Cory Maye

I suppose I could just do an update, but here it is, the order from Judge Michael Eubanks that keeps Cory Maye in prison for the time being, most probably for the rest of his life. Here’s Balko’s thoughts on the matter.

Do you understand why a few of those who are wrongly convicted of serious crimes are later exonerated and released? It’s always due to factual material evidence, i.e., undeniable evidence, such as DNA and so forth. Even still, the state, via its prosecutors and district attorneys, never stands in accordance with the interpretation and obvious conclusion rendered from such evidence, recommending release. No, they do their best to keep the wrongly accused convicts behind bars and/or condemned to die in the state’s death-execution chamber. They do this by obfuscating facts, introducing out-of-context assertions, pleas to "hard work" on the part of the state to get the conviction in the first place, and a host of other things.

And they sometimes succeed. They sometimes succeed even when the evidence is clear and objective. If they can use a technicality within the law to keep an innocent man convicted, then they easily ignore the whisper from their consciences, assuming it whispers to them even still.

But sometimes, the evidence is so great, so convincing, so clear that even Genghis Khan would blush to keep someone locked up.

Cory Maye remains in prison and will likely remain in prison for life because there is no question as to the basic facts of the case. The question is whether you have the right to shoot at intruders breaking into your house in the middle of the night in self-defense. The law generally holds that you do have such right. But not if its the state and its agents breaking into your house. Even if you don’t know its the police — indeed even if you believe it is a life-threatening intrusion — you still have no right to fire on cops. There is no material fact that will ever exonerate you, save the cops themselves admitting to a wrongful break in; and that’s only so because the cop’s stories will always be given all possible weight, no matter any other fact. Of course, given what is known about cops generally, just from what’s posted here, they will never say anything but that they clearly announced their presence.

Cory Maye sat on death row for five years and will now sit for life because he is a morally innocent man and the state is morally guilty. Shooting and killing a cop, an agent of the state is everything to this case.

Granting Cory Maye a new trial is to indict the state and put it on trial. To free Cory Maye is to convict the state. Cory Maye’s life, according to Judge Michael Eubanks, the prosecutors, many residents of Prentiss, Mississippi, and others is a very small price to pay to keep Big Lies propped up and maintained.


This is the sort of entry where you kinda have to know the players for it to make any sense, but whatever…

I used to read Ann Althouse regularly; as in, queued up in my RSS reader. I may have even had her on my blogroll at one time. She is a good blogger, really, and I often wished I had more time to read some of her entries. She’s pretty prolific. Takes really good photos too.

But c’mon, people. Did anyone really think she was anywhere near "libertarian" at a principled level? She’s a Reynolds clone. That is, her entire life has been invested in the legal profession, and just as with Reynolds, "libertarian" means something along the lines of "Efficient Minds and Efficient Markets (through Efficient Law)," if you catch the reference to the Reason tagline, though Reason certainly has that very same problem, and often.

I just can’t believe anyone finds this the least bit surprising. Virginia Postrel notes:

"Althouse was clearly out of her intellectual depth during the discussions…"

Uh, no shit??? Have you guys even read her blog for any length of time? Can you point to any post of hers, ever, where she elucidated an individualist or purely libertarian view with reference to freedom and liberty, as opposed to a more logical legal scheme? I dunno, I haven’t read her with any regularity in a long time, but I’d certainly be surprised to be pointed to anything that would even come close to my own standards.

Hell, if I want to read a conservative blog, I’ve got Kim du Toit and if I want to read pragmatic, consequentialist libertarianism, I’ve got Hit & Run. I’m certainly not getting any special insight on either front from Althouse that I’m not getting there, and certainly never any sense that she has the slightest clue as to what a moral principle is and how it would apply to politics.

Update: Althouse has posted a reply to Ron Bailey’s post linked above. You can read it, if you like, but when I see something like this…

"I came away surprised that some people, especially the libertarians,
were hardcore, true believers, wedded to an abstract version of idea
and unwilling to look at how it played out in the real world."

…such person has just disqualified themselves from any discussion or comment that would take place at my level. Hey, Ann? How about a principled opposition to racism, which apparently was your whole bugaboo, here? Are you "hardcore?" A "true believer?" "Wedded" to it? Can such principled opposition exist as an "abstract?" (note to readers: "abstract version of idea" is redundant, superfluous, and betrays an ignorance of what ideas really are.). Are you willing to be principally opposed to racism without having to "look at how it played out in the real world?"

Althouse is smart. Very smart. It just goes to show you how that’s not nearly enough.

Keeping the “Justice” Coming

How Very Unsurprising.

Something is being protected. I’ll leave you to discern just what that is.

A Quick Read

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and read a book in essentially a single sitting — excepting, of course, the brewing and drinking of coffee and its consequences.

Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris, really is an excellent little book that ought to be passed out to every Christian you know and care about. It’s 90 pages. Two hours, max.

What’s it about?


"Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse."

I have spent quite a lot of time over the past few weeks and days familiarizing myself with the work of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Some of that I’ve posted here in the form of videos and such. What’s becoming clear is that non-belief, or atheism, if you will, is beginning to have a forum for discussion here in America. There’s a whole lot of ways that can go, so it will be interesting. Over the past month or so I’ve heard both Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins interviewed on local talk shows, and I’ve also recently heard both numerous times on NPR.

I have become persuaded of at least one thing that is in direct contradiction to what I have believed for a long time. I had always reasoned that super technology was its own safeguard against mass destruction. In other words, the cultural evolution necessary to, say, gain the scientific and technological prowess to build an atomic bomb ensures that a society is rational enough to organize themselves such that wanton destruction does not take place.

But this only accounts for the first ones to come up with it. The copycats who come along later pass through no such evolution and so we are on the verge of 14th-century primitives having nukes (which, if you count Pakistan, they already do). As Sam Harris puts it:

"I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to fly planes into our buildings before we realize that this is not merely a matter of lack of education or economic despair.

"In the year 2006, a person can have sufficient intellectual and
material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he
will get seventy-two virgins in Paradise. Western secularists,
liberals, and moderates have been very slow to understand this. The
cause of their confusion is simple: they don’t know what it is like to
really believe in God."

You all are already perfectly familiar with what it’s like to be an atheist. If you’re a Christian, consider Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Shintoism, Judaism, or any of the hundreds of others. You know perfectly well what atheism is, and how it’s arrived at. For most of you Christians, especially conservative, fundamentalist ones, the tenets of those other religions, faiths, or traditions seem to you as preposterous; ridiculous, laughable — and most certainly worthy of no respect whatsoever.

Welcome to my world.


People who know me know that I have nearly zero concern for environmentalist "issues." For instance, I’m fond of announcing to people that I do not go out of my way to recycle. I don’t object if it costs me nothing extra in dollars, time, or trouble to recycle, but I absolutely will not go an inch out of my way to do it. At the same time, I love nature, the animal kingdom, and support rational conservation efforts. I also recognize that most real environmental issues, to include the risk of extinction of important species (not all are), are fundamentally known problems with known solutions.

I have never, ever seen the environmentalist movement as anything more than a slightly more sophisticated and organized version of the Luddite movement. Of course, they’re all watermelons, now, so that’s something to be concerned about.

I’ve been saying it for two decades, at least. Over and over. To get from ‘A’ to ‘C,’ one must go via ‘B.’ Here, here, and here is one tiny example of why I’m thoroughly and completely unconcerned with the environmentalist movement, and will remain so. You "environmentalists" would do well to invest your time and effort on real problems, beginning first of with your sense of perspective and ability to think.

Morning Laf

"Jokes about polonium 210 will be half as funny 138 days from now"

I mean, that’s funny, right? Who doesn’t know that it’s 138.376 days. Jeez.



Strolling through Wikipedia this morning, doing a bit of research for the wife, I stumble upon an interesting "variation:"

Common modern usage which variates on the Nuremberg defense is the Yuppie 
Nuremberg defense, used when justifying immoral actions. Common Yuppie
versions include "I do it to pay the mortgage", "I did it to pay the
bills", or "I have a family to feed".

It’s from their entry on the Nuremberg defense. Now, given that Wikipedia is a user-created encyclopedia and not necessarily authoritative, or even correct, in all matters, one has to wonder whether that variation has been in popular or common usage, anywhere, or whether someone in his pajamas just came up with it.

Nonetheless, I like it, and intend to use it henceforth.

Radley, Please!

If Ron Jones had been "an honest, decent police officer," then Ron Jones would still be alive.

Honest and decent people don’t storm the home of a peaceful man and his young daughter in the middle of the night. It is precisely because Ron Jones was dishonest and despicable, as a person and as a police officer, that Cory May has sat for five years on death row in Mississippi, a convicted murderer; because he justly, and with all moral authority, defended his life and that of his daughter’s. You know all these facts, Radley. You put them all together. It is because of you that Maye has a slim chance that a part of this injustice against him and his daughter is terminated.

And if Ron Jones were honest and decent, it would have been a reflection of the professionalism of law institutions he would willingly work for and carry out duties. Such an institution would never have tolerated any actual Ron Jones-types in its midst, and had a similar incident occurred, it would have prosecuted the "Ron Jones," exonerated Cory Maye, and left him to raise his daughter in peace; rather than turn wrong to "right," black to "white," dishonesty to "honesty," indecency to "decency," and injustice to "justice."

It’s all baked in the cake; business as usual in the "Land of the Free."

It’s the Glass

Warren Meyer calls attention to a court case having to do with California’s inability to get along in the global energy market — and so requires judges to sanction people with guns and jails to help California "compete."

But that’s just another day in the "Land of the Free" and not what I wanted to write about. Warren complains:

I don’t think there is anything more depressing to a good
anarcho-capitalist like myself than seeing the government rule that a
price negotiated at arms length by the free will of consenting, and in
this case well-informed adults enjoys "no presumption of legality."  If
not, then what does?  Is that where we are heading, to a world where no
voluntary actions enjoy a presumption of legality?

Well, as a Princeton grad and Harvard MBA, I’m certain Warren knows the answer to that question himself. But just to belabor the point, that is the whole point of law. The law holds context and asserts authority in every action and in every single moment of every person’s life. When you are sleeping, you are presumed innocent, just as when you are charged with a crime. In other words: you are always in some "legal status" or the other.

It’s the same thing for human action. What is not explicitly legal or illegal is "presumed legal" or, as was pointed out by these judges, not presumed legal, which covers all possible bases — not only for present and future actions, but anything ever done in the past.

That people don’t understand that we live under the general totality of political law, and always have, is beyond me. It’s just becoming bolder and more explicit in America. And for the moment, at least, breathing, eating, sleeping, bodily functions…are all "presumed legal." Isn’t that nice? Aren’t you glad? Thankful?

There’s another way to look at this. You have often heard the question: "is the glass half empty, or half full?" I’ve never in my life looked at it precisely in that way. When I first seriously pondered the question, which essentially goes to a person’s existential or meta-outlook, I objected to the arbitrary constraint of the glass (metaphorically speaking, of course). In the same way, when people nit-pick back & forth about how something or other is legal, illegal, presumed or not presumed whatever, and to what degrees and exceptions, ad infinitum, all I see is the arbitrary constraint of the law.

Thank you very much. I’ll stick with right and wrong, realizing that a good bit of existence and your life and mine isn’t either. It simply is, there for you to gain and keep values in pursuit of your own happiness.

You do realize, don’t you, that for some people and their particular values, values the gaining and keeping of which harm no one, that these people’s pursuit of happiness "enjoys" no "presumption of legality?"

Dawkins vs. Jerry’s Kids in Lynchburg

What follows, below, is the Q&A session following a brief reading of excerpts from Richard Dawkins‘ new book, The God Delusion, which is one of the several books I’m currently reading. It’s a good book; comprehensive, evidencing a lot of thought and organization. It goes a long way towards the plain old simple process of acclamation of America to atheists in an open way that has yet to be done.

The reading, performed by Dawkins himself, took place at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA — home to Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty Baptist Church and Liberty University. It used to be called Liberty Baptist Bible College, then Liberty Baptist University, in the late 70s, when I was contemplating going there, along with Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, and Tennessee Temple University. I settled on Tennessee Temple and completed a year of study. Mostly bible, which later transferred to Oregon State as general humanities, as well I was able to transfer some history and math.

At any rate, at least a good 80% of this Q&A are students — and even faculty — from Liberty, who’ve obviously come thinking they were going to confound the atheist. It didn’t happen. To say the least. Not even close. But Dawkins remains polite, even tender, throughout and does not lose composure one wit. He has clearly dealt with all this before.

I must admit I’m surprised that I didn’t hear a single new argument from the Liberty crowd. It’s been 25 years since I’ve been in the thick of this, and my high-school "science education," if you want to know it, is right there in those mostly inane questions. Every one of them. I’ve heard them a million times, thought they were bullet-proof at the age of 16, but found otherwise when I began thinking for myself.

James Brown is Free

When I read just a moment ago that James Brown is dead at 73, the first thing I thought about was how back in, oh, the late 80s, I guess, I would see "Free James Brown" stickers and graffiti here and there.

Well, I daresay that you aren’t going to find a lot in soul music, or even pop, that doesn’t have his fingerprints on it, somewhere. Good run, James, you sex machine.

Knocked Over in Disbelief and Surprise

It’s true. I am; I am.

An internal investigation cleared the police of any wrongdoing

Shocked. Shocked and amazed. Really. I am.

All in a Day’s Work

Spreading goodwill and Christmas cheer there in Arizona.

She said she is angry with Gilbert and Scottsdale police and
blames them for the fire that destroyed her parents’ home of 35 years.

"This is wrong," she said. "They threw my parents on the street as if they were criminals."

Thirty-five years they’ve been here," she said. "Thirty-five years."

73-yr-old Salvador Celaya’s home of 35 years is burned to the ground, started by a police flash-bang grenade, while the person and the evidence they had planned to find there was no where to be found.

But Celaya can take comfort, this Christmas.

Duncan said Gilbert police will conduct an inquiry to determine if proper procedures were followed.

Phoenix Fire Department investigators have not determined the cause of the blaze.

Because, you know, if "proper procedures" were and are followed, then consequences just don’t matter at all. They were just, y’know, "doing their jobs," and all that. If you don’t like it, then vote, and take the matter up with your elected representatives. You might add a prayer in there; that in the meantime, you or your home aren’t caught in the crossfire.

Oh, well, hell, here’s a Christmas bonus for you. There’s ever so much cheer getting spread around there in Manassas Park, Virginia.

A Christmas Message

In my own unique way, I’ve a Christmas message for you. It’s likely to be the oddest Christmas message you’ve ever read.

First, to get something out of the way: as an atheist, I loath the typical atheist political activism and am happy I’ve observed it to be less prevalent this year. Good; people are maybe finally getting a life, realizing that a manger scene in the public square is truly not a sign of the end of rational civilization. Second, as an American, having grown up in the Christian tradition, I celebrate Christmas, not some generic, one-size-fits-all, nebulous and non-specific "Holiday."

The Christ story, whether you take it literally or metaphorically, is obviously quite a powerful one. I happen to take it in the latter. Those who take it literally or historically miss the whole boat. It’s not a question of whether he really existed or not, or, if he did, in the way it has been recorded; or, if he was really the son of a mythological supernatural being. The importance of the Jesus story is in the ideas. Those, truly, are eternal. Those are what were created and resurrected, if you will, and exist as if he had roamed the Earth yesterday. Thus, the core problem with fundamentalism (in all faiths) is that the ideas, by being set in a literal context, are disconnected from the current, real context of life. So, instead of grasping an opportunity to ponder and perhaps learn from the moral teachings of Jesus, one is left in a concrete-bound, seemingly irrelevant melange of mostly historical context that bears little relevance to a modern human life. Fundamentalists idiotically exchange literalism for meaning.

And literalism breeds legalism, intolerance, and irreconcilable divisiveness, as we see increasingly on all religious fronts. And it will remain irreconcilable.

Now, I certainly don’t buy all of the moral teachings of Jesus, not by a long shot. On the other hand, I am awed by the power of an idea. Moreover, the fact that this core idea resonates as it does is something not to be ignored. This suggests to me that the Jesus message of peace on Earth and goodwill to men is a core human value and we ought to find ways in this modern world to take it to heart and to celebrate it.

But the political process is no way to achieve that. Not in the slightest. Not ever. Not a little bit. The state is no way to either impose or even encourage spiritual values, because the state is force and force is the antithesis of humanity. The state is concerned with the literal and its consequent legalisms. Why do you think it is that the fundamentalists the world over are primarily concerned with political action? It’s because they are literalistic and legalistic. They go hand-in-hand with the state and its power to oppress.

This is why I am both atheist and anarchist. It’s because I’m spiritual, but I draw my spirituality from metaphor, from "deeper" meaning, and not from literalism or statute. Fundamental religion and the state are enemies of the human spirit, of morality, of meaning, of truth, of love, of beauty.

The state captured, imprisoned, tortured, convicted, and executed Jesus and has been trying to co-opt the ideas ever since. The state never creates or produces anything of value. It only steals that which has already been created and produced, just as it has been doing with Jesus, the metaphor, for centuries.

Here’s a story of how his fabled birth would pretty much go down if it happened today.

Merry Christmas, and especially: peace and goodwill.

Automatic Investigation

"They didn’t knock. They ignored the sign, the dog sees or hears (and)
protects my daughter, so he ran toward him — not growling, not foaming
at the mouth, not anything," Harris said.

[…] Harris said his daughter saw the whole thing. "While
she’s running toward the dog, they kill him. She’s yelling, ‘Why’d you
shoot him? I was going to get him. Why’d you shoot him?’" Harris said.

[…] department policy mandates an automatic investigation…

Oh, good. A "complete, full and thorough investigation." "Automatic," even. Pretty soon, it’ll be all "ongoing" & shit, and questions will have to be "referred," up until the point that, in spite of this "unfortunate" incident being "sincerely regretted," no "evidence of wrongdoing" will issue forth and John O’Hare will be set lose to terrorize the next 12-yr-old girl and her dog that happens to assuage his little-man syndrome.

I feel so much better, already.

Have a shitty Christmas, Officer John O’Hare, of the Hartford "Northeast Conditions Unit;" have a goddammed rotten life after that; die early, young, painfully and undignified, shitting your gaddammed brains out to the muffled amusement of young nurses; be laid disgraced, into an unmarked grave that even your mother would be ashamed to visit — and then rot in hell — you worthless waste of an otherwise presumably pleasurable sexual encounter.

(Balko; who else?)

Maintaining the Machinery of the State

I’ve just returned from my habitual 3-mile morning walk with doggies, and I see email from a business partner in my inbox:

Talk about someone needing to "see the forest!"

Chris is referring to this latest outrage. 20-yr-old Genarlow Wilson is three years into a 10-year prison sentence for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15-yr-old when he was 17.

As Shaila Dewan reported in The Times this week, Mr. Wilson has been
convicted of aggravated child molestation even though he and the girl
were both minors at the time. Even if he could win an early release,
Mr. Wilson could not go home to his family. He would have to register
as a sex offender and would be prohibited from living with his
8-year-old sister. It is all the more disgraceful because the Georgia
Supreme Court last week refused to hear his appeal.

When I read this story, the first thing I thought of — something that’s been coming up more and more — was my time as a Navy officer overseeing the maintenance of missile launching systems, then later the exterior deck equipment, and later still the ship’s electrical plant and machinery. Since then, I’ve been involved in various aspects of aviation, and through it all is the idea that one continually strives for improvements in maintenance so as to make equipment last longer and to reduce accidents that injure, main, and kill people. This is accomplished with maintenance schedules developed over time and lessons learned. Such maintenance is accomplished according to certain criteria, and is accomplished whether or not the machinery or part appears to require any maintenance at all. Particularly in aviation, some parts have a service life and when the number of flight hours has been reached, the part is switched out.

It’s a perfectly intelligent and logical means for maintaining machinery. But it has no application whatsoever to maintaining peace among moral agents in a society with laws, that, should they exist, ought to focus primarily on the extent of harm done to an innocent person and the moral culpability of the one who did the harm.

Which is kinda the way it used to be. Police exercised discretion as to whether to even intervene in a situation. Prosecutors exercised discretion as to whether to charge someone, even though on the technical merits, they could. A jury could nullify the law. And, finally, a judge, even in the face of a jury conviction, had great latitude as to what sort of sentence to impose, and they were supposed to exercise moral judgment. That was their role. The jury finds the facts, and the judge applies them to the law, taking into account various mitigating circumstances that go to moral culpability.

But now we have zero tolerance, minimum sentences, and a defense lawyer even suggesting that a jury may, or indeed should, disregard the law can get him sanctioned or tossed in the can himself on contempt. And judges are reduced to the equivalent of an expensive toaster. When the jury’s done, they pop off a sentence right out of the book. No more, no less, no other consideration, and no humanity involved anywhere in the whole deal.

It’s just a maintenance schedule, being duly followed like the placard says.

But it gets worse. At least maintenance schedules existed for the purpose and benefit of the machinery, and even though the law sometimes fails, and always has, the purpose used to be the maintenance of a peaceful society. But the law is now an end in itself, as if we used to maintain a missile system because we had a passion for practicing maintenance.

The gradual result is that the apparatus of the law now attracts people who want to police for the sake of policing; prosecutors for the sake of prosecuting, and judges for the sake of passing judgment.

There is a judicial philosophy that’s sound on its face. The people and their representatives create the laws, judges apply them. If the result is unpalatable, then the law is changed in order to obtain different results. It’s a feedback loop, just like in equipment maintenance where procedures are changed to achieve better results.

But again, we’re dealing with people, not machines, and there is never any justification to sacrifice a person –let alone a 17-yr-old boy — for the sake of better social maintenance going forward. This "send a message" bullshit that I keep hearing about has just got to stop, already. Yea, according to the story, they’ve changed the law. Good for them. They can thank Genarlow Wilson for sacrificing the best years of his life so "the justice system" is inched closer to "perfection."

Setting aside the root, philosophical causes, the practical cause of all this is complicated. You’ve got your special interests like MADD, your rabid sex-is-rape feminist crowd, your if-I-can-save-just-one-parent crowd, and the list goes on. Then you’ve got the media who brings gasoline to the fire, and the politicians who’ll sacrifice anyone’s life to get elected and stay elected, and all you ever hear are calls for "tougher sentences."

And we throw the book at em’. Aren’t we just the pinnacle of civilization? For me? It’s just another day of being ashamed to be a human being, in general, and and American in particular.

Reisman vs. Pinheads

I don’t claim to know a lot about Pinochet and his history. I suppose I could do a bit more background, but it really wouldn’t matter for the purposes of this entry, because the reason I so enjoyed George Reisman’s post on the Chilean dictator was because of the forest and not the trees, to reference that bit you see up top. I think that unless you are an historian prepared to do years of research, including getting as much first hand information as possible, you’re never going to get the straight context on the crucial events and how they went down.

The whole propaganda apparatus of the time — intent on communism’s firm and permanent planting in South America — just has never been an inch beyond anything but pure and complete lies, ever. Virtually every bit of information that ever came out of those "revolutionaries" and their sycophant bedfellows in the leftist international media was slanted to make the god dammed commies look good and those trying to hold them off like exploitative opportunists. But, you know, hell hath no furry like someone intent on "saving the world," of which you’ll start getting a taste of in the run-up to 2008, here.

So, yes… George Reisman; that post I referenced is important because of how it offers moral clarity to a situation, and situations like it, where material clarity is impossible. The attempted communist takeover was real, and they were damn smart and clever, and you would just never know or be sure about what was going down when and where. So, what do you do? Well, maybe, just maybe, you start killing a lot of people anywhere around the whole rigmarole. And you know what? That has application to a lot of what’s going on today in the Middle East.

You know, there was a day when combatants had the decency to don a uniform and show up at a battlefield. There, with respect to your enemy, both your material and moral clarity are in sync. There was no question what needed to be done; no ambiguity. So, what do you do when your enemy — like commies and radical Islamists — doesn’t "play by the rules?" Do you pacifistically let yourself be overrun because you can not establish material certainty about who your enemy is? Must you sacrifice yourself to your doubts and human fallibility?

Those who wail on about the innocent civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan need to take note. First of all, most are caused by the enemy themselves, who need only stop blowing things up. Second, our moral responsibility is met by being as careful as reasonably possible to avoid civilian casualties that are not necessary to our own defense. Period.

You would need to read that Reisman post referenced above before reading this follow-on, where he duly dispenses of pinheads. I’m not going to quote from it, because it’s too important and you should read and understand the whole thing. You need to understand that the moral right to kill a communist or a terrorist comes virtually the moment they put down their pen or microphone and express any intent to implement their plans with action. Why? Because there is but one way to implement their plans, and that’s the only fact you need to consider.

Elementary Sin

Via my brother in Texas comes this jewel, which he says is also on Drudge.

HAGERSTOWN – A kindergarten student was accused earlier this month
of sexually harassing a classmate at Lincolnshire Elementary School, an
accusation that will remain on his record until he moves to middle

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said
the definition of sexual harassment used by the school system is,
"unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and/or other
inappropriate verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature
directed toward others."

Mowen said that definition comes from the Maryland State Department of Education.

According to a school document provided by the boy’s father, the
5-year-old pinched a girl’s buttocks on Dec. 8 in a hallway at the
school south of Hagerstown.

So I guess they have "zero tolerance" for "sexual harassment." Yippee.

Charles Vallance, the boy’s father, said he was unable to explain to his son what he had done.

"He knows nothing about sex," Vallance said. "There’s no way to
explain what he’s been written up for. He knows it as playing around.
He doesn’t know it as anything sexual at all."

Doesn’t matter, Mr. Vallance. You must understand: they have zero tolerance. That is the "value" they are acting for, here, and your son is merely a pawn in that game. His life and young, formative experience is utterly disposable in pursuit of that "higher" value. His education, socialization, and introduction to this new world he’s supposed to observe, become familiar with, and get along in eventually — all on his own — are just supposed to happen, somehow, if you and he can only realize that there are "more important" things to attend, right now, and all along the way.

School administrators at a Texas school in November suspended a
4-year-old student for inappropriately touching a teacher’s aide after
the prekindergarten student hugged the woman.

"It’s important to understand a child may not realize that what
he or she is doing may be considered sexual harassment, but if it fits
under the definition, then it is, under the state’s guidelines," Mowen
said. "If someone has been told this person does not want this type of
touching, it doesn’t matter if it’s at work or at school, that’s sexual

The incident will be included in the boy’s file while he remains
at Lincolnshire, but Mowen said those files do not follow students when
they move on to middle school.

Remind you of anything? C’mon, think. You’ve likely been taught it since you can remember. Here’s a hint: Eve. God’s zero tolerance for eating an apple from a particular tree was known to her, but, as the mythology goes, she didn’t really understand, was thus easily led astray, and so her act of disobedience dammed her, Adam, and all of humanity for all time.

Ideas have consequences, folks, and your ability to punish an act without moral culpability is baked into the cake of the culture you’ve grown up in and affirm every time you walk through the church door.

You’re part of this, so you’re going to have to live with it until you change the underlying ideas, which must necessarily begin by connecting your sense of morality to reality rather than mythology. In the Garden of Eden, there could have been nothing inherently wrong with eating an apple from a tree — it’s just that she was commanded not to by an authority outside of her own, with no other reason than it was a command. In the present case, there can be nothing sexually wrong with a four or five-year-old touching someone in a way that is sexual when an adult does it. We have learned to judge and punish based upon acts disconnected from all context and moral culpability, so we’re just headed in the same general direction humanity has been heading since Babylon.

She described the incident as a "learning opportunity."

Yea, maybe they can write a book about it and even start a new religion.

During the 2005-06 school year, 28 kindergarten students in Maryland
were suspended for sex offenses, including sexual assault, sexual
harassment and sexual activity, according to state data. Fifteen of
those suspensions were for sexual harassment.

During the 2005-06 school year, one Washington County
prekindergarten student was suspended from school, and 12 of the
county’s kindergartners were suspended for various offenses, according
to state data.

Lots and lots of "learning opportunities."

It’s Constitutional

The problem with having an allegiance to the Constitution, as I often point out or imply in various ways, is that a lot of things are actually Constitutional. Like the Kelo decision, last year, that everyone was up in arms about — as if it had just suddenly dawned on them that the government can force you to sell your property for essentially any reason they deem appropriate.

Of course, what everyone does to evade the fact of the matter — the reality of the thing — is to draw meaningless distinctions, as if a freeway qualifies as a "public good," but a pharmacy or shopping center doesn’t.

Well, anyway, here’s your latest outrage, which I first saw here at Warren Meyer’s place. He thinks it might have a chance in the SCOTUS that Kelo didn’t, but even if that’s true, it’s not that you’re going to read in the opinion that the duty of the government is to unequivocally uphold the pre-existing, natural right of all to own and direct property and capital as only they see fit. Yet, if SCOTUS were to overturn it, watch and see how relieved and vindicated everyone acts, when what would really be happening is just a lucky turn on a few amoral meaningless distinctions falling into place on the "right" side.

As usual, Billy has remarks too.

Beliefs Have Geopolitical Consequences

I stumbled onto a YouTube video yesterday that I’ve just watched for the second time. It’s a talk given by Sam Harris on the nature of belief and its consequences, and I just think he makes a number of really interesting integrations. The gentleman who introduces Harris is a bit abrasive, but Harris himself is quite polite and sincerely tries not to offend. If you’re sensitive to criticism of religious belief, you should find this relatively mild.

With reference to the title of this post, he makes a very sound and important distinction between hope and belief that I think is not obvious to a lot of people all of the time. For example, religious belief is oftentimes expressed in terms of hopefulness. But, as Harris points out, your behavior will be quite different when you hope you’ve won the lottery versus when you believe you’ve won the lottery. Now, that may sound obvious, but consider it in a religious context. There are many who honestly are not certain about religious propositions as to the nature and origin of existence, yet find comfort in such "possibilities" and hope they are true. And yet, they are very unlikely to take actions specifically with respect to such hope that they would not have taken anyway, such as spreading goodwill amongst their fellow man. Contrast that with a strong belief in the literal truth of religious precepts, how such belief motivates actions, and how those actions affect the world in — really — history-altering geopolitical ways.

Of course, such influencing of history is indeed sought by many, particularly the fundamentalists, but as Harris points out, there are a number of books of origin, they don’t agree, and it’s a growing chasm. I think quite reasonably — given the current state of the world — Harris sees no reason why humanity will overcome its religious differences.

Another good point he makes is that we don’t respect beliefs; we respect reasons. This, again, is obvious. If I believe that a fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage, are you going to respect my belief, or ask me why I believe it? Of course, it will be the latter, so what you are doing is extending the benefit of the doubt, giving me a chance to provide my reasons, which you will either respect (agree with) or not (disagree with). But again, switch to a religious context, and suddenly, beliefs must be respected because they are beliefs. Indeed; and I would add that it is precisely because there are no good reasons that we are so admonished to be sensitive and respect such beliefs.

One of my favorite lines from that video is when he says: "The fundamentalists have actually read the books and they’re right about them." As a former born-again fundamentalist as a youth, I can vouch for that. Fundamentalists are really the only religious people with any integrity. The rest, I think, are compromisers; caught in the middle between a radicalism they know is absurd and the fear of uncertainty and ostracism. They are prisoners to a belief system, the fundamentals of which they were indoctrinated in as children by family, culture, and society. They have reason to be uncomfortable. It’s a lonely world out there for unbelievers.

I’ve been criticized by family, readers, and fellow unbeliever-bloggers for my very harsh tone in the past with respect to my "crusade" against religion. In some respects, I agree and I’m trying to set a different tone — and not, incidentally, only with religion but on the blog in general. However, what I’m right about, and what Harris speaks to, is the critical importance of this topic.

My good friend Billy Beck often says that the chief antagonism is between individualism and collectivism, and he’s right. But, that is a political antagonism. I believe there is an antagonism far more fundamental — metaphysical and epistemological in scope — which is between naturalism and super-naturalism and I sincerely do not believe that anything more narrowly integrated and identified can truly be resolved until that most fundamental of conflicts is resolved.

I’m going to be more polite about it going forward, but I’m not going to compromise on the facts.