that “Wiccan” is less of a mainstream religion than Christianity, Judiasm or Islam, at least in terms of world-wide numbers.

  43. As I’ve noted on Bill’s site (in a comment “awaiting moderation”), he’s fundamentally wrong about a very important point. The Tea Party folks are NOT united by conservatism, but by FISCAL conservatism. Efforts to project social/religious conservatism onto them will fail. That’s not because none fall into the latter category, but because it’s not what united them. Those who want to be generically conservative already have the Republican Party; that might not be as right-leaning as they’d like, but it’s the best they’re going to get (especially if they work actively within it).

    The Tea Party will be successful only to the extent that it focuses very tightly on promoting the most fiscally conservative candidates, whichever party they come from. It might well be most effective by working the primary processes in both Democratic and Republican races, to ensure fiscal conservatives win as many of those as possible. The outcome then is almost sure to be an improvement over the present, no matter which party wins any given race.

  44. > But generally we put research into supporting it. How many people do you know that watch MSNBC and nothing else?

    Ahem. Reading the NYT while watching MSNBC isn’t exactly embracing a diversity of opinion, research-boy.

  45. >I can’t speak for Wiccans… perhaps there is such a thing as a secular Wiccan, designated by tribe.

    No, there isn’t. Wicca as a religion is still too modern; even on a very generous interpretation of the facts it has no organizational continuity back past about 1930. There are remnant bits of tribal paleo-paganisms that have been absorbed into it, but none of those bits have real tribes or demes left. Generally they were passed down through individual families of herbalists, witches, folk healers, or diviners. (We call them “familial-traditionals”, or fam-trads for short.)

    Ironically enough, the paleo-pagan remnants to which I refer were often thrown in the pot by people who believed early Wiccan propaganda about having recovered the entire tradition of which others had only fragments. This claim was bogus. The founders of modern Wicca created a work of religious art and passed it off as a revival of ancient traditions. Decades after the fact, in the 1970s, Wiccan scholars investigating their roots discovered that Gerald Gardner (the principal revivalist) was more or less a complete fraud. The thing is, he was a brilliant artist with a good grasp on the psychodynamics of ritual. Consequently, the fraud was functional; Gardnerian Wicca successfully pulled in the fam-trads because its rituals actually induced theophany pretty reliably.

    The point of rehearsing this history is that though there are lots of Wiccans around, inheriting Wicca from your parents is still pretty rare and will probably remain so for another generation or so. Most Wiccans, including the fam-trads, are (like me) primary converts. If there were any tribal identity associated with Wicca it would have to be the result of known common ancestry among the fam-trads, and there isn’t any.

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Curve” from John Petrucci’s album Suspended Animation

  46. > But generally we put research into supporting it.

    Oh, horse manure. Simplistically copying-and-pasting stretches of revisionism and Newspeak from Wikipedia does not qualify as “put(ting) research into supporting” something. This is precisely what the majority of Leftists do… on the internet. In person, caught without their pants down and absent the ability to “research” lefty arguments by typing “criticism of Right Wing Policy X” into google, they revert to jibbering aphorisms, paeans to unnamed authorities and foaming charges of rac/sex/class-ism.

  47. >> I’m seeing an ESR “Awaiting Moderation” posting
    > How does that work?

    It happens. Pajamas’ custom comment code/configuration is one of the worst around, and the config on their ‘blogs’ (e.g., Whittle’s, Simon’s, Radosh’s columns) is even worse. I’ve been posting there for a long time and have noted two phenomena that may or may not be a factor here. One, comments on blog columns (as opposed to the run-of-the-mill articles, like the one on “Obama vs. Einstein”, for instance) are sometimes rejected – apparently – even before the mods get a chance to read them. This is usually signaled by the symptom that you don’t get a refresh page with an “awaiting moderation” prompt. I’m not sure if this is due to link count, link content or something else, but it definitely does happen. I’ve STOPPED commenting on the blog posts altogether for exactly this reason. Two, because their comment code is so utterly FUBAR, it’s not at all uncommon when you’ve just submitted a comment to see someone else’s waiting post with the prompt that it’s “awaiting moderation”. I assume this is due to mishandling of cookies or something related.

    If you’re curious about the disposition of the comment, I’d simply contact Bill directly.

  48. Talking about how [massive political category] debates online is a waste of time. All mainstream positions are dominated in volume by idiots spouting off. All non-mainstream positions are dominated in volume by whackos spouting off. This proves nothing about any of those positions.

    The only useful question isn’t how “right wingers” or “left wingers” debate online, it’s how Ben or jrok debate online.

  49. IMHO, this is what happens when a movement becomes an organization and the leaders decide to further “define” the organization. It happened with the women’s movement, it happened with the pro-life movement, and it will happen with the tea party movement unless tea partiers start squawking, and loudly.

  50. No need to contact Bill directly when he’s commenting here … on the commenting … on his blog. Oh whatever.

    And Ben? When you look around you and all you see are hoards of stupid people, that’s a very good marker that you just might be looking in … the mirror.

    Know what I mean man?

  51. Sorry, dude, but being a wiccan ain’t “religious dissent” but joining the crowd – and your response proves it:

    Atheism is the only true dissent against the influence of religion.

    ESR says: You know, by most peoples’ standards I would actually qualify as an atheist…

  52. He also mentions lesbians but I don’t think he’s attacking the likes of Tammy Bruce. He’s attacking a whole group association think-set. I had been an uber New Agey leftist for many years and his caricatured characterization is right on. He could have also put in adjectival terms such as “homeopathic”, “Buddhistic”, “yoga posturing”, Indigenous peoples loving’, or “meditating”. Any of those fits the group although none on their own would be considered insulting — except for perhaps, homeopathic — if you don’t like invisible, non-existent medicines. There is definitely a personality grouping of the New Agey hip, cool, enlightened, pacifistic Earth warrior. I think that ignoring the hard core paganistic tendencies of the New Agey left is to be in denial.

  53. Shelby has the right stuff here. I’m socially liberal, and fiscally conservative… I don’t care what you want to do in your house, your spare time, your religion, or whatever else you want to do…. I just don’t want to pay for it. The whole point of freedom includes freedom to be left alone.

    I had Wiccan friends over for dinner and board games last Friday… I find they have as many political viewpoints as any other group of my friends, I’d suspect in general they’d lean liberal, but every time I talk to them, I’m pleasantly surprised that they are generally not. I get the impression Wiccan pretty much is the definition of “open minded”.

  54. Eric, I think it’s almost certain that, at this point, your comment will be approved. I’m more than a little surprised Bill doesn’t moderate his own blog, but the explanation of Pajamas Media having a thoroughly hacked-up version of WordPress makes a lot of sense. Given that, I’d say an apology for any slam on Bill’s integrity is called for. (Even though I agree with your basic point that the Tea Party movement does need to show that it is united in one thing and prepared to be open to folks of all stripes as long as they believe that one thing.)

    Bill, is that your Sky Arrow in the picture?

  55. Ben,

    You wrote “How many people do you know that watch MSNBC and nothing else?”

    The problem with this question is that one can watch MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and get only slightly different shades of the same viewpoint. The appropriate analogue to right-wingers who only watch Fox is really left-wingers who never watch Fox or listen to conservative talk radio. I’d be willing to bet that the latter is a much larger percentage of left-wingers than the former is of right-wingers. After all, without even trying to, I am subjected to the big three news organization any time I turn on the TV to watch a sporting event, or catch the weather report. And I can be listening to my favorite radio station, minding my own business, and NPR news interrupts my day. Try thinking of the world from the other point of view, and you’ll realize that it’s almost impossible to avoid left-leaning news, while it’s remarkably easy to go through life and never even hear a small-government point of view.

    Back to the point of the post – Eric, instead of parsing Bill’s phrase into its constituent parts and feeling “dissed,” read the phrase as a whole. Whittle is not describing Wiccans, and Communists, and lesbians, and pacifists individually. He’s describing in aggregate a loose coalition of left-wing protesters. These protesters don’t seem to have any actual set of beliefs that they stand for; after all, why specifically would Wiccans be for universal health care? But any time “right-wingers” can be opposed, the same collective group is there, chanting and holding up professionally-made signs. The implication is not that Wiccans, or communists, or lesbians, have nothing to add to a policy debate in areas that touch on their lives, practices, or beliefs. Rather, there appears to be a group of individuals with nebulous personal beliefs that can be goaded into protesting pretty much anything as long as it makes them feel good to do so. Some are undoubtedly actually Wiccans, some are certainly lesbians, and there are even a few actual Maoists. Some, however, label themselves because doing so gives them victimhood status, and this adds moral weight to their protest.

  56. As a red-meat conservative (pot roast for lunch…mmmmm), I can tell you what my response is:

    You need a thicker skin.

    If the shoe fits, wear it. If you don’t feel you fall into the “mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors” crowd, don’t worry about it.

    And for the record, I believe (and I’m sure Bill Whittle believes) you have a right to worship as you please. So, try not to be bigoted against Conservative Christians.

  57. > To make this point, I had to make a list of advocacy groups that were NOT mainstream America. Perhaps we can agree that “Wiccan” is less of a mainstream religion than Christianity, Judiasm or Islam, at least in terms of world-wide numbers.

    Bill, that’s absurd. Every other term in your list of outliers is clearly meant to call to mind that group’s associations with the hard left. Wiccans have a similar reputation among many. Are you really trying to claim that the existence of all these associations is just a coincidence, and that you were insinuating nothing about Wiccans except that they are small in number?

  58. > Mr. Whittle, I’m making a noise about this because I think your attitude about Wiccans — whatever it actually is — is a good proxy for your movement’s ability to see beyond tired stereotypes and fratricidal culture wars. Are limited government and individual liberty your actual goals? If so, can you recognize potential allies from wherever they hail?

    Much — including the future of the Tea Party movement, and perhaps the future of our country — may turn on your answer.

    This seems, at best, an overstatement. I don’t think the future of the Tea Party movement depends on saying nice things about Wiccans.

    For one thing, I don’t think there are that many of them. And, many of them are tree-hugging lefties for whom the conservative message of the tea party will have little appeal. (I know ESR is not one of these.)

    C’mon if you come out and announce you are a wiccan you’ve got to expect to at least get teased a little. It is not exactly a mainstream movement. Rielle Hunter ran around telling everyone she was a witch.

    Besides, Whittle is not really the spokesman of the tea party in any case. I wouldn’t over-react to a little online snark.

  59. As a card-carrying Republican who is also a gun owner and supporter of both our military and the two most recent wars AND a Wiccan for at least the last 20 years (not to mention a shop steward for my union — sorry, I’ll stop the Gemini thang right there) AND AND AND a long-time fan and admirer of Mr. Whittle (I was plodding through Ejectia before anyone at PJM put on their first pair of fuzzy slippers), I am crushed. And a little prone to run-on sentences when I get aggitated. I’ll look into this more. I’d hate to have to stop being a fan of Mr. Whittle, but if he’s going to be ignorantly against people based on their religions, his icon has been lobbed into the empty field next door. For shame, Bill. And you call yourself an American …

  60. >I don’t think the future of the Tea Party movement depends on saying nice things about Wiccans.

    About Wiccans specifically, perhaps not. I think it does depend on the ability of the Tea-Partiers to attract and coopt people who aren’t conservatives. That’s a large part of why I raised the issue.

  61. My read on it is that the Tea Party movement is a trial balloon by the fiscal conservative and ‘business as usual’ wing of the Republican Party to see if they can mobilize people without bringing in the radical theocrats.

    The various emails I’ve subscribed to come out of a carefully honed press release machine, and have a surprising number of Washington Insiders in them.

    This isn’t quite ‘astroturf’. It’s test screening and audience response monitoring. It’s being carefully managed to build a tide for the mid-term elections, at which point it will likely be woven in as a strand of the Republican Coalition.

    It’s not a new movement, and it’s not even ‘true’ populism. It’s the Republicans learning how to use the Internet after getting their asses handed to them by Obama.

    I don’t think it’ll stay that way if we are still in any kind of economic condition to wage election campaigns in a decade. Eventually, the internet will marginalize the party apparatchiks, though it will be a hell of a mud wrestling orgy with goats before it’s through.

    Political parties are about brand awareness. This is a test market for a new brand in the Republican catalog, and when it’s Republicans in control, the ‘throw the rascals out’ brand will be carefully managed and banked for later.

  62. Well, Gerard’s repeat of ESR’s comment is there, so there is that.

    I don’t know about Richard Smith though … he seems awfully quick to toss old Bill under the bus. I’ve seen trolls do a better masquerade. Just sayin’ …

  63. My read on it is that the Tea Party movement is a trial balloon by the fiscal conservative and ‘business as usual’ wing of the Republican Party to see if they can mobilize people without bringing in the radical theocrats.

    That’s a misread by someone looking in from the outside.

    My wife was on the organizing comittee for the 4/15 Tea Party at JCCC in Kansas City (there were several in town that day). No one was part of any Republican Party trial ballon. We are Republicans, but there wasn’t even a precinct comittee person doing the organizing. We did have a local talk show host though.

    The Tea Party movement is pretty well grass roots. Some Tea Party People are trying to coopt the Republican party and vice versa. For example the most visible member of that committee is now running for the State Legislature as a Republican. This is what happens to grass roots movements.

    Yours,
    Tom

  64. Seriously, though, if the Tea Party guys lose all fifty non-lefty Wiccans, I don’t think it’s an issue. Even “non-conservatives” aren’t going to care much about a shot at Wiccans when almost all Wiccans are leftists. The only people who will are the non-lefty Wiccans.

    What Darren said. Bill Whittle’s answer about Wiccans does not seriously impact the Tea Party Movement – for one thing, he’s not its spokesman. For another, the number of people who about that or will view “Wiccans” as standing in for “everyone but Christians” is pretty damned low.

    (And on the more interesting historical argument about Wicca, ESR said Generally they were passed down through individual families of herbalists, witches, folk healers, or diviners. That’s news to me – is there any good documentation on any of that?

    Were there really any demonstrable surviving families of witches, for instance?)

  65. >The Tea Party movement is pretty well grass roots.

    That’s my impression as well. Seems to me the Republicans are trying to co-opt a grass-roots movement and mostly botching it.

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Raise the Knife (Live)” from Dream Theater’s album Score

  66. O.K., one more:

    “Generally they were passed down through individual families of herbalists, witches, folk healers, or diviners.”

    And it’s clear, that’s just the crowd a conservative Tea Party movement needs to gain credibility with mainstream America,…

  67. “If that comment disappears, we’ll know Whittle was trying to censor ESR’s comment.”

    Let me say, for many reasons personal and professional, that I know — KNOW WITH AN ADAMANTINE CERTAINTY — that Whittle would never censor ESR’s comment. Never. Did I say that forcefully enough? No. Make that *NEVER!!!*

    It’s techfoo techfoo and more techfoo.

  68. Look, I don’t know about the “Wiccan” thing as being a big deal. But the Tea Partiers will surely kneecap themselves if they let the Religious Right horn in on their movement. Frankly their main strength right now, apart from their proven ability to self-organize, is that they don’t have to curry to the fundie crowd’s every precious whim. Yes! I know!! A lot of the religiosos anger is pushback against the amoral statist psychos who want to hand 5th grader detailed instructions on the proper way to use a dental dam! That is legitimate anger. But, the coalition that will defang the statists who centrally plan and orchestrate moral decay will not always agree with you on exactly what constitutes it.

    For instance, I couldn’t give a hairy shit about “gay marriage,” one way or the other. And abortion is a thorny moral issue for too many people to be politically useful. What’s the big deal? Is everyone afraid they’ll be lonely in Heaven?

    Let’s have a party of small government without “feature creep” into personal moral terrain. The vampires in D.C. don’t give a fig about these issues, they just want to use them to pocket your vote, spend your money and expand their power. If a large enough mass rises up to stop them, then guess what? We’ll be able to build our own schools in our own communities that reflect our ethical, values and educational priorities. That’s the way freedom is supposed to work. Who cares if Eric or anyone else is a sorceror/warlock/whatever. I say the more the merrier. Maybe they can cast a magical spell that grows Pelosi a brain!

  69. I saw the same quote by Bill Whittle, and if anything, I was more perturbed by his use of the term “lesbian.” I always find myself cringing every time I hear the gay card being played by the Right–partly because I remember the way the Left played the “gun whacko” card the same way back in the 1990s, when they still had a chance of getting their way and nullifying the 2nd Amendment. It isn’t that I have some fascinated admiration of “gay culture”; truth be told, although I have had lesbian friends, I generally think it’s pretty lame. It’s just that, ultimately, the issue is whether people are going to have the right to do what they want, or whether we’re going to imprison or kill them for it. Frankly, I don’t think a man screwing another man is sufficient cause for a bullet in the brain.

    As for the wiccan thing, however:

    The wiccans I’ve met–or at least the people who called themselves wiccan–didn’t impress me. For the most part they were superstitious luddites who seemed to be playing the victim card with the express intent of getting affirmative action. At least one woman was looking forward to the day when she could fly on brooms! Obviously you don’t fit that stereotype, so maybe there are aspects of wicca beyond I CAN MAKE PLANTS GROW AND IF YOU DON’T ADMIT IT I’LL PUT A SPELL ON YOU FOR ALL THE WITCHES YOU BURNED AT THE STAKE YOU EVIL XIAN!!!! :)

  70. I am a libertarian. I like Bill Whittle. I like the Tea Party movement. Frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass if someone is Wiccan or whatever other religion. I also don’t care about someone’s sexual orientation and I think Bill should have left off the “wiccan” and “lesbian” in his tirade. While I understand Bill’s comment was intended to be hyperbole, satire, and over-the-top, it’s probably best to consider that you don’t really want to even make jokes that might alienate your potential allies when starting a brand new grassroots political movement. I suspect that “nihilist anarcho-Maoist eco-weenie anti-war protesters” would have gotten the point across :) Still, I would prefer to define the Tea Party movement in a way that describes what we are FOR rather than trying to define us by what we are not. I really don’t care if someone is a nihilist, I suppose, if they are for smaller government and more accountability for our elected officials.

  71. I am a Wiccan. And a Navy veteran. And I’m socially liberal (or rather libertarian), fiscally conservative, and a foreign policy antijihadist and democracy-spreading advocate. (btw; liberal ain’t the same as leftist – see JFK and Scoop Jackson, staunchly anticommunist classic liberals. Leftists, otoh, have yet to meet a totalitarianism or theocracy of which they are unenamored, so long as it is antiamerican.)

    We do get a bit touchy about such things, because we have troubling memories of Bob Barr’s assault on our faith, and Texas governor George Bush declaring that Wicca did not qualify as a religion, and we had to fight a years-long court battle during his administration to gain the legal right for our fallen Wiccan servicepeople, who had given their last full measure of devotion for their beloved country, to be buried in military cemetaries under gravestones carrying the symbols of their faith.

    False and hurtful stereotypes matter. Because they provide the justification and impetus for bigotry, intolerance and discrimination in ignorant minds. And calling people witches used to provide mobs and authorities with handy excuses to hang, drown or burn them in days gone by.

  72. Ken,
    I suspect that an attempt is being made to twist the meaning of the Tea Party movement into what you said. After all…’victory has a thousand fathers’. And since most socons are 80% or more libertarian, I don’t know too many ‘radical theocrats’, and most of them are on the Left.

    The McCainiacs tried to blame the Base for his loss instead of themselves. Its a perennial in politics. “Its not MY fault we cratered into the dirt. Its the fault of those stupes on the other wing of the party.” or “Of course, we’re winning, because the vast majority that is angry is angry about the things I support.”

    The truth of the matter is that Money is the big issue, but probably most of the Tea Partiers are fairly socially conservative as well. And that Socons are not the big boogeyman the socially liberal few claim them to be. And that a lot of the fire in the TP is brought about by social class issues. Money hurts, but getting sneered at makes people angry.

  73. >Seriously, though, if the Tea Party guys lose all fifty non-lefty Wiccans, I don’t think it’s an issue.

    See, this is the first place you go wrong; this is just Whittle’s stereotype being replayed in another form.

    Careful estimates suggest there are upwards of 408,000 adult Wiccans in the U.S. My observation of the political leanings of this population puts at least 100K and possibly as many as 300K of these in play if the Tea Partiers doesn’t drive them away with stupid assumptions. And Wiccans tend to be the sort of self-motivated and intelligent people who can have an effect on political trends larger than their numbers would imply.

    >Is there any good documentation on any of that?

    Dunno what you’d call good. There are certainly a lot of fake fam-trads running around out there, but I’ve met one or two who I think were for real. One of the markers of a person claiming fam-trad status who might not be scamming, for example, is an almost complete absence of high ritual or overt worship elements in their practice. For example, a herbalist who learned preparation chants that have mangled forms of god-names in them that you can only recognize if you happen to have read the right late-Classical primary sources.

    And, like, real fam-trads don’t have fancy athames; they use any kitchen knife that’s handy. Animal sacrifice; there’s something that’s completely absent in modern Wicca but shows up in fam-trad reports that we have other reasons to think are authentic. A strong emphasis on apotropaic magic, too, that’s another marker. Modern Wiccans don’t really have a world-view in which apotropaic magic makes a lot of sense.

    Now playing on Pandora:Intricate Flame: “Bar-Hopping With Mr. Picky”, from Jordan Rudess’s abum “Rhythm of Time”

  74. The tea party movement is most certainly not a creature of the republican party.

    Instead it has a spirit that says ‘up yours’ to both parties, and to the ways of Washington in general. It is a bottom up grass roots movement, not a top down movement, and not an astroturf movement either.

    I don’t think it will be that hard to attract people either: just roll out a message saying “Had enough of all the hope and change? Fear Obamacare?”

    It is quite clear that more and more people, including some democrats, wiccans, and libertarian anarchists, will be receptive to that message.

    And, btw, how many non-lefty wiccans are there? ESR, and uh….

  75. jrok Says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    “There’s no such thing as a ‘secular Christian.’”

    ______________________________________

    Oh, yes, there is. I’m one.

    I don’t carry a card in any particular denomination — I believe in reason, the scientific method and beauties revealed in classic literature over tribal myths copied down generation after generation, the literal tenets of which are followed to the exception of the original meat — AND I believe in a Universal Creator. Most importantly, I believe Jesus Christ was manifested on Earth to nudge us human ants back into the direction pre-existing thought had tried to track into previously, but which had gotten lost in the selfish shuffle. Namely, The Golden Rule. Was He the “son of God?” Dunno. He was, and is, who He was and is.

    You will never, ever hear me pigeonhole ANYone of any spiritual identification as somehow unworthy of membership in the Tea Party.

    That the Tea Party IS so disassociated, I think, should be its ultimate strength. Ockham’s Razor should prevail as its guiding principle. Cut the “organization” down to a few bedrock truths, and then just ~let it.~ Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pa once said, “Once you get to organizing things too much, people pay more attention to the organization than to what you got organized for.” High-fives to the Den Mother above.

    And yup, I’m conservative. That is, a lover of unobstructed — and unbarnacled — truth. And I do mean unbarnacled — on any dogmatic armor whatsoever.

    ESR: I’m pretty much with you, brother. Don’t get defensive. Conservatives are a lot farther advanced than leftists toward shedding old baggage — patience, Grasshopper ;)

    Ben: Being Jewish, you’ve got a lot more reason to be defensive than just about anyone — but things have moved much further than Jewish or Christian-ness, black or white, suburban or trailer park. That’s what I find so exciting — and promising — about the Tea Party.

    Bill, it’s my opinion your last name was serendipitously assigned; keep up the good work. (But dude, maybe the comments re: glitches while commenting might prompt a nudge to the management. I’ve experienced the same as other posters. It’s an annoyance not worth putting up with. In the past, I’ve resorted to copy-pasting my comment on a Word document so as not to lose it, and that’s more work than ought to be necessary.)

    (Recommended reading: The Living Energy Universe: A Fundamental Discovery that Transforms Science and Medicine by Gary E. Schwartz and Linda G. Russek)

  76. When I say ‘Ken’, I meant Ken Burnside. Apologies to the other Ken.

  77. “… its rituals actually induced theophany pretty reliably.”

    Does your meaning of theophany extends to cover auto-suggestion, self-hypnosis, or whatever form of self-delusion is taking place there? Otherwise this would be some kind of miracle, and really ought to be making the news “reliably”…

  78. TO: Ken
    RE: Victimhood

    For the most part they were superstitious luddites who seemed to be playing the victim card with the express intent of getting affirmative action. — Ken

    You should have met some of the ones I’ve encountered. They’re probably closer to Satanists than Wicca would care to admit to.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [The Truth will out....]

    P.S. TO: Bill Whittle

    Go to, bro! Go to!

  79. >Does your meaning of theophany extends to cover auto-suggestion, self-hypnosis, or whatever form of self-delusion is taking place there?

    Check your assumptions. Auto-suggestion and self-hypnosis don’t equate to “self-delusion”. Sometimes these tools can lead to significant psychological and physical changes that aren’t readily achievable in any other way. Humans have all kinds of interesting abilities that are relatively inaccessible to the normal waking consciousness. The scope of practical magic isn’t large, but it’s not zero, either.

  80. Eowyn: I think there are at least two groups of people who could be called “secular Christians.”

    The one is those like you (and me, kinda) who are essentially Lockean Enlightenment types who aren’t quite orthodox Christians and aren’t really Unitarians, either.

    The other, though, is assholes like Nancy Pelosi or the Kennedys who are “of course Catholics,” because, damn it, they inherited from their parents! They’re Italian/Irish, after all; how could they be anything else.

    And because they think of religion as a racial characteristic, rather than a personal choice, they are completely tolerant of all people regardless of race or (their concept of) creed–yet are completely intolerant of people with opposing viewpoints. An example is the recent argument between blogger Joe Huffman and the Brady Campaign. The Bradys scoffed at Huffman’s calling anti-gunners “bigots,” on the ground that gun ownership is, unlike race, a choice. Huffman pointed out that, by that standard, it was OK to be anti-Semitic, since Judaism is a choice as well. Notably, Pelosi and the Kennedys are very anti-gun, since unlike their inherited Catholicism, it’s a personal choice.

  81. Satanists are inverted Christians. They’re still in the Christian worldview room; they’ve just run to the other side of it.

    Wiccans, otoh, are outside that room; they are members of a completely different and independent religion, like Buddhists or Taoists or Hinduists are.

    Nonchristian and antichristian are not synonymous. The vast majority of Wiccans would much rather hang around Christians than they would Satanists. And the Satanic slander justifiably raises our hackles.

  82. If you’re actually concerned about what the Tea Party “movement” is about, why not try actually going to an event and seeing who is there, instead of reading possible bigotries into the snark of an online post by one guy? The meetings aren’t held in secret, and you don’t need an invite.

    If you do go, I think what you’ll see is that the Tea Party gatherings are just about the most broad-based political gatherings you’ll ever see. Their distinguishing characteristic is that probably 80% of the people there have never been politically active before other than to vote. That’s good (of the people, by the people, etc.), but it also means there will be a bunch of people there you will disagree with, and who will disagree with you, on issues other than “less gov’t, lower taxes”. If we are all to avoid Leviathan we need to focus on what unites us, not what divides us. No matter what other isms each of us may follow, it’s for sure that if the gov’t is smaller, we will all be less squashed.

  83. I recall there was some sort of movement a few years ago to get “Jedi” classified as a tax exempt religion.

    Fine!!! I will take any number of Jedi Knights, Wiccans, secular Christians (which I still don’t get) and worshippers of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster as political allies, as long as they sign on to defeat the creeping monster of Emperor Obama, Darth Pelosi and the Regulatory Social Welfare State. I’m fairly sure the second amendment covers light sabers… for now!

  84. Salamantis: honestly, my generally negative, and admittedly incomplete, view of Wiccans has very little to do with thinking of them as Satanists. If anything, I find it annoying that so many Wiccans talk about this so much. It’s as if a Maoist were trying to convince me of the rightness of his cause by pointing out that he wasn’t a cannibal.

    I remember watching that godawful movie THE BLAIR WITCH 2, in which in the token Wiccan is complaining about how awful it is that people judge her as a Satanist, in the context of a rant in which she also attacks capitalism and technology.

    Two points: first of all, honey, you lost me when you attacked the whole basis of modern civilization. I don’t have to believe you practice infant or virgin sacrifice in order to get pissed that you want to force me into a hunter-gatherer mode.

    Second…oh, you poor little baby. Young kids have it soooo bad. I mean, their ancestors just had to deal with the World Wars, the Great Depression, and all kinds of diseases…but these poor kids have to deal with someone JUDGING them!

  85. Count me among the few Wiccan not lefty, tree hugging, Christian-hating and looking for victimhood. It is sad that many who embrace the term Wiccan are, quite frankly, off their rockers…. but not all of us are. Some of us live in the real world. And as someone who cannot stand the designation of so-called hate crimes…. Im not up for tryint to prosecute whoever left the wooden cross at the Colorado stone circle. Just pick the thing up and put it somewhere else… problem solved.

  86. And ESR’s comment is up as #5, with GVDL’s repost down at #24 (from #8 according to above). This looks like confirmation of the glitchy WP software discussed above.

  87. BTW, I am well aware that my last comment was an indictment of shitty Hollywood movies, rather than real Wiccans. But I admit that it did color my view–partly because the Wiccans I knew were big into movies about witchcraft, and took them surprisingly seriously.

  88. I misread my source. The 2008 estimate of the number of Wiccans from the American Religious Identification Survey isn’t 408,000, it’s 682,000.

    That ain’t peanuts. And as ARIS notes, it’s still probably an underestimate.

  89. Ken, Ken, Ken…

    First of all, I’m a guy – like Eric is. (also a straight one – not that there’s anything wrong with being otherwise). That’s what you get for assuming.

    Second, most Wiccans are not technological Luddites. There’s a reason that there exists such a term as TechnoPagan. And we also are generally suspicious of nanny-statism, and cherish the personal freedoms that a capitalistic free market society favors.

    Judging is one thing; unfairly judging from a position of ignorant animus based upon Hollywood movie caricatures is quite another.

  90. Salamantis: sorry, I should have made it more clear that the “honey” and “poor baby” were aimed at the caricature Wiccan, not you. It’s just that I fucking HATED that movie, and that scene in particular.

  91. I might add that that particular Hollywood caricature was meant to be a portrayal: see, Wiccans are just people like you who don’t want people judging them!!! Instead, it left me with a very negative vibe: waaaaaaaahhhh, people don’t like me! Which, once again, is a big negative not for Wiccans, but for the makers of that movie.

    I wonder how many other negative stereotypes of various groups are caused by Hollywood doing a really poor job of selling what they think will be a positive message.

  92. Well, Ken, it’s not like you had a whole lot to choose from; I have yet to see a Hollywood movie that included a Wiccan character that WASN’T a negative caricature.

    Speed the day that first realistic portrayal finally occurs.

  93. >the Wiccans I knew were big into movies about witchcraft, and took them surprisingly seriously.

    The dim-bulb wannabes are a plague and an embarrassment upon us. Enough said.

  94. Granted that we generally see more blatant antisemitic bias coming from the left than from the right, when I see “mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors” it does not require much imagination to see the easy substitution of “Jewish” in there (or “Catholic” or whatever target for bias is floating around in the fever swamps this season).

    I proudly cast my first vote for Barry Goldwater in ’64 but experience with some of the narrow-minded people (and politicians) attracted by conservatism eventually led me to figure out that I was more libertarian than conservative.

    I reject the vile and bigoted view of the Tea Party movement held by Democrat politicians and their lame stream media sycophants who derive such giggling pleasure out of using the term “tea-baggers.” I deeply regret that my state is represented by Sheldon Whitehouse who slandered those who dared to question the health care bill as being birthers, fanatics, and members of Aryan groups. (He was as embarrassingly lame as R.I. Attorney General as he is in the U.S. Senate.)

    An endorsement by the Tea Party movement would be a point in a candidate’s favor for me. However, I would still want to know what that candidate’s actual position (and record) might be on various issues. We need true fiscal conservatives and supporters of smaller government, but not those who would continue to build a “nanny state” while merely changing the particular targets of their oppression. And I would not actually associate myself with the Tea Party precisely because of the narrow views of too many of its enthusiastic participants… exactly as shown by this casual ability to slander an entire religion and its practitioners.

  95. Fine, I’ll know I’m overreacting if and when my comment actually appears on his blog.

    Well, it has appeared

    And yet you don’t seem to think you were overreacting. If anything, you’ve moved the goalposts.

    ESR says: Hey, I apologized both here and on Whittle’s blog. Whaddya want, egg in yer beer?

  96. That should have read “I might add that that particular Hollywood caricature was meant to be a POSITIVE portrayal.”

  97. Ken said:
    > I remember watching that godawful movie THE BLAIR WITCH 2…

    Jeez, really? They made a sequel to that overpraised dreck? My brain almost committed hari-kari sitting through the first one. The only equivalent I can think of if staring at a post-modernist’s “masterpiece” for five minutes for suddenly realizing: “Hey! My kid could paint that!”

    > I mean, their ancestors just had to deal with the World Wars,
    > the Great Depression, and all kinds of diseases…but these poor
    > kids have to deal with someone JUDGING them!

    Yeah, Amen. It’s not so much pantheism we’re talking about here as it is rampant Peter-Pan-ism. As usual, I will assign the baby Boomers the lion’s share of the blame. It is unlikely there was ever as broadly destuctive, infantilized and soulsick a generation in the history of this nation. A lot of the damage we see is Trickle-Down Idiotics from them.

  98. Eric,

    I cannot find an email address on this site or I would write you privately, now that I have a few spare moments.

    First, thank you for the retraction and the apology. Your comment was one of 26 pending moderation and they have been posted.

    Second, I do not speak for the Tea Party movement, and I made this point repeatedly. To say that I claim to be a “principle figure” in the Tea Party movement is a far more disturbing misrepresentation of my position than the accusation that I deliberately held or deleted your comment. I don’t believe anyone speaks for the Tea Party movement and I stated clearly that the only difference between my opinion and that of most commentators is simply that I had been to one. To say that I claim to be a spokesperson is very unfair because in point of fact one of the main thrusts of the commentary is that no one seems to be in charge, least of all me. This is in fact the thing I like best about the movement.

    Which brings me to,

    Third… I simply do not understand the point you are trying to make. There is a suggestion that the Tea Party movement is not “inclusive.” What does that mean? We are not talking about a closed-door meeting of deep-thinkers that requires a secret knock and a password to gain admittance to. These events are publicized and open to all. If Wiccans want to become a part of the Tea Party movement, they most certainly do not require my permission or anyone else’s for that matter. Just go! You will find that you are a long, long way from being the most controversial people on the field — which is another thing I like about it: it is simply a grab-bag of individuals.

    As a libertarian, I would assume this would appeal to you. What does group identity have to do with this? Some Wiccans will like it; others not, and those Wiccans will also be lawyers or soldiers or members of any other group that they may chose to identify with. I don’t see how any of that is relevant. The Tea Party movement does not court the Wiccan Vote because they do not appear to court ANY vote. If you are pissed off at what the government has been spending and you think they’re all a bunch of corrupt incompetent boobs… we’ll see you there.

    Finally, the point of the anarcho-Maoist tirade — as I mentioned earlier — was simply to point out that the people I have seen at the Tea Party events seem to me to be the most mainstream and regular people I have seen, and yet they are demonized as a mob of the far-right fringe. The people who I mentioned in that rhetorical sketch are in fact on the fringe. That does not make them any less human or any less American, but I don’t think there’s any denying that. Some of my opinions put me on the fringe as well, depending on the subject. For example, I loved Steve Spurrier when he was at Florida. Just about everyone else in the country hated the man.

  99. > But the Tea Partiers will surely kneecap themselves if they let the Religious Right horn in on their movement.

    Well, considering that most of the people on that organizing comittee were on what I’m sure you would consider the Religious Right….

    Dude! That comittee included three Christian homeschooling women!

    There are lots of fiscally conservative Tea Party people. Like my wife and I.

    There are lots of small government conservative Tea Party people. Like my wife and I.

    There are lots of socially conservative Tea Party people. Like my wife and I.

    Big overlap among those three groups.

    Yours,
    Tom

  100. Well, many of the present generation are returning from war also, and to a most difficult economic climate. The Greatest Generation just got THEIR Depression FIRST.

    I can foresee these crucibles molding stalwart character here again, like similar ones did once before.

  101. >It is unlikely there was ever as broadly destuctive, infantilized and soulsick a generation [as the Boomers] in the history of this nation.

    Hard for me to argue with this, even though I’m technically a very late Boomer myself. But who’s to blame for this? Arguably not the Boomers themselves, but the collapse of cultural confidence in the parents and teachers and institutions that shaped them. Gramscian damage…

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Blindfold Drive” from Greg Howe’s album Hyperacuity

  102. this casual ability to slander an entire religion and its practitioners.

    That’s a load of crap. Bill didn’t “slander an entire religion” at all. He named a group of people who have a set of characteristics, one of which was professed adherence to Wicca. That there are Wiccans who also have the other characteristics is undeniable. If you don’t have all of those characteristics, then he wasn’t talking about you.

    As a Christian, white, heterosexual, anglophone male of predominantly German ancestry, I’ve spent a lifetime hearing negative remarks about people like me, and have been informed in no uncertain terms that I’m not allowed to take umbrage at a bit of it, because none of those are Approved Minority Groups. When I was a child, my parents taught me “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.

    If Wiccans are so thin-skinned that they can’t handle disparaging remarks about other people who claim to be among their number, and deserve those remarks, then they need to grow up.

  103. “It is unlikely there was ever as broadly destuctive, infantilized and soulsick a generation in the history of this nation.”

    Oh, I don’t know; here it’s *me* that is objecting to an overbroad stereotype. The stats do indeed say that the Boomers represented the beginning of negative trend lines on crime, fatherless families, etc.

    However, as a GenXer myself (barely: 1967), I often get along better with Boomers than with my own generation or younger ones. Some of the most admirable people and the most attractive women I’ve met were born in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    More to the point, though: just as with Obama blaming Bush, there’s got to be a point at which younger generations either shit or get off the pot. I don’t see GenXers rushing to make things better. And for all the portrayal of Vietnam-era Boomers as draft dodgers, the fact is that there were, IIRC, far more Boomers fighting in Vietnam than GenYers in Iraq and Afghanistan. OK, granted, the draft was in effect–but keep in mind that GenYers voted overwhelmingly not only for Obama but also for Kerry, precisely because they feared the draft under Republicans.

  104. True that, Eric; Gramsci wrote their strategies; Alinsky wrote their tactics.

    Let’s not do that ourselves, or TO ourselves; hokay? That’s one noxious game plan I’d rather opt out of. The means must honor the end.

  105. ESR says: Hey, I apologized both here and on Whittle’s blog. Whaddya want, egg in yer beer?

    I didn’t see it until I refreshed… AFTER posting that.

    And no, I don’t want egg in my beer. On my burger, you betcha. That’s yummy.

  106. “The Greatest Generation just got THEIR Depression FIRST.”

    You’re making the assumption that there won’t be a bigger war later.

  107. Tom DeGisi :

    Just don’t marginalize anyone out of the overlap. Otherwise, beer-goggle remorse will accompany the day after. Capiche?

  108. TO: Bill Whittle
    RE: [OT] Speaking of ‘Moderation’….

    ….I tried to post THIS at your article at PJM….

    TO: Bill Whittle
    RE: The ‘First Time’

    Most of the people I’ve met at such gatherings have only JUST BEGUN to seriously get into politics.

    For many I talked to at the such event in C’Spring, it was there VERY FIRST TIME to attend a political rally of ANY sort. [Note: My first political 'rally' was as a participant of Team GREEN, i.e., a brigade of 82d Airborne Division paratroopers, up from Fort Bragg to 'attend' and 'usher' at the May Day Riots in Washington DC in '71. I was the platoon grenadier.]

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [There's a 'first time' for everything....almost....]

    BUT….

    ….for some ‘strange reason’, it….nor anything else I try to post on ANY other thread there….is not appearing.

    I suspect that my good friend Charlie (in Colorado) Martin has had me ‘banned’ as a ‘spammer’ over a tiff we had about Buddhism v. Christianity a while back.

    At any rate….

    ….keep up the Go[o]d work. We’re all excited.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [If you can't beat them, silence them. -- (Il)Liberal credo]

  109. On the other hand you’ve got people like me and Morgan Greywolf, essentially rationalist mystics who treat our “religious” experiences as just another datum to be integrated into an consilient scientific view of the universe. For us, “mystical awe” can mean more than “hm, that’s an interesting enjoyable thing my brain is doing”, but doesn’t necessarily mean more than that.

    Yeah, our view points are pretty similar, but not entirely the same. :) While like you I think magick is largely psychological, and I think that the brain is definitely involved, and that perhaps there are some yet unknown quantum effects involved (a guess). Exactly how or what the mechanism is, I don’t know. OTOH, I’m not fully atheist; my full answer as to whether there is a divine presence in the universe is that 1) I don’t know and 2) I don’t need to know. I know that good things come from working with the gods and whether or not they are part of the world known to hard science (which I acknowledge that at present time they are not and I fully understand why they are not) is unimportant to me. In my travails over the years as a Wiccan, I’ve seen all sorts of things happen that cannot be fully explained, yet I acknowledge they could just be the creation of my overactive imagination or, in some cases, some form of group hallucination. So I guess you could call me an agnostic Wiccan. :)

    While I understand and respect your atheist viewpoint, I find hard atheism to be a bit extreme for myself. OTOH, I find the chiliastic view — and the head-in-the-sand blind faith — of traditional religions (and some neopagans) to be highly disturbing. What’s even more disturbing is that some of these people want to base legislation on their wacko religious ideas. IMHO, legislation should be based on sound, rational ideas and that legislation should largely be used to protect freedoms, and never to eliminate them.

    I hope this helps anyone wondering what it is I really believe because the answer to that question is very complicated.

    ESR says: divergence noted, but it’s still the case that you and I are fair representatives of the rationalist wing, I think. My skepticism is a little harder than yours, but that’s a detail compared to the huge differences either of us has with a faith-centered worldview.

  110. I don’t know Salamantis; I think we on the right need to a long march through the institutions ourselves; see if we can take back some of these things from the left.

    In particular, I would like to see more movies with conservative themes coming out of hollywood.

    And the schools too for that matter; so that young people aren’t getting a bunch of marxist claptrap in college. There is no telling the damage this causes.

  111. “You don’t really want to even make jokes that might alienate your potential allies when starting a brand new grassroots political movement.”

    Unless you (rightly) don’t want them infiltrating this movement. What do we know about them from this very thread? A Wiccan being thin-skinned about a bleeping blog post. Wiccans talking children out of taking their medicine. “Womyn” who have “adopted Wicca as a feminist statement of the superiority of their inner Earth Mothers”, etc. You can read the rest for yourself, but all the denials of who Wiccans are, or what they’re about, can’t kill the real-world experience the rest of us have with them – or any other loony tune NewAgers.

    BTW – I’m a black atheist conservative, and NewAgers are the very people I want our country back from, so no, I don’t see any place for NewAgers of any stripe in this movement. I cheer all the ridicule that can be thrown at them, and applaud every effort to stifle them and their ambitions. NewAge is the problem – not something to be encouraged. Here’s my slogan:

    Stop the Left and they’ll be back – stop NewAge and we’re done with the whole lot of ‘em.

  112. Tom DeGisi SaID
    > Well, considering that most of the people on that organizing comittee were
    > on what I’m sure you would consider the Religious Right…

    Don’t be so sure you know what I’d consider “The Religious Right”, Tom. I probably define them a lot more narrowly then you would imagine. And if that organized movement tries to steer the Tea Party into the waters of Abortion and Gay marriage, they will crash the ship. There are large mass of folks (perhaps even a silent plurality) that either disagree with Ralph Reed on those issues, believe they belong in the church, or who care so little about them that they would jettison them as politcal planks in order to build stronger, more effective voting blocs.

    Count me in that last group for Gay Marriage. I don’t think I’ve cared about anything less in my entire life. Many states already have Civil Unions that are essentially “Gay Marriage” in all but name only, and the ones who don’t still honor legal agreements like Power of Attorney that accomplish the same ends. Who real wants to waste time haggling about this stuff while the DC Draculas bleed the country dry?

  113. Ken Says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Yeah, I see what you mean. The Pelosi types are the same kind of whited sepulchres as Oral Roberts, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (hell, any leftist) et al.

    My point: Whiting yer sepulchre at ALL is as good a recipe for strolling right out of Jesus’ armspread as ever there was. (If that makes sense.)

  114. Monster, In America, people retain the freedom of speech to publicly and unfairly stereotype us. And we retain the freedom of speech to publicly object and counter.

    That’s the beauty of the marketplace of ideas. Those people who do not have their mouths stretched so wide open from spouting such slanders that their eyes are covered and they can’t see the way that the vast majority of Wiccans really are (mostly, like everybody else) will reject such a false and egregious message. All that is required for scale-falling time is to actually get to know a few of us.

    But the contention that those who justifiably complain of ill treatment are just whiners is a common tactic. I remember when some people tried to excuse the dogs and hoses in Selma by claiming that the marches were posing for the cameras. It’s like saying that all blacks are Sharptons or Jacksons, simply because that’s who they see on political talk shows. That’s what stereotypes DO; they obliterate individuality and individual differences within a group into a single heinous caricature.

  115. Eowyn,

    > Just don’t marginalize anyone out of the overlap. Otherwise, beer-goggle remorse will accompany the day after. Capiche?

    I like big tents. Here’s a wild idea. I think it would be great if all the big city Democrats could vote to form a sort of big super state cut out of their states. In Kansas they would get Kansas City (KS, natch), Wichita, Lawrence and probably Topeka, in New York they would get NYC and Buffalo, etc. Then they could vote for as nanny a nanny state as any state of the Union. The rest of us could have the much smaller Federal government and state governments that we want. I’m trying to take some of the zero-sum games out of our political calculus.

    With that kind of system maybe the tent would be big enough to include half the Left.

    Yours,
    Tom

  116. > in New York they would get NYC and Buffalo, etc..

    Tom, don’t leave us New Yorkers stranded in nanny land. If we can take and hold New York City, the rest will fall like dominos!

  117. BTW, the only Wiccans I personally know seem decidedly normal. Well, except they play D&D like I once did. Is D&D normal?

    Yours,
    Tom

  118. Tom,

    Heh. I’ve been in favor of secession for a long time now, but perhaps that’s a bit radical ;)

  119. “Just don’t marginalize anyone out of the overlap. Otherwise, beer-goggle remorse will accompany the day after. Capiche?”

    The overlap appears to be limited federal government. Exactly who is “out of the overlap”? Tea Party Maoists?

    You mean don’t marginalize anyone in the overlap who doesn’t agree with you 100%?

  120. Well, that would reduce Minnesota to the five-county metro Twin Cities area plus Duluth; the rest of the state is sensible. Interesting idea, but how do you have two countries that thoroughly intertwined?

  121. >To say that I claim to be a “principle figure” in the Tea Party movement is a far more disturbing misrepresentation of my position

    I will so note in an update.

    That having been said…can you really be unaware that anyone who has been as publicly boosterish about the movement and its key premises as you have is going to be seen as a spokesman for the movement, whether you claim it or not? I’m not criticizing; the movement could easily do far worse than you, and I make that judgment as an experienced and successful propagandist myself. The point is, disclaiming being a spokesperson doesn’t necessarily relieve you of the responsibilities of one, which include thinking carefully before you say things that alienate potential allies. As one of the open-source movement’s most visible public figures, I’ve had a lot of experience with how deep that rabbit hole goes.

    I take you at your word that Tea-Party events are as open as you say. That’s not a trait that automatically maintains itself. Everyone affiliated with the movement, “spokesman” or not, has to take part responsibility for it. Otherwise, the movement could certainly drift in directions neither you nor I would like. The political history and interest-group dynamics of the U.S. being what they are, the risk that Christian religious conservatives will attempt to fuse its purpose with their own is significant — which is why casual snark against Wiccans or other groups the theocons don’t like is an especially touchy thing to be messing with.

  122. “I remember when some people tried to excuse the dogs and hoses in Selma by claiming that the marches were posing for the cameras.”

    Yea, like there’s any true comparison between disliking the results of some goofy belief system and innocent people taking abuse for nothing more than the color of their skin. What a maroon.

    I like how the very people complaining about insults feel they have the right to insult black people by including us as a defense of the goofy belief system most blacks regard as Satanism and want nothing to do with.

  123. In America, people retain the freedom of speech to publicly and unfairly stereotype us. And we retain the freedom of speech to publicly object and counter.

    But no one unfairly stereotyped you. Bill wasn’t talking about you. You just decided to be offended when he was talking about someone else.

  124. Morgan Greywolf, here’s what I believe about that question:

    The Twin Springs of Magick: Divination and Spellcasting

    How can one reconcile Paganism’s science-friendly stance with their practice of something so seemingly unscientific as magickal working? Because nonfundamentalist NeoPagans, who comprise the vast majority of NeoPagans generally, do not see their practice of magick as something supernatural and mystical so much as something naturalistic and empirical.

    Magick is conceived of in Wicca as the science which is not yet widely understood, but which is not supernatural, but very much natural, and it falls firmly under the umbrella of cause and effect. Magick falls into two categories, divination and spellcasting, having to do with knowing and doing, respectively.

    I. Divination

    Long ago, before the vocation was polyfurcated into medical doctor and psychologist and social worker, when the tribe had a problem, they would bring it to their shaman. (S)he would listen to the concerned and involved parties explain what comprised the problem, then would enter into a trance state by one or more of many means (mantra (chanting), mandala (single-point concentration), mudra (rhythmic dancing), tantra (sexual stimulation), soma (psychedelics), fasting, etc.). While in trance the shaman would ask the question the answer to which would solve the tribal problem. When (s)he returned from his/her journeyings, (s)he would pronounce a remedial course of action, not just for the afflicted one(s) to follow, but for the whole tribe to jointly pursue. This still happens today among preliterate aboriginal tribes, and more and more among e-literate and postmodern NeoPagans. But what is really happening here? To get an insight, we turn to past artifacts and the testimony of contemporary shamans. The cave paintings in Lascaux France, the !Kung tribal paintings in Africa, the rock carvings of the Australian aboriginal Dreamtime People, Tibetan mandalas, Zuni sand paintings, all separated by thousands of miles and years, contain a common thread. There are depictions of their native ecologies and societies (the !Kung paintings include trees with horizontal leaf patterns, elephants and giraffes, the Lascaux cave frescoes include mastodons and bison, etc.), but they all include certain common geometric patterns. The Grid. The Zig-Zag. The River S. The Concentric Circles. Why, separated by thousands of miles and years, should these common patterns continually manifest themselves?

    Psychology calls them endoptic forms. They are hard-wired into the human visual apparatus, and are thought to relate to the shadows which capillaries cast upon the retina. If you close your eyes and press on the outside corners of your eyes, you can invoke them. But the question remains, what do these have to do with shamanic divination? When we sleep, truths that we wakingly deny or overlook come to us in the imagistic language of dreams. There is a gating mechanism of the hippocampus of the midbrain which paralyzes our will so that we will not will to move in our dreams and hurt or reveal ourselves (sleepwalking phenomena prove that this mechanism is not flawless). This mechanism may be overridden by sonic or somatic driving in a particular frequency, (dancing, chanting or rhythmic dancing) or by entering a state of altered awareness (fasting, mandalic concentration and psychedelics). In such a condition, an experienced shaman may willfully direct waking dreams, and properly interpret the imagery confronted, much as an experienced lucid dreamer is able to do with actual dreams.

    When first entering the trance and looking inward, they would first see the cognitively archetypical endoptic patterns; deeper in they would access and experience the ecosocial imagery in which they would seek their answers. This is the first appearance of the use of the brain as one would a computer, maximizing access to all that one actually has learned and (if only subliminally) knows through the long span of one’s life, rather than merely what one might remember. The modern shamanic uses of indole alkaloids (LSD, mescaline, psilocybin and all the rest) are, when they are used for exploration rather than mere entertainment, instances of the same phenomenon.

    II. Spellcasting

    Spellcasting can be done repetitively by individuals or singly by a group. A coven gathers and agrees upon a common and specific goal to be achieved; then they start “raising energy”, as you call it (it is really a process of activating emotions) theough a combination of dancing (usually circular or spiral and repetitive, and most commonly around a common bonfire), chanting (what is desired to happen), and drumming (to co-ordinate and focus the group). When the collective emotion is at its peak, the priest(ess), by shouting “So Mote It Be!” or some other symbolic trigger phrase, signals the members of the coven to simultaneously launch their collective wills toward the realization of the common desire. Whether or not something “really” soars through the apex of the “Cone of [emotional] Power” and physically effects things in the world is beside the point; everyone in the coven has just engaged in a mutually supporting act of mass imprinting. When they return to their (generally shared) social milieu, their actions are adumbrated in both overt and subliminal ways toward the realization of the group purpose. All these little differences sooner or later usher in the “butterfly effect” (as in chaos theory) where due to SDIC (Sensitive Dependence upon Initial Conditions), these little differences snowball into an social avalanche, carrying the goal to completion, and “magick happens.” When this imprinting is a solitary and self-programmed practice, it just takes more persistence and repetition.

    Addendum: Notice that divination is usually practiced by a single person, whereas spellcasting is practiced by both singles and groups. This is because a group can choose to have their wills voluntarily channeled for a single purpose, but cannot be instructed in advance to arrive at identical answers to a question; if the answer were known in advance in order to permit such instruction, there would be no need for the divinatory working. A multiplicity of differing answers to a question would only serve to confuse, not to guide subsequent actions based upon answers received.

  125. jrok said: “Let’s have a party of small government without “feature creep” into personal moral terrain.”

    That is one of the better comments in this thread, although as applied to the Tea Party movement I would say: “Let’s have a movement of small government without “feature creep” into personal moral terrain.”

    The Tea Party movements will not and should not become a party. It will have an effect by influencing both major parties. The trick will be to do so without being captured and/or corrupted by them.

    More on topic: While I have run into some Wiccans and Christians who are flakes I have been fortunate that most I know of both are one the more intelligent, thoughtful side.

    I know quite a few libertarian Christians who are not part of the religious right. The Wiccans I know are on the left but at least I can usually have a rational political discussion with them which is often not the case with others I know on the left.

    I describe myself as a libertarian agnostic who is friendly to most religions. (If I were not friendly I would not have married my wife of 25 years who is very Christian.) Politically I am willing to work with almost anyone on areas where we agree.

    I would like to see the Tea Party movement do the same and concentrate on fiscal conservatism. If we can reduce the size of government a variety of ills it causes will reduce.

  126. “Tom, don’t leave us New Yorkers stranded in nanny land. If we can take and hold New York City, the rest will fall like dominos!”

    Agreed. My standard response to secession talk is, “I don’t want to leave our third of Massachusetts stranded behind the lines.”

  127. “But no one unfairly stereotyped you. Bill wasn’t talking about you. You just decided to be offended when he was talking about someone else.”

    Yeah; and the KKK is talking about those OTHER black people. Just like you, who state Wicca is that “goofy belief system most blacks regard as Satanism and want nothing to do with” are talking about those OTHER Wiccans.

  128. Eowyn,

    It is a bit radical. It’s not really secession, it’s federalism taken to the max, where people can form new sub-states out of old states practically at will and then those states can form binding political unions. I think Congress would have to approve full statehood with the corresponding new Senators. But national security and foreign policy stays with the federal government.

    There are strong disadvantages to strong local control. Imagine Berkley outlawing SUV’s and Houston outlawing Smart Cars – where is it legal for me to drive my car again? But there are also strong advantages. In Merriam five out of nine councilpersons lost their seats over a broad application of eminent domain. (Aside: It was forcing a user car dealer to sell his land to a new car dealer and others to give up their land for a new shopping center. Truly hideous. I knew one of the guys who lost his seat. A really nice guy who never understood why people were so mad. The new shopping really was an economic boon to that area.) Can you imagine forty Senators losing their seats over a single issue?

    Yours,
    Tom

  129. Salamantis,

    I am open in my disgust for NewAge. I don’t have to play out white folks fantasies to make my point – why keep bringing up blacks when they weren’t persecuted for a belief?

    It makes no more sense than Wicca does.

  130. Tom, Houston doesn’t need to outlaw the Smart Car. Driving one there is essentially a drawn-out suicide. The only way I’d take one onto the Southwest Freeway is if I wanted to die gruesomely.

  131. Religious bigotry is just as reprehensible as racial bigotry. And all races and religions can fall victim to it.

    You are a case in point.

    It has also been historically responsible for probably as many deaths.

  132. JB Says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    By implication — and perhaps its an overreach on my part, which I will own, if committed — the overlap included no one. (And, if accused of obtusity, I’ll probably plead guilty.) That is, as stated, it was an idealization, rather than an inclusion. Given the preamble about the Religious Right, I saw defensiveness, rather than open-mindedness, in action.

    I happen to think the Religious Right will, in fact, doom the Tea Party IF allowed to control it. As a player, I welcome it — otherwise, I advise it to stop tooting horns, or giving the appearance of same. Small government is the goal. Not “I’m better than you because I’m [fundamentalist/evangelical/daily-Bible-reading/Basic Edition-wearing/white-bread-eating] better than you [pierced/tatooed/non-college-attending/mind-altering-substance-ingesting lowlife non-achieving whatever].”

    (For the record, I fit into not one of the adjectives describing above stereotypes.)

  133. > Well, that would reduce Minnesota to the five-county metro Twin Cities area plus Duluth; the rest of the state is sensible. Interesting idea, but how do you have two countries that thoroughly intertwined?

    I’m not going for secession here, although it does sound like it. The big city Democrats would essentially have three governments, their local sub-state, their Democratic Domestic Union, which would serve all the same functions as the current domestic side of the federal government and the federal government, which would handle national security and foreign affairs. They would vote for Senators with the rest of their original state and vote in their original Congressional districts. The rest of us would have our state governments and the federal government, which would handle our domestic affairs within the proper limits of the Constitution and leave the rest to the states. Or perhaps we would have our own Republican Domestic Union to handle domestic affairs. Shoot, maybe the libertarians could move to New Hampshire en masse and have their own Libertarian Domestic Union.

    Yeah, it’s wild, but as I said, I did play D&D and other RPGs and read alot of science fiction.

    Yours,
    Tom

  134. Eowyn, I’ve heard those types of comments at political rallies–although not specifically Tea Party rallies–before. Most of the time, they aren’t made by people trying to coopt anything. Rather, the speaker usually assumes the audience agrees with him, and feels relieved that he’s being candid. He’s not saying “lesbians aren’t welcome,” because it never occurred to him that there’d be any lesbians at the rally. Instead, he’s saying, “Don’t feel the need to be politically correct here.” They mean well; they just don’t think about what they’re saying.

  135. >The Wiccans I know are on the left but at least I can usually have a rational political discussion with them which is often not the case with others I know on the left.

    It’s true. We tend to be brighter and more individualistic than average, so even our lefties aren’t as poisonously wedged as the average lefty. The reason for this is subtle: to actually understand what Wicca is driving at requires a willingness to reject traditional religious assumptions and a not insignificant amount of intellectual effort.

  136. Tony Lekas said:
    > That is one of the better comments in this thread, although
    > as applied to the Tea Party movement I would say: “Let’s have
    > a movement of small government without “feature creep” into
    > personal moral terrain.”

    Yeah, good point. “Party” isn’t exactly what I had in mind either. The parties can maintain their brand labels from now until damnation, as far as I’m concerned, but the Tea Partiers do not appear interested in getting co-opted into an existing party as some sort of grass-roots fundraiser wing, or experimenting with hopeless third parties like Perots “Reform Party.” To their great benefit, I thnk.

    I am curious to see, however, if the movement can “field one of their own” in the sense of subverting one or both national party machines. This doesn’t necessarily mean creating a new political brand, but rather raiding a primary in order to pull an other wise obscure/underfunded Repub or Dem candidate over the top. It appears that has already sort of happened in Massachusetts, but I imagine there could be even bigger coups on the horizon.

  137. Eric; I sent you an email to pass on to Morgan Greywolf; I don’t know whether or not to remove the capitalized NOSPAMs from her email addy, so I sent it to you. Hokay?

  138. > It has also been historically responsible for probably as many deaths.

    Well, I’d say nations going mad over a political leaders and ideologies is probably the biggest killer. I would include Napoleon and Jacobinism – France went insane trying to conquer Europe. I would include Lopez of Paraguay. He fancied himself a Napoleon. Wanted to fight Uruguay. Paraguay does not border Uruguay. He demanded that Brazil and Argentina (allies of Uruguay) to allow his armies to cross their territory. They refused. He declared war on all three. His nation went mad with him. Two thirds of the population perished in that war. Two thirds! I would include Hong Xiuquan and the Taiping Rebellion in China. Twenty to thity million people killed. I would include Lenin and Stalin and Marxism. I would include Hitler and Nazism. I would include Mao and Maoism. I would include Pol Pot and Marxism.

    It’s bad when nations go mad.

    Yours,
    Tom

    Yours,
    Tom

  139. The Crack Emcee said:
    > I am open in my disgust for NewAge. I don’t have
    > to play out white folks fantasies to make my point
    > – why keep bringing up blacks when they weren’t
    > persecuted for a belief?

    I have to co-sign with Crack Emcee here. No, not everyone who thinks you are a weirdo is “Hitler” or the “KKK”. One of the inevitable drawbacks to holding a minority or fringe belief is that you have to expect people are going to openly mock you. You can either ignore them or try to persuade them you’re not nuts, but you can’t just say “SALEM BURNED WITHCES YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF BULL CONNORS.” Frankly, I think that’s what always hamstrings gays in this country. Comparing “Gay Marriage” to “Segregation” is totally moronic and murders all sense of proportion until it is dead, dead, dead. Vocal gay activists do this all the time, and it makes them sound like a bunch of mindless, rotten children.

    Same thing for this “tolerance” thing. People these days misunderstand the word. I may have to tolerate John Q. Cultist’s dumbass beliefs about Cat People on the Moon, but I don’t have to lend him my garden hose, or give him equal airtime on the radio or shake his hand. I just have to resist the urge to strangle him to death.

  140. Yeah, Tom, disaster is certain to ensue when people morph political doctrine into religious dogma.

  141. And, jrok, you also, in addition to not strangling your neighbor, should resist the urge to attempt to codify discriminatory provisions against him into law. The Founders and Framers realized that majority tyranny is a seductively tempting tendency, which is why they gifted us with a Bill of Rights.

  142. “Yeah, Tom, disaster is certain to ensue when people morph political doctrine into religious dogma.”

    Or vice versa.

    Makes me really appreciate Jefferson’s wisdom on church-state separation.

  143. What the hell is a wiccan? And why are they so thin-skinned? It isn’t a good sign when the first thing you hear from some extremely minor religion is whining. Are people closed minded about Wiccans? Oh, poor diddums.

  144. The Monster objected to my saying “this casual ability to slander an entire religion and its practitioners” — and he goes on to complain that he was never allowed to take umbrage at slurs against his ethnicity/race/religion/sexual preferences because he wasn’t a member of any approved minority group.

    Hey, man, we’re all members of some minority group in some way. Hell, I grew up in a very Italian neighborhood (I always use the line “my brother and I were the only white kids with a silent vowel at the end of our name”) and I never realized that Protestants were not a minority religion in the U.S. until I was around 11 or 12 and was reading a World Almanac.

    Monster concluded by saying “If Wiccans are so thin-skinned that they can’t handle disparaging remarks about other people who claim to be among their number, and deserve those remarks, then they need to grow up.” I wasn’t speaking on behalf of Wiccans — I’ve known a few Wiccans very casually but that’s all. They are probably no more or less thin-skinned than the population in general. And yes, I know that Bill Whittle was attempting a bit of satiric humor in putting together his line about ““mass-produced members of bused-in wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors” — and if he had been doing a stand-up comedy routine I would have laughed — but he wasn’t doing stand-up, he was writing a political essay. My point was that as a political statement (as opposed to a one-liner) he was narrowing the potential support for the Tea Party movement because he was modeling the stereotype “conservative” narrow-minded outlook in his casual dismissal of Wiccans (and, for that matter, of gays) by depicting them as automatically being hardcore leftists. (Surely he must realize — or perhaps he doesn’t? — that gays can be fiscally responsible and certainly many of them have been deeply disappointed by the current administration’s year-long delay in beginning to even give any consideration to their promise to eliminate don’t-ask-don’t-tell on day one.)

    I like a lot of Bill Whittle’s writing — but I do think that this particular witticism was poorly-thought through and that it represents a possible mindset in the Tea Party movement that certainly gives me pause.

    It reminds me of something that happened in that neighborhood of my childhood. It was probably about 40% black and 60% white (mostly Italian). The mayor ramrodded a proposal through city council to solve the city’s waste disposal problems by turning a wetlands area in our neighborhood into a dump — well, except they called the wetlands a worthless swamp and the dump was a sanitary landfill project. The neighborhood was up on arms over this and an emergency meeting was called (mostly organized by a neighborhood social and religious club) and a huge throng of people met at the volunteer firehouse, impassioned speeches and declarations, action committees were formed, and it was only more than two hours into the meeting that the leaders realized that this was an all-white crowd and began to wonder if somebody should be appointed to perhaps ask the minister of “The Colored Church” if any of the “colored people” might be persuaded to do something. If I recall correctly (and decades have passed since then), they settled for appointing a committee to write that minister a letter. I should point out that the white Congregational Church was never asked to be involved either… my brother and I were at the meeting because we found out through our Italian Catholic buddies. Needless to say, the opposition to the dump failed and the wetlands was filled in.

    I have always wondered, however, if the anti-dump movement might have succeeded if it had actually reached out to all the people in the neighborhood?

  145. Uhm, jrok, sorry, but how, exactly, is not allowing to gay men to marry any different at all from not allowing a white man to marry a black woman? In both cases, you’re not allowing someone to marry someone else because of characteristics they did not choose and cannot change.

    If the tea party movement throws me out for believing as I do in that regard, even though I fully support the ideal of less government and less government spending, it will never succeed.

  146. You can’t change your skin, true, Emcee. But you apparently want to apply pressure to others to cause them to alter their religious convictions in order to not suffer negative consequences.

    There’s a name for people like that; jihadis. And they come in all colors and creeds.

  147. Jay Maynard,

    Gay people can’t have kids together, so maybe we should call it something other than marriage. This is not a trival point, so don’t treat it like a trivial point. This is a very brief lead into a rather comprehensive argument. The best description of it I’ve read was written by Kim du Toit, an atheist. His claim is that marriage is an important traditional way of maintaining our society, and we should be careful and not mess with it.

    We’ve already messed with it too much. But I’m a big tent guy, so I’ll give you same sex marriage if you give me no more no fault divorce for anyone, including gays, divorce is as hard to get as it was in 1800 if you have kids together – including adopted kids, and bring back alienation of affection lawsuits.

    I’m sure the laws would be different in the Democratic Domestic Union.

    Yours,
    Tom

  148. Salamantis said:
    > And, jrok, you also, in addition to not strangling your neighbor,
    > should resist the urge to attempt to codify discriminatory provisions
    > against him into law. The Founders and Framers realized that majority
    > tyranny is a seductively tempting tendency, which is why they gifted us
    > with a Bill of Rights.

    Look, I’m no friend of “The Defense of Marriage Act” or the movement to write a Constitutional Amendment banning Gay Marriage… not because I care about Gay Marriage, but because I’m a contructionalist. We’ve been scribbling far too much bullshit into the margins what was an almost perfect document to begin with. The Bill of Rights makes no mention of Gay Marriage, Straight Marriage, Dog or Cat Marriage. That was by design. But calling someone names and saying their lifestyle stinks isn’t the same as “codify discriminatory provisions.” Laws regarding marriage have always neatly fit into the realm of the states, as can be seen in the variance of age-of-consent from stat-to-state. Will we also have to have a federal statute proclaiming what at age you can get married? So much federal interloping, so little time!

  149. If we do, let’s at least not follow Saudi Arabia’s lead, and ratify legal marriage for 7 year olds.

    But I don;’t wanna see any noncoercive belief systems coerced by others. Emcee is apparently in favor of the fomenting of a cultural Sharia that would Dhimmitize Wiccans.

    It was Paul Ricoeur who said that the one thing that a tolerant person cannot in all good faith and conscience tolerate is the coercive intolerance of others. It’s not the ‘intolerant’ part that mainly troubled him; people are free to dislike each other, either on the group or the individual level, based solely upon group membership, however distateful that might be. It’s the ‘coercive’ part that constituted his concern. Coercive intolerance is intolerable in Wahhabists, and it’s intolerable in any other faith.

  150. Tom, I’ll let you argue about gay men marrying not having kids just as soon as you also propose to outlaw childless marriages between men and women – regardless of whether their child{less,free} state is for medical, financial, or other reasons, or for no reason at all.

    That said, I do think that calling it the “Defense of Marriage Act” is the height of false advertising. What, exactly, are they defending marriage from?

    Now, I’m not all that sure this is on-topic any more; Eric, if you want me to pipe down, go right ahead and tell me.

  151. A Wiccan being thin-skinned about a bleeping blog post. Wiccans talking children out of taking their medicine. “Womyn” who have “adopted Wicca as a feminist statement of the superiority of their inner Earth Mothers”, etc. You can read the rest for yourself, but all the denials of who Wiccans are, or what they’re about, can’t kill the real-world experience the rest of us have with them – or any other loony tune NewAgers.

    Wiccans (traditionalist Wiccans such as esr and myself) are not NewAgers. There are some fluffy loony tune 69th degree high priestesses of the “tradition” of Unicorns, Rainbows and Light (established yesterday!) out there who claim to be “Wiccans” without fully understanding what Wicca is. Wicca is not “whatever feels right” and it is not about the kind of claptrap found in “New Age” books. It is a mystery religion that honors and reveres nature. It’s not “Womyn”-style feminist — if you’re looking for feminism, go talk to the Dianics. It honors the male and female duality as found in nature. It honors the Earth as being a living place that sustains us all, and is thus deserving of our respect; yet it is not an ecological movement.

    Your statements prove that you have made no effort to understand the views of people around you who are different from yourself, likely because you think the views of people different from yourself are unimportant and inferior to your own. That makes you a bigot, which is quite ironic considering you characterize yourself as a black man.

    In case I haven’t made myself clear, let me restate: Wiccan != New Ager. They are not the same thing, anymore than blacks and hispanics are the same thing.

  152. “You can’t change your skin, true, Emcee. But you apparently want to apply pressure to others to cause them to alter their religious convictions in order to not suffer negative consequences.”

    What pressure? Laughing at you and calling you names requires maturity on your part, nothing more – which you clearly do not possess.

    At least you agree your beliefs force others to “suffer negative consequences.” Why you won’t give it up when you know this – and want us to buy your claims to being so intelligent and compassionate – is the only pertinent question.

  153. I’m not overly fond of Whitelight Fluffybunnies either, Morgan, but I don’t wanna procliam a Fatwa against them, either. There we agree.

  154. Actually, the only ‘negative consequences’ are the ones you crave to engender.

    It is the people who resort to, and even revel in, schoolyard taunts and ridicule who reveal their emotional puerility.

    I won’t make a judgment on your intelligence, but you have the tolerance and compassion of an anorexic rat’s behind.

  155. BTW; you may harbor the strange notion that by attacking Wiccans, you are paradoxically ‘helping’ them, by coercing them to change to a faith that you think is better for them.

    Islamists also believe that the jihad they ceaselessly wage on infidels is ultimately for their own good.

  156. Jay Maynard said:
    > Uhm, jrok, sorry, but how, exactly, is not allowing to gay men
    > to marry any different at all from not allowing a white man to
    > marry a black woman? In both cases, you’re not allowing someone
    > to marry someone else because of characteristics they did not
    > choose and cannot change.

    Well, jay, as a white man who is married to a black woman I have to say it does not trouble me in the least, nor do I think it is remotely the same thing. There was no bullshit written into the constitution about “Black cannot marry Whites” either, and the rules regarding this differed from state-to-state from the birth of our Union onward. There was quite a bit of interracial marrying going on during that first hundred years after the Revolution; so much so that certain states found it necessary to invent Miscegenation Laws to prevent it. These laws were widely not on the books before the mid-19th century, as much folklore seems designed to make people believe. Western marriage, with its ideals of romantic love, social responsibility and procreation of children, survived its brief skirmishes with slavery wholly intact, such that the author of “Othello” would not recognize it’s racial components much differently than we do today.

    So, no, it is not remotely the same thing. Again, I do not care one lick if a gay couple wants to frame some state “marriage certificate” in their living room. Marriage as a social institution has never included such unions, even in pre-Christian societies that tolerated homosexuality. Right now it is a moot point. Many states have civil unions statutes on the books, and that is all fine and well. If they want to call it “gay marriage” and pay the sundry taxes and penalties associated with that, well I’m not going to push my congressmen to write some sort of vandalism into the Constitution to stop them. So long as churches are not required to perform Gay Marriage ceremonies, I guess I’m fine with it. But if the bloc that agitates for “Universal Gay Marriage Rights” mandated by the Constitution, you can count me against them. And if that bloc also agitates for an asssortment of crypto-marxist cause and federal power grabs – which they widely do – you can *really* count me against them.

  157. Jay,

    First, did you read my big tent compromise?

    > Tom, I’ll let you argue about gay men marrying not having kids just as soon as you also propose to outlaw childless marriages between men and women – regardless of whether their child{less,free} state is for medical, financial, or other reasons, or for no reason at all.

    I knew someone would go there. Did you read the rest of what I said? Tradition protects childless couples for the simple reason that childless couples very often surprise everyone (including themselves) by ceasing to be childless. This does not happen to gay people. That’s a tired old talking point and pretty easily shot down.

    > What, exactly, are they defending marriage from?

    Untraditional forms, Jay. It really does open a big can of worms when you get into this subject. We have particular marriage traditions in this country and we don’t want the federal government or the courts tromping on them. In India the tradition included arranged marriages between children – as happened to Gandhi. We don’t want that tradition here. In Muslim countries they practice polygamy. We don’t want that tradition here. And, as much as same sex marriage advocates don’t want to admit it, there are people waiting to restructure the rest of our family law based on other cultures alien to our own. Same sex marriage is an idea alien to our culture, just like these other things.

    I’m willing to protect our traditions of marriage by bringing same sex marriage proponents on the marriage protection bandwagon – but I really want some strong protection of traditional marriage in return. Roll back the sixties innovations to family law. Those experiments failed.

    Yours,
    Tom

  158. In the early year of our nation there was no such thing as state sanctioned marriage; you stood in front of the minister of your choice, and that was that. State marriage was originally instituted in order to enforce miscegenation laws, and prevent interracial marriage.

  159. Tsk. jrok, not everyone who thinks that two adults should be allowed to marry each other regardless of gender “agitates for an asssortment of crypto-marxist cause and federal power grabs”.

    I’m not calling for a church to be required to perform any ceremonies it feels conflict with its teachings. I’m just saying that the state should not be allowed to deny participation in a fundamental relationship in our society based on sexual orientation any more than it is allowed to deny it based on race.

    “Civil unions” for gay couples, and “marriages” for heterosexual couples, is yet another case of “separate but equal” – which it never is. If the state recognizes “marriage”, it must do so for all. Refusing to do so is indeed a civil rights violation.

    Oh, and same sex marriage was widely recognized until the 15th century or so; there are many records of such being done, and there was an extensive Catholic liturgy for performing them. So marriage as an institution has indeed included such unions in the past.

    To drag this forcibly on topic: the tea part movement weakens itself to the exact extent that it throws people who believe as I do out the window.

  160. Tom, I know a lady who is rather emphatically childfree. The only reason she hasn’t had her tubes tied is that she’s been unable to find a provider in the New York City area to perform the procedure without the consent of her husband (from whom she is long separated). Should she succeed in being sterilized – or, for another example, another friend who had a hysterectomy while still in her childbearing years for medical reasons – would you deny her the right to marry? Sorry, but this is not an edge case. It’s central to the argument. Those women are not going to have children, period.

    As for defending traditions: traditions are only defensible to the extent they do not deny fundamental civil rights. Discrimination based on gender has been held to be a violation of fundamental civil rights. Therefore, a tradition that depends on such discrimination is indefensible.

    The only thing abolishing no-fault divorce would do is enrich lawyers and private investigators, and force poor people who have grown to loathe each other to nevertheless continue to associate with each other. I agree that that would be much more a defense of marriage than the abomination that goes by that name now, but the cost is simply too high.

  161. >“Civil unions” for gay couples, and “marriages” for heterosexual couples,
    > is yet another case of “separate but equal” – which it never is. If the state
    > recognizes “marriage”, it must do so for all. Refusing to do so is indeed
    > a civil rights violation.

    What’s with this “couples” bigotry? Are you a “Couple-ist” Jay? Why is it a fundamental civil right for two gay men to marry, but not three. Or eight. Or one hundred and seven? Why can’t I marry six women? Why can’t Al Gore marry a polar bear, if he loves them so much? We might have to break out the Sharpies and stay up all night writing all of this complex moral math into that stingy old Constitution.

    Marriage as a Government Institution is about custodial rights and property rights and transfer thereof. It has nothing to do with love or sex. You say above (in jest) “just as soon as you also propose to outlaw childless marriages between men and women.” I actually don’t think that is a bad idea. It would be simpler, and put a stop to all of this chicanery that wants to bring the government into our personal live, so much so as to sanction “love certificates.” Bah humbug, I say! Put marriage back into the full hands of the churches, and let us all get slowly “civil-union’ed” as we bear children, buy houses and open joint checking accounts!

  162. In my opinion, Wiccans are OK. However, in my experience, they are mostly lapsed Christians, Jews, Mormons and people who had no religious training at all who want to have sex with a lot of people without feeling guilty about it. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

  163. Don’t laugh, jrok. I believe that removing the word “marriage” from every law in the land, and replacing them with “civil union”, would solve the problem. Then, churches could marry whoever they wanted, but for the union to carry the benefits that currently accrue to marriages, would have to be formalized as a civil union with the government.

    And no, I’m not joking in the slightest when I say that those who do not outlaw childless marriages between women and men have no right to complain about two adults of the same gender marrying because they cannot produce children.

  164. “What’s with this “couples” bigotry? ”

    That’s precisely the issue I’ve never heard SSM advocates answer satisfactorily.

    Principled arguments for SSM fall on deaf ears as SSM between two people is decided upon rather arbitrarily. It is a political argument (we are a loud and noisy group, give us our fucking rights dammit or we’ll getcha) rather than a principled one.

    Why is SSM inherently the right institution for our society to accept, and not say, polygamy? And if polygamy is acceptable, why not make that big tent argument — failure to do this confirms suspicions that there’s a creeping deconstructionist nature to the SSM movement.

  165. I haven’t thought the implications through fully, but I also see no real reason for any arrangement between informed, consenting adults to be accepted on the same terms as marriage is today. I also do not believe that there would be enough of them to worry about.

    Note the bit about “informed, consenting adults”. No children, and no animals, need apply. By definition, only an adult can enter into a contract, and that’s what it really boils down to.

  166. Argh. I see no real reason for any arrangement between informed, consenting adults not to be accepted on the same terms as marriage is today.

  167. Your missing my point Jay. I say throw the whole thing the hell out of the governments court. The government codifies marriage for legal convenience, because of the myriad social difficulties that arise when they are dissolved or altered by death or mutual agreement. If we were to be honest about what these legal “difficulties” were, we would find they have nothing to do with “love” but rather with entanglements of property and heirs. That’s what legal marriage is about: property and heirs. And we already have plenty of roadmaps for “property.”

    Anyway, I don’t complain about gay marriage anymore than I do Wiccans. Or Mormons, for that matter – I think Mormons are weirder than Wiccans. But we shouldn’t have to write “special rules” into the Constitution for *any* of these groups. Mormons want to bring back polygamy? Great! Throw it on referendum, or have your representatives bring it to a floor vote. Don’t try to sue it into existence!

  168. Jay,

    BTW, have you noticed that my federalism on steriods idea would allow you and any political entity you could get a majority in (San Fran, are you listening?) to form their own sub-state and make same sex marriage the law there. I really do like big tents and non zero-sum solutions.

    > Sorry, but this is not an edge case.

    No, it is an edge case. We have always had childless couples, some emphatically so. Some emphatically so who change their minds and even adopt.

    Traditionally, gay and lesbian people who wanted kids got married and had them so they could be traditionally raised. Same sex marriage is a new innovation in our culture.

    > As for defending traditions: traditions are only defensible to the extent they do not deny fundamental civil rights.

    Traditions are a fundamental civil right.

    I’m against group marriage as untraditional also – and I believe there really are people who love each other and want to marry in a group. Your notion that adults have a civil right to marry whomever they want would naturally expand marriage in other ways foreign to our traditions. And yes, being able to maintain some semblance of our traditional culture is a human right.

    > The only thing abolishing no-fault divorce would do is enrich lawyers and private investigators, and force poor people who have grown to loathe each other to nevertheless continue to associate with each other.

    They could see a marriage counselor and get to work. Most divorces are due to giving up when the relationship gets a little rough, not utter loathing. Divorce is way too easy.

    > To drag this forcibly on topic: the tea part movement weakens itself to the exact extent that it throws people who believe as I do out the window.

    It’s showing no signs of that yet. The Tea Partiers (including me and my wife) supported Pro-Choice Scott Brown pretty heavily.

    Yours,
    Tom

  169. Ken in sc, since Wiccans are only a tiny minority in our country, and since the Wiccan revival is barely 60 years old, the vast majority of its adherents of necessity had to have converted from other faiths. As it grows larger and older, that will gradually change.

    But I was married when I became a Wiccan 30+ years ago (back before it got all kewl&groovy); I already had all (well, most of) the sex I wanted with my wife, and my conversion did not cause me to attempt augmentation.

  170. jrok and Jay,

    You are both missing an important function of the law. People consider the law morally instructive. That’s how actual people actually behave. When we made divorce easier, people put less emphasis on staying married. If we take marriage out of the law, people will see marriage as less important. Society will suffer.

    This is exactly why people get “hung up” on words. The law matters because it teaches us how to behave.

    Yours,
    Tom

  171. >… failure to do this confirms suspicions that there’s a creeping deconstructionist nature to the SSM movement.

    Yes, that’s about the size of what I am saying. Very well put. There appears to be no coherent reason that “Gay Marriage” must stop at a binary couple. Why? Why can’t three lesbians forge an agreement that divvies up their accumulated wealth if they decide to dissolve their relationship. Oh wait! They can! They could draft a corporation. They could sign binding legal documents. They could do all sorts of things that are system is flexible enough to endure, without divining “Universal Marriage Rights” for an nth number of people.

  172. “It’s showing no signs of that yet. The Tea Partiers (including me and my wife) supported Pro-Choice Scott Brown pretty heavily.”

    I think many have bought into the media caricature. The Tea Party movement, based on all evidence so far, is for the most part (yes, there are kooky exceptions to everything) fairly sophisticated politically and philosophically — at least as far as spontaneous collective decisionmaking. It appears to be highly flexible and adaptive and mature enough not to get bogged down in self-destructive tendencies. So far, so good, and hopefully it will stay that way for quite awhile.

  173. jrok: Which of your fundamental civil rights would you put up for a public vote? The right to keep and bear arms, say? That’s what’s wrong with complaints about courts upholding unpopular civil rights. I’m not fond of legislating from the bench, but the history of our country shows that the only way civil rights get expanded to unfavored classes is by the Supreme Court.

    Aside from that, I won’t argue with you about getting government out of th e marriage business. I don’t think it shoul dbe there either…but changing that is going to be even more difficult than expanding who may marry whom as a matter of civil rights.

    Tom: Yes, your federalism on steroids idea would indeed allow that…though I’m not sure it’s workable because of the combinatorial factor involved in places that want to join others in some things but not others.

    The point is that childless couples are allowed to marry and not forced to have children or adopt. As long as that is true, complaining that gay couples can’t have children (they can adopt too!) is irrelevant, since you are placing a requirement on them that they cannot fulfill while not placing the same requirement on heterosexual couples.

  174. >I think Mormons are weirder than Wiccans

    Boy howdy, have you got that one right! People who think Wiccans are odd or freaky should dig up the Mormon skinny on the Ten Lost Tribes, planet Kolob, and how you too can be saved long after you’re dead. Mormon theo-cosmology is hair-raisingly bizarre; there’s nothing I can even compare it with for incongruous weirdness this side of Eckanckar or Scientology.

    Now playing on Pandora::Intricate Fire: “Cutaway”, from the album of the same name by Fabrizio Leo.

  175. > Tom: Yes, your federalism on steroids idea would indeed allow that…though I’m not sure it’s workable because of the combinatorial factor involved in places that want to join others in some things but not others.

    As far as the combinatorial factor – reciprocal concealed carry licenses seem to be working OK.

    Yours,
    Tom

  176. i get that he’s trying to paint a picture of a certain type or wild-eyed lefty… but, on the same grounds that you object to dragging wiccans into it, i bristle at including lesbians. the politics of gay folks are as all over the map as straight folks.
    perpetuating this idea that gay people can be grouped together as ‘the other’ is not good for the tea party movement or america. let’s stick to fiscal responsibility and leave sexual orientation and religion out of it.

  177. Salamantis, the first thing you fail to grasp is the racial angle doesn’t work on me: history is history and it’s the dustbin. The only racists now are the people trying to pimp it, such as yourself.

    Second, my ex-wife was a NewAge-believing scumbag who killed her mother and two others using nothing but her “beliefs”, so the idea I’m just barking at the moon is bullshit. A close look at my site will reveal countless NewAge killings and lies, perpetrated by you assholes as you beg for acceptance of your mindless “beliefs”. I’ve had enough of the lot of you and am merely waiting for the rest of America to catch up. You’re deranged, dangerous, and deadly – no matter how you care to portray it.

  178. Yeah, el polacko; Tammy Bruce, GayPatriot or members of the Log Cabin Republicans (disillusioned or otherwise) would be assets to any political movement.

    Andrew Sullivan? Not so much…

  179. >A close look at my site will reveal countless NewAge killings and lies, perpetrated by you assholes as you beg for acceptance of your mindless “beliefs”

    Adjust your meds, please. I don’t believe there’s been a New Ager show up in this entire thread.

    But at least now I understand why you’re a fixated crank, and feel some sympathy for it.

  180. @jay
    > Which of your fundamental civil rights would you put up for a public vote?

    Jay, where is Gay Marriage written as a fundamental civil right? Where in the Bill of Rights does it make any mention of marriage, of any kind? I admit I am not a Constitutional scholar, so I must have missed those. It sounds a whole hell of a lot more like one of those “illuminated penumbras” that judicial activists are so fond of discovering for us. how do you “uphold an unpopular right” that does not exist?

    @esr
    > Mormon theo-cosmology is hair-raisingly bizarre;
    > there’s nothing I can even compare it with for incongruous
    > weirdness this side of Eckanckar or Scientology.

    I reserve my right to call the Mormon faith “a spiraling catastrophe of lonesome prairie-born insanity.” Of course, if a bunch of Mormon minarchists want to help overturn the D.C. nannies, I’ll try to be more polite and understanding of their batshit insane religious beliefs.

  181. Jrok. “gay marriage” is not the civil right. “Marriage” is, as upheld by the Supreme Court in the decision striking down bans on interracial marriage. Since it is, participation in it cannot be properly limited by gender of the parties involved.

    As for Mormonism being prairie-born, I wasn’t aware that upstate New York was prairie country…

  182. >I reserve my right to call the Mormon faith “a spiraling catastrophe of lonesome prairie-born insanity.”

    Technically incorrect, sir, since Joseph Smith actually had his theophanic visions in New England. That is, if he wasn’t a conscious fraud and con-man, which I believe is rather more likely in this particular case.

    …Er, no, Jay Maynard is right. It was upstate New York.

  183. AFAIK esr and Morgan have never even tried to “soft-sell” their religious beliefs here or anywhere else. It probably wouldn’t work anyway. Eric appear to attract a very intelligent, literate and hard-headed bunch. Actually this blog is probably a great counterexample of the whole “wiccan, lezzie, eco-weenie” thing. The only Wiccans I’ve met here seem to fall more into the enemy’s stereotype of of Tea Partiers: “heartless, fanatically pissed-off, gun-obsessed stooges for Big Oil!” :^)

  184. Boy, you’re really into demonizing your chosen Other, based upon ideologically filtered anecdotal evidence, aren’t you? Got any statistical comparisons between Wiccans and everybody else that back up your prejudices? No? I surmised as much.

    As to someone killing other people with only their mind, I suspect that, like voodoo curses, that sorta thing requires the knowledge that such an effort is being made, and a belief of the target in its efficacy. Kinda like remote prayer for sick folks or homeopathic ‘remedies’ and other placebos. But if someone WERE able to do such a thing, the LAST thing that I would call them is ‘mindless.’

    You sound like some white guy who became a racist because some black guy mugged him once.

    And I’m not pimping racism, but neither am I turning a blind eye to theDavid Dukes and Jared Taylors of the world. And they’re not pimping racial guilt; they’re advocating institutionalized racial bigotry.

    The difference between you and the Taliban is not one of essence, but one of degree. And if you possessed the power here that the Taliban once possessed in Afghanistan, I’d bet a dollar to a donut that that degree would intensify; historically, it always does.

    btw; anuses are known by the disgusting diarrhea – or logorrhea – that they spew.

  185. Eric: if he wasn’t a conscious fraud and con-man, which I believe is rather more likely in this particular case.
    You mean L. Ron Hubbard wasn’t even original in the basics of his con?

  186. @jay
    > Since it is, participation in it cannot be properly limited by gender of the parties involved.

    Why not? Says who?? And where???

    > As for Mormonism being prairie-born, I wasn’t aware that upstate New York was prairie country…

    Yes, but I insist that it the Martian wasteland of Utah that allowed them to thrive past the normal expiration date of whacko 19th century cults. Had they limited themselves to New York, they surely would’ve been shamed and intermarried into oblivion long ago…

  187. Joe Smith was a classical snakeoil salesman, period. He liked to con foolish prospectors out of money by claiming he could mystically divine the location of deposits. I think he even expanded his game to “buried pirate treasure” and the like. The history of the Church reads like pure comedy. Not even Anton Lavey’s “Satanic Church” of L.A. was as embarrassingly fudgy about its tenets. Heck, I’m pretty sure LaVey was mostly kidding around anyway. Maybe Smith was too, and people just didn’t get the joke?

    Okay, enough Mormon bashing from me…

  188. Dragging this forcibly back on topic: I truly don’t know. How many Mormons are participating in the tea party movement?

  189. > Dragging this forcibly back on topic: I truly don’t know.
    > How many Mormons are participating in the tea party movement?

    Well, I know that Romney sure as hell isn’t…. though I suspect he’d very much like to co-opt them. Guy might be an emptier suit than Obama.

  190. >AFAIK esr and Morgan have never even tried to “soft-sell” their religious beliefs here or anywhere else.

    Part of the reason is that Wicca has a pretty strong norm against prosyletizing. We think that sudden conversion experiences tend to happen to needy, broken personalities and to produce same. Ideally, we like people to find their way to us through a relatively gradual process of increasing insight. A very common feature of Wiccan “conversion” narratives is “Wow! I’ve been one of you for a long time and didn’t know the language that applied to my beliefs!”

    The other reason in that in a very real sense we have nothing that needs selling. We’re not primarily interested in changing anyone’s state of belief. We have stuff we can do, and experiences we can offer. The interpretation you put on those is up to you; you may develop a conventionally theistic one, or an agnostic/quantum-mystical one like Morgan Greywolf’s, or a hard-shell atheist/Jungian one like mine. Where you end up in your beliefs matters much less than whether you can dance gracefully with the Gods, whatever you think they are.

    The relevant technical terms are “mystery religion” and “orthopraxy” (as opposed to “orthodoxy”).

  191. Lots of politicians would love to co-opt the movement. However, I think it will benefit from an effect I tell people about when they ask me about Internet fame: the Internet, collectively, is the world’s best bullshit detector. Politicians trying to co-opt the movement without embracing its values will quickly be called out and ejected, and may well fare worse for the attempt.

  192. I’m pretty sure that Queens elected some sort of conservative Republican pagan recently. I recall an article describing his belief system. “Theodisim?” Or something along those lines.

    Anyway like I said, I’m open-minded. All I ask is that perform the mystical rite that plagues Barney Frank with hideous boils for his role in Fannae and Freddie, sends swarms of dungbeetles to infest Harry Reid’s front lawn and cause Timmy Geitner’s lying tongue to swell six sizes bigger. Maybe if he cant understand his advice, he’ll stop listening to it.

  193. “As to someone killing other people with only their mind, I suspect that, like voodoo curses, that sorta thing requires the knowledge that such an effort is being made, and a belief of the target in its efficacy.”

    Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have?

  194. Anyway, we should get the religion out of politics in general, because it’s bad for business. But just because you don’t want your chocolate mixed with your peanut butter doesn’t mean that religion is a bad thing.

    My grandfather was an athiest, a marine veteran of World War II and the greatest American I have ever known. Me married the devout Catholic girl from around the block, one who fervently believed that a vision of the Sacred Heart rescued her from a bout of childhood spinal meningitis (which, by all rights, should’ve killed her, so who knows…) Forget political alliances – these two kooks were able to endure a Great Depression, a World War and 62 years of marriage together! Anyway, I’ll never forget how my grandfather effortlessly described what is great and good about religion, without ever partaking in it: “Religion civilizes people.”

    That’s largely rung true for me over the years. Religion presents a concrete moral framework by which people can govern their lives, and the framework is mostly full of very good ideas. People who attack religion simply because they don’t think they need themselves it are sort of missing the point.

  195. The victim’s own belief would be what kills them; the power of suggestion is a powerful thing.

  196. One time I dropped into this bar for a brew, and when I reached over for my beer, my pentacle fell out of my shirt. This H-U-G-E fellow saw it, and got the meanest look in his eyes. He leaned over me and growled, “So you’re one of those Goddamned heathens, ayy? What would you do if I wiped the f*cking floor with yer sorry voodoo ass?”

    I forced myself to smile, and my voicebox not to warp, as I answered,

  197. “Oh, I wouldn’t do a THING to you.” Then I added, in a malicious whisper, “You’ll do things to YOURSELF.”

    He blanched white as a sheet and RAN outta that bar like he’d seen Ol’ Satan himself. A little impromptu psychology saved me a regal royal asskicking that day – or worse.

  198. On (various forms of) Marriage:

    Declare that “marriage” is a word which only has meaning within the context of religion. Any given church is free to define it in any way they like. The state(s) will not use that word, because of the Constitutional separation of church and state. Then revise the various state laws to describe “civil pair-bonding contracts” or whatever, which any two (?) people (?) can arrange.

    On Secession:

    Elect representatives “at large”, with the proviso that each representative’s voting power is directly proportional to the number of votes s/he received in the previous election. The 435 most popular representatives of the 435 most popular viewpoints in the country can then dicker over legislation. Why should geography determine who represents you?

    It’s probably a bad idea to jump directly to this scheme at a Federal level. But it might be reasonable to experiment with one legislative House operating this way in a state like California, where the distinction between the two Houses is currently pretty arbitrary.

    Potential benefits:

    1) Everyone gets to feel that they are represented in the legislature. (Probably) more participation and less alienation.
    2) Minimize the evils of the seniority system. Power follows support.
    3) End redistricting difficulties (no districts!) and “safe seats”.
    4) No need for term limits.
    in each state should be elected

  199. “Boy, you’re really into demonizing your chosen Other, based upon ideologically filtered anecdotal evidence, aren’t you?”

    Yep, that’s me, and I hate everything about you. I’ve had an entire lifetime to listen to your bullshit, and see the results, and I ain’t impressed. Repulsed, actually, is more like it.

    “You sound like some white guy who became a racist because some black guy mugged him once.”

    You’ve got race on the brain, a particular sickness, manifesting in obsession, that can’t allow you to utter two words without mentioning someone’s color. Not only is it a sign of a weak mind but it’s also delusional in nature. Get help.

    “And I’m not pimping racism, but neither am I turning a blind eye to theDavid Dukes and Jared Taylors of the world. And they’re not pimping racial guilt; they’re advocating institutionalized racial bigotry.”

    Shit, I’m black and I’m not tripping on those losers. Where’s your black targets? Mexican ones? Surely, if there’s racists amongst whites there must be amongst other groups. Where’s your outrage for them – or are you just a racist against white folks (the group I’m supposing you’re a part of) Shouldn’t I hate you for being white as well? Especially since i don’t appreciate your particular compulsion to keep bringing it up when it’s not even the topic at hand? I mean, you are a racist, just one of those liberal types who only sees it when it allows you to pat yourself on the back for your liberalism.

    “The difference between you and the Taliban is not one of essence, but one of degree. And if you possessed the power here that the Taliban once possessed in Afghanistan, I’d bet a dollar to a donut that that degree would intensify; historically, it always does.”

    And what? I should be embarrassed or something for it? Ha! What part of “I hate you” don’t you understand?

    “tw; anuses are known by the disgusting diarrhea – or logorrhea – that they spew.”

    Yea, re-read your “beliefs” (best exemplified here as “Where you end up in your beliefs matters much less than whether you can dance gracefully with the Gods, whatever you think they are.) and ask yourself, who’s really bullshitting who here? me, being as straight-forward in his thinking and approach as one can be, or you guys with your made-up, baby talkish whatever you think it is belief system that you can abandon as soon as it becomes convenient?

    You’re fools.

  200. “Yep, that’s me, and I hate everything about you. I’ve had an entire lifetime to listen to your bullshit, and see the results, and I ain’t impressed. Repulsed, actually, is more like it.”

    That makes eminent sense; you viscerally despise someone you’ve never met, and just talked with on a thread for an evening, solely because he unashamedly admits to being a member of a faith you abhor. Bigotry, thy name is Cracked Emcee.”

    “You’ve got race on the brain, a particular sickness, manifesting in obsession, that can’t allow you to utter two words without mentioning someone’s color. Not only is it a sign of a weak mind but it’s also delusional in nature. Get help.”

    You just hate it when I draw valid parallels between racial and religious bigotry, doncha? But they’re there; racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance are variations on a rancid, sordid theme. How many words have you uttered without mentioning Paganism in some form – and not like I do, as an instructing object lesson in the uniform banality of prejudice, but while expressing unreasoning rage? Someone here certainly DOES need help – but it ain’t me.

    “Shit, I’m black and I’m not tripping on those losers. Where’s your black targets? Mexican ones? Surely, if there’s racists amongst whites there must be amongst other groups. Where’s your outrage for them – or are you just a racist against white folks (the group I’m supposing you’re a part of) Shouldn’t I hate you for being white as well? Especially since i don’t appreciate your particular compulsion to keep bringing it up when it’s not even the topic at hand? I mean, you are a racist, just one of those liberal types who only sees it when it allows you to pat yourself on the back for your liberalism.”

    No, I despise the racial animus I detect in the vapid rants of Jeremiah Wright, the racial supremacy upon which the North Korean philosophy of Juche is based, the conceit of Hispanic hegemonist movements like La Raza who only count themselves among the People, the fervently, piously bloodthirsty jihadists who try to deifically justify the wholesale massacre of infidels, the execution of gays, and the forced subjection of women, and I despise the twisted mind virus with which you are infected and inflicted.

    to be continued

  201. jork: … I admit I am not a Constitutional scholar, so I must have missed those.

    Errr, Tenth Amendment if I’m not mistaken.

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Put simply it’s a State’s Rights issue, although as Jay points out the SCOTUS did way in on the matter setting case law.

    I’ll state again that government (State and Federal) has no business being in the marriage business. As long as both parties are consenting adults, then the only thing the State should do is recognise the union from an administrative point of view. Marriage was founded and was for thousands of years a religious rite. Put it back there and get the red tape (and the politicians – on both sides) the hell out it!

    One other comment for jork (and any who doesn’t already get this): the Constitution doesn’t list YOUR rights, it lists the restrictions on the Government to encroach on your rights. It specifically lists a few rights that were considered vital to the founders for the continuation of the Union and to ensure that we did not fall into a state of despotism (and ignoring those rights have lead us down that very path!), but number 10 is the catch-all. It basically says that it’s up to you and your State. If you don’t like the laws in the State you’re in, vote with your feet. People who want to carry guns and wear big hats without looking stupid should move to Texas :^). People who want to marry their cousin should move to West Virginia (I’m a McCoy descendant, I can make that joke and get away with it ;^). The beauty of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself is you don’t HAVE to be a scholar to understand it. You only have to be a scholar to get around it and subvert it. They wrote it in plain English for the simple reason that anybody with basic good judgement and a 3rd grade education could understand it.

  202. > I admit I am not a Constitutional scholar, so I must have missed those.
    >> Errr, Tenth Amendment if I’m not mistaken.

    dgreer, that is what I have been saying… again and again. As when I said:

    > Mormons want to bring back polygamy? Great!
    > Throw it on referendum, or have your representatives
    > bring it to a floor vote. Don’t try to sue it into existence!

    Gay Marriage or Straight Marriage or Goat Marriage, these are all State issues. Don’t make a federal case out of it. The last thing we need is another decree from the Supremes that cements federal authority in local matters. Frankly I’m suprised no one has invoked the fucking Commerce Clause to argue Gay Mariiage yet. Seems they use that horseshit for everything else!

  203. Eric:

    I posted a comment about noon, too. It, too, didn’t appear. So I just reposted it in this format:
    ==========
    This is what I put in earlier … it never made it in either. Maybe it still won’t:
    —————–
    As a card-carrying Republican who is also a gun owner and supporter of both our military and the two most recent wars AND a Wiccan for at least the last 20 years (not to mention a shop steward for my union – sorry, I’ll stop the Gemini thang right there) AND AND AND a long-time fan and admirer of Mr. Whittle (I was plodding through Ejectia before anyone at PJM put on their first pair of fuzzy slippers), I am crushed. And a little prone to run-on sentences when I get aggitated. I’ll look into this more. I’d hate to have to stop being a fan of Mr. Whittle, but if he’s going to be ignorantly against people based on their religions, his icon has been lobbed into the empty field next door. For shame, Bill. And you call yourself an American …
    —————–
    When I said I used to hang around Bill’s site before, I meant before he got involved in PJM. Back when, sometimes, he would disappear for months, in between what I thought were brilliant essays. You didn’t know what was going on, you had the feeling that Bill was having problems of some sort, but you waited. Sometimes I would send emails in hope that he would answer so I could tell him that he could come back, that everyone was waiting for him.

    Now to be the product of unthinking bigotry like this. By someone who I respected the thoughts of. Good journies, Bill. I’m outta here, and out of PJM for good.
    ================

    So I don’t anticipate that will make it in either, nor that Bill will be aware or attentive to his slurs against people of minority religions, even if they may share his basic views in some part.

    As a Pagan, it’s what I’m used to getting.

  204. > One other comment for jork (and any who doesn’t already get this):
    > the Constitution doesn’t list YOUR rights, it lists the restrictions on
    > the Government to encroach on your rights.

    Apart from your numerous FAIL on making fun of my name, I have never described the Bill of Rights “as a list of my rights.” Although, only the most meretricious word-lawyer would try to attack someone for not agonizing over this subtle distinction… after all, it is called the “Bill” of F’n “Rights. :^)

  205. “And what? I should be embarrassed or something for it? Ha! What part of “I hate you” don’t you understand?”

    So you’re PROUD to claim membership in the American AntiWiicca Taliban movement! Way to represent! It’s better for us to know who you are, so we don’t turn our backs on you.

    “Yea, re-read your “beliefs” (best exemplified here as “Where you end up in your beliefs matters much less than whether you can dance gracefully with the Gods, whatever you think they are.) and ask yourself, who’s really bullshitting who here? me, being as straight-forward in his thinking and approach as one can be, or you guys with your made-up, baby talkish whatever you think it is belief system that you can abandon as soon as it becomes convenient?

    You’re fools.”

    So you ARE in favor of religious coercion! Glad you cleared THAT one up!

    Rather than being handed something down and blindly and dogmatically accepting that I must follow every last bit of it to the jot and tittle because the family did, I have chosen to search for myself, and to glean kernals of wisdom from every religion and philosophy in which I find them, and fashion something that makes sense to me, to the world as it is, and to my place in it. It’s called Eclectic Wicca. You may deride it as cafeteria spirituality, but I consider my spiritual plate to be much more diverse and nourishing than if I just heaped one thing on it and got outta the line. And when I find a principle that works better than the one in its place, I can change it; my faith can evolve. Yours, otoh, has been ossified for millennia, in the face of massively changing circumstances. This ain’t the Year 0 or before Middle East, and passages endorsing slavery, genocide, and the chattelhood of women just won’t cut the modern mustard for me.

    You realize, of course, that the Klan claimed Biblical justification for their views, by claiming that the mark with which God burned Hamm when he witnessed his father Noah’s drunken nakedness, signfying that all his descendents would forever be slaves, was the mark of a black skin, right? And that they burn crosses in order to keep what they consider to be the true Biblical spirit ablaze and alive? And that the reason that there are Southern Baptist and Southern Methodist churches is because they broke away before the Civil War on the slavery issue? Don’t EVEN try to make claims of spiritual pristineness to ME; I know the sad and tragic history.

    The vast majority of Christians, however, are, unlike you, decent, caring, tolerant, compassionate people, who glide over such passages, cafeteria-style. You, otoh, are treating the Bible like Islamists treat the Quran, and cleave staunchly and steadfastly to Exodus 22:18 in the King James Bible, which states “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Never mind that this passage was twisted to lend biblical justification for the Inquisition, and that the original Aramaic was not ‘witch’, but ‘poisoner’; I wouldn’t want little things like facts to get in the way of your obsessive convictions.

    You are pathetic and twisted, and I can only pity you.

  206. SamA,

    RE: Reps elected “at large”: Unbelievably bad idea. The purpose of the House is to represent people from every where, from each State. In your scheme virtually all representatives would come from CA, TX, NY, FL, and a few others, or would simply be the guy who was most “popular”. Devolving Senate races into a popularity contest is part of the formula that GOT US HERE! Senators used to be elected by State Legislatures. The reason was that (in theory) the people sent would reflect the opinions of the State at large and not just it’s biggest cities. Also, since they would have to apply to the legislature, some amount of vetting could get done before the got to the vote by local folks that new them.

    PLEASE don’t raise this suggestion around a liberal/progressive, they’d LOVE your idea. It means they’d be able to own the House out-right in perpetuity.

    Those old men that hammered this stuff out had almost 30 years to work on details like this, and they tried a number things, I’m pretty sure there’s a reason they settled on the forms they did and I think we change them at our own peril.

  207. JROK: …your numerous FAIL on making fun of my name…

    Yes FAIL, no FUN. Honest (if stupid) mistake :^).

  208. dgreer Says:
    > Yes FAIL, no FUN. Honest (if stupid) mistake :^).

    Look, next time just type “jerk” and be done with it :)

    Anyway, I didn’t make any of the claims you said I did.

  209. Salamantis!

    Bro, good seeing you out of the hidden cave under Denver! (I still visit a pace, but not as much as I used to, btw).

    Been following your posts with much enjoyment. That’s the reasoning I remember. All well spoken.

    By why do you keep feeding the troll?

    Although, far be it for me to cast aspersions on another man’s enjoyments. Carry on. I’ll just sit on this stump over here and laugh a bit.

    }:) … Kulhwch

  210. Every four years, I have to deal with someone who rails against the Electoral College as a stupid anachronism from the days when everything had to be done on horseback.

    The Electoral College is there to thwart the will of rampant populism. It means that the masochist who wants to be Presidente has to actually go to places like rural Pennsylvania, and say on camera “It’s time to reach out to those people bitterly clinging to their religion and guns…”

    Without the electoral college, those of us who don’t live in the 9 largest cities in the US could be spared the constant tirade of election ads…but I’m not sure that that peace and quiet is worth the government we’d get.

    I’ve been to two Tea Party organization meetings in two different states. I also watched the various Internet videos that caused it to ‘spontaneously’ trigger. Looks like test-marketing from here.

    Just because it started out as test marketing a new twist on the “run the rascals out’ brand of memetic dissemination, doesn’t mean it must stay that way.

    On the other hand, I pity ANYONE who gets elected on a “Tea Party” ticket once they get to Washington and tries to act on their principals. Nothing short of a full on entitlement collapse (We’re still on track for 2013 or so…) will unseat the permanent government employee unions.

  211. “Ha-Ha-Ha: I Already Have!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!”

    But you didn’t quote the rest of the passage why that reflects poorly upon the object of your misplaced derision, but upon yourself:

    but I consider my spiritual plate to be much more diverse and nourishing than if I just heaped one thing on it and got outta the line. And when I find a principle that works better than the one in its place, I can change it; my faith can evolve. Yours, otoh, has been ossified for millennia, in the face of massively changing circumstances.

    And no, I’m not gonna click over to your repulsive cesspool; I try to avoid hate sites such as yours, Stormfront, National Alliance, and the Westboro Baptist Church.

  212. Umm..reflects poorly *NOT* upon the object of your misplaced derision…

  213. >Anyway, I don’t complain about gay marriage anymore than I do Wiccans. Or Mormons, for that matter – I think Mormons are weirder than Wiccans.

    Heh. Yeah, speaking as a Mormon, Mormon theology is pretty different from other faiths. However, Mormon theology is, generally speaking, misunderstood. Those people on the show Big Love are not Mormons. Eric’s mention of the ‘skinny on the Ten Lost Tribes’ makes me wonder what he actually thinks we believe about them. Mormons believe that after the northern 10 tribes were transplanted by the Assyrians (those who survived anyway) that many of them eventually migrated to the ‘North Countries’ which could mean Asia, Europe, Scandinavia or whatever, nobody really knows. I promise that any other weird theories about where they are, are just that, weird theories, possibly professed sometime in the past by a Mormon (not speaking officially), unfortunately recorded, then latched onto by the anti-Mormon community.

    The best way to get accurate information about Mormon theology is to talk to one (same as for Wiccans I imagine).

    >the rejection of monotheism and “faith”
    I disagree with Eric’s rejection of faith. Faith is a principle of action. In its broadest definition, it is to

    1. Consider the possibility that something may be possible and

    2. To act as if it were possible in order to maximize the chances of a desired outcome.

    An athlete that visualizes himself winning a race and convinces himself that it is not only possible, but likely, thus maximizing his chance of winning, is exercising faith. It is a powerful cognitive tool and one that all people use to one degree or another. The Christian believes that if his faith is in something that is good for himself or for others, God will actually step in and make up the difference (if he asks) after the individual has pushed himself as far as he/she can go. This is most important when you are not simply trying to accomplish a task, but trying to fundamentally change your personality (or relieve intense grief) which seems, at least to me, much more difficult.

    Finally, for the person who isn’t sure about God in the first place, faith is an experiment and one that is almost always conducted with at least some small evidence to suggest the hypothesis (the existence of a loving God) is true, even if all the ramifications don’t make sense at the time.

    For the record, I don’t Dis the Wiccans.

  214. # JB Says:
    Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have?

    That depends at least partly on the enemy. It’s sometimes possible to make effective mine fields with signs that say “danger! mines!” …without placing a single mine. Of course it’s only bluffing, but does your enemy know that?

  215. “This isn’t quite ‘astroturf’. It’s test screening and audience response monitoring. It’s being carefully managed to build a tide for the mid-term elections, at which point it will likely be woven in as a strand of the Republican Coalition.”

    In other words they’re actually going to give the public what it wants? What a radical concept in national governance! ;)

  216. > People who attack religion simply because they don’t think they need themselves it are sort of missing the point.

    Interesting perspective, although this sort of thinking (“they don’t think they need [it] themselves”) has more than a shadow of self-righteousness about it.

    To me, all religions to be pretty much equally ridiculous (although if it were a competition I’d be willing to give extra points for funny costumes).

  217. esr wrote

    >The Tea Party movement is pretty well grass roots.

    That’s my impression as well. Seems to me the Republicans are trying to co-opt a grass-roots movement and mostly botching it.
    >/blockquote>
    The current crop of Republican politicians has a lot more to fear from the Tea Party folks then the Democrat leaders do. The TP folks want to kick the Democrats out of power, but they want to kick most current Republicans out of politics entirely. It seems to me that the apparent complacency of most Republicans in the face of this threat to their careers shows how badly out of touch they are.

  218. Woops …. I’ll try that again.

    ESR wrote

    >The Tea Party movement is pretty well grass roots.

    That’s my impression as well. Seems to me the Republicans are trying to co-opt a grass-roots movement and mostly botching it.

    The current crop of Republican politicians has a lot more to fear from the Tea Party folks then the Democrat leaders do. The TP folks want to kick the Democrats out of power, but they want to kick most current Republicans out of politics entirely. It seems to me that the apparent complacency of most Republicans in the face of this threat to their careers shows how badly out of touch they are.

  219. >Eric’s mention of the ’skinny on the Ten Lost Tribes’ makes me wonder what he actually thinks we believe about them.

    That they became the American Indians. Or has this bug been fixed in a more recent release?

    >Faith is a principle of action.

    Your definition of “faith” is inadequate to cover normal use of the term. Notably, it fails to make sense of common religious utterances such as “I have faith in the Biblical account of human origins” or “I have faith in the Divine Visitation.” This should be a clue that your premises are incorrect. Your athlete’s “faith” is merely practical magic, or (as some would prefer) autosuggestion; it is not only disconnected from any fundamental beliefs about cosmogeny or morality, it is not even connected to the way we ordinarily form beliefs. One does not look normally outside, see clouds, and form the hypothesis “It’s going to rain” because one wants it to rain!

    In these and other ways, your notion of “faith” is confused, incoherent, and fundamentally evasive. Here is a much simpler definition that doesn’t have these problems: “Faith” is the determination to believe something, irrespective of evidence or despite contrary evidence, because that belief makes me a more worthy person. This one does cover common religious utterances, does explain the tie to morality and cosmology, and is not confused with practical magic.

    I reject it utterly.

  220. In ‘Design for a Brain’ Ross Ashby thought ‘faith’ was what kept one part of, say, a clock running in the asbence of input from another. Not exactly cutting edge computer science anymore, but it stuck with me..

  221. esr: “I reject it utterly”

    Fine.

    But please don’t go running about the house with your hair on fire and your soiled panties on backwards when someone says something equally condemnatory about wiccans.

    Really dude, it rivals the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone that you could rant on about how badly feelings get hurt when it’s your marginal nut-job so-called wiccan thing and then turn around almost immediately and spout the most bilious things about someone else’s religion.

    Are you even marginally self-aware?

    Just askin’ …

  222. > One does not look normally outside, see clouds, and form the hypothesis
    > “It’s going to rain” because one wants it to rain!

    Sure they do esr. People always have, and always will form that hypothesis, albeit sometimes it sometimes masked in subconcious processes like “confirmation bias”. I think we evolved that function alongside our ability to reason, to prevent the complex and largely unpredictably chaos of nature from driving us stark, raving nuts (see “Rain Dances”, “Global Warming.”)

    Anyway, I think that both Wiccans and Mormons have loopy beliefs (though I still contend Mormons are far wackier), but I will defend to the death their right to practice their spluttering madness. If one could point to a basic seed of Americanism, it’s that people have an innate right to believe that Injun angels handed a magic hat full of prophecies to New Yorker who conned rich guys out of money by pretending he could find buried treasure. God Bless America!

  223. >Really dude, it rivals the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone that you could rant on about how badly feelings get hurt

    Er, what planet are you on that you think I’ve been complaining about my “feelings being hurt”? I did not spout emotional language, I did not grievance-peddle, I did not wallow in faux indignation, I did not claim some bogus right not to be offended by Whittle’s language. I gave the Tea Partiers tactical advice. That is all.

    Also, you may have misunderstood the targeting on my discussion of Chris Green’s use of the term “faith”. The Ten Tribes nuttiness is specifically Mormon, but his incoherent account of “faith” is not limited to Mormons nor is my critique of it specifically Wiccan. I spoke as an analytical philosopher addressing the general phenomenon of faith-centered religions, which I regard as forms of gibbering insanity for reasons that have very little to do with which God-names I personally choose to chant.

    Part of your confusion may arise from the fact that you are unfamiliar with any religions that are not faith-centered. This is a relatively excusable form of ignorance, but you really ought to remedy it before continuing the discussion. If you can’t get past your prejudices against Wicca, a little research into non-theistic and ultimatist forms of Buddhism might help you get a clue.

  224. Wow … excellent, excellent discussion since I left last night.

    Tom DeGisi Says: [if you're still here!]
    February 9th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Can you imagine forty Senators losing their seats over a single issue?
    _________________________________________________________

    Sure can. It’s about to happen this election, I think, and the issue will involve the bailout fiasco and its demon stepchildren.

    _________________________________________________________

    Re: Wicca, Mormons and other minority spiritual paths — remember, the Huguenots were “weird” at one time, or at least perceived as a threat. As long as a religion does no harm*, it ought not to have any relevance whatsoever in the Tea Party movement.

    *Of course, one begins to split hairs, here — there are some religions not harmful at first glance, but which are coercive and even abusive toward their congregations in ways that may prove harmful at some point in time. But that’s a topic for another tangent, I guess.

    Tom Says:
    February 10th, 2010 at 6:30 am
    To me, all religions to be pretty much equally ridiculous (although if it were a competition I’d be willing to give extra points for funny costumes).

    ROFL! Right on, brother ;) My personal take is that, as a Christian, once you strip all the dogma and trappings from Christ’s actual message, you are (well, I am) truly liberated. And it’s no stretch for me to share revulsion for “religion” with atheists, non-Christians and agnostics of all stripes. We’re all seekers after something, in our own ways.

  225. > don’t go running about the house with your hair on
    > fire and your soiled panties on backwards when someone
    > says something equally condemnatory about wiccans.

    Nah. I don’t think he’s been doing that. I think esr actually believes that there is a significantly large voting bloc out there of pagan libertarians who are potential Tea Partiers. Do I believe he’s right? Well, not really. Eric is very convincing on many subjects, but I’m not willing to take that leap just yet.

    ESR says: The American Religious Identification Survey says that as of 2008 there were at least 682,000 Wiccans in the U.S., and notes that this is likely for various reasons to be a substantial underestimate. That’s comparable in size to a small mainline Protestant denomination.

  226. esr:
    > The American Religious Identification Survey says
    > that as of 2008 there were at least 682,000 Wiccans
    > in the U.S., and notes that this is likely for various
    > reasons to be a substantial underestimate. That’s
    > comparable in size to a small mainline Protestant
    > denomination.

    Well okay. I’m willing to accept there’s a bunch of them, and that at least some of them would qualify as fiscal conservatives or libertarians of either the anarcho or minarchist variety. Like I said, Queens just elected a pagan Republican councilman, so it’s non-crazy to think that these beliefs are compatible. I do think you are worrying a little too much about it. Scott Brown’s election should satisfy any doubts that the Tea Party movement is being swallowed up by bible thumpers. That sunuvabitch is pro-choice and posed nude for Cosmo. The Tea Partiers came out in force for him. They nabbed “Ted Kennedy’s” seat.

    Mainstream people don’t seem to be obsessed with witches, warlocks, Mormons and gays. In fact, when you look at the marketplace, they seem to be okay with them. Those (hackneyed, poorly written) “Harry Potter” books have made billions of dollars. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a popular show. Mitt Romney is still preferable to Pat Quinn. Log Cabin Republicans still make better allies then the Daily Kozmonauts. Whittle’s characterization of the rent-a-mob dweebs is still funny, and doesn’t change any of the above. After all, it hasn’t changed your political ideas, and I doubt it will change the minds of any John Q. Wiccan who stares agog at the spiraling deficits, suicidal international debt, and the perpetual expansion of government powers and the welfare state.

  227. >After all, it hasn’t changed your political ideas, and I doubt it will change the minds of any John Q. Wiccan who stares agog at the spiraling deficits, suicidal international debt, and the perpetual expansion of government powers and the welfare state.

    Well, no. My concern isn’t that the appearance of bigotry will change the political ideas of libertarian and conservative Wiccans, it’s that it will drive them away from cooperating with people like Bill Whittle to achieve those ends. Which would be a bad outcome for both the Wiccans and Bill Whittle, and best avoided.

  228. # jrok Says:
    > That’s largely rung true for me over the years. Religion
    > presents a concrete moral framework by which people
    > can govern their lives,

    I am continually torn on this issue. Recently, I replied to a comment that dgreer pointing out the flaws in his philosophy, his mistaken belief that one could rationally be both a Christian and accept that the Bible was seriously wrong on some things. Although dgreer made no response to that (that I noticed anyway), I must say I was conflicted when I wrote it. What exactly is the point of tearing into the guy’s flawed belief system? Is it better to leave him in comfortable ignorance, if his flawed beliefs make him happy? Or should any decent person challenge such nonsense?

    Your point jrok only shows one side of the coin. Some of the principles of morality in some religions are surely beneficial. Some of the moral framework is good. However, lots of it is extremely oppressive. Render unto Caesar, tithe to the church, killing infidels is good, submit to the authority (including the Roman authority of Emperor Nero for example), love your enemies and so forth. If you are a sinner you will suffer the botch, and might very well die like Annanias and Saphira. (sp?)

    Most of religion offers a framework for people to live their lives in quiet obscurity, submitting to the leadership, and giving their substance to and often laying down their lives for the leadership, all in the name of a false promise of immortality and eternal rewards. To promise a reward in exchange for service when that reward will never be forthcoming is a most appalling fraud. To claim people’s lives have meaning when they don’t discourages people from seeking their own meaning in life, and consequently wastes the lives of vast swaths of humanity. It is nothing short of a tragedy. There is some good in religious codes, but for the most part it is deeply oppressive, and compromising to people’s lives and potential.

    However, religion is also a very powerful tool for keeping society running smoothly, and as someone who likes living in a smooth running society, I wonder if the preponderance of religion benefits me more that it hurts me. If everyone was truly released from the shackles of religion, and got beyond the false moral codes imposed on them, would society collapse in a heap of nihilism?

  229. >If everyone was truly released from the shackles of religion, and got beyond the false moral codes imposed on them, would society collapse in a heap of nihilism?

    “If God is dead, is anything permissible?” No…for the excellent reason that religious moral codes are epiphenominal…ah, hell, I’m going to post about this.

  230. Jessica Boxer said:
    > Most of religion offers a framework for people
    > to live their lives in quiet obscurity, submitting
    > to the leadership, and giving their substance to
    > and often laying down their lives for the leadership,
    > all in the name of a false promise of immortality
    > and eternal rewards.

    Religion is the “opiate of the masses,” eh? When can we retire this old chestnut, once and for all? Western History, removed from it’s Marxist assumptions, shows this claim to have the precise weight and substance of a gust of wind or a dry fart. You don’t have to look far for examples. For instance, religion recently played a profound role in the liberation of Eastern Europe from their atheistic Communist oppressors.

    Also, religion is rarely a functional, reliable artery of despotism. If anything, religious faith offers an unassailable, authoritative alternative to despotism. Dictators largely fear it, and rightly so! Of course there have been perverse counterexamples, whereupon despots tried to co-opt the authority of religion, and confer holy powers upon themselves. These attempts resulted in a bunch of wars and revolutions, and they still do.

    Watch Iran closely, Jessica. The next example of this phenomenon is right around the corner there. The folks who are rallying against Iranian authoritarian oppressors are not shouting “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” They are shouting “God is Great.” That is because religion is about the Rule of Law rather than the Rule of Man. It is no accident that much of modern law is a secular codification of theological law. The Bible, the Torah and the Koran are essentially legal works, wrapped in the language or mystery and ritual. Whenever post-Renaissance western governments have tried to usurp (or, in the case of Marxists, destroy) religious authority, the usual result has been for people to stand up and declare “No, Your Majesty! You are not God!” The religious impulse is anathema is dictators for that reason, because it present a sort of authority that they cannot intimidate, bribe or murder into submission.

  231. BTW, I think that Jessica anti-religious narrative of history above is a result of directed “Gramscian Damage”… one of the ideas that Eric has convinced me of since I’ve been visiting this blog.

  232. Whatever one thinks of religion, to assert that it is historically just a tool of rulers to keep the masses downtrodden is to ignore a wide swath of history. It *has* been used for that purpose, certainly, but that’s not all it’s done to the world.

    I’m not the kind of atheist who demands that it be destroyed, not only because such calls are both futile and needlessly inflammatory, but because basic fairness demands that I grant others to believe as they wish to the same extent I demand that for myself. Nevertheless, to ignore its effect on history is to delude oneself.

    There was a reply on a recent Fark thread that is far too accurate to be summarily dismissed, int he form of a reply to the “– God” billboards seen around the country: “How many millions have been killed in the name of God? Screw it. I fold. — Satan”

  233. Salamantis,

    Yeah; and the KKK is talking about those OTHER black people. Just like you, who state Wicca is that “goofy belief system most blacks regard as Satanism and want nothing to do with” are talking about those OTHER Wiccans.

    So now Bill’s a Klansman? Please. If I say something bad about the Black Panthers who intimidated voters, does that make me a Klansman too? After all, I am talking about those OTHER black people.

    The Klan thinks that all blacks are inherently inferior. There aren’t any OTHERS to talk about. In contrast, Bill made a comment about a specific subset of Wiccans. Do I have to draw a Venn diagram for you, or can you get off your high horse long enough to recognize that he didn’t attack Wicca per se, nor make any statements about ALL or even MOST Wiccans.

    That’s why I can say he’s not talking about you, any more than someone talking about Eric Cartman on South Park is talking about ESR. I use that example because it is precisely analogous. A statement about slithy toves is not a statement about all slithy things nor about all toves. A statement about “wiccan nihilist anarcho-Maoist lesbian eco-weenie anti-war protestors” is not about you, since you aren’t one of those.

    BTW, I never made the statement you attribute to me above. (That was the previous comment.) And that’s a big part of the problem here. You’re apparently so invested in your victimization that you can’t tell what people are actually saying. I know all about the bad old days when people who called themselves “Christian” did horrible things to people they called “witches”. Get over it. Bill and I aren’t going to tie you to a stake and burn you. If anything, we’ll be tied to the stakes on either side of yours.

  234. # Jay Maynard Says:
    > Whatever one thinks of religion, to assert that it is historically
    > just a tool of rulers to keep the masses downtrodden is to
    > ignore a wide swath of history.

    I never made that claim. Take out the word “just” above, and you are closer to my claim. Reminds me of health insurance reform. It is something that people want that is being used as a tool by government to assert their control over people.

    > I’m not the kind of atheist who demands that it be destroyed,

    The only way I seek to destroy religion, insofar as that is my goal, is to convince people that they are better off without it. No calls of “throw them to the lions” from me.

  235. jrok Says:
    > It is no accident that much of modern law is a secular
    > codification of theological law.

    This is a claim that one hears from religious people all the time, for example, asserting that it is OK to put the ten commandments up on a courthouse. However, it is simply wrong. It is a misinterpretation of the history of the law. Modern law finds its base in Roman law, not the Bible. The fundamental principles of the common law: arguing in court; judicial opinions; systems of appeal; the idea of judicial precedent and so forth are largely based on Islamic law, such as the fatwa.

    It is no coincidence that common law largely begun round about the time of the crusades when Kings and Lords of England brought back the ideas of Islamic law to England. Obviously that is a gross simplification, and I am not particularly familiar with Napoleonic code types of law, however, Roman law and Islamic law are the basis of modern common law practice and principles both in Britain and consequently here in the USA.

    To be clear I am not saying the the Bible has had no impact on law at all. It has as often bad as good. However the foundations of the law are *not* found in the Bible at all.

    This can most clearly be illustrated by pointing out that only two of the ten commandments are actually against the law in the USA, and the right to violate some of them is actually protected by the constitution. Far more of the laws in the Code of Hammurabi are illegal than in the ten commandments.

  236. > Reminds me of health insurance reform.
    > It is something that people want that is being
    > used as a tool by government to assert their
    > control over people.

    Aw, come on. That’s a fairly vacuous comparison. First of all, not all of the individuals in government or elsewhere are secretly “rubbing their paws with glee” at the thought of all the wonderful tools of oppression Obamacare will provide over the masses. Many (Most? All?) simply think that it is a good idea, that will be an altruistic benefit to the vast majority of people. They are *wrong*, of course, but that doesn’t mean they are all scheming Machiavellian reptile people. The law of unintended consequences probably plays as large a part in this debacle as anything else America’s socialist contingent has offered over the past generation. Puppets dancing after their strings have been cut, and whatnot.

    > The only way I seek to destroy religion, insofar as that is my goal,
    > is to convince people that they are better off without it.

    I have a feeling that your quest will be fruitless, then. Humans display a religious impulse that seems as innate as the urge to breathe or eat. If you snatch away their God, they will replace it with another. They will fill it with “Global Warming” or “Fidel Castro” or “Jedi Knighthood.” Human perception has very definite limits. Science is about weighing, and measuring and observing phenomena; Religion is about what cannot be measured, observed or explained ( In that way, it shares a lot of DNA with Art).

    Unless you can explain, well, “everything”, then religion will always arise to fill the void. And I’d wager that if you could explain everything, you wouldn’t be human anymore.

  237. > This is a claim that one hears from religious people all the time,
    > for example, asserting that it is OK to put the ten commandments
    > up on a courthouse.

    No, that’s a straw man, Jessica. I don’t care what arguments “one hears from religious people all the time.” Listen to my argument, please. Religion, insomuch as the peoples of the Book are concerned, is Law. I’m not talking about American courtrooms or other such maps. I am referring to the territory itself. Moses and Mohammed and Jesus Christ were Lawgivers, codifying into human language the laws of God, over which no man could alter or rescind. This does not discard or detract from the plebeian evolution of codified morality, or the Twelve Tables or any other deme of jurisprudence. But the notion of rights that are inalienable and innate certainly shares DNA with religious Law, in the sense that even large majorities within a population cannot legitimately rescind them, because they did not “create” them. “Self-evidence” would be considered a mockery of pure scientific thought. Not so in religious thought.

    And, even though the filter monster ate them (….or is it a Conspiracy…?), I’ll reiterate that you must watch Iran and listen to their voices closely, since you seemed to ignore the voices of the Poles who rose to throw off the shackles of their highly-evolved, rational and godless Soviet potentates.

  238. Interesting historical analysis, Jessica — (cites?)

    My view of religion is strictly personal and anecdotal. Having been raised Episcopalian, I have no bad experiences per se — more a lingering dissatisfaction and uneasiness with the whole trip. The novelty of the rituals wore off as soon as I could think cogently (around age 15), and I began to observe a mixture of attendance through obligation (the biggest percentage), desire to appear in a better light socially (next in numbers) and genuine sentiment (small, but real).

    Since then, I’ve attended services in a number of different religious houses. I’ve found the same basic spread in terms of motivation. So, if such an institution actually does provide spiritual comfort, why do I shun and dismiss it? Mostly, I believe it to be spiritually limiting.

    I don’t believe any tradition, denomination, cult or group to have “the” answer. That there is an intelligent and loving Creator force is, to me, a proven; yes, scientifically (again, see the book “The Living Energy Universe”). That there have been bright lights throughout history showing the way toward living socially correctly and personally fulfilled is also a given, to me. But again, as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pa said, anytime people start paying more attention to the organization than to the reason they organized, they’re doomed. And that is what I see religion has done.

    I don’t advocate doing away with organized religion — I think it is going to diminish (indeed, already is) of its own accord. Notice Jesus didn’t say “Whenever two or three million gather in My name, I will be with them” — He said “two or three,” period. Which says to me that His message was always intended to be an expression of eternal fundamentals, the perceptions of which were meant to be organic and evolutionary, rather than a scaffold around which to build defenses against perceived attacks against one’s world view. This requires a great deal of open-mindedness, a state from which the normal, fearful human is willfully distanced.

    The good that many do under the umbrella of the organization is always welcomed. I just happen to think that good is not confined there.

  239. >BTW, I think that Jessica anti-religious narrative of history above is a result of directed “Gramscian Damage”… one of the ideas that Eric has convinced me of since I’ve been visiting this blog.

    Ironically, I agree with Jessica. The “anti-religious narrative” long predates Communism; go read your Diderot and Voltaire. Furthermore, I think it’s largely true, at least of the post-Zoroastrian monotheisms. See my essay on Islamofascism and the Rage of Augustine. All the dominant religions of our culture were designed or redesigned as thought-control devices for tyrants.

  240. > go read your Diderot and Voltaire.

    Well, I’ve read both (though admittedly not for a very long time). His attacks on the social institution of the Catholic Church nothwithstanding – and, again these grabs for divine authority ultimately dissolved into deconstructions, rebellions and the formation of NEW faiths, not Marxist oblivion – Voltaire certainly would agree with my comment above regarding the religious component of “self-evidence”, as pertains to the legitmacy of Law. Law requires elements of faith that cannot be reasoned. Voltaire was no atheist.

  241. # jrok Says:
    > No, that’s a straw man, Jessica.

    Not so my friend. Your original claim was the religion was good because it did good things, such as Iranian revolutions. One such example you gave was that the law was a codification of theological thought. This is simply speaking incorrect. Law is a codification of secular thought.

    > itself. Moses and Mohammed and Jesus Christ were Lawgivers,

    Yes, but they didn’t give their law to us, did they?

    > But the notion of rights … cannot legitimately rescind them,
    > because they did not “create” them.

    I hope you will agree that the notion of “rights” is distinct from the notion of “law”. However, the fact is that without exception, rights can be rescinded, it just takes more votes than changing “law”. I have read Hayek’s “Law, Liberty and Legislation”, which might be the source of your argument, however, I think the distinction he makes between the three doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. The idea of a self evident law is just a societal meme that we think is self evident because it is so ingrained in our social consciousness. Nonetheless, it is still just an artificial construct. (Whether by the artifice of Jesus, Jefferson or some other, I don’t know.) Clearly there are things that were self evident that are no longer so, such as that the Black man was subhuman, or than women could not be trusted in business, or that the Indianapolis Colts would win the Superbowl.

    > I’ll reiterate that you must watch Iran and listen to their voices

    Yes, we will see. What will they replace it with? To throw off the shackles of one oppressor and take up the chains of another is not progress, though it might be beneficial to US foreign policy. However, if they truly do release themselves from oppression, and do so on the basis of religion, then kudos religion. Do you think that afterward there will finally be religious freedom in Iran?

    Nonetheless, the point you’re making is the point I made originally, namely that although religion is bad for individuals, there is some reason to believe it might sometimes be good for society as a whole, lest the masses, bereft of purpose or meaning, might descend into nihilistic chaos. This is the source of my dilemma.

  242. Jessica Boxer said:
    > However, the fact is that without exception, rights can be rescinded,
    > it just takes more votes than changing “law”.

    This is both a particularism I did not mention and is incorrect. This is only a “fact” in the realm of Utilitarian thought that you are participating in, and is not evidence in itself of anything, Of course laws can be artificially changed, and innate rights stripped and vandalized. Throw a rock and you will hit a society in which rights are arbitrary assigned and repealed. This is known as the “Rule of Man. ” But it doesn’t actually remove the “right,” which is self-evident. Yes that is a religious expression. it is the only way to express such authority, since it cannot be observed.

    > Clearly there are things that were self evident that are no longer so,
    > such as that the Black man was subhuman, or than women could
    > not be trusted in business, or that the Indianapolis Colts
    > would win the Superbowl.

    Okay, now you have turned a single straw man into a straw army. And really, I think you’ve destroyed the central thesis of your own Secular Law argument. For instance, I have run afoul of deeply confused schools of thought that suggest that, while reality has an unalterable moral dimension from which rights are derived, that morality has no specific “religious” (insitutional) expression. Well, that’s nonsense. The self-evidence of “the Black man was subhuman” and the self-evidence of “all Men are created equal” are not at direct odds with each other in the realm of pure reason (as long as “Blacks” aren’t “Men” then they aren’t equal), they are deeply conflicted in expression. Again, it is no accident that underlying “societal meme” of the Abolitionist movement was rooted in religious expression, just it is no accident that Martin Luther King was a preacher and Biblical scholar. When social utility provides for a society that is functional but fails to be morally “good”, religion is what is left.

    > Yes, we will see. What will they replace it with?

    We shall see. Although the potential for it to be “worse” is marginal.

    > However, if they truly do release themselves from oppression,
    > and do so on the basis of religion, then kudos religion.

    Tragically, pure reason cannot free them from oppression. Whatever Constitution they build must transcend the Rule of Man, or else it will regress into socialism, utilitarianism, injustice and, eventually, tribal war. Or can you hand me an unambigouse string of modern atheist nations in which this has not the case, Jessica?

  243. Man, the WordPress filter is killing me today. Now I know why Eric was so frustrated.

  244. “The self-evidence of “the Black man was subhuman” and the self-evidence of “all Men are created equal” are not at direct odds with each other in the realm of pure reason (as long as “Blacks” aren’t “Men” then they aren’t equal), but they became deeply conflicted in expression.”

    Just wanted to make that sentence clearer. It’s very important. Pure reason cannot account for the statement “All men are created equal.” And no, no, no this is not a puzzle for evolutionary biologists, geneticists, etc. It exceeds reason because the statement itself refers to a moral arrangement that is not observable: “Created by who?” “Equal in what way?” In some ways, the statement actually defies evidence. Individuals do not value each other equally, nor are we all clones with the same inherent abilities and flaws.

  245. jrok:

    But it doesn’t actually remove the “right,” which is self-evident. Yes that is a religious expression. it is the only way to express such authority, since it cannot be observed.

    Sorry, I don’t buy this. The Founding Fathers wrote that rights were “God-given” because that was the metaphor of the times, but they need no God to grant them, just as the universe did not need to be created. (See A Brief History of Time.) Those rights are inalienable not because they were granted by some putative supreme being, but because they cannot be validly infringed by a free society and that society remain free.

  246. Wow, Jrok, that’s the exact same point that evil right-wing klansman Thomas Sowell recently made. Amazing.

    Kind of puts Salamantis’ efforts on my behalf in perspective, don’t it? Hey Salamantis:

    Don’t be racist against the white guy!

  247. >Pure reason cannot account for the statement “All men are created equal.”

    Sure it can. You have to read it through two filters. One is deism, in which the creator-god was identified with the laws of nature. The other is game theory; instead of reading it as a descriptive statement, you need to read it in the same way it’s actually applied, as a deontic normative statement. It unpacks as follows: “In a society which seeks to defend the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the ground rule that all men are equal before the law is not contingent but essential.”

    Not only is this a statement that can arise from rational analysis, there was an entire tradition of English republicanism that actually did that analysis — and at least one previous revolution (of 1688) in which it played a central role. The founders of the U.S. viewed themselves, with reason, as the direct heirs of the English republican tradition. What you have here is an axiom of republicanism expressed in Deist language.

  248. Eowyn,

    > Sure can. It’s about to happen this election, I think, and the issue will involve the bailout fiasco and its demon stepchildren.

    Nah. Fifteen max, and I should have said 44 (4/9ths), not 40 (4/10ths).

    All,

    The Mormons I know are all even more normal than the Wiccans, since none of them played D&D. One did play the string bass like I did. That’s not normal, maybe even less normal than D&D.

    Yours,
    Tom

  249. > One is deism, in which the creator-god was identified with the laws of nature.

    Or Christianity. Issac Newton is perhaps the most notable Christian who believed this.

    > What you have here is an axiom of republicanism expressed in Deist language.

    Christian language. The vast majority of the Founders were Christian, not Deist. A very significant fraction were actually Christian ministers.

    Yours,
    Tom

  250. esr:
    > Sure it can. You have to read it through two filters.

    Okay, I’ll try.

    > One is deism, in which the creator-god was identified
    > with the laws of nature.

    I don’t care what language any one person uses for the “creator-god.” It is a religious expression, because it cannot be properly observed and measured. Reasoned observations of nature can very easily be seen to conflict with maxims such as “All men are created equal”, just as they can very easily be used to support Utlitarian schemes. My evidence for this is: they have been used that way! Stripped of the immeasurable moral arrangement, all an immoral utilitarian has to do is twiddle the dials a little bit, and he can make “All men are created equal” mean whatever it is convenient for him to mean. For example, he can twiddle the definition of “men” and “equal.” And, funny enough, that is exactly what happened.

    Moreover, I’d argue that “nature” is a specious God for free men who seek to defend one another from tyranny, even at the cost of their own lives. That’s why reason is a necessary component of a free society, but not a sufficient one. The bulk of nature is not full animals willing to die to protect another’s liberty. It is full of selfish “gene-machines” in search of food and sex. Nature is the male lion who prowls around eating the cubs of other male lions wherever he finds them. Nature is the hurricane and the tornado and the flood. The Laws of Nature are in conflict with something that is unique to men. Much has been written and spoken about this, and that “something” has not yet been discovered under a microscope somewhere.

    >“In a society which seeks to defend the rights to life,
    > liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the ground rule
    > that all men are equal before the law is not contingent
    > but essential.”

    Great. Why is a society seeking these things? We can become fastidious and say things like “Oh, well, a free society has been proven scientifically a better model than fascism, and individual freedom is more desirable than the utility of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’” But these are polemics, too.

    > The other is game theory…
    > It unpacks as follows: “In a society which seeks to defend
    > the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the
    > ground rule that all men are equal before the law is not
    > contingent but essential.”

    Cool. But, where was “game theory” when these ideas were coalescing into a tactile reality? Hovering just beneath the surface. But game theory does not defeat tyranny by itself, because equality under the law doesn’t necessarily account for why societies shouldn’t freeze the application of that equality to a dominant group, and enslave large groups of people to do the hard work for them. This is precisely what happened in America. It is also happened in Jessica’s virtuous pre-Christian Rome. Why is that?

    > The founders of the U.S. viewed themselves, with reason,
    > as the direct heirs of the English republican tradition.
    expressed in Deist language.

    We could argue forever why the founders expressed republicanism in a Deist language. But we don’t need to, because my argument don’t require that the individuals themselves believed in Deism (or Christianity, or any other religion) All I require is that Deism is a religious expression, which it is, and that “self-evident truths” are immune from deconstruction, which they are.

  251. I said:
    > All I require is that Deism is a religious expression,
    > which it is, and that “self-evident truths” are immune
    > from deconstruction, which they are.

    By the way, I think it is a darn good thing that Deism was a religious expression, rather than a secular one. Consider the following:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
    that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
    that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    (All right!! *thumbs-up*)

    Now consider this:

    “We hold these theories to be broadly desirable and
    supported by game theory, that all men are created equal, that
    they are endowed by Doug Walsh with certain unalienable Rights,
    that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    (Uh-oh)

  252. @The Crack Emcee

    Good read. It reminds me very much of Sowell’s great “Conquest and Culture.” It was probably one of the more fascinating and defensible works on the subject I’ve read. I am a big fan of Sowell.

  253. jrok Says:
    > “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
    > that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
    > that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    See, here is what I think is interesting: Thomas Jefferson may have thought it was “self evident” that “all men are created equal.” But for him to conclude so leads one to think he was using the leaves of all his hemp plants in a way that would no longer be considered acceptable for politicians.

    If you look at the world of Thomas Jefferson it was far from obvious that all men were born equal. There was huge inequities that derived from the circumstances of their birth. He made the claim that, despite the reality observed, that men “are” created equal. That seems an extraordinary claim that demands strong evidence to back it up, but Jefferson offers none, except some handwavy reference to the “Creator.”

    Perhaps there are some subtleties of 17th century language here that I don’t get, but the claims that he made here seem to be pretty unsustainable. I can only assume that the language is meant to mean that in Jefferson’s opinion that it was self evident that all men *should* be created equal, and that that was the Deity’s intention, but, from the moment of conception, something go screwed up.

    I am a libertarian, but I no more hold Jefferson as scripture than I hold scripture as scripture. People are what they are, and for sure, they are NOT created equal, even in today’s egalitarian societies. I think all *should* be equal before the law, simply because that is the best defense of liberty and justice. As I said in another comment, we defend the moats and outer walls so that we don’t have to defend the King’s bedroom.

    I don’t believe in a creator, so I must also conclude that he doesn’t bestow anything on us, even such attractive rights, that also is far from self evident. Rights, just as law, is a human construction. No doubt it is a memetically derived thing, designed to effectively propagate a society, and I think that is a good thing for me and my genes.

  254. >The Laws of Nature are in conflict with something that is unique to men.

    Sorry, but this is nonsense on stilts. It’s broken in exactly the same way as the “god of the gaps” counter to naturalism and Steven Jay Gould’s “separate magisteria” horse-puckey.

    To see why, read this — in particular, the demonstration that the autonomy account of free will is untenable. This argument readily generalizes to any quality that you suppose to be “unique to men” and in conflict with the laws of nature.

  255. > If you look at the world of Thomas Jefferson it was far from
    > obvious that all men were born equal. There was huge inequities
    > that derived from the circumstances of their birth.

    Yeah, but It wasn’t just “far from obvious.” In many ways was in direct contradiction to reality. The idea itself has intellectual forebears in England, but the “Tabula Rasa” of the new World seemed to imbue it with a new meaning and possibility. They could start from scratch. All they needed was an ethos which could not be challenged or changed by any mortal man or group of men. Is it really so difficult to see the religious dimension inherent in this ethos? Would it be less scary if we called it “spirtual”? Maybe, but I think it would also be less correct, since it excludes the institutionalization of the ethos.

    > He made the claim that, despite the reality observed, that men
    > “are” created equal. That seems an extraordinary claim that
    > demands strong evidence to back it up, but Jefferson offers none,
    > except some handwavy reference to the “Creator.”

    Maybe he wasn’t being “handwavy” at all? Maybe he was expressing his own innate religious instinct, in the best and most useful way he could? I suppose Martin Luther King could’ve had a “well documented theory” rather than a “dream”, but would it have meant the same thing? Maybe an expression of what is unobservable and perhaps even irrational but still somehow “true” is the part of human experience that Religion and Art explain when Science cannot?

  256. esr said:
    > Sorry, but this is nonsense on stilts.

    Hmm… compelling argument.

    >To see why, read this…

    Nah, don’t think I will. You’d have to sell it better than “nonsense on stilts”, you dark magician, you.

  257. @Crack Emcee: For the last time: Wiccans aren’t New Agers and an interest in alternative medicine doesn’t make one a New Ager or a Wiccan. Not all alternative medicine is superstitious claptrap. For example, an herbalist might recommend willow bark tea for a headache. This will work and for completely normal scientific reasons: willow bark contains salicylic acid, a drug that was patented by Bayer AG under the brand name “Aspirin”. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The sad thing is that there a plenty of plants that are similarly pharmacological in nature, but the drug companies have had such an adverse affect on the medical establishment that you will have a hard time finding a physician who will recommend natural herbs for the treatment of any disease or disorder. Sad, really.

    @Tom DeGisi: Newton was also a Freemason who lived during the the early Enlightenment period (indeed, he has been given credit for being one of the primary movers in the creation of the “Age of Enlightenment”. Given that Sir Isaac Newton has been characterized as a highly unorthodox Christian, and that he was also an occultist and studied Biblical hermeneutics, it’s likely that Newton’s religious beliefs were more in line with the Deism that was quite popular amongst the learned men who were his contemporaries.

    @Everyone else, re: The Founding Fathers: The term Creator as used in the Declaration of Independence has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian God. Try googling “Creator Declaration of Independence”. That particular misrepresentation is one of my biggest pet peeves.

  258. > That particular misrepresentation is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    The revisionist history that the Founding Fathers were Deists rather than Christians is one of my biggest pet peeves. They sat in Christian churches and listened to Christian ministers preach for hours from the Bible. Some of them reacted to being called Deist as if it were an insult. I’m not buying it.

    Yours,
    Tom

  259. @morgan greywolf says:
    Who said anything about a Christian God? Are you saying all articles of faith are “Christian?” Perhaps Jefferson’s Creator was the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who, upon endowing us with our rights, exploded into a cloud of marinara? Just because it isn’t specifically Christian doe not mean it isn’t a religious expression. I assumed you of all people would sign off on that.

  260. Morgan Greywolf,

    Stop. Now.

    I’ve heard everything you’ve said a billion times before and know much, much better than you, based on the evidence you’ve bought that bullshit line (your precious aspirin is measured to the ‘nth’ degree where herbs ain’t, plus the way you hypocritically bring aspirin up before dissing drug companies – it’s such a tired approach by this time I wonder how anyone else falls for it), plus you’ve simplified my position (on all of it) to the point it’s unrecognizable to me even as my position – because it ain’t. Everything you say is a flimsy cover for lies and I ain’t buying:

    You’re NewAgers, “alternative” medicine is bullshit (otherwise it would be “medicine”) and NewAgers can all kiss my black ass. I’ll even help by bending over. Here, pucker up:

    I am your sworn enemy.

  261. BTW, if you look at the Wicca post I put up yesterday, you’ll notice Chris Locke’s quote stating even NewAgers don’t want to be known as NewAgers – but that’s what you are, you just want to hide it. And it’s always funny how all these non-NewAgers rush to defend “alternative” medicine – which sprang out of the NewAge movement – which clearly indicates that whatever you see yourself as (remember: you’re NewAgers) you don’t mind supporting tenets of the NewAge movement. Especially the one known for killing people on a regular basis.

    You’re liars. I will never trust you. I will never accept what you say. You’ll lie as normally as you fart. (Your fallback position is “I don’t care” which I’ve heard so often, once I prove something, it ain’t funny.) So, I know, there’s no point in discussing anything with you. Your government is in power – and they suck. Your answers to healthcare suck. Your “spiritual” beliefs are all in your head – and they suck. Your environmentalism is a bunch of stupid lies – and it sucks.

    Your clumsy attempts to make the rest of us live under your vision for us – or even accept you as an authority on anything – is enough, for me, to want to see you all dead. And I do.

    Seriously, MG, don’t waste your breath on me:

    You’re gonna need it.

  262. Allow me to suggest an alternate statement to “All men are created equal” which should make clear the meaning of equal I prefer, and why I don’t believe it requires any sort of religious belief. “An inherent right for one person to rule another person does not exist” or alternately “can not be observed”. This formulation is at odds with rights to control based on material outcomes: the best interest of the ruled, the divine right of kings, the divine right of the educated, might makes right, and any of a number of reasons given to justify various forms of control. It is inherently un-religious, as it does not assert the existence of anything which is un-observable. Every justification I’ve seen for treating people as unequal depends on accepting some sort of axiomatic belief in the superiority of some individuals over others.

    I started to write more on this, but it was going to turn into a multi-page post if I kept going, and would either take a lot of time and energy to fine tune.

  263. Another way to put it is this, if you asked Americans in 1790 whether the Founders were Christian or Deist, what would they say?

    How about 1800? 1810? 1820?

    Or another way is, when did people start maintaining the Founders were Deist? And when did they start maintaining the Founders were Christian?

    I submit to you that the answer to the first question is: relatively recently, and the answer to the second question is: during the Revolution.

    If I’m right, the notion that the Founders were Deist is revisionist.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    Maybe you can extract Deist ideas from many of the Founder’s writings and speech. This does not meant they were Deists, only that Deism influenced their beliefs. Ayn Rand has influenced my beliefs, but I’m not an Objectivist.

    Yours,
    Tom

  264. >I am your sworn enemy.

    Fine. You’re an obsessive nutter who won’t listen to evidence and you hate us because you think we’re something we’re not. We’ve got that.

    Now go away. I don’t hate you, but you’ve used up my sympathy on account of the shitty things your ex-wife did. You’ve made deadly threats against people who tried to be reasonable with you. I in turn promise you that if you ever try to execute on those threats within reach of me, I will shoot you dead. You’re done here.

  265. Phlinn said:
    > “An inherent right for one person to rule another person does not exist”
    > or alternately “can not be observed”

    If what you say is true, then an inherent right for one person to sell goods and services to to another person does not exist either (or alternately “cannot be observed”)

    And unless you can explain to me how I can observe the inherent right people have to be free, even your original statement seems contradictory. And I can show you more “hard evidence” than you can show me that people do *not* possess that inherent right, because history is replete with slavery, and slavery persists to this day in many forms the world over. Yet, slavery is wrong, and must be extinguished. Why? It’s difficult to say, but you won’t find the answer in Science. Science, while glorious and useful, will give you the cold shoulder on that question, or, worse. flip you some jive about “semi-autonomous computational theories of mind.” It’s not the fault of Science, either. It is genetically unequipped to answer a question like “Of what use is a man?” or “Why are we here?”

    So this argument doesn’t cut it for me. Sounds like a way to try to artificially circumvent or extract articles of faith, by using “sciency” language.

  266. >Or another way is, when did people start maintaining the Founders were Deist?

    The context required to understand their Deism was largely lost, along with Deism itself, during the “Second Great Awakening” of Christian revivalism in the early 1800s. It was after that that the revisionist notion that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were ornamented with Christian piety took hold.

  267. Eric, I was wondering how much longer you were going to put up with The Crack Emcee. Persistently labeling all Wiccans as New Agers in the face of efforts to explain the difference is the kind of deliberate ignorance that crosses the line into stupidity, and your tolerance for that is usually much lower…

  268. I was afraid Eric was going to ban me for continually asking him to cast spells on our political enemies. :^)

  269. >That they became the American Indians. Or has this bug been fixed in a more recent release?

    The Mormon position is that many Native Americans are decedents of two small groups of Israelites (mostly members of Benjamin and Judah) who migrated to the Americas during the reign of Zedakiah (around 500 BC). When the Bible refers to the lost tribes, it is usually referring to the 10 lost tribes of the Northern Kingdom. The Mormon position is not that all native Americas are direct decedents of these groups or that there was nobody living in the Americas before the two Israeli migrants arrived.

    >Your definition of “faith” is inadequate to cover normal use of the term.

    Not a problem. I don’t think the normal use of the term is how it was ever meant to be understood. However, it is easy to understand why someone might define religious faith based on his observations of ‘blind faith’ since so many people operate that way.

    Also, autosuggestion and the process you describe “see clouds, and form the hypothesis ‘It’s going to rain” because one wants it to rain!’ ” might not be so far apart as one might think. The two processes are indistinguishable to God and the point of life, at least from a Mormon Christian perspective is to become more like God, and not just in the traditional sense of being good so you can form a halo and sing songs on a cloud after you die.

  270. jrok: One of the slogans of the American Revolution (especially in New England) was “No King But Jesus“.

    ESR: Ever heard of Florence King? Old friend of William F. Buckley, National Review contributor – and as it happens, a lesbian. In 1985, she published a memoir which included a lesbian affair she had in grad school. Soon afterwards

    I was invited to speak at a weekend retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains put on by a gang of muff-diving Druids whose flyer said: ‘Corn-worshipping Festival, Witchcraft Workshop, Automatic Writing Demonstration, Logic-Is-Dead Bonfire, Nude Dancing, Vegetarian Cafeteria, Non-Smokers.” I returned the flyer with a note across the top: It’s time you knew I’m a Republican.”

  271. @esr: Just pointing out the obvious, but the crack about healthcare makes the Crack Emcee sound an awful lot like ‘Tony Johnson’.

    @Chris Green

    The Mormon position is that many Native Americans are decedents of two small groups of Israelites (mostly members of Benjamin and Judah) who migrated to the Americas during the reign of Zedakiah (around 500 BC). When the Bible refers to the lost tribes, it is usually referring to the 10 lost tribes of the Northern Kingdom. The Mormon position is not that all native Americas are direct decedents of these groups or that there was nobody living in the Americas before the two Israeli migrants arrived.

    That’s the kind of stuff esr’s referring to. Based on anthropological studies, it’s very unlikely that Native Americans were decendents of Israelites, but were, instead, decendents of Eurasian people who came across the Bering Strait. There is no evidence whatsoever for the Biblical stance that humans all came from the area around Israel. All evidence points to human life beginning in the African savannah and spreading from there.

  272. One of the slogans of the American Revolution (especially in New England) was “No King But Jesus“.

    Mm hmmm. Your ignorance of American history is showing. The Founding Fathers weren’t the people on the frontlines shouting “No King But King Jesus”; they were the planners and the architects of the nation. Some, like Washington, were directly involved in the Revolution, but as Generals and Officers, not as common soldiers; others had no direct part in the fighting at all.

    The Deist movement in America and Europe was mostly confined to the educated, affluent classes. The common man, the average farmer or even many a tradesman wasn’t likely to be a Deist or a Freemason: he was more likely to be protestant Christian. These were the men who were the foot soldiers shouting “No King But Jesus.”

  273. Jrok: Let me bite, and start giving you a stripped down materialist approach to morality. The wording may not be pefect, although I’m trying to be careful not to overstate the strengths and weaknesses of such a system.

    1. There is no such thing as an inherent right outside of human perceptions.
    2. Therefore, everyone has equal rights, since 0 = 0.
    3. Observably, People do not like being killed or harmed on a whim. Specifically, I don’t particularly want to have to fight for everything I do.
    4. Observably, the most efficient way for 2 individuals not have to worry about killing each other is to voluntarily agree not to do so.
    5. Observably, since most people have no desire to cause harm to others, it’s efficient to optimistically assume any given individual agrees to mutually recognize a right to not be killed, although it’s wise to prepare for the individuals that don’t.
    6. We can define the phrase ‘equal right’ or as a shortcut to describing all such mutually recognized rights. This corresponds well to standard usage of the term.

    Now we have a working definition of equal rights based solely on observable facts. Let’s move on to consequences of using this as a starting point.

    7. Any initiation of force without provocation proves that the individual does not accept equal rights in at least some cases. Therefore, that individual has no legitimate cause for complaint when someone else chooses not to recognize that right with regards to him.
    8. The specific value of any specific right is not measurable, although some rights may be dependent. Thus it is impossible to prove that you can validly respond to a violation of right A with a violation of right B unless you can prove B is dependent on the existence of A.
    9. Mercy and charity have observable long term benefits. I engage in them in part so that I can legitimately hope for them in the future if need arises. However, lack of charity and mercy is not a violation of equal rights.

    Do you see any way to make slavery compatible with a system of mutually recognized rights? Voluntary trade is. Therefore, with this approach, neither is an inherent right, but one of the two leaves someone outside the default protection of equal rights. It is in my own best interest to fight slavery, lest I be enslaved myself.

  274. > It is in my own best interest to fight slavery, lest I be enslaved myself.

    It is in my own best interest to fight abortion, lest I be aborted myself.

    Yours,
    Tom

  275. >If you get a reputation as a liar, you can find a new group easily enough. The slut can become a virgin by moving a couple of towns over.

    But when the liar moves, he still takes his attachment to lying as a coping strategy with him. When the slut moves, likewise. These behaviors are quite likely to persist and get them in the same trouble again. Social mobility relieves very little of the pressure on you if – as is the case with moral failings – you take your problems with you when you go.

    Also consider that one of the effects of the Internet is to make it more difficult to escape their past embarrassments. I think we may be returning to something more like the fishbowl that was life in small communities.

  276. Tom DeGisi Says:
    February 11th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    > It is in my own best interest to fight slavery, lest I be enslaved myself.

    It is in my own best interest to fight abortion, lest I be aborted myself.

    ___________________________________________________________

    It’s becoming a bit of a tired chestnut, but nonetheless true: If our mothers had opted for “choice,” we wouldn’t be here. (Of course, some would say no great loss, but …..) Good one :)

    As I read the arguments pro and con vis-a-vis acceptance of (or non- thereof) individual outlier beliefs belonging to those seeking entry into the Tea Party tent, I’m struck by something that has stood in good stead throughout history: that is, if something is gold, it will endure. If it’s rotten, it will decompose. It’s not really for us to split hairs about individual “beliefs,” especially at this exciting juncture in history.

    Indeed — now is our chance to put our libertarian money where our mouths are. We stand for the bare minimum structure, governing-wise, yes? Well, then, let’s KEEP it bare minimum. No matter WHAT our individual beliefs, we all agree on a bare-bones, basic governing structure. The whole point is to GUARANTEE we can KEEP our individual beliefs.

    Now. Having said that, it’s entirely possible some nut group like Raelians, or whomever, might get it in their heads to cause harm to others in their insane quest toward “enlightenment” or whatever. And, in this discussion board, you can add several “New Agers,” Scientologists, or whatever into that category.

    But I say again: If it’s rotten, it will decompose. If such a group attempts to gain some kind of influence, a la Scientology’s attempt to take over an entire Florida town, I submit that under small governance, its neighbors will swiftly and effectively ~take care of them.~ I know I’d surely grab my Glock, if need be, and help make it happen.

    But Wiccans? No. I’ve taken the trouble to get to know not only this “religion” but also several practitioners. The “religion” is not a ~religion,~ per se. It’s a collection of pagan (that is, pre-Christ) lore passed down through many human generations with Nature as its guiding light. And, frankly, I like that. I am a close-to-nature kind of person myself — I eschew pharmaceuticals in favor of herbal remedies, being as that’s what’s always worked, and pharmas themselves had their basis in herbs before synthesization became the mode ju jour –

    The point is, I’m not a Wiccan, nor will I ever be. But these folks are not only harmless, they’re beneficial. Only once did I meet a Wiccan couple who walked the walk, but who were in fact Satanists, and I knew from talking to them for five minutes they were the wrong answer.

    Real Wiccans (at least in my experience) want what the rest of us libertarians want: enough structure in government to keep us from annihilating each other, but otherwise, get the @#$% out of my life.

    So, just let ‘em. Judge them as we ourselves will one day be judged — on an INDIVIDUAL basis. (There’s that magic libertarian word!) If they’re rotten, they’ll decompose. If they’re gold, they’ll endure. Just like the rest of us.

  277. > If our mothers had opted for “choice,” we wouldn’t be here…. Good one :)

    Thanks. I was two months premature, which makes me especially sensitive about late term abortions. Are preemies in the neo-natal unit fair game? Had someone tell me once that what makes a baby homo sapiens a human person with rights is drawing breath. Right. If he would have pulled my other leg that hard I wouldn’t need gravity boots.

    Yours,
    Tom

  278. Tom,

    If the libs had their way, you’d have been winnowed out long ago.

    Thank God you weren’t.

    HELLO, any lib readers — how do you justify this little conversational digression? How do you account for someone actually LIVING, that, if you had your way, should have been aborted?

    Furthermore:

    Who is now slicing, dicing and julienning you?

    Bet you wish you’d figured out how to kill this particular fetus before it grew up to bite you. Come on, sweet cakes — admit it!

    Of course, if you were SMART, you WOULD have neutralized this particular fetus. But you didn’t. Now it has grown up to bite you in the @$$.

    Back to the track — see what I mean? We need … we NEED … any and all surfs of all curls. Governmentally speaking, we only need the slenderest of scaffolds.

    The rest will take care of itself.

  279. @Phlinn

    Here is my reponse to each (sorry if it sounds glib, but I’m rushing off to dinner with the wife)

    (1) is an unfalsifiable proposition that is highly dependent on the term “perception”, which is nullifyingly vague.

    (2) null because “1″ is unfalsifiable.

    (3, 4, 5) Are not observable, reproducible scientific claims, not inside the small bounds of game theory. “Sciency language, but not science.

    (6) Not sure about this one. I’ve not so familiar the term “equal right”, only “equal rights”, e.g. comparative freedoms of two or more individuals. And the comparative rights in question aren’t mutually recognized, they are “self-evident,” and thus require no justification or agreement. In other words, even if you claim that you yourself don’t have the right to free speech, you are wrong. You do have that right.

    (7,8,9) are highly dependent on (1-6) and it turns out I don’t agree at all that 1-6 is settled. So I need to wave goodbye to them.

  280. Tom: I maintain that a fetus becomes a baby when it demonstrates its ability to survive without being plumbed up to another human. I’ve got no problem with substituting machinery for that. The host has an absolute right to control her own body; if she doesn’t have that, how can she be said to have any rights at all? If she does, then she has the absolute right to terminate a pregnancy. She does not have the right to go out of her way to kill the fetus in the process, but if its death is an unavoidable result of the process, then that’s too bad.

    Eowyn: Huh? Just how did you reach the conclusion that Tom should have been aborted in the mind of a liberal? I’m not aware of any of them who are calling for mandating any abortion at all.

    More generally: To tie the tea party movement to either side of the abortion debate is to destroy it. The anti-abortionists need to fight their own battles.

  281. >More generally: To tie the tea party movement to either side of the abortion debate is to destroy it. The anti-abortionists need to fight their own battles.

    Agreed. The Tea Party movement deserves a better fate than to be ruined by infiltrating religious conservatives.

  282. > Tom: I maintain that a fetus becomes a baby when it demonstrates its ability to survive without being plumbed up to another human. I’ve got no problem with substituting machinery for that.

    This is why I’m looking forward to artificial wombs. Alot of people do and will agree with you.

    > If she does, then she has the absolute right to terminate a pregnancy.

    This is why I’m looking forward to more and safer ways to terminate a pregnancy without killing the baby. More ways, you ask? Ever heard of a C-section?

    > Eowyn: Huh? Just how did you reach the conclusion that Tom should have been aborted in the mind of a liberal? I’m not aware of any of them who are calling for mandating any abortion at all.

    Actually that was a bit of a leap. Although some people do seem to think Sarah Palin should have aborted Trig. But maybe I’m reading their minds incorrectly.

    > Agreed. The Tea Party movement deserves a better fate than to be ruined by infiltrating religious conservatives.

    I’m not asking the Tea Party movement to become the Pro-Life movement. I’m inviting people to join the Pro-Life movement.

    OTOH, if the Tea Party movement ever decides to push the Pro-Life people out – as some Republican moderates have been trying to do in the Republican party – than the Tea Party movement will also be ruined.

    Pro-Tea Party Pro-Abortion people need to tolerate Pro-Tea Party Pro-Life people and vice versa.

    Yours,
    Tom

  283. Tom:

    OTOH, if the Tea Party movement ever decides to push the Pro-Life people out – as some Republican moderates have been trying to do in the Republican party – than the Tea Party movement will also be ruined.

    My point exactly. The abortion debate is orthogonal to what the Tea Party is trying to accomplish.

  284. I think everyone can agree that the Tea movement is doomed if it makes abortion a litmus test for the candidates they are trying to install. But it seems this is a moot point. Scott Brown’s victory proves that abortion and gay marriage are *not* litmus tests for them. That’s exactly what put the fear of God into the Democrats. National grassroots forming to overturn what should have been a “business-as-usual” sort of election is scary enough. But if the same grassroots are immune to the Democrats favorite social wedge issues? You may actually have a revolution on your hands.

  285. > But if the same grassroots are immune to the Democrats favorite social wedge issues? You may actually have a revolution on your hands.

    The Democrats favorite social wedge issues all seem to involve race, so I’d say the same grassroots are immune to the Democrats favorite social wedge issues. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s class. I don’t think the same grassroots are immune to class issues.

    Yours,
    Tom

  286. Morgan,

    “I’ve seen all sorts of things happen that cannot be fully explained, yet I acknowledge they could just be the creation of my overactive imagination or, in some cases, some form of group hallucination”

    Just a thought. I suppose you believe very hard in the existence of objective reality and thus try to draw a clear line between reality vs. illusion. I would suggest to approach it a bit more philosophically. When the mind sees an object, such as an apple, what it knows for sure is that the picture of the apple exists in the mind. It is much less sure that it exists in reality – it could be a hallucination. The reasons we still consider it really existing is 1) others can verify our observation 2) there is a certain logic and consistency in the world, such as, if some fruit is grown on an apple tree, it must be an apple. But 2) depends on 1) since then one must ask the question is that really an apple tree or just an illusion and thus back to the original problem. Verification by independen observation is all the existence of the objective world relies on. But such verification is acceptable only if minds are isolated and don’t communicate their pictures directly to each other but just by the indirect means of speech, writing and thus it is not possible that one hallucination to spread around the whole of mankind or at least in a large group. If one mind could impress a certain picture directly into many others the difference between reality and illusion were never clear.

    One easy way out could be that such ability probably doesn’t exist, because it was not observed empirically, but of course it is a circular argument, you can’t justify empiricism itself empirically…

    One of the most interesting development in the last century is that about 500 years of philosophy was essentically destroyed by the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_language_argument . If the statement “my leg hurts” is made in a public language, the problem with is that my subjective mental experience of pain cannot be verified or observed by others, thus it cannot really have a truly public meaning, it does not attach to any experience available to everyone. But if it is meant in a private language, i.e. I simply attach the word “hurts” to a certain private subjecive experience then it is not understandable by others. The statement is neither in a public nor in a private language, it simply rests on the assumption that everybody receives the same subjective experience when he kicks a hard rock. This assumption can not be verified. Wittgenstein have stopped more or less at this point, but there is no reason to stop there: the logical result is that minds do communicate on a level deeper than language or even body language. This is what makes languages possible at all, words like “hurts”, “hungry” or “happy” have meanings only because the minds have somehow synchronized and shared their subjective mental states on a deeper-than-linguistic level and only after that could they invent symbol with which to refer to it in public language.

    If minds have no such way of communication, many terms in public langauges would be meaningless. If they have such a way, we can never draw a strict line between group hallucination and reality because verification by independent observation is not fully reliable.

  287. >If one mind could impress a certain picture directly into many others the difference between reality and illusion were never clear.

    Wittgenstein’s private-language argument is both sound and important, but drawing this conclusion from it is not justified. You show a hint of understanding about why when you speak of consistency, but you fail to follow through your own logic. The terms “reality” and “illusion” only make sense in an account of the world that is a web of causal relationships; we recognize “illusions” as apparent sense data that fail to have the expected sorts of causal connections with other parts of the account. That is, if your brain were able to project an image of a giant pink elephant into mine, eventually I would notice a telling absence of giant steaming dung-piles…

  288. ESR,

    what’s the simplest and surest way of telling a Wiccan from a New Ager – in person or in writing?

  289. (Sorry – not meant as an answer. I’ll think about what you wrote, this was just meant as starting a different sub-thread.)

  290. <blockquotewhat’s the simplest and surest way of telling a Wiccan from a New Ager – in person or in writing?

    In person, typically, it can be hard to tell a Wiccan from anyone else. While some WIccans do wear craft jewelry everyday (usually an upright pentacle, which is a pentagram in a circle), many wear none at all. Also, mmany serious Wiccans (as opposed to wannabes) don’t necessarily wear a lot of black or “goth” style clothing, either. Most of the time in public, it’s just ordinary garden-variety street clothes.

    Some Wiccans never discuss their path at all in writing: for some traditions, like Gardnerian, Alexandrian, or Georgian, a lot of what they do is oath-bound.

    The best I could say is that in writing, New Agers are usually a lot more vague about what it is they believe, vs. your typical non-fluffy Wiccan will generally be pretty concrete. New Agers will say things along the lines of that they “aren’t very religious, but are very spiritual” or that they “don’t practice religion, but instead practice spirituality” (whatever that means). New Agers are also very much into self-help-type stuff like Deepak Chopra; Non-fluffy Wiccans usually ignore that stuff.

    HTH.

  291. >The best I could say is that in writing, New Agers are usually a lot more vague about what it is they believe, vs. your typical non-fluffy Wiccan will generally be pretty concrete. New Agers will say things along the lines of that they “aren’t very religious, but are very spiritual” or that they “don’t practice religion, but instead practice spirituality” (whatever that means). New Agers are also very much into self-help-type stuff like Deepak Chopra; Non-fluffy Wiccans usually ignore that stuff.

    This is all true. Furthermore, if you probe a New Ager’s vagueness you’ll usually get back something that sounds a lot like a deracinated version of Buddhism or Taoism or Vedanta, rather than resembling historical European paganism or shamanism.

    Morgan hints at a complication: there is a category of self-described Wiccan that he and I would call “fluffy” that has an affect a lot like a New Ager. Maybe he or she read some book about Wicca once, but doesn’t have training or initiation from a proper Wiccan lineage, has only vague and superficial ideas about Wiccan practice, and has some pretty screwy ideas about magic. One way to spot these is that they’re typically heavily into astrology. Talk of chakras and reincarnation is also a leading indicator.

  292. Frank Wilson Said:
    February 9th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    >>Well, the Wiccans who encouraged my youngest stepdaughter to stop taking her meds, thereby causing her to freak out and mess up her life yet again, rank pretty low in my book.<>I am a Wiccan. And a Navy veteran. And I’m socially liberal (or rather libertarian), fiscally conservative, and a foreign policy antijihadist and democracy-spreading advocate. <>I remember watching that godawful movie THE BLAIR WITCH 2,<>The wiccans I’ve met–or at least the people who called themselves wiccan–didn’t impress me. For the most part they were superstitious luddites who seemed to be playing the victim card with the express intent of getting affirmative action. At least one woman was looking forward to the day when she could fly on brooms! Obviously you don’t fit that stereotype, so maybe there are aspects of wicca beyond I CAN MAKE PLANTS GROW AND IF YOU DON’T ADMIT IT I’LL PUT A SPELL ON YOU FOR ALL THE WITCHES YOU BURNED AT THE STAKE YOU EVIL XIAN!!!! :)<>In my opinion, Wiccans are OK. However, in my experience, they are mostly lapsed Christians, Jews, Mormons and people who had no religious training at all who want to have sex with a lot of people without feeling guilty about it. Not that there is anything wrong with that.<>What the hell is a wiccan? And why are they so thin-skinned? It isn’t a good sign when the first thing you hear from some extremely minor religion is whining.<>what’s the simplest and surest way of telling a Wiccan from a New Ager – in person or in writing?

    Wicca is a minority religion which is described in the US Army guide book Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains." see link http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_usbk.htm

    Wicca was apparently recreated by Gerald Gardner in the mid 20th century. I'll cheat and quote Wikipedia: "Wicca is typically a duotheistic religion, worshipping a Goddess and a God, who are traditionally viewed as the Triple Goddess and Horned God. These two deities are often viewed as being facets of a greater pantheistic Godhead, and as manifesting themselves as various polytheistic deities. Other characteristics of Wicca include the ritual use of magic, a basic code of morality, and the celebration of eight seasonally based festivals."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicca
    Wicca is the largest of the Neo-Pagan religions.

    Most Wiccans would agree that is an overly simplistic description. Yet most Wiccans can and will chatter on about "eight seasonally based festivals," "Goddess and God," "polytheistism," "Gaia," and "Earth religion" if prompted.

    New Agers belong to an even larger framework than Wiccans. A New Ager may refer to what they do as "spirituality," rather than "religion." The system they use may embrace anything from astrology to Zoroastrianism. They may talk about the "Christ-light," "Buddha," "Gaia," "Sophia." They may also borrow terms from Wiccans.

    To be honest, Wiccans may borrow terms from the New Agers.

    It is important to realize anyone can call themselves a Wiccan, because we don't own a copyright on the name.

    Disclosure: I've been known to exhibit signs of "fluffy-bunnyism."

  293. ESR, you cut out all my responces to statements I quoted.

    ESR says: Not intentional. Dunno what happened.

    As someone who is a Wiccan I will say: Unless someone is a licenced MD treating your daughter, he/she/they ought not to have encouraged your daughter to stop her medications–without daughter first consulting a medical professional. If anyone felt that she might be on a medication which could be a problem, he/she/they ought to instead encourage your daughter to either contact her primary health physician or a specialist or even a pharamist with possible concerns. Only an idiot would do otherwise, even more so if your daughter was minor at the time.

    There are idiots who call themselves Wiccans. There are idiots everywhere.

    Though Wiccans tend to be charactorized as “left,” “vegetarians,” “lesbian/gay” etc, politically they are all over the place. I personally met at least 6 that are card carrying Republicans. I possibly know more, but I usually will not discuss politics with friends. At least one of these 6 was also a gun toting Republican. I’ve met I least 1 hunter card carrying Democrat who was a second generation Wiccan.

    I like horror movies, but THE BLAIR WITCH 2 was…words fail me to describe how bad it was. The movie wasn’t a bit of good scary fun. It was just plain sucky fiction.

    I should add many Wiccans have different tastes in music, literature, theater and movies. I don’t personally know many Wiccans who are die hard horror fans–well, except for the gun toating card carrying Republican. My other horror fan friend tend to be Christian. My Wiccan husband is more into SF and less into horror.

    The token Wiccan in THE BLAIR WITCH 2 was potrayed as naive idiot. Horror movies are full of naive idiots. I assumed that her purpose was for the audience to think, “Oh-no, SHE’LL never get any of them them out a problem with a spooky forest. This one couldn’t divine her way out of ladies room.”

    Ah, yes, that would be who the writers were parodying. Even so this caricature of a Wiccan was a fictional parody. Nevertheless, Salamantis, I will not hold my breath for for a realistic portrayal. I’ve tended to think if the movie contained a realistic portrayal of an average American Wiccan in a realistic setting–it would have to boring. Of course, I would think a realistic portrayal of an average American Buddhist in a realistic setting would be boring too.

    I am a 50 year old woman with arthrist who has been married for 26 years. I am “treehuger” in that I have partipated in Arbor day tree plantings and I donnate to conservationist groups. I been a practicing Wiccan as well as a Panthesist for the past 31 years. I do drink peppermint tea while I have a sinus bactieal infection, but I also take the antibiotics prescribed by my primary physian. I was raised Episcopalian, I do not consider my self a lapsed Christian, because I don’t recall ever believing in it. My actual beliefs were always Pantheistic.While there are some Wiccans “who want to have sex with a lot of people without feeling guilty about it,” I am not one of them. Not that there is anything wrong with that–provided all individuals are concenting adults

  294. Ah, no problem; computers are glichy things at times. And I see when I recopied all my comments. I copied the version without the spelling corrections. Ah, well.

  295. I think it was wrong for him to have ago at wiccans as a sub culture, but at the same time i suppose it is freedom of speech it kind of works both ways, some people just are not very tolerant for anything they cant understand.

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