Potpourri 7/19/17

  1. Law of Merited Impossibility bites campus conservatives
  2. Neobarbarians
  3. Datapoints
  4. What zoning really does
  5. Creepy rhymers
  6. Smallness, pettiness, and decadence


The Law of Merited Impossibility can turn up, to the discerning eye, in some unexpected garb.

Rod Dreher thinks that Freddie deBoer’s Anova education blog turned up an example, as campuses have gone from trying, despite the liberal atmosphere, to welcome conservative students to, almost overnight, astonished looks and “you actually think conservatives should feel welcomed on campus?”

The shift is the substitution of “conservatives” for the classic formulation’s “Christians”: “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.


[T]he deck has been stacked from the beginning. The giveaway is the appointment of a guardian to represent Charlie [Gard]’s interests, even as the court rulings concede it would be difficult to find a more devoted mother and father. Now we learn Charlie’s designated legal guardian runs a charity with connections—surprise!—to a sister organization that promotes assisted suicide and until 2006 called itself the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital even wants the last word on love: “In one respect, Charlie is immensely fortunate” to have such loving parents. Because in this context “in one respect” really means, “notin the sense that has to do with decisions about their son’s life.” In other words, the parents’ love disqualifies them. In choosing a guardian to represent Charlie against his parents, the courts sided with the doctor who characterized Charlie’s mom and dad as a “spanner in the works.”

The essence of civilization is that the strong protect the weak. But Charlie Gard shows that the barbarian no longer comes wielding a club and grunting in some undecipherable tongue. These days the barbarian comes as an expert, possessed of all the requisite certification—and an unquestioned faith in his absolute right to impose final judgments about the “quality of life” of other people’s loved ones.

(William McGurn)



  1. It’s not only “Black Lives” that are snuffed out by police in dubious circumstances.
  2. It’s not just some Muslim Arabs that are capable of honor killings of their daughters. It’s apparently an Arabic subcultural thing (Arab ≠ Muslim), transcending religion.
  3. 15-year-old Andraya Yearwood, a mere freshman, recently crushed the competition in Connecticut track and field.


The real impetus for the invention of zoning regulations … was a desire to protect and enshrine the single-family home as the most virtuous and sacrosanct urban form.

Let’s recall from Part 1 of this series that zoning authority derives from the legal concept of “police power”–a government’s prerogative to act to ensure the “health, safety, and welfare” of the populace. (Remember that phrase?) Most of the rhetoric around zoning naturally focuses on aspects of urban development that we find distasteful and wish to relegate to distant areas. To its credit, zoning has been effective at solving the problems many people assume it was invented to address: a giant factory will never be built within hearing distance of my house. Our dirty secret is that it has also been instrumental in solving another “problem”: how to prevent certain types of people (the riffraff) from living near respectable, all-American families.

My city, Madison, WI, is an instructive example. The city’s relatively new zoning code hits a lot of the right issues: parking minimums have been abolished in some zones and accessory dwelling units are allowed in all residential zones (albeit with one major dealbreaker). I analyzed the city’s zoning data to see how much land is dedicated exclusively to single family zoning. The result? Over 80% of all residential land, nearly a third of all zoned land within city limits. Little wonder, when we’ve dictated that the vast majority of residential property in our city must consist of the most expensive housing type available, that we are suffering from rapidly escalating prices that harm our vulnerable residents the most. It’s no coincidence that Madison also suffers from terrifying racial disparities.

Remember those magic words? Health, safety, and welfare. I have yet to hear a convincing argument that there is a genuine relationship between single family homes and the “health, safety, and welfare” of the community. The simple reality is there isn’t one. There may be a relationship between single family homes and the narrowly-defined “welfare” of the economically privileged. But the concept of police power isn’t about protecting the entrenched interests of people with means, it’s about protecting the welfare of the whole community.

(Spencer Gardner)


Creeps, like history, may not repeat themselves, but they rhyme.

H/T Eugene Volokh, who just covered Cristino and formerly covered Brewington.

UPDATE: The preceding looked awfully inadequate in the cold light of day. Let me expand.

Both Brewington and Cristino were sickos who sort of stalked public officials, through such means as social media. Both were convicted criminally. Both convictions were overturned, at least in part, for lack of “true threat” that took obsessive criticism out of the category of speech protected by the first amendment.

As Indiana’s Justice Rush put it in introducing her majority opinion, “Fear for one’s reputation is often the price of being a public figure, or of involvement in public issues. But fear for one’s safety is not.”


I don’t think he’s cynical when he says he wants to Make America Great Again, but he conceives of greatness crudely, solely in terms of wealth and outward displays of power. There is no greatness in him, only smallness, pettiness, and decadence.

It’s not easy for moderates, and even some conservatives, to understand why someone would see Hillary is conceivably worse than Trump. It is impossible for liberals to do so. Here is my case for that conclusion.

Side note: I paid close attention to the long battle for same-sex marriage, because it was my job as an opinion journalist to do so, and because I had a special interest in the religious liberty aspect of the issue. I well remember the way pro-SSM activists and supporters posited the campaign as one demanding simple equality, nothing more. That sounded reasonable to a lot of people.

But: How did we get from that to the point where the Obama administration ordered public schools to open locker rooms to transgendered students? How did we get from that point to where school systems and other institutions of our society are embracing and enforcing an extremely radical view of gender, namely, the idea that male and female have no biological reality, and that reality in that sense is whatever the subject decides it is? And if you dissent, you are a HATER?

This, to me, is what liberal government means: empowering the people who have no intention of live-and-let-live, but who want to punish deplorables and deploy social engineering on a massive scale to destroy as unjust the traditional concept of sex, marriage, and family. When we lose that, what do we have left?

[I]f it comes right down to it, I believe that Trump, for all his many sins and failings, does not despise people who look like I do, and who believe the things I do. I have no faith at all that liberals and Democrats feel the same way. My liberal and Democratic friends don’t feel that way, to be sure, but they are not the ones driving things in their party (and neither, I should say, are conservatives like me driving things in the GOP). I think many of us are being pushed to uncomfortable extremes against our will because of fear — legitimate fear — of the other side.

(Rod Dreher)

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.