Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
The double standard that is in the news these days concerns Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, a “slut” and “prostitute” because she told Congress that her university’s health plan should cover the cost of contraceptives.
…some on the conservative side of the aisle have cried “double standard” because Ed Schultz was only mildly criticized (and suspended for a week) for characterizing Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut,” and Bill Maher emerged relatively unscathed after he referred to Michele Bachmann as a “bimbo” and labeled Sarah Palin with words I can’t mention in this newspaper. If you are going to get on your high horse when Limbaugh says something inappropriate, shouldn’t you also mount the steed when commentators on your team say the same kind of thing?
If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what Schultz and Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.
I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.
Sometimes, you almost have to feel sorry for the Modern Left. They got a little bit of encouragement with this issue, and they doubled-down so hard that now their mask has slipped off. And they didn’t even win anything.
In response to why should he get an even break, James Taranto states the obvious:
A disregard for fairness tends to alienate those who don’t already agree with you, and the attempt to consider the other side’s arguments fairly makes one’s own arguments more robust. If the Times were to reject the Fish Rule and actually make an effort to give the “bad guys” their due, it might be easier to find a documented case of someone changing his mind after reading a Times editorial.
In the same sense that applying theatrical outrage evenly and indiscriminately would make an argument more robust, applying it with calculated and unapologetic “that’s just the way it’s supposed to be” bias malnourishes that same argument in ways most visible to those hearing it and least visible to the person offering it. In fact, people tend to forget this, but we’re already going out on a limb when we say an argument is more likely to be correct when it is less offensive. We really haven’t got much business accepting just that much; how many offensive arguments have we seen, that turn out to be right? How many avoidable mistakes do we see made, based on thinking that has been declared somewhere to be less offensive than some alternative?
But Fish’s recommendation here leads to reasoning that is not only predictably flawed, but reliably circular. His side wins because his side has been judged — by those within it — to be less offensive. And it is to be judged as less offensive because it’s supposed to win. It’s about as useful as a wagon with one wheel a few inches bigger than the other, for exactly the same reason, traveling the same course; it is non-utilitarian because it ends up in a spot not remarkably different from where it begins. “We’re just plain right, why go into all this boring detail” sums it up nicely.
Here I must pause to notice yet another subtle thing about the Fluke debacle: Of all the arguments for Limbaugh’s…uh, I’ve lost track of what exactly it is they think they’re trying to do to him, let’s called it “conviction of the crime”…the one that manages to arouse the greatest sympathy from me, is that “slut” is a word to be avoided because it is deliberately vulgar and coarse, not technically accurate, potentially defamatory, et cetera. In short, we must expunge this piece of slang from our vernacular so that the discourse can remain civilized, elevated and lofty.
But the people who put their eggs in this basket, so to speak, don’t seem too interested in lofty discourse. I’m seeing Fish getting filleted in the comments section, and the consensus objection seems to be: Limbaugh’s a jerk, you don’t need to offer this apologia for a double standard, we’re not applying one…see, this is what I’m talking about. Caveman arguments of “us good, him bad.” It fails to consider ideas, even as it goes through the meaningless motions of, supposedly, evaluating them meticulously. It uses elementary-school-playground reasoning even in the midst of condemning elementary-school-playground taunting. Those people over there are wonderful and awesome, can never have a bad idea; those other people are horrible and terrible and can never have a good one. Well, it is an election year, I suppose our expectations must be relaxed.
Sandra Fluke is a slut, by the way. Applied to a woman, the word means a slovenly one. Slovenly means untidy, careless and neglectful in appearance, manners and repute. Go ahead, look ’em up. Her testimony was to the effect that the expense involved in birth control for Georgetown students, like her, was so great that it wasn’t reasonable to expect them to bear it, it was so great that it would have to be paid by someone else. It’s difficult to think of another item of personal maintenance that could be so intimate, meaning, a non-slovenly person would desire to take care of this without sham “hearings” on Capitol Hill. And, when the birth control is used for recreational purposes, it’s entirely optional. It sucks to be celibate because of a reason like this, but people do it.
If that option of chastity for sake of financial independence is somehow automatically ruled out, for recreational reasons, that’s a self-control issue. We’d have no problem saying that about alcohol, marijuana or gambling. Why not here? So the most credible way you could say Limbaugh is wrong in what he said, is: Fluke is not a slut, she’s a spokesperson for other sluts. And, her defenders have simply lost track of how undignifying it is, to choose to live a life dependent on others. They’re polishing a turd. Just like Gerard said: “I hope she thinks the damage she’s done to herself was worth it, because to get it she made herself into the kind of ‘damaged goods’ parents once used to warn their daughters against becoming. The rich irony is that she doesn’t even know it yet. But she will. She will.”
I’m not sure what is happening to the word “slut” here. It’s either being banned from existence entirely, or it’s becoming a woman’s version of the N-word (they can use it, others cannot), or maybe the outcome will be to Stanley Fish’s liking and the word will become an pejorative of progressive-only privilege. Or, no metamorphosis of nomenclature will take place at all. My hope is that, if it is in a process of Gandalf-The-White transformation, at the end of it all the word will be understood to mean: Someone who wants what she wants, even if someone else has to pay for it, involuntarily — and doesn’t care about that because she just wants it.
That would be good. That would be, perhaps, the best linguistic resolution possible. The more I think about it, the more I like it. We’ve needed a word to describe this for awhile. We have been suffering needlessly for the lack of having one.
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