SHORT END OF THE STICK

One thing I never do in the classroom, despite it being fairly common in my field, is to have students debate political issues. That's not the point of political science. I'm far more interested in evaluating their level of knowledge than in letting them talk about what they think. They spend enough time talking about what they think. No one cares. Opinions are for the internet.

Yes, there is some value in the point-counterpoint format. But in the classroom it strikes me as more of a time-killing tactic than legitimate pedagogy. It's one step short of showing episodes of The West Wing because Prof has a hangover. I assign papers in which the students get to practice defending a viewpoint by constructing a logical argument based on evidence. In my opinion that's more useful.

The other reason I don't like debate-style exercises is that there are surprisingly few issues in politics have two relatively equally balanced sides to the argument. I mean, modern American politics is basically the Democrats mumbling something quasi-logical while the Republicans scream something that makes no sense whatsoever. What am I supposed to say, "OK class, today we're going to debate de-funding the National Science Foundation. This group will be the 'pro' side…." We'd get more accomplished if we played Candyland. Defending ridiculous viewpoints is going to teach them one of two things. They will learn to make nonsensical arguments unabashedly, or they will learn how to say a bunch of bullshit that sounds like a persuasive argument but isn't. The former is Sean Hannity, the latter, George Will.

Regular NY Times readers among you may know where I'm going with this, assuming you laughed as hard as I did when reading the recent story about young conservatives defending "Traditional" Marriage ("Young Opponents of Gay Marriage Undaunted by Battle Ahead") If these young people had not freely chosen to do this for a living – and presumably they're getting paid pretty well from the right-wing slush fund, especially for people with no particular skills – I might feel a little sorry for them. For people defending an ideology based on individual freedom and minimal government, constructing an anti-gay marriage argument involves willful ignorance or staggeringly complex mental gymnastics.

And the other side of the issue – the case for what proponents call traditional marriage – is simple, they say.

"In redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, what you’re doing is you’re excluding the norm of sexual complementarity," said Mr. Anderson, the Heritage Foundation fellow. "Once you exclude that norm, the three other norms – which are monogamy, sexual exclusivity and permanency – become optional as well."

The result, proponents of traditional marriage say, would be further rises in divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births.

OK, sure, this argument makes no sense, being essentially an "It's bad for society!" argument from people who purport to be against what they call the Nanny State telling us what to do. But at the same time, wow, that is some epic bullshitting! Well done, Mr. Anderson. Made it sound all fancy 'n stuff!

I've never been one to read nobility into the idea of fighting a lost cause. To me it seems sad rather than some sort of victory of the human spirit against unfavorable odds. The reader gets a sense, based on their comments, that they see themselves as the protagonists in 300, fighting a lost cause in a way that will be remembered forever for its heroism, fidelity, and bravery. All I see is reasonably bright young people who could be doing something useful with their lives but instead have chosen to be the Washington Generals of the gay marriage debate.

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45 Responses to “SHORT END OF THE STICK”

  1. lofgren Says:

    SOMEBODY's got to be the Generals. Otherwise we'd have to play a real game instead of another distracting exhibition.

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    Well, clearly they don't think of themselves as the Spartans, practitioners of socially accepted homosexuality as well as a collectivism that looked ever so much like socialism.

    It's the *priorities* of such people that I can't fathom. Look, if everything in the world was awesome and wonderful *except* for The State of Marriage Today, then I might understand why you all want to devote your lives to that cause. But my God the world sucks in so many other, far more pertinent ways–as long as American children are starving, or Vets are blowing their brains out because they can't get decent health care, or–fuck it, this list could be pages long and not even scratch the surface of Shit That's More Important Than Two Guys Doing Stuff To Each Other That You Consider Icky. Just…why do none of these people–*none* of them–ever really stop and ask of themselves, with fearless honesty: "How does this affect me and the people I care about, and if the answer is 'not at all' or even 'positively', then what the fuck am I doing with my life?"

    The emotional and moral equation seems to be this: "If gay people can get married, I will be somewhat unhappy, and they will be very happy. But if gay people cannot get married, I will be somewhat happy, and they will be very unhappy. Ergo: Fuck John Stuart Mill–let them suffer so that I might snuggle up in the downy quilt of my preferred state of non-offense."

    On the plus side, they will lose. History has pretty much written this one on the wall in big primary colors. And that means that rather than doing some kind of horrible damage elsewhere–Pro-Life Activism, say, or Anti-Immigrant Rabble-rousing–they're plugging away at a lost cause, and losing their precious youth to a failed policy. Which, given that they're horrible, horrible people, is enough to put a smile on my face.

  3. Daniel Says:

    I had a Facebook friend yesterday make some clumsy argument against gay marriage. It basically came down to "I'm religious and I don't like it." There really isn't another argument to be made. It's not unconstitutional, some people are morally opposed to it. That's it. It's sad that this country is slowly progressing against this wave of idiocy. It shouldn't take this long, but you know, people are morally against it because of some cherry-picked passages from the Bible.

  4. FMguru Says:

    That whole article is amazing. I particularly liked this paragraph:

    “These Republicans who are jumping ship are doing so because we have no way of messaging,” said Ashley Pratte, 23, the executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action, a New Hampshire group that focuses on social issues. “Do you want to tell your friends when you’re out with them on a Friday night that they can’t get married? No, you don’t want to have that discussion, but you want to have a healthy discussion.”

    First, big laffs at the Cornerstone Policy Research and Action having a 23 year old executive director. Second, check out that word salad in the final sentence. We want to have a healthy discussion of gay marriage, and the way to do that is to not discuss anything about gay people who want to get married. The fuck?

  5. tensor Says:

    "All I see is reasonably bright young people who could be doing something useful with their lives…"

    What if this hopeless. useless, makes-the-world-worse-if-it-succeeds cause IS the most useful thing they could possibly do with their lives? I mean, they openly compare it to the forced-childbirth crowd's attempt to return not-rich women to back-alley butchery.

    (Also, I loved the picture of Mr. Young Anti-Marriage, WHO IS SO TOTALLY NOT GAY. Cripes, even my minimal gaydar whooped at that image!)

  6. Jo Says:

    Kids need jobs, though. They're all so young, and they're directing presumably funded policy institutes. They probably have law degrees, so what are they supposed to do, live off daddy? Imagine that conventional wisdom said that a degree in geology was the way to wealth and power. There'd be a zillion people getting geology degrees, a certain percentage of them would be stupid, mean, and unemployed. Would anyone be surprised if they ended up being the 27-year-old directors of flat earth advocacy groups?

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    Today's Movement Conservatism can be defined by five characteristics:
    1. Against, any and every thing Liberals are for.
    2. For, any and every thing Liberals are against.
    3. For, any and every thing that makes the lives of those who are not themselves Movement Conservatives as miserable as possible.
    4. For, Chistianity – particularly the Dominionist Evangelical variety. Jesus and The Bible will be used both to attack and defend and any all positions.
    Any actual consistency with the real teachings of Jesus, and/or the lessons in The Bible, except for select passages in Deuteronomy, may be purely coincidental, and are not a requirement.
    5. For, Manicheanism. "If you ain't fer us, you're agin' us!!!" We are on the side of God and Jesus and righteousness, and if you don't agree with us, you are obviously on the side of Satan and his minions and evil – aka: Liberals and Democrats.

    The first two are flexible – Movement Conservative positions (aka: "convictions") may change as needed – even hourly – in response to any attempts by Liberals to seek some level of common ground, to try to compromise towards some sort of solution.
    Compromise and solutions, are proof of cowardice and surrender. Hence, insufficient Conservatism was displayed, and the surrender monkeys must be excommunicated – or, better yet, terminated with extreme prejudice! Sadly, terminating people with extreme prejudice for political heresy is still murder in our not-yet completely Conservative society, and so, for now, excommunication is the best solution.
    Victory will bring "The Final Solution" for all heretics.

    The final three, are immutable.
    Conservatism revels in the agony of others. Conservatives live to cause misery in others. In the agony and misery of others, is true joy to be found for true Conservatives.
    To justify this Biblically, Deuteronomy trumps all else in The Bible, except, of course, 'The Book of Revelations."

    In other words, they are an interchangeable combination of Chrisitan fanatics, Fascists, and Nihilists.

    Period.

  8. Major Kong Says:

    I just don't get it. Two gay people getting married doesn't make me the slightest bit less married.

    It's not like there's a fixed amount of marriage to go around and letting gays have some means there's less for the rest of us.

  9. Number Three Says:

    I'm mid-40's now and sometimes muse that I missed the gravy train on the conservative movement. I mean, I have a conscience, and scruples, so it really wasn't feasible for me to play the rightwing money people for suckers–as a career option. Maybe I just don't have that level of self-deception . . . But whatever, it's clear that there are folks who are willing to soak those rightwing foundations for their millions. This is one aspect of such "debates" that goes unnoticed, at times–that as long as the millions are there for someone to say these things, someone will. Maybe that's what "adjudicated over time" means, in the end.

  10. Dick Nixon Says:

    Bill Buckley once defined the role of the Conservative: "We stand athwart history and say No!" Intellectually, that's a fairly easy gig.

    What I saw in the argument was the old "slippery slope" fallacy. If A is allowed then it logically follows that B and C we be allowed as well–or in this case negated.

    This is not tough stuff. Trot out the ad hominem, the poisoned well, the straw man and the slippery slope and you have yourself a nice career as a conservative intellectual–standing athwart history and shouting No!, while cashing that wingnut welfare check from the Foundation of your choice.

  11. Anthony Says:

    I teach philosophy at a community college. I have my students write papers in which they have to defend their opinions with a logical argument. We spend a fair amount of the course on the properties of arguments and informal logic. It amazes me how alien the students find this. I'm starting to think that one of the *problems* of education today is that students are too often *not* asked to talk about what they think. Most of my students seem to think that "opinions" are all created equal and can't be criticized. I try to teach them otherwise – that reasoning itself can be good or bad – that there are objective standards by which we can evaluate arguments.

    Ed – when you say that you ask them to defend their viewpoint by constructing a logical argument based on evidence, what exactly do you mean by "based on evidence"?

  12. Ruthie Says:

    Ah for the "good old days," when the junior grifters started with sex, graduated to minor drug deals selling pot cut with way too much oregano, then religion, then politics–and if they were really lucky–their very own PACs.

    Now the kiddies start with their very own PACs. You have to admire the level of premature neural ossification that allows for a slippery slope analogy like: legalizing gay marriage will not only, by its deviance from the norm, de-legitimize "REAL marriages," but lead to a horde of social ills (–plus that man-on-dog action that Rick Santorum is always going on about.)

    Little do they realize that once they succeed, they will all be pink-slipped, and have to backstab for those jobs cutting Medicaid benefits for the poors.

  13. Tim H. Says:

    One of the amusing things about contemporary conservatism is the "Sorta' libertarianism" they practice, sweeping freedoms for everything in the financial interest of their masters, harsh controls for everything else.

  14. JohnR Says:

    Daniel: "..some people are morally opposed to it.." That might mean something if the term "morally" meant anything other than "what I like/don't like". You would be more accurate if you just said "..some people are opposed to it.." We all prefer to make our preferences valid by making them Universal Laws From The Only Real Supernatural Source [echoing effect here]. This is just another variant of the standard human "Everybody's so selfish – they never think about _ME_!"

    Major K: I'm sure you've noticed that for these folks everything is limited, and anything you get means less for me. Also, everything has a price, and that price is the value (to invoke Mr. O. Wilde, who said everything first, and better.)

    Ed: Sounds reasonable, but Anthony's point is a good one – if my "evidence" is "because God, that's why", what's your response? Define, define, define, and preferably ahead of time (although I suspect you already do).

  15. Arslan Says:

    Ordinarily I like the idea of debates but you've got a job to do and I can totally understand your position(especially based on the many stories about students you've told here). The truth is that at 18-19, even maybe till at least 25, you really just don't know shit. Even if you're considered well-read, this can be utterly meaningless because you lack the life experience to judge the veracity of your sources.

    I see this all the time now that I often become entangled in debates with Austrian-school libertarians and the even more ridiculous "anarcho-capitalists." These people are typically no older than your average college student, with a lot of experience on the internet but virtually none in real life. This is the only way one can hear an argument like: "We can have total free market capitalism without any state whatsoever because A. Bitcoins! B. Ebay! C. Medieval Iceland!"

    Sure they've done a lot of reading(sometimes due to extreme social isolation), but most of what they have read consists of typical libertarian populist literature, which is specifically designed to appeal to people with little life experience and who are magnets for all kinds of silver bullet, over-simplistic explanations("END THE FED!")

    To answer another teacher's complaint about formal logic and lack of critical thinking skills, I agree, but we also have to consider the context of our society. Do I think that schools should teach critical thinking skills? Of course. Will the powers that be let that happen to any significant degree? Of course not. In this case it is instructive to note that the rise of public education and industrialization, with some exceptions, go hand in hand. If schools put too much effort into critical thinking skills, not only will they not be preparing the next generation of docile fast food/retail workers with no rights, but even worse- young people condemned to that fate will start USING those critical thinking skills. They're going to start thinking critically about the issues around them and about our society in general, and they're going to ask questions such as: "Why is it that the rich need the promise of millions of dollars to get off their ass and do something, while our motivation should be starvation and homelessness? If our country is supposedly broke, why are we spending so much money on the military?"

    I remember seeing this ridiculous documentary called Waiting for Superman, in which I learned that all the problems of our public education system can be laid at the feet of teacher's unions, and that if it weren't for them, all our schools, even in low income districts, could teach students to excel in reading, math, and science, thus preparing our young people for the high tech jobs…OF THE FUTURE! Just one problem- unemployment. If all those students could somehow get ahead in those subjects and then go to college, many of them are not going to find employment, period. This is already happening now and in some fields it's been that way for some time.

    So next time you hear someone complaining about what public schools should do, remind them of the purpose of public education and ask them who will provide jobs to all those science whizzes if they could go on to college.

  16. Tim Says:

    Poor Mr. Anderson. He'd only be able to to a satisfactory sex life with his wife if gays can't get married. Why, the thought of Adam and Steve getting married in some godforsaken place like Massachusetts just renders him unable to hold an erection.

  17. Rosalux Says:

    The reason why it's a waste of your time to have your students argue their opinions is because their understanding of how to have a successful dialogue has been poisoned and perverted by talk radio, Crossfire, etc. Children learn that the point of arguments is for their side to win at all costs, not to mutually reach a truthful position. It's expected that one will willfully distort the argument of the opposing side instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt. The loudest and most aggressive speaker wins. The possibility of being swayed by your interlocutor's argument is entirely foreclosed, and shameful – because arguments are about winning.

    So I agree – if your students do not understand how to engage in real political dialogue, then they should not being having it.

  18. Don Says:

    Correction to Eric Teetsel's quote (fortunately right at the top so I didn't have to read this whole thing very carefully; thanks NYT!): "Even if we are doomed, and I’m totally naïve, I am being paid pretty well to do this work anyway.”

    Further skimming got me to another thing Eric's probably going to regret having to explain to his boyfriend later in life: “Proponents of same-sex marriage have done a fantastic job of telling the story of same-sex marriage through music and television and film..” I'm not sure Blaming Hollywood is really working here; I watch a lot of gay stuff and I'm not coming up with many "stories of gay marriage". (Those two cowboys weren't married to each other, Eric – that was kind of the point. And music? Really? I'm not sure I could name even 5 songs extolling heterosexual marriage.)

    What proponents of same sex marriage have done a fantastic job of is telling the story through actual reality. Lets review the marital catastrophes that have befallen Massachussetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, DC, Iowa, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada since same sex marriage was legalized:

    Well. That didn't take long.

    (Also I don't recall hearing about "sexual complementarity" before. It sounds kind of gay to me. Is it a Cole Porter lyric?)

  19. Andrew Laurence Says:

    There isn't a fixed amount of marriage to go around, but marriage does convey some concrete financial benefits (as well as some costs, such as the higher federal income tax rates for two-income couples). I'm not sure whether the next fiscal effect is positive or negative, but it's not insignificant.

    That being said, I'm for letting any two consenting adults who want to marry do so, and I always have been. In fact, I never thought about it and always assumed they could until it started to become this big issue for some reason.

  20. sluggo Says:

    Random thoughts about this:

    1. Maybe all these folks think that gay marriage is mandatory and they would be forced to marry former lovers.
    2. Maybe no one told them that marrying the opposite sex is still permitted.
    3. Reality TV show idea—Gay Mormon Wives/Husbands.
    4. Didn't Liz Taylor pretty much drive a bus through that whole sanctity of marriage argument.
    5. Reality TV show idea—Gay divorce Court!
    6. Reality TV show idea—–Gay Mormon Divorce Court!
    7. most of the people in that article were in there twenties. That tells me those jobs pay shit.

  21. bb in GA Says:

    @cund gulag

    " For, Chistianity – particularly the Dominionist Evangelical variety…."

    You use that terminology quite a bit. My understanding of those who hold to that position is that they make up a tiny minority of the Christian community.

    At the risk of misunderstanding your usage, could you define it in a few more words?

    //bb

  22. Jim Says:

    "What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

    Did that scene flash before anyone else's eyes when reading the "argument" in the block-quote?

  23. JazzBumpa Says:

    I like what Major King has invented:

    The LUMP OF MARRIAGE fallacy.

    Jim @ 2:14

    Not I. Where is that from. I want to be able to quote it.

    Cheers!
    JzB

  24. JazzBumpa Says:

    never mind
    got it

  25. Jo Says:

    Billy Madison (see IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112508/quotes?ref_=tt_trv_qu )

  26. mothra Says:

    I don't recall hearing about "sexual complementarity" before.

    It's bullshit for "Insert Tab A into Slot B."

  27. Sarah Says:

    I thought "complementarity" was another one of those made-up words libertarian morons like so much (á là Sarah Palin), but it actually is an actual word. I looked it up.

  28. Aaron Schroeder Says:

    One pretty gross aspect of this sort of bs is that it makes a mockery of the Catholic theology/philosophy on the concept of marriage. Without all of that intellectual legwork done by academics and theologians, there just wouldn't be an intelligent position to stand on in the first place.

    Yeah, the Catholic church holds that there are at least those conditions for what a marriage is, but the question of whether those conditions are necessary is precisely what's at issue. So, saying "You get rid of one, and they're all open for debate" is a non-sequitur gussied up in the language of an intellectual (read: non-religious) position, since questioning the necessity of any of the conditions is what we're already arguing about. Cue: Best of George Will reel, I suppose. I mean, I'm not Catholic, but you can at least respect that massively intelligent people put time into developing an articulable concept whose assumptions and reasoning stands up to non-religious scrutiny. It's definitely giant leap above "Merca's founders were Christian" "The CONSTITUTION was divinely inspired" etc.

    And anyway, I just don't understand the point of this sort of story. Is it to show that, yes, there are young people ideologically committed to their parents' ideology? If so, then stop the presses.

  29. Major Kong Says:

    @bb

    Small but very influential due to groups like "The Fellowship" aka "C Street".

    Saying that they're a small minority is true, but that statement is bordering on a "no true Scotsman" fallacy.

  30. bb in GA Says:

    @major kong

    Thanks for providing info – I'm ignorant about the two groups you mentioned.

    This has happened before. Slice and dice me for what I say, but I said nothing about no damn Scotsman :-)

    //bb

  31. bb in GA Says:

    @major kong

    The Fellowship aka The Family…

    "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,[2] and an article in Harper's[17] about his experience serving as an intern in the Fellowship, has stated that the organization fetishizes power by comparing Jesus to "Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden" as examples of leaders who change the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their "brothers".[14][16"

    From the not always reliable Wackopedia…

    This bunch doesn't sound like they would cut in GA…Ho Chi Minh and Jesus, really?

    I realize this is surfacy 1 over 50000 ft stuff and I will do more research, but most Christians I know would have a hard time embracing these Scots…

    //bb

  32. cromartie Says:

    All I saw is the Rick Santorum marrying dogs comment cleaned up and put into an even cheaper suit with even fancier words.

  33. eau Says:

    1. I remember thinking, way back in high school, that kids learning to 'debate' was counter-productive. Sure, life throws situations at you in which you must argue a position that you don't necessarily believe. But encouraging this as the norm, and lauding those who excel at it, did not sit well with teen-me.

    2. I also remember, early in my university years, being one of those unbearable fucks for whom "because, Chomsky!" was basically a water-tight, unbeatable ace-in-the-hole. As you can imagine, lecturers and fellow students humiliated me out of this pretty quickly.

    I think perhaps young 'uns on the right miss this essential phase in their education because they begin knowing all the answers, and the questions are at best incidental. Anyone you encounter who disagrees with your obviously correct answers can be safely labelled as enemies, who clearly can't be trusted. From there, "winning" and "stalemate" are the only possible outcomes.

  34. c u n d gulag Says:

    bb,
    Sorry I'm not responding until now. I had some things to do that took up my entire afternoon and evening.

    You asked about my definition of "Dominionist Christian Evangelicals," since I use that term frequently.
    My take is as follows:
    A sect of "Christianity" which believes it is THE ONE, true, unique, and righteous, group/denomination, which is, out of all other religions, even of the other followers and sects of Jesus – the one and only son of the one and only true God – to have "dominion" over this world.

    They believe that, at any and all costs, they need to "evangelize" their version of the words of their "One True Lord and Saviour" to all four corners of the world.
    Their goal is to gain "dominion" over the world and all of its people. All of the followers of other heathenous religions – even other heretical sects of Christianity – must be force to bend to the will of their version of "The Word of God"
    And that any all means to accomplish that "dominion" are acceptable, because the Lord only cares for the ends, NOT the means.
    Their version of "The Word," must prevail.

    The world is there for their taking, and for them to have "dominion" over that world, all of it's people, their governments (especially here, in the US, since, apparently, they believe that God and Jesus had a hand in forming this "exceptional" "Christian" country – never mind that pesky 'seperation of church and state thingie), and all of the worlds resources, which Jesus and his Father, God, have granted them.

    And that it doesn't matter if they deplete all of the resources of this world, and pollute it to the point of the near, or total, extinction of all of the flora and fauna on it – even people, since it is God's will that they have dominion.

    And that nothing matters, because in the end, God and his Son will come, and save the righteous few – them – and bring them to a better world – Heaven – for all eternity.
    And that the rest will be left on this planet to suffer brutally until they die, and then will suffer the agonies of Hell for all eternity, for being either heathens, heretics, or non-believers.
    In other words, for not being a part of "them."
    For not believing them.
    And, especially, for ostracising them.

    So sayeth the Bible – at least as they they're told by the grifters at the front of their church.
    Of course, there are several different grifters out there, grifting their own version of this – so that there's no ONE true group of Dominionist Christian Evangelicals.
    Just a lot of mislead believers – aka: fools, marks, suckers, rubes, morons, idiots, and imbeciles, who are willing to listen to whichever grifter is dearer to their heart, or nearer to where they live, or has the best TV show or channel. The most important thing to the grifters at the front of the church, is to have the mislead believers tithe a portion of what little they have.*
    Amen.
    NOT!!!

    *And many of these grifters are out there promoting "Prosperity Theology," or the "Prosperity Gospel" to their mislead followers.
    In that version of Dominionist Evangelical Christianity, God and Jesus reward the true faithful with wealth – and that neither care anything for the poor.
    And that the more the mislead believers believe, and especially, tithe, the sooner they'll be wealthy, and right with their Lord.
    And if they're not wealthy yet, well, it's either because they're not faithful enough, or not tithing enough.
    Hey, grifters gotta grift!
    And there's NO greater grift, than the grift of eternal salvation – and the total humiliation and suffering, for all of eternity, of those who don't believe in the same things YOU do!

    In other words, it's not about "Love," God's or man's – it's all about "Hate" – of those who don't think YOU should have dominion over everyone, and everything.

    Peace!
    Out.

  35. bb in GA Says:

    @cund

    Thanks for your time and explanation.

    There is a group inside of Christianity that spawned the modern Dominion Theology and it largely traces to the late R.J. Rushdoony and his followers.

    You have conflated his kind of thinking into the greater world of popular TV evangelist Christianity which may not necessarily fit that model, but I get where you are coming from. Many thanks again.

    //bb

  36. Dave Dell Says:

    I've thought about this many times and I have to agree with those commenters that think a large portion of the people promoting the ideas of various right wing/wacko organizations are only in it for the money. Some of those, perhaps a large percentage, have had the thought, "How can I profit from the gulllibility of people and not risk going to jail?"

  37. Matt Says:

    The reader gets a sense, based on their comments, that they see themselves as the protagonists in 300, fighting a lost cause in a way that will be remembered forever for its heroism, fidelity, and bravery.

    Of course they do – they've spent their entire lives steeped in a RW culture that somehow turned a war fought at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives in the defense of a tiny population of rich white peoples' ability to OWN other human beings into a "Lost Cause" that's worth commemorating.

  38. c u n d gulag Says:

    bb,
    I never said I was right, I only said that this is my perspective.
    Thanks for caring enough to ask! :-)

    Have a terrific weekend!!!

  39. Jak the Yak Says:

    The difference is that while the real-life Leonidas and pals knew they were probably all going to die, and then did all die, they didn't FAIL. It wasn't fighting for a lost cause, exactly, because the cause wasn't "survive and end the war right now." That might have been nice, and the movie etc. versions like to make it look like that almost happened, but no…they just were giving the rest of Greece the time to gear up for full-scale Persian invasion, and in that they were definitely successful.

    Comparing that with asshats fighting on the wrong side of history, despite every indication that they will ultimately lose in every sense, despite the obvious paralells to the resistance to interracial marriage etc…is like comparing bratwurst and shit. Only the most pedantic will insist they resemble each other.

  40. OperationEnduringEmployment Says:

    If you are young, you have not earned the right to embrace the romantic lost cause.
    These kids are dumb, any law that exists, in order to be legitimate, must pass a utilitarian threshold. If there was any substance to the claim that homosexuals were moral deviants, or any evidence that children raised by same-sex parents faced some sort of handicap, then ok, you have an argument. However, since these people do not, once is compelled to look for other, less rational sources for such views.

  41. OperationEnduringEmployment Says:

    But in response to Matt,

    Every war you could, argue was fought to defend or expand the rights and privileges of rich "white people." And that goes for the so-called North, just as much as it does for Dixie. And while that is to a great extent true of all wars, it is never the whole truth.

  42. Arslan Says:

    "The difference is that while the real-life Leonidas and pals knew they were probably all going to die, and then did all die, they didn't FAIL. It wasn't fighting for a lost cause, exactly, because the cause wasn't "survive and end the war right now." That might have been nice, and the movie etc. versions like to make it look like that almost happened, but no…they just were giving the rest of Greece the time to gear up for full-scale Persian invasion, and in that they were definitely successful."

    You know 300 wasn't a documentary right? Those Spartans didn't do shit compared to the Athenians, and in particular the Athenian fleet.

  43. Kaleberg Says:

    Christianity's big selling point in its early days was that it offered marriage to slaves. Of course, these were secret marriages, and they weren't recognized by the state, but they were marriages for all that. (Under Roman Law a marriage was a public declaration, so a secret marriage was a contradiction in terms.) I suppose naving provided an important sacrament to an oppressed class in society, it was important to deny that sacrament to other oppressed classes.

  44. Joe Says:

    In one post, Ed, you are critical of common ineffective pedagogy, pointing out a fallacy, and criticizing extremism. Great respect from an undergrad who likes to cut through the bullshit and see people doing the same.

  45. JaktheYak Says:

    Arslan: No, I am an idiot and huge fake movie muscles look real to me too.

    The story of Leonidas and his pals has been largely romanticized, for sure. I never claimed they won the whole war, just that they fought a delaying action which succeeded insofar as it delayed the Persians. Such action would have been quite futile without the naval actions you mention, certainly. It is still a cool story, even if the Spartans were by and large huge assholes, and I would say still a better example of "fighting purposefully even when you know you are going to die" rather than "fighting for a lost cause".