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August 24, 2011

Whiny Tea Partiers feel threatened by Jane Yolen
Posted by Teresa at 10:11 AM * 99 comments

I got this story from Bear, who got it from Ellid at Kos, who linked to the version at Democratic Underground, most likely because she didn’t know how to construct a zero-Googlejuice link to the malign wingnut DU cited in their article.

The wingnut’s piece about Jane begins:

Thanks for the hate mail, folks! Glad to get confirmation that I struck a nerve.
Which is pure trollspeak. More on him later.

What actually happened: The staff of detestable Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) staged one of those cynical photo-ops where they pose a politician reading to a bunch of photogenic tykes. The reading took place at the Access Community Health Center in Madison, WI, a nonprofit clinic for low-income families. One of the books they used was How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.*

The occasion got written up in one of Shawn Doherty’s “Laptop City Hall” columns: What’s wrong with this picture? Ron Johnson reads to local kids:

Sen. Ron Johnson is reading a book to ten cute kids at a community health clinic on South Park Street. The book is about a dinosaur who cleans his room and never does naughty things like shove his dirty socks to the back of his dresser drawer. As I look around this Thursday afternoon, I count as many grownups taking pictures with clunky cameras as kids. Even the Senator’s aide is snapping photos with his cell phone. …

Johnson’s office contacted the Madison branch suggesting the visit. Apparently it fit nicely into a day in town that included an appearance on Vicki McKenna’s talk show and a stop at a fundraiser for the Dane County Young Republicans at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

But some people found something sour about all these sweet pictures of the senator reading to children in a Madison community health clinic.

“Just this morning I was watching Fox News and the senator was on talking about repealing the health care act, the one hope many of these kids have,” says Robert Kraig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “And then he goes off and has a photo opp at a community health center? That posturing is very inconsistent with what he is proposing.”

Like other Republican congressmen including most notably Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, Johnson has called not only for the repeal of the federal health care reform law but for a drastic reduction of spending on Medicaid programs like Wisconsin’s BadgerCare plans.

“There’s a stark contrast between the warm and fuzzy image of him reading to children and the extreme Draconian cuts he wants to propose that will cut millions of kids like these off health care,” Kraig says.

Well, maybe not all these kids. Turns out many of those listening to Johnson were not actual patients at Access, but children of staffers’ friends who had responded to an appeal for live bodies for what in politics is called a “media opp” or media opportunity. …

And so forth. When the article went live, the very first comment was posted by Jane. As Shawn Doherty described it in her next “Laptop City Hall” column, Thanks but no thanks, author says after Ron Johnson reads her book to kids:
The very first reader’s comment on my article, made before the comment thread disintegrated into liberals and conservatives calling each other stupid, was from Jane Yolen, the author of one of those books. … Yolen’s comment makes it clear she is not keen on having her work and young fans used as props by a senator whose policies and politics, she believes, harm children.

“I wish he would help kids and not cut those programs that help them, rather than just reading a book chosen for him, and written by a progressive Massachusetts liberal like me,” she sighs in her comment.

Minor error there: the photo op was in a public health clinic, rather than the usual schoolroom or library. The point still stands, though; Johnson wants to slash funds for all three.

Doherty was intrigued. She contacted Jane through her website, and they had a conversation in chat:

Capital Times: I’m delighted that you saw my story and commented on it. May I ask how you found it and what prompted you to respond?

Jane Yolen: Google alert. Most of the time it is years out of date, and usually totally uninteresting. But this time, it pointed me to your piece, and I was alternately amused, bemused, and annoyed. Not at the writer of the article, but at the co-opting of my book for a politician’s photo op.

CT: What had you heard about our senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, before you read my piece and what concerns you about the idea of him reading one of your stories to children?

JY: He is a Republican junior senator associated with the Tea Party. And that makes me think that either he is 1. A True Believer in the Tea Party NoNothingness which frightens me or 2. Kowtowing to it for votes which possibly frightens me more. Since the Tea Party (and alas much of the Republican Party these days) are the ones behind the notions of breaking unions, throwing librarians out of their jobs, and defunding education, I think it is more than a tad bit disingenuous for such politicians to be out in libraries reading books to children who will have no libraries to visit if we listen to the Tea Party. …

CT: Perhaps you could come up with a question for the senator you would like to ask him?

JY: Senator, why are you here reading this book? Did you choose it or was it chosen for you? Are you surprised that it was written by someone who finds your political stance anathema? Do you care? …

CT: Have you ever thought of writing a story about politicians or politics?

JY: I have political people in a number of my novels, though they tend to be kings or viziers or the like. For my political bona fides: I was a delegate from Massachusetts pledged to McGovern in the ‘72 Democratic Convention, among other things. I’d like to add — as a non-Christian, I find it appalling that self-proclaimed Christians don’t follow their own religious precepts: Matthew: “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Wingnut outrage! Moe Lane, that troll I mentioned earlier wrote a piece called “Jane Yolen doesn’t want your filthy conservative eyes…”, which of course is neither what she said nor meant. He also calls her a hateful bigot, which is (a.) also untrue, and (b.) pure projection on his part. Don’t bother to click through. There’s no real substance to his article. It’s just cheap outrage-mongering based on inaccurate reporting.

Moe Lane is upfront about his belief that the more outrage he can generate, the more donations he gets — “You can turn hate into money,” as he puts it — and he sure shakes that tin cup in your face. He cross-posted his piece about Jane to Red State and it got picked up by a bunch of other cheap outrage sites, so he’s happy. The story also got picked up by WTAQ News Talk, which did its own trashy, inaccurate, and insubstantial writeup titled Children’s Book Author Yolen Teague Acts Completely Childish About Ron Johnson. (They amended the title later to say “Jane Yolen” instead of “Yolen Teague”, but you can still find the original version.)

Why all the fuss? I believe it’s because Jane explained what was wrong in clear, straightforward language — a knack that way too many liberal pundits have lost. If exposing children to books and literacy is good, then what Ron Johnson is doing to schools and libraries is bad. If children being cared for in a public health clinic is good, then what Ron Johnson is doing to healthcare funding is bad. Johnson tacitly admits that these things are good, and that the general public sees them as good, by using them as props for his photo session. He wants the benefit of being associated with them. Then, in real life, he does his best to trash them. Simple.

What venues like Moe Lane and WTAQ News Talk are really saying is that Jane Yolen made them feel bad. She got through to them. They can’t really argue with her, so they throw sh*t in her general direction, but still: she got through to them.

Good on her.

Addendum: One more Laptop City Hall column: Tea party tizzy over children’s author Jane Yolen’s remarks. Shawn Doherty says, “After reading through the 110-and-counting comments at the end of my last story on this and dozens of other remarks on conservative blogs across the country, though, it seems to me that conservative critics are the ones who are having a tantrum here.”

Comments on Whiny Tea Partiers feel threatened by Jane Yolen:
#1 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 11:00 AM:

More power to you, Ms. Yolen.

On a side note, am I really the only person for whom "politician reading to small children" immediately brings to mind "Bush hearing about 9/11 attacks"?

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 11:03 AM:

Lila, it's not just you.

#3 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 11:28 AM:

What it bring to mind for me is the "deer in the headlights" look on Incurious George's face during that incident....

#4 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 11:42 AM:

Don't mess with Ma Yolen...

#5 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 11:43 AM:

Good on her indeed.

It's gotten to where seeing the word "Wisconsin" used in any political context makes my stomach start to hurt.

#6 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 12:03 PM:

Jamaican proverb: "When yu throw stone inna pigpen, di one dat squeal is di one dat get lick'.

#7 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 12:04 PM:

Unfortunately, the current rhetorical battle between America's two parties is little too reminiscent of that famous quote from Yeats' "The Second Coming."

#8 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 12:10 PM:

Somewhat tangential, but the "How Do Dinosaurs..." books are delightful, and at the top of my list for giving to young children of friends and relatives. (So at least the staffer who set up the event had excellent taste.)

My favorite is "How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight".

Also recommended: "Not a Stick" and "Not a Box" by Antoinette Portis.

#9 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 12:42 PM:

Christina is 100% right. BTW, it strikes me that Moe Lane & his Tea Party friends might benefit from reading up on "Yolen Teague"'s oeuvre.

Apologies for any errors, this is from memory...

How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends?
By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

What if a dinosaur's friends come to play?
Does he mope, does he pout if he can't get his way?
Does he hide all his dump trucks, refusing to share?
Does he throw all his coloring books in the air?
Does he hog all the swings and the sandbox and slides?
Does he not give his friends any tricycle rides?
No, a dinosaur doesn't. He knows how to play.
He treats all his friends in the friendliest way.
He shares all his toys and gives turns on his bike
His friends get first choice for the games that they like
He listens, then asks, "Would you like one turn more?"
Good friend, good friend, little dinosaur.

#10 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 12:50 PM:

Unfortunately, Jane has not yet published her book on how dinosaurs commit sodomy.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:02 PM:

If not, blame Scholastic.

#12 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:03 PM:

Well, I expect that good dinosaur friends wear protection.

And probably do ask, "Would you like one turn more?"

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:32 PM:

How Dinosaurs Commit Sodomy would make a lovely limited-run fundraising item.

#14 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:39 PM:

Will there be rum?


#15 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:48 PM:

Christina @8: Yep, "How do dinosaurs say goodnight?" is excellent. I think that's the only one we had, back when Sylvia was digging picture books -- I read the article and I kept trying to figure out what the similar title was that I knew.

#16 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:49 PM:

Suddenly, I am gripped with a curiosity about the potential of pseudonymously composing and disseminating bogus outrage stories to Red State and its ilk in order to raise money to then use in support of progressive causes.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:59 PM:

Jane! Welcome, welcome.

There will be rum. If necessary, I'll bring it myself.

#18 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 02:02 PM:

Ms. Yolen: sodomy, rum *and* the lash!

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 02:24 PM:

Leslie #18: I thought it was rum, bum, and concertina.

#20 ::: Malaclypse ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 02:30 PM:

As always, it is dreadfully unfair to point out that Republican policies have consequences.

#21 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 02:53 PM:

I hope that, as a result of the kerfuffle, Jane's sales go through the roof.

Because they rock. /shamelessfangirlsquee

#22 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 03:22 PM:

As opposed to How Hypocritical Holier-Than-Thou Sanctimonius Republicans Commit Sodomy (Ted Haggerty, for example, and what was the name of the tapster who wound up resigning from Congress?)

#23 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 03:44 PM:

Ulrika @16: It would do more harm than good, and there's way too much competition.

Innumerable would-be wise guys have observed that right-wing squawkers from Limbaugh to Coulter to Beck are getting paid to provoke cheap outrage by misreporting the news, and decided they'd do it too. Result: they're selling their souls just as thoroughly as the Big Bads, but they're getting paid next to nothing for doing it.

The only person I know of who's climbed that ladder from the bottom up is, heaven help us, Daffydd ab Hugh. He's gone from being a regular commenter at Powerline, to being a contributor there, to being Michelle Malkin's vacation fill-in and minion. It was breathtaking to watch him blossom at Powerline. They thought he was brilliant.

#24 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 04:06 PM:

#23 RE Daffydd: Maybe someone should post that squicky qbt fperjvat scene from "The Skunk Rolled Down . . ." on Powerline.

#25 ::: ellid ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 05:01 PM:

Hi - I'm the Ellid who wrote the original post. I linked to the Democratic Underground site because I was so horrified at his characterization of Jane as a bigot that I didn't want to link directly to his blog.

According to a friend of mine who actually knows Moe Lane somewhat, he's the type of person who enjoys arguing for the sake of argument, and does it very badly. He's now threatening to do a "Jane Yolen" video, which would probably the sort of thing that would make the average person feel like sticking a knitting needle into their ear to make it stop....

#26 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 05:46 PM:

sodomy, rum *and* the lash!

That's what makes dinosaur sodomy the best sodomy of all!!*

*Apologies to Uncle Ghastly

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 05:54 PM:

A video? Bah! We laugh at your video! See, we bite our thumbs at him!

Besides, we do poetry. Think how long that endures. We have no live video report of Horatius at the bridge.

#28 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 05:55 PM:

As an aside, Ron Johnson is the person to point to when you find yourself wondering "Hey, why isn't all-around liberal badass Russ Feingold in the Senate anymore?".

And two weeks ago I answered a phone call from him. (I was on vacation at my relatives' house in northern Wisconsin, and it was an automated call to let me know that the local Republican party has a very poorly targeted phone list)

#29 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:03 PM:

ellid @25: would probably the sort of thing that would make the average person feel like sticking a knitting needle into their ear to make it stop....

I strongly suspect I'd be far more inclined to stick a knitting needle in his ear. Much more efficient.

Dave Bell @27: Besides, we do poetry.

And if he's not really careful, we do pastiches as well. Mwah-ha.

#30 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:05 PM:

ellid @ 25... He's now threatening to do a "Jane Yolen" video

I'm all for it if it gets Jane Yolen on Stephen Colbert's show.

#31 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:06 PM:

Is Moe Lane a Three-Stooges journalistic parody of Lois Lane?

#32 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:25 PM:

ellid @25, Jacque @29:

Given the number of knitters on here, maybe not. We have too much respect for our needles (and the WIPs on them) to sully them by touching that filth. Still, for the proper cause, maybe an old knitting needle, with no match....

#33 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 08:22 PM:

It could have been worse. You could have been the person who wrote My Pet Goat.

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 08:42 PM:

I want to read Edgar Rice Burroughs's "My Pet Thoat".

#35 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 08:48 PM:

I'm assuming that WTAQ chose its call letters to highlight the station's tackiness.

#36 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 08:49 PM:

How about HP Lovecraft's "My Pet Goat with a Thousand Young"?

#37 ::: Dirk ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 08:51 PM:

"how to construct a zero-Googlejuice link"

How does one do such a thing, Sensei?

#38 ::: ellid ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:22 PM:

@34 =


I'd buy a copy of that.

#39 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:23 PM:

I want to see the movie Deep Thoat.

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Serge Broom #34: Several internets are currently being sent to you.

#41 ::: Dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 10:40 PM:

Note to self: include Jane Yolen books in next book order for new nephew.

I always figure spending money on their books is the best way to thank an author - and much as I love her adult and YA, I tend to forget Yolen's also done a bunch of little-kid books.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 10:44 PM:

I have a pair of (cheap) 14-inch needles where one of the end-caps keeps coming off. While I'm using it. Will donate for purposes of fixing idjit conservative bloggers.
(My one pair of Signatures, on the other hand, is definitely Not Available for this purpose.)

#43 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 10:54 PM:

#30 Serge: Oh yes, I would LOVE to see Jane on the Colbert Report! I wonder if he's already a fan of hers...

I purchased "How do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs?" and "How do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats?" from the Scholastic Book Club at boychik's school. Must encourage Scholastic to keep putting the good authors in the lists sent home to parents, after all!

#44 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 12:19 AM:

If the Tea Party gets its way, having Senators come home from Washington to read to kids will be even more important than now... because none of the kids will know how to read.

I wonder how Mark Teague feels about all this. The pictures contribute to the "How Do Dinosaurs..." books as much as the words do, which is to say they are awesome. (The thirteen-year-old read this post and said, "Hey, that's the book with the wailing dinosaur!," referring to a page from "How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon.")

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:05 AM:

Ellid @25: Hi there! Be welcome.

Hi - I'm the Ellid who wrote the original post. I linked to the Democratic Underground site because I was so horrified at his characterization of Jane as a bigot that I didn't want to link directly to his blog.
Quite understandable. Moe Lane is the human equivalent of that coating of rancid grease that congeals on the roof of your mouth when you drink something cold right after eating a bad doughnut.

Here's the zero-Googlejuice trick. Pretend the pointy brackets are carets.

Standard link: {a href="URL"}link text{/a}

Link with rollover text: {a href="URL" title="title text"}link text{/a}

Zero-Googlejuice link: {a href="URL" rel="nofollow"}link text{/a}

Zero-Googlejuice link with rollover text: {a href="URL" title="title text" rel="nofollow"}link text{/a}

We have our comment thread set up in such a way that any link posted within a comment automatically has rel="nofollow" inserted. It discourages spammers.

According to a friend of mine who actually knows Moe Lane somewhat, he's the type of person who enjoys arguing for the sake of argument, and does it very badly.
A known type: lives under bridges, hungers after goats. I knew he was a troll the minute I saw his opening line about hitting a nerve. I've consequently been assuming that there's no variety of attention paid to him that he won't take as a win, and that he's notably underendowed with the ability to get attention via more normal means.
He's now threatening to do a "Jane Yolen" video,
Of course he is. He's getting more attention than he ever has before. He wants it to keep happening.
which would probably the sort of thing that would make the average person feel like sticking a knitting needle into their ear to make it stop....
Then we won't listen to it. That shouldn't be difficult. If he were capable of being interesting in his own right, he wouldn't be a troll.

The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

#46 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:36 AM:

If exposing children to books and literacy is good, then what Ron Johnson is doing to schools and libraries is bad.

Only in realities where he and his associates aren't more than making up for this by private foundations, endowments, and contributions of money and labour. We can identify the better realities by the growing number and quality of school and library services in them.

I presume that Senator Johnson is ahead of the game and square with his conscience because his time is worth $10K a minute, or some such. But there may be other Tea Party types who have got as far as "Get the government off our back!" and accidentally forgotten to proceed to the "Put the burdens of civil society on our shoulders, and then watch our jets!" part. It is really only neighbourly to remind them.

I believe there are also one or two committed Christians amongst their ranks; but these, of course, would hardly need the reminder.

#47 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 02:31 AM:

This is about the time when I remind myself how much I love the Making Light comment section.


#48 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 04:42 AM:

@Serge #34:

Como dan las buenas noches los Zitidarios?

#49 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 08:14 AM:

Only in realities where he and his associates aren't more than making up for this by private foundations, endowments, and contributions of money and labour. We can identify the better realities by the growing number and quality of school and library services in them.

But the whole point of funding public services via taxes is to not put all the burden of doing good things on the nicest people. Taxes are the fix for the free-rider exploit. When someone wants to reintroduce vulnerability to a known exploit, it's not a long leap to infer their motivation.

Private charity is a *proven inferior* system to public works. If someone wants to dismantle a better system to reintroduce a worse one, I ask myself why. Efficient functioning of the system clearly isn't their goal, so what is?

#50 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 09:40 AM:

On the one hand, my brain itches to start with

How do dinosaurs change the world?
Do they sit at the side, with their tails neatly furled?

...and go from there. But what I really want is for Jane to write it, Mark Teague to illustrate it, and more people than the Making Light commentariat to read it.

And writing anything myself would make that impossible. So I won't.

#51 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 10:04 AM:

chris @ 49: But the whole point of funding public services via taxes is to not put all the burden of doing good things on the nicest people. Taxes are the fix for the free-rider exploit.

Which taxes are themselves vulnerable to the utterly poisonous exploit: "Tax in the name of providing good services, provide crappy or bone-thin ones instead, and spend the difference on myself and my friends." Worse, a lot of versions of this exploit end up being pretty transparent transfers of welfare and opportunity from the poorer to the richer, quite frequently the incorporated mega-richer.

There are also... other unsavoury failure modes that creep in, when one imposes some monopolistic solution to the demands of a diverse society.

>When someone wants to reintroduce vulnerability to a known exploit, it's not a long leap to infer their motivation.

But it may be a wrong leap. There are lots of leaps to assumptions, especially about motivation, that are wrong without being long. Alas, I see no evidence that you're wrong about Sen Johnson and his ilk at all.

Voluntary burden-shouldering would be evidence of either having benign motives, or at least respecting one's public enough to bother faking them. Serious engagement with either the free-rider exploit or the whip-and-spur-wielder exploit would be much better evidence, though even harder work.

I don't think it unreasonable to expect a politician, clamouring for office and power, to demonstrate that they take at least one of those issues personally and seriously. I'd rather they so took both, or sang small.

My problem with the Tea Tendency is not that they're unwilling to leave public service provision to Government, but that they act like people who want to leave it to God and Gandalf.

#52 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 10:40 AM:

Abi @ 50.

If the video does get made, this would be the ideal antidote for it.

#53 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 12:05 PM:

Tea Partiers really hate it when their basic hypocrisy is exposed.

#54 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 12:33 PM:

Gray Woodland @46 and 51 -- thank you for introducing an intelligent argument on the subject of minimizing taxes. While I agree more with Chris @49, I find your arguments very much worth thinking about.

#55 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 12:53 PM:

abi @ 50 with How do dinosaurs change the world?:

This, please--I'd love to see that book.

#56 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 06:24 PM:

Jane's books have already been burned by Fred "Thank God for Dead American Soldiers" Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Who does Moe think he is? Does Moe really think he can compete with that level of hate?

#57 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 07:40 PM:

Gray Woodland: Looking at this issue from a programmer's POV... when the fix for a known bug introduces a new bug, the solution is not to go back to the original bug, it's to fix the new bug. We already know, from centuries of history, that relying on the private sector to handle this stuff doesn't work. It's not going to magically start working just because somebody doesn't like the public-sector solution, or because that method has its own problems.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 07:43 PM:

Dammit, I did close that bold tag; I could still see it in the text box after the post went thru. I have no idea why it didn't take.

#59 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 11:35 PM:

and that he's notably underendowed with the ability to get attention via more normal means

I see what you did there.

The fact that they had to bus in staffers to be fake parents at the reading is very telling.

#60 ::: Anaea ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 01:11 AM:

I wouldn't read too much into having to solicit warm bodies to show up. My impression is that the plans were relatively last minute and there wasn't a lot of time for publicity to the general public. Legitimate members of the targeted demographic are the ones least likely to have access to the resources for publicizing events at the last minute (i.e. smartphones or other reliable internet access) and the least flexibility in daily schedules, especially when school is out. I'm finding it hard to get people to come to things even when they're planned out decently in advance, with crowdsourcing for time and location choice. Prop kids are the least interesting aspect of the whole thing.

That said, I've been at the exhausted and crabby stage over state politics for a few weeks now. This thread is a refreshing delight. Thank you for being here.

#61 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 04:37 AM:

Tom @ 54: Thanks for the kind words and the interest. For coverage wider and scholarship deeper than I can offer, you might find the Center for a Stateless Society or the guys at Bleeding Heart Libertarians interesting. Kevin Carson at C4SS, in particular, has done a huge amount of research on grassroots solutions that have historically worked, failed, and/or been suppressed once they started working entirely too well. I disagree with him about a lot, some of it rather important, but he knows a great deal more relevant stuff than I can yet pretend to.

johnofjack @ 55: Are you sure about that? How do dinosaurs change the world? sounds a lot like the manual for a certain kind of activist. Possibly the similarity of title confused Senator Johnson into reading out the book he did?

Lee @ 57: I think this is so interestingly and thought-provokingly wrong that I'd like to come back to it later, with the attention it properly deserves. Ultra-condensed version: Now we see the violence inherent in the metaphor! (I don't disagree with you about the hopelessness of expecting the 'private sector', as presently constituted, to solve most of the problems we're talking about. Indeed, it's a sizeable part of all too many of them.)

#62 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:37 AM:

Macdonald @ 56

Moe could, most definitely.

Phelps' tactics are as much a business model as it is a religion. (Or should I say, religion as a business model?) I live in the region they also inhabit and remember their early days before the Paterfamilias managed to get national attention.

Phelps and family (which makes up the majority of the Westboro "church") have a higher than average amount of lawyers. In the early days of their "god driven" protests, they'd sue the pants off of anyone restricting their free speech and all the other attendant rights relating to public protests. (all of their protests literally have a family-connected lawyer on site)

Phelps and family started out protesting gays and lesbians in any and all forms. (I've seen the protestors in person in their early days while attending a play at my local university.) When the cities in the area and the bi/gay/lesbian community finally clued into the "Oh, Trolls. Don't feed the trolls" solution, the Phelps family stopped rallying around non-hetero funerals and other events and started targeting soldiers in hopes of starting fights and keeping himself and his church in the news.

I recently attended a funeral for a veteran (of the Vietnam war). The Freedom Riders attended, but no one from the Phelps clan put in an appearance. And this is a veteran who has a son that is known as a Satanic priest, among other things. You'd have thought the God fearing Westboro Baptists would have arrived in force to combat a priest of the devil... but the man died of cancer and the family has huge bills. The funeral wasn't worth the Phelps' time.

#63 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 01:54 PM:

Gray @ 61:
Ah, yes. I was used to the How Do Dinosaurs ...? series as etiquette for kids, and had forgotten the double meaning of "dinosaur." How Do Dinosaurs Change the World sounds like a political satire, now that you mention it.

#64 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:33 PM:

#23 Teresa
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

#34 Serge

Deep Thoat!
Upon the sands of Mars
Where Dejah Thoris eggs incubate.

Deep Thoat!
The wargod's planet red
And robotic rovers defy their fate.

Deep Thoat!
The creatures large and fierce
To ride throughout romantic tales.

Deep Thoat!
They twine and reproduce
Long-bodied reptiles thund'rously mate.

Deep Thoat!
Mammalian silly rules
For sex and menage don't apply.

Deep Thoat!
And into story,
On big beast ride.

#65 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:48 PM:

Paula: I first heard about D. ab H's new life path from Michael Berube, during a very civilized group dinner of liberal bloggers. He paused thoughtfully for a moment, then said, "What can you tell me about Daffydd ab Hugh?" It was a sublimely surreal moment.

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:46 AM:

By the way, everyone here knows that Moe Lane used to hold down the right wing of Obsidian Wings, before he took the Path of the Wingnut and became addicted to outrage, right?

#67 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:17 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 64... :-)

#68 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:31 AM:

Thank you, Abi. I knew I knew that name from somewhere. I find myself thinking that it must be easier to follow the path of the wingnut than to admit that you're hopelessly outclassed at Obsidian Wings.

#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:56 AM:

What can I say about Daffyd? When I knew him on GEnie what impressed me most about him was his highly creative and very convenient memory.

#70 ::: Richard Hershberger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:34 PM:

Victoria @62:

I have seen over the past year the meme take hold that the Westboro protests are merely a scam to provoke excuses for lawsuits. I have yet to see one whit of support for this and frankly, I don't buy it. There are various legal reasons why it is an implausible scenario, but we don't even have to go there. The mainstream media loves crazy Westboro Baptist stories. The mainstream media also loves stupid lawsuit stories. If these suits were actually being filed, it would produce a perfect storm of media frenzy. But what do we actually hear? Crickets chirping.

Or, to approach this from another direction, many jurisdictions have their dockets available online in searchable form. Maryland's, for example, is here: If these lawsuits were out there they wouldn't be that hard to find. So show me a Westboro lawsuit. I don't want vague rumors. I want the name of a court and a case caption and file number.

I have asked this in enough venues with no good response to be persuaded that the meme is BS. Why it is so popular? I think we have trouble dealing with the idea that Fred Phelps is actually as evil as he presents himself to be. The idea that he is merely venal is comforting.

#71 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:44 PM:

They have filed at least one suit, and won. You only have 49 more states (and DC) to search....

#72 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:13 PM:

Phelps suing the City of Topeka for $7 million.


122 F.3d 1309 (1997)

Fred W. PHELPS, Sr.; Jonathan B. Phelps, Karl D. Hockenbarger, Charles F. Hockenbarger; Timothy B. Phelps, and Margie J. Phelps, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Joan HAMILTON, in her official capacity as District Attorney, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 95-3251.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

August 12, 1997.

Elizabeth M. Phelps, Phelps-Chartered, Topeka, KS, and Margie J. Phelps, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
Deanne Watts Hay and Martha A. Peterson, Sloan, Listrom, Eisenbarth, Sloan & Glassman, L.L.C., Topeka, KS, for Defendant-Appellee.
Before BRORBY, HENRY, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.*

#73 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:27 PM:

Googling "fred w phelps sr" + plaintiff will get you several more.

#74 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:28 PM:

#70 Richard

Fred Phelps is evil in multiple ways, which include greed, perhaps hypocrisy, venality, arrogance, intolerance, lack of ruth, etc. Go to the home website of the WBC, it looks like a caricature and something that "are these people SERIOUS?" It really is (or was, I haven't been back to check it out since) that over the top and extreme, that it looks like a badly done parody of a crazyranters' website.

Also, go check past threads on Making Light about Phelps and his cohorts and the links on them. Also, there are rumors the Phelps is a chickenhawk. It;s not a rumor that Kansas eventually disbarred him for ethical/legal violations as a legal practioner. Other members of that family however continue licensed as attorneys and continue filing lawsuits.

There are also questions regarding who funds the Phelpses and WBC, if it not people including the Koch brothers, it's got some of the same sorts of people/class of people as the Kochs.

#75 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:47 PM:

#56 James

Since when has that stopped people from trying to compete, merely because they're many laps behind with no chance of catching up unless something major changes the situation?

Public endeavors have done some marvelous things:
a) weather satellites, without with predictions of hurricane paths etc., might be impossible
b) computer technology, ditto
c) digital imaging and digital cameras (all direct descendants of the Moon program)
d) cell phones--descendents of a lot of military communications technology
e) clean water in the USA which people tend to very much take for granted, and lots of other stuff done with tax dollars for public health
f) the Center for Disease Control, which has many unsung heroes who have gone all over the world to investigate and assist in preventing local diseases from turning into pandemics. Failures include the HIV situation, which spread over the world during the reign of malevolent moralists in the time that Ronald Reagan's senile body occupied the White House and had the attitude of "the wages of sin are death." Jerry Pournelle is never going to live down claiming that HIV transmission by heterosexual intercourse was a myth....

There are lots of other things that government funding has done to benefit humankind and the planet--and there are lots of things that the loss of government support and activity in, have made the lot of the populace worse and poisoned flora and fauna both. The failure to rebuild the water distribution system in Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew, left a festering mess which contributed to the 9/11 mass atrocities, and misery of millions of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan--misery so appalling that women in Taliban-controlled areas begged the rest of the world to invade and get rid of Taliban, recording video from beneath their veils literally risking their lives, and those who had access to ultrasound imaging in pregnancy, selectively aborted female fetuses "because it is better to never be born than to be a girl growing up under Taliban." The tapes from Nightline have women from Pakistan and Afghanistan saying that, in the 1990s.

#76 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:29 PM:

Gray @ 61 and above

What I'm not seeing is why the current accommodation for that approach -- that is, tax-exemption for charitable organizations and contributions to same -- isn't an acceptable workaround.

Surely those of us who find paying taxes a rewarding part of our civic responsibility should be allowed to donate in support of a safe and well-regulated society, without having to individually identify each element of the same? ("Let's see, I've written checks for clean water, clean air, local street maintenance, school, police, fire, and emergency medical... Honey, who am I forgetting that I should be sending money to? Does emergency medical include poison control, or do we have to send them a separate check? ... Did we pay off all of the local judges yet? Where's my list?")

Further, it neatly clears the problem of free-riders, without impinging on people who are genuinely contributing in other ways. And that doesn't even get into another issue that hasn't been raised, which is that charitable contributions decrease in times of hardship, which is exactly the point at which they are most desperately needed. And I don't personally want to bank on the idea that a lot of decentralized local charities are all going to have the resources, foresight, and knowledge to ensure that they have adequate resources for an extended depression. And THEN let's talk about stimulus, and the inability of local organizations in depressed economies to provide adequate stimulus to forestall economic collapse and even worse hardship.

AND let's talk about local corruption, the ability of powerful corporations and the rich to disproportionately influence local politics, company towns and other modern forms of feudalism, lynch mobs, and the fair resolution of problems that transcend local politics -- such as water use rights in California, which, without government oversight, would result in everyone downstream being dependent on the goodwill and leavings of everyone else upstream, and the potential for incredible ecological devestation if only a few of those upstream users acted selfishly and in pursuit of only their own short-term gain.

Government serves a huge range of purposes that I, for one, am entirely unwilling to give up. They are necessary to civilization, which is dependent on continuity. And I don't think that I, or any other willing taxpayers, should be required to live in a hell of someone else's careless creation, just because they didn't want to be made to pay money toward services that they equally benefit from, and we weren't able to contribute sufficient money to compensate for their apathy and selfishness. The more I see, the more I think maybe Hobbes was on to something with his state of nature. And the less I want to live there.

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:46 PM:

KayTei: It's a shame we can't institute some form of the following: "Okay, you-all who want to do away with government: let's you try living without any government services for the next year. Get back to me 366 days from now and tell me what you think."

#78 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:53 PM:

Jacque @ 77

There was a somewhat wicked suggestion a while back, when Cali was in the midst of yet another budget negotiation fiasco, that we should let counties vote on whether to raise their state taxes, and base state government offices services disproportionately in those counties that were paying the higher taxes. I worry that it would have benefitted rich liberal counties at the expense of everyone else, but it was an extremely appealing scenario nonetheless...

#79 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:58 PM:

@77/78 My own breakfast-table vitriol is to declare that if elected representatives want to make spending cuts, they need to describe how those cuts are going to come out of their own districts. This would a) allow those of us who are okay with paying taxes for services continue to do that, and b) demonstrate what happens when a society stops doing that.

Consequences would of course become really ugly really quickly, but in the language of "shouting at the radio before 7 am" that's not an undesirable outcome of a thought experiment.

#80 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:04 PM:

I think one of the cricial concepts that never gets enough attention in this society (for thoroughly discussed sociological, political, and economic reasons) is TAANSTAFL.

It would be really cool if this was somehow made as basic an educational requirement as the three Rs. But then, that still presumes at least maintenance-level funding of education, which gets us right back where we started. ::sigh::

#81 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:10 PM:

That should be "... base state government offices and services..."

... offiously.

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:54 PM:

I'd like the elected officials who want to impose programs on their constituents try those same programs themselves for a year, first. (If they want to cut medical funding to others, they get their one medical funding cu first and to the same degree. Same goes for pensions. And any other program they think is unnecessary for others.)

#83 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:23 AM:

@82: I'd endorse that.

#84 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 05:35 AM:

Lee @ 57:

when the fix for a known bug introduces a new bug, the solution is not to go back to the original bug, it's to fix the new bug. We already know, from centuries of history, that relying on the private sector to handle this stuff doesn't work. It's not going to magically start working just because somebody doesn't like the public-sector solution, or because that method has its own problems.

Here's where the metaphor - which I bought into before you did! - leads us badly astray. We don't know any such thing, excepting the bit about the uselessness of appeals to magic or political providence.

Societies, unlike computer platforms, aren't static or even passive. What will work in one culture, with one set of institutions, beliefs, and technologies, isn't necessarily the same as what will work in another. The modern city wouldn't work in most previous cultures. And it was once a commonplace among the English ruling classes that democratic and republican forms of government were ill-advised experiments, long since tried and repeatedly failed.

It's fair to present the eternal sceptical demand "What would be different this time, then?". The arch-conservative response "Never worked before, never will!" is reasonable in physics and programming, but it takes a horribly essentialist set of assumptions to validate it in politics. And the software-engineering metaphor implicitly guides us towards them, as well as a whole sackload of other bad stuff.

Here's what I came up with, when I started unpacking it:

- Static underlying structure.
- Complete downwards legibility, complete upwards opacity.
- A complete reservation of agency to the Programmers.
- Strong and inflexible hierarchies of command and priority.
- Minimal self-programming and emergent behaviour even within preset rules, since the Programmer must understand the system afterwards.
- A purely functional view of all system components and processes. If a process isn't performing its desired function, one simply kills it, and modifies the source that produces it!
- The ends are the entire point: means are beside the point, except inasfar as they affect the efficiency of the production or the convenience of the Programmer.

Translated into human terms, this is an almost perfect description of the Totalitarian State From Hell. Because I am also a geek, I utterly failed to notice this the first time around.

But I think it does make software engineering a remarkably suspect metaphor for the political kind!

#85 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 08:44 AM:

Gray Woodland @ 84... the convenience of the Programmer seldom taken into account.
Yes, I am a programmer.
Yes, I work for the Keystone Korps.

#86 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:31 PM:

One of the few good things about spam was that it became the default topic that all internet discussions devolved into, replacing the previous default topic which was "libertarians vs. socialists" (often including the related topic of gnu ctrl, which is another good topic to Usually Not Discuss.)

#87 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:43 AM:

Gray, #84: Your point that societies are more fluid and changeable than programming parameters is valid. However, I'm going to seriously disagree with the assertion that "means are beside the point" in programming. Anyone who's ever had to program around scarce-resource issues knows better than that! (Although M$ certainly seems to believe it... but I digress.) And scarcity of resources certainly is among the problems our society is currently facing.

Perhaps more importantly, I think you've stretched my metaphor completely beyond its applicable range in your eagerness to refute it. I did not say, and am not implying, that social engineering can be approached as a computer-programming problem -- only that certain ideas and concepts are transferable from one to the other. Perhaps it would make more sense to you in the form, "Doing the same thing while expecting different results is a form of insanity."

#88 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:41 AM:

Bill @ 86: Fear not: I have no intention of boring on like the Mohole Project on this thread for much longer. In any case, a "libertarian vs socialist" ding-dong holds little appeal for me, since I've come to hold with the rather older school of thought that any form of either really worth having, can co-exist with the other as nicely as ham and eggs.

I don't expect to convert anybody here to my somewhat obscure philosophy, since for people well-grounded in their own beliefs, I lack possibly the talent, probably the time, and certainly the record of relevant achievement to justify any such ambition. I do, though, think that now and then a non-missionary airing of respective perspectives can make more of light than flame - in the right environment, of course.

Wherefore, after one more response to clarify where I'm coming from on some fair points made by KayTei and Lee, I propose to quit for the present whilst we are all ahead on the game. Apart from anything else, I have a fantasy nearing first-draft completion which engages with a number of these issues implicitly*; and I suspect I have more to offer when fabulating on them, rather than merely opining.

And I note that there is not very much dust on my cat.

*If somewhat ambivalently, since I hold with Tolkien that stories are properly told for their own sake; and add my own notion that the best way to express one's philosophy honestly in fiction is to hit it hard at all its weak points. Because fiction ought to be alive, and life does that!

#89 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 06:29 PM:

And the book I'd like to see:

How do dinosaurs play while their little brother is finally taking a nap because he's been resisting it all day and is really really tired and cranky.

Do they loudly paw through the lego box?
Do they empty all of the legos out in one long crashing roar?
Do they run through the house yelling because the middle brother took their lego piece that they were using?

or maybe not. doesn't scan.

#90 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:11 AM:

As promised, response at last...

Lee @ 87: I wasn't that eager to refute your metaphor, but I found it absolutely essential to debunk my own. I don't think bad metaphors are dangerous because they force us into clunkily literal conscious analogies; rather, I fear the ways they bias our intuitions once embraced.

>However, I'm going to seriously disagree with the assertion that "means are beside the point" in programming. Anyone who's ever had to program around scarce-resource issues knows better than that!

And this is a perfect illustration of what I meant to talk about, proving that an insidious metaphor can yet be an illuminating one. The programmer doesn't care about resource issues for themselves at all - only for the constraints they provide on the implementation of the Program, and its Point. In politics and other human interactions, this is a very familiar failure mode indeed.

Consider, in particular, the constraining political resource of 'consent' to one's authority. A government geared to maintain, by any means expedient, however much public consent it needs to enact its will, suggests one kind of society. A government geared to expedite such things as the public actually consent to do, suggests a very different one.

Caring about consent (or other human values) instrumentally, is very different from caring about them for themselves. That's what I meant about 'the point'. If I didn't see this confusion so often in practice, I'd probably be a lot less sensitive to its pervasiveness in the 'social engineering' family of metaphors.

"Doing the same thing while expecting different results is a form of insanity."

Absolutely. And I look at the results to date of putting our trust in princes, however enthroned, and find the further extension of the project... radically unsound. Our diagnoses of the underlying problem of power are, obviously, very different indeed.

This is getting longer than I'd hoped to make it. In the interests of readability, I'll respond to KayTei's points in a final posting.

#91 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:29 AM:

The non-management apologizes for the prolixity: so many unshared assumptions to unpack!

Still far too briefly to answer with real justice - KayTei @ 76:

A sloganistic way to express the vast difference between our positions might be that what you and Hobbes fear as the State of Nature, I fear more as the Nature of the State. Where our man sees the supremacy of the Sovereign as all that stands between the commonwealth and the war of all against all, I see the whole hubristic concept of sovereignty as a lot like Anarchy For One, James. Distributing that privilege has lightened the burden considerably for the present; but there is still entirely too much top-down, one-way anarchy knocking about in the system.

Whereas you associate war, inequity, servitude, selfishness, lawlessness and want with a dearth of external sovereignty, and equal peace and prosperity with its plenty, I think that is almost turning the sources of these things on their heads. The brutal kind of anarchy you fear is, to me, an utterly corrupt kind, in terror of which I wholeheartedly join you. But I don't think many of us would feel more secure under the rottenest and most brutal kinds of government, either.

To me, anarchism is only a set of social technologies, for achieving common goals without recourse to dominance hierarchies. And libertarianism is... the project and conversation of introducing anarchistic social technologies, necessarily by consent. Think of its goal not as no-government, but as self-government, or distributed peer-to-peer government, perhaps.

Now, if libertarians can't or won't launch successful, robust mutual-welfare projects before being relieved of obligation to contribute their suspect State equivalents - our technologies probably aren't good enough, or our shoulders broad enough, to move the world our way with right now: that's all. And I make no claim that our score stands very high at the moment. Which was pretty much the import of my original comment at #46 - that, and the fact that I see very few signs of practical libertarianism among the Tea Party crowd at all. Pity!

Maintaining and improving library access, in one form or another, is but one way in which a little demonstration could do more good than a thousand webscreeds.

This has been a monster duo-post, and I'm now done with webscreeding on this subject for this time. I'm not done with reading responses, but I shan't respond in turn unless some correction or apology on my part proves to be called for. I believe I have taken my full share of this discussion, and the public patience, for the present.

I have no delusions that this constitutes a persuasive response even to those issues I've directly addressed - but I hope it does at least work expressively, in that it sketches roughly where I'm coming from, and what I mean by it.

#92 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 11:01 AM:

Gray @ 91

Cool post. Very clarifying. I want to give it more time, when I can sit down and really think about it. But that definitely helps me see a little better where you're coming from.

#93 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:35 PM:

Gray Woodland @ 91: "Whereas you associate war, inequity, servitude, selfishness, lawlessness and want with a dearth of external sovereignty, and equal peace and prosperity with its plenty, I think that is almost turning the sources of these things on their heads."

To cast the State as the definitive source of war, inequity, servitude, selfishness, lawlessness and want seems to me to mistake the nature of Nature. The relentless hunt for calories and reproduction is itself a form of servitude, the random advance of storm and plague and other disasters a form of war, the simple not-knowing into which we are unconsenting born a cruel and capricious sovereign. A monarch need not be very just to be better than that, though they have often been worse. That in our lives we put responsibility for so many of these things at the foot of governance is generally because the state has displaced nature as their arbiter, not because government is their author.

#94 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 01:05 PM:

Westboro Baptist has been trying to get publicity by annoying Kevin Smith lately, for obvious reasons. I don't think it's been as slick as they thought it would be in the planning stages, mainly because they must have planned on the crude but didn't realize they weren't equipped for the funny. It's not quite as entertaining as the time that Lubbock, TX dropped trousers on the KKK march, but it's getting there...

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 05:24 PM:

heresiarch #93: There is also the point that in the absence or complaisance of a powerful government, plenty of "private agencies" are all too willing to demand servitude, engage in war, enforce inequity, etc.. Consider the role of the Mafia.... The biggest advantage of a king, is that a king can be overthrown. How do you overthrow a corporation?

#96 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 05:50 PM:

David Harmon @95:

How do you overthrow a corporation?

Hostile takeover?

#97 ::: Prodigal ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 03:47 PM:

Moe Lane used to be someone whom you could hold a reasonable conversation with. Unfortunately, that Moe vanished at some point after he became a blogger for Red State.

I miss the old Moe a great deal.

#98 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:28 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @94: Westboro Baptist vs. Kevin Smith? Oh dear.... (Maybe there is a God.)

#99 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 10:11 AM:

Jacque @ 98... Has there been any Alan Rickman sighting?

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