Hodge-Podge, 6/18/16

  1. No true Muslim ….
  2. New York Times errata
  3. Pink Pistols
  4. Profoundly illiberal
  5. The moving gay goalpost
  6. Wholesale Conscientious Objection?


I think it was fellow-blogger Doug Masson who made me aware of the name “No True Scotsman” for an infuriating rhetorical dodge every sentient person must have noticed by now:

Philosophy professor Bradley Dowden explains the fallacy as an “ad hoc rescue” of a refuted generalization attempt. The following is a simplified rendition of the fallacy:

Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge.”
Person A: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”


The essayist Spengler compared distinguishing between “mature” democracies, which never start wars, and “emerging democracies”, which may start them, with the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Spengler alleges that “political scientists” have attempted to save the “US academic dogma” that democracies never start wars from counterexamples by maintaining that no true democracy starts a war.

(Wikipedia, hyperlinks and footnotes omitted) The fallacy is everywhere, but a particularly current version is the “no true Muslim” variant apropos of terrorism.

We know that, given the tenor of the times, some will associate this tragedy with the religion of the perpetrator. While we may never learn conclusively what motivated this misguided individual, many news sources claim that he was motivated by his faith, which would be a reprehensible distortion of Islam adding the religion to the long list of innocent victims in this callous crime. Any such acts of violence violate every one of our Prophet’s teachings. For Muslims, that this carnage occurred in the blessed month of Ramadan—a month of charity, introspection, and self-purification—only adds to the foulness of this enormity.

(A Joint Muslim Statement on the Carnage in Orlando, emphasis added)

As Peter Bergen writes in his book “The United States of Jihad,” “Assertions that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam are as nonsensical as claims that the Crusades had nothing to do with Christian beliefs about the sanctity of Jerusalem.”

(David Brooks)

It’s a staple of Right-leaning social media now to note how in massacre after massacre, there’s a Muslim nexus. I believe that’s a legitimate, if imperfect and cherry-picking, observation.

I do not believe that someone outside a religious tradition, and who has never been inside it, can pontificate about what’s the true version of it, and that includes Dubya, Barack and Tipsy. I’m not going to tell you that the terrorists are the true Muslims and the non-terrorists are secularized, consumerized wusses. But I’m not in a position to insist on the opposite, either. There are divergent Muslin sects and interpretations among which I cannot adjudicate.

Islam, in its lack of a central authoritative source like the Magisterium of the Roman Church or the Ecumenical Councils shared by Rome and Orthodoxy, is a religion of a book with as many interpreters as there are Muslims, and in that sense akin to what Protestantism has become in many quarters.

If Southern Baptists can’t entirely agree on whether the Bible allows religious freedom to really, really bad religions, how can we expect Islam to eradicate terrorist interpretations of the Koran?

Once more, I don’t think terrorism is a “problem” we can solve, but an evil and a mystery we must simply endure (while trying, of course, to thwart particular attacks). And we must not react in ways that play into the hands of organized terror’s masterminds.

No solution

I do hope that’s not too fatalistic.


New York Times errata:

In last Thursday’s story, “Americans excited to visit ‘ball parks,’” the sport of baseball was repeatedly spelled bayspall. The number of ‘bases’ was given as five; the correct number is three. “Home plate” is a marker embedded in the ground, not a trophy awarded to the winner of the World Series. “Babe” Ruth was the popular nickname of George Herman Ruth Jr. (1895–1948), generally regarded the greatest baseballer of the early twentieth century, and not the African-American mistress of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter F. O’Malley as stated in the article. The Times regrets the errors.

Okay, it’s satire of the Grey Lady’s abysmal ignorance of the Christian religion. And it’s well-deserved, as in herehere, here and most recently here,


If I haven’t written a confession like this, it’s overdue: I am coming to understand what a sheltered life I’ve led.

No, not (necessarily) “privileged,” but “sheltered.”

I’ve never, not even 50 years ago when I was in the belly of the Evangelical beast, engaged in or been aware of people near me engaging in literal gay bashing (“gay” 50 years ago is anacrhonistic, but the terms from back then shock the modern ear). That’s right: in an Evangelical boarding school dormitory, surrounded by guys with raging hormones and deep faith, or feigned faith (with a few rebellious despisers), literally nobody said “looky here at this verse in Romans that calls for execution of sodomites. Let go crack some skulls.” It’s safe to say that if that were the Evangelical belief, I’d have heard it and remembered it.

But I’m coming to understand that literal gay-bashing really does occur. Since the genuinely religious with whom I’ve been surrounded don’t do it, I won’t speculate about the motivation of those who do.

Second confession: I’m just not that into the Second Amendment.

Yes, it’s there. Yes, liberals and progressives resent it and so I defend it. But on the days that liberals and progressives forget to attack it, I’m pretty indifferent to it.

So what’s the link? The link is that despite my Second Amendment indifference (don’t even think of trying to Mau-Mau me for insufficient 2nd Amendment ardency), my heart soared at two related stories I encountered Friday:

It’s a dangerous world out there. I’m starting to realize, despite lack of personal experience dishing it out or taking it, that it’s especially dangerous for openly gay, lesbian, etc. people (and openness can mean frequenting known gathering places). And police are not ubiquitous.

The first argument in Pink Pistols’ amicus brief was “A. Recognition Of An Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms Is Literally A Matter Of Life Or Death For Members Of The LGBT Community.” The brief provided extensive “statistics on crimes, including homicide, committed against gay persons because they were gay.”

(Kopel) So by the same logic that leads me to support concealed carry for, say, the single mom who must return home to a marginal neighborhood in the wee hours, I support LGBT people arming themselves and learning how to defend themselves with firearms. Some of the anecdotes of successful LGBT self-defense against creepy cowards warm the cockles of my heart.

The Pink Pistols, a gay-friendly shooting club that encourages LGBT people to protect themselves, had a surge of new members the day after the attack. On Sunday, the group had about 1,500 members nationwide, but by Monday the club had more than doubled and now boasts roughly 3,500 members.

“We teach queers to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so,” the group’s website states:

Armed queers don’t get bashed. We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets for violence and hateful acts — beatings, assaults, rapes, murders — will realize that that now, a segment of the sexual minority population is now armed and effective with those arms. Those arms are also concealed, so they do not know which ones are safe to attack, and which are not…which they can harm as they have in the past, and which may draw a weapon and fight back.

On Sunday, the Pink Pistols released a statement condemning gun control efforts being pushed by lawmakers and public figures in the wake of the attack ….

(Payton) Sounds like a plan. I don’t claim it’s a perfect plan, but then it’s not a perfect world, is it?

Fifteen years ago, Jonathan Rauch wrote that “Gay-bashing is a kind of low-level terrorism.” Now, high-level terrorism has come to the United States, as it has to many other nations. Thus, the relationship between gay rights and gun rights appears likely to continue.



Those who oppose contraception are not called “contracepto-phobes.” Those who oppose abortion are not called “aborto-phobes.” We are not “divorce-phobes” or “bestiality-phobes” or anything else except “homophobes” and “transphobes.”

In the most interesting part of the book, Eberstadt compares what is happening today to other periods of public panic: the panic over sexual child abuse in day care centers a few decades ago, and the Salem witch trials. Otherwise normal folks and elites quite lost their minds over perceived evil happening in their midst. In the Salem witch trials, people were executed. In the day care cases, people went to jail for crimes that were no more than fanciful imaginings of children, coaxed out of them by parents and “mental health professionals.”

In what I first thought was the weakest part of the book, Eberstadt argues for a way out of this current crisis. I thought it the weakest part because it is an argument that relies on the tormentors to simply stop, to come to their senses … However, after a second reading, I came to realize that Mary is not talking to us. She is talking to them, and she makes a case that true liberals should know that what is happening now is profoundly illiberal. She hopes that a few of them will wake up and stop the madness.

Here is the problem. Eberstadt describes the new religious orthodoxy we are up against. I have argued the same and gone further for I say there is a New God, one who is both jealous and angry, but he is also a New State God, backed by the power and might of our federal government and all the power centers of our day.

(Austin Ruse, reviewing Mary Eberstadt’s It’s Dangerous to Believe)


Just over a decade ago, when I entered the fight over gay marriage, we were told that being for civil unions would buy us tolerance, permit us to be part of the fold of good citizenship. After California’s passage of Proposition 8, which kept civil unions but rejected gay marriage, the line was redrawn so that only support for gay civil marriage would do. Now it is clear that only rejection of traditional Christian views on sex and marriage will do. Otherwise, we are saying gay people are “worthy of death,” and therefore we are responsible for mass slaughter.

(Maggie Gallagher, who nonetheless can’t repent her defense of marriage)


The move to require 18-year-old women to register with Selective Service continues:

As retired U.S. military officers, we recall with great joy the opportunity to serve our fellow Americans by responding, freely and without reservation, to the call to military duty. During our respective careers each of us had a distinct role in the adjudication of requests of soldiers or sailors to be discharged from military service as “conscientious objectors”—one as a chaplain tasked with ascertaining the sincerity and moral consistency of each applicant’s convictions, and one as a commanding officer to forward up the chain of command his decision for or against an applicant’s claim. The criterion for CO status is straightforward: “A firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms, by reason of religious training and/or belief.”

If our federal government mandates that young women, without exception, register with Selective Service against their will, with a foreseeable possibility of conscription into the profession of arms, there will be fresh justification for conscientious objection—on both moral and religious grounds—by men as well as women to refuse to bear arms in a military force opposed to the divine and natural order of creation itself. For the sake of moral integrity, and for the providential welfare of this “one nation under God,” we are dedicated to stand with such women and men. And we earnestly appeal to all Christian authorities to acknowledge the enormity of this national crisis and to take the same stand.

(Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster and Bob Miller) As a Vietnam-era Conscientious Objector, I sympathize, and think the case for religiously conservative women to seek C.O. status is sound. Men seeking C.O. status because of how we’re running our military (and how it bespeaks deep cultural corruption) is a much weaker case.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.