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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Serious intellectual error

The recent post on illiberalism presented a perspective on a problem for secular liberalism generated by what John Gray labeled missionary atheism.  Even more basic than those problems are some straightforward intellectual problems.  Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry delves further into the matter in The Errors of the Militant Atheist:
 
The thought that most frequently pops into my head when I read diatribes by militant atheists is “Why won’t you read a book?”

Of course, put thus, the thought is implausible. The militant atheists who get interviewed in newspapers presumably have read books. Christopher Hitchens had certainly read a lot of books. But there are good books and there are bad books, and then there are necessary books. And, clearly, they haven’t read any of the books that should, in a cultured society, be presumed necessary for participation in public debate.
There is no such thing as “religion.” Some words are fine to use in everyday discourse, but become completely useless if one is trying to be conceptually precise. “Religion” is one of them. Religion is probably the most complex, the most variegated, and arguably the most profound human phenomenon. It stretches into the realms of personal experience, dogma, myth, storytelling, social organization, belief, and practice. Militant atheists often use the term “religion” as a shorthand for “dogma,” but in reality many, if not most, religions do not have dogmas. Militant atheists deride the literalistic interpretation of sacred scriptures, but, putting aside the fact that “literalism” in this sense is itself a modern phenomenon and is sidelined by many great theistic scriptural traditions, many religions do not in fact have scriptures.
Religion and science sometimes do, and sometimes don’t, conflict. Krauss is known for his opposition to the idea of “non-overlapping magisteria” — that is to say, the idea that science and religion are simply about two different things, and that therefore there is not, or should not be, competition between the claims of science and religion. 
For the record, the position of most of the great developed theistic traditions, at least in the West, is that if you see a conflict between science and religion, you’re dealing either with bad science or with bad religion (as I said, within Catholicism, this is treated as an axiom). For example, in the late 19th century, the theory of polygeny — that different human groups had evolved from different origins — an offshoot of Darwinism, was used to promote so-called “scientific racism.” Christians who objected on the grounds that the Bible describes all the human race as descending from Adam and Eve were dismissed as obscurantists. The problem in the conflict was bad science. By contrast, the post-Renaissance Biblical exegetes, mostly found within Protestantism, who objected to heliocentric theories on scriptural grounds were doing bad religion. 
Some people claim that only scientific claims are meaningful, but this is clearly nonsense. Scientific claims are one specific type of empirical claim, but, for starters, there are plenty of other meaningful empirical claims one can make.
And then there are metaphysical claims. Metaphysical claims are claims based on a certain type of logic — metaphysical logic. For example, the claim that a universe of finite causes cannot explain its own existence and so must find its source in some infinite ground of existence, an uncaused cause, is a logical claim, which can be debated using a specific set of logical tools, just like mathematical claims. Maybe it’s wrong. But it’s a logical claim, not a scientific claim. 
And this is the basic error: Because science can only adjudicate empirical claims — and indeed only one specific type of empirical claim — it cannot, by definition, adjudicate non-empirical questions, such as why empirical claims are possible to begin with. Theistic claims about the creation of the universe are logical claims; these claims may be wrong, but they cannot be adjudicated with science. (And in this specific sense, certainly, the magisteria do not overlap.)

Here’s the problem with all these false dichotomies: At bottom, they come from, and reinforce, illiteracy. And while sophisticates can, and too often do, produce their own exquisite forms of barbarism, widespread illiteracy probably inexorably leads to barbarism. A scientist who doesn’t understand anything about epistemology, or religion, or philosophy, and gets on his soapbox is a joke. A scientist who does all these things and as a result is on best-seller lists and gets published in The New Yorker is a symptom of a serious social disease. Never mind the science-versus-religion “debate,” such as it is — widespread confusion about science’s epistemological framework is producing a lot of shoddy science, and that should have us all concerned. 
That Krauss, while singing the praises of an epistemic of doubt, blithely evinces absolutely none about the nature or value of human life — he only needs to know what “religious” people oppose to know what he’s for — merely shows that he’s ignorant and intellectually lazy. That he can write this in the pages of a magazine that is supposed to be a beacon of American intellectualism without rebuke, or even throat-clearing, from his ideological fellow-travelers shows that the illiteracy is widespread and cultural.

… The institutions we live in and through, whether the scientific revolution or liberal democracy or the concept of human rights, were built and explored by great thinkers, who in turn were grounded in great traditions of rational speculation (that is to say, of philosophy), and it is mystifying and, frankly, very scary that we have arrived at this moment of what can only be called cultural amnesia — an amnesia so profound that we have not only forgotten, we’ve forgotten that we’ve forgotten. 
 All too often I encounter militant atheists who are so intent on attacking religion that they are blind to their own epistemic errors. 

76 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

As per the commenter concerns on illiterate scientists, who else could we better quote?


"I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."
- Richard Feynman

Howard said...

Clovis,

As you know, Feynman had plenty of little gems - "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool."

I saw a video, perhaps 35 years ago, where he stated that most peoples knowledge was fragile. They didn't know when particular ideas did or did not apply or how various seemingly disparate pieces of knowledge related to each other. His observation has stayed with me since then. It was at least another 15 years before I realized that the people who best overcame this problem and seemed to have the keenest insight to complex societal matters were serious polymaths.

Bret said...

Howard,

You're becoming the great champion of western religion!

I'm laughing because from our discussions you're only a little less of a non-believer than I am, making us both surprisingly pro-religion.

Onward christian, er um, no, rather sort of non-militant-atheist soldier? Or something like that?

Howard said...

Bret,

Guilty as charged on all counts. Unlike as an adolescent, I now have a much deeper appreciation for how western religion helped bring about and maintain an open society.

Hey Skipper said...

I wish I had a proper keyboard. Typing on an iPad is too painful for anything other than simple answers.

erp said...

Couldn't agree more about the i-Pad. I have very small hands and it's impossible, so I don't know how you guys manage at all and using an external keyboard isn't much better.

Have you tried using a stylus? I've gotten used to it and can manage okay.

Just read Glenn's post on fusion and there's a comment by an old favorite of mine, Steven Den Beste, and it looks like he's been reading my stuff. ;-}

erp said...

Sorry, here's the link to Steven's comment.

Harry Eagar said...

Thought experiment: Poof! All the atheists, militant or otherwise, are gone. Which social/ethical difficulties related to religion -- which apparently does not exist! -- disappear?

I'd say, none. Atheism is not the problem.

I am well aware, even if Krauss (whoever he is) is not that most religions do not have a scripture, although that cannot be said of most religionists. The religions without scriptures don't have many adherents.

When opponents of religion complain about how it creates evil where none existed before, they are usually thinking of the universalizing salvationist monotheisms, of which there are only 2 of any consequence. But since they claim just about half the world population, they are of great consequence.

Until recently (mid 1700s) there could hardly be said to have been any atheists. (In the NYTimes this week, the book reviews are about classical Greece and Rome and it is argued that some of the thinkers then were constructive atheists, but even if that is true, they were few and uninfluential and soon extinct.

There were undoubtedly irreligious people prior to 1750 (the history books are filled with them), but it would be hard to name an atheist earlier than de la Mettrie. (Spinoza being a subject about whom there is much debate.)

If anyone wants to blame anyone for anything, atheists are a very poor choice.


erp said...

:-[

I, for one, exonerate all atheists for anything whatsoever they may have done past, present and future.

:-]

Clovis e Adri said...

It is my view that someone`s religion keeps little relation to his character.

That said, Harry`s view looks a bit rosy. No lack of counter examples:

-------
Goebbels wrote in 1941 that Hitler "hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity."[7] Some historians have come to the conclusion that Hitler intended to eventually eradicate Christianity in Germany ...
-------
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

Harry Eagar said...

That is an especially unfortunate place to go, since Hitler's opinions about
Jews were profoundly Christian. Also just about all his helpers were Christian.

Also, the Nazi Party was originally almost entirely Catholic and the Roman church and the Nazis worked closely up to Hitler's death and beyond.

Whether religion affects personal character or not is irrelevant. There are a lot of reasons for people to behave badly -- call the sum of them X. Religion's major purpose is to add more reasons to behave badly, so that the sum of badness is X + Something.

It is far from obvious that religion's tendency to reduce bad behavior (if any) exceeds its additional Something that it creates, so that the total of badness is greater with religion than without.

While checking the date of the last execution of a witch in Britain, I was surprised to discover the case of Helen Duncan. http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/Helen-Duncan-Scotlands-last-witch/

It does seem that the evil attributable to religion is hard to eradicate.

erp said...

Religious leaders work with despots to control the sheep.

Harry you really need to define what you mean by religious. I think you mean those who really and truly buy the dogma while most of us mean those who only use it as a tool.

For example, take progressive dogma and the leading leftwing contenders for president. Bernie Sanders, poor jerk, is a believer while Hillary is in for personal gain.

Harry Eagar said...

Religious is what religious people do. Think up reasons to hurt other people, mostly.

The original post about dogma was remarkably badly informed, even by the low standards of most religious discourse. Why would a scripture be required for religious people to believe they have an authorization from some supernatural entity to be cruel?

Pity the shepherd who had the misfortune to encounter maenads.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

---
That is an especially unfortunate place to go, since Hitler's opinions about
Jews were profoundly Christian.
---
Not quite.

His opinions were actually a poor copy and paste of Nietzsche. Please try reading The Antichrist, followed by Mein Kampf, and come back to tell me your impressions.


Harry Eagar said...

Or Karl Lueger. Hitler learned to hate Jews at Linz, how to politicize that at Vienna.

I don't know when he encountered Nietzsche but after Linz.

And the 600 German bishops. More than 99.9% of them were Nazis and Jew-haters. They were not channeling The Antichrist.

I understand why Christians are now desperate to distance themselves from Naziism, but when they had their best chance they embraced it,

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,


Maybe you can also look at other Christians who actively opposed Nazism. I offer one example, but there are no lack of those either.

But in your logic, I understand that Christianism can only be at fault for what any of its professed adherents do. In your score counting, only negative points can possibly be accounted for. A fair game that one you are running, isn't it?

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

BTW, I am not in the business of defending the Catholic Church, but you keep impressing me with your numeracy: there were 25 bishops in Germany then (a bit less than your 600, I'd say). And the Church relationship with Nazism is fairly more complex than you portray.

But please, keep never bothering with facts. Life is easier that way.

Howard said...

I, for one, exonerate all atheists for anything whatsoever they may have done past, present and future.

erp, nice generosity of spirit.

I had to check the original post, but it's there several times: militant, militant, militant… funny how you ignored that Harry!

Religion's major purpose is to add more reasons to behave badly…

Yes, we'll you've made it clear that economic history is not the only subject you struggle to understand.

Clovis, don't get exasperated - Harry doesn't want a fair argument. He has his dogma and he's sticking with it.

erp said...

Thank you Howard.

It'll be Thanksgiving Day in a few hours and I wish you all something wonderful to be thankful for, or for you purists, about which to be thankful.

I am thankful for the many hours of fun and enlightenment I've found here and to you Harry, thank you for all giggles.

Harry Eagar said...

There are rather more bishops in Germany than Wikipedia knows of:

http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/bde.html

About 300 Catholic and 300 Protestant in the Nazi era.

Well, the relationship of individual Catholics to Naziism was complicated, although there were not "many" who opposed the Nazis. You are thinking of the Socialists. But the original post referred explicitly to dogmas, and there you have to go with bishops.

There were, so far as I have been able to determine, 3 bishops -- 2 Catholic, 1 Protestant -- who ever spoke out about Naziism and one of those was somewhat equivocal.

Priests and, to as lesser extent, bishops were more anti-Nazi in non-German countries, but that is attributable to nationalism and not to religion.

An interesting and sophisticated examination of the relation of Protestants to Naziism is http://www.amazon.com/So-Was-True-Protestant-Persecution/dp/1579101224

A deep examination of Catholicism and the origins of Naziism can be found in http://www.mauinews.com/page/blogs.detail/display/4665/Book-Review-298--Catholicism---the-Roots-of-Nazism.html

erp said...

Christians are following the teachings of Jesus who said, "render under to Caesar ...". He didn't require that Christians make a value judgment about Caesar.

I'm not sure where Jews stand on this issue, but since so much that Jesus said came from Jewish dogma, there's probably something similar there.

Moslems obviously not.

erp said...

Harry, did you look at your link?

Number of dioceses there ever were in Germany: 76 / Number of dioceses currently in Germany: 29.

The link you provided listed bishops from other countries as well as Germany.

Even at the top number of dioceses and counting bishops, archbishops, cardinals, etc. the number is far, far fewer than 600.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

As I said, you keep impressing me with your numeracy. To count all bishops including the long deceased ones was a stroke of genius.

I am sure every one of them contributed to Nazism - causality is for the little mortal people.

On Nazism and Catholicism, I won't take your arguments seriously until you do your homework: take a look at The Antichrist and Mein Kampf at the same time. If you never did, you don't know what you are talking about.

Harry Eagar said...

Auxiliary bishops, erp. They got the chrism, they are in the direct apostolic succession.

erp said...

Harry, making my point for me again: An auxiliary bishop in the Roman Catholic Church is an additional bishop assigned to a diocese because the diocesan bishop is unable to perform his functions, the diocese is so extensive that it requires more than one bishop to administer ...

Chrism? You can't possibly believe that churches have a bishop whose only duty is to bless the holy oil?

Harry Eagar said...

A bishop is a bishop. The church takes that apostolic succession business verry seriously.

Peter said...

There is no hole so deep that Harry believes he can't climb out of it.

erp said...

Harry, the church does indeed take apostolic succession seriously, that's probably why, per Wiki, there's a College of Cardinals which convenes on the death or resignation of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor.

Harry Eagar said...

Non-Catholics probably shouldn't play gotcha with me.

The chrism is the physical signum of being made bishop. It's put on the candidate.

Apostolic succession has nothing to do with popes, but with the succession of the bishops in unbroken line from the apostles.

Th cardinals don't go back to the apostles, erp, and it has not always been necessary the be a bishop to be a cardinal.

I didn't get all A's in religion for 14 years for nuthin', y'know.

erp said...

Harry, I would never play gotcha with you and said nothing about about any of the above, but linked to Wiki. If you have a problems with their info, you can edit the material. I only had the benefit of the angelic nuns for eight years, but I do remember dogma saying that popes aka bishops of Rome are the direct descendants of St. Peter.

Harry Eagar said...

You must have missed the lesson on chrism, since you did not get my obvious point.

The popes are direct successors of Peter but that was originally merely an administrative distinction. The apostolic succession concerns the bishops, who were (and still are) more fundamental in the doctrine.

Therefore, an auxiliary bishop is just as much a bishop a one in his see.

You and Clovis might also stop to ask, is it likely that as large, ancient and important a segment of the Roman church as Germany would get only half a percent of the bishops?

erp said...

Harry, I didn't know the word chrism that's why I looked it up.

The popes are direct successors of Peter but that was originally merely an administrative distinction. Peter, over to you on this one – the legalese is above my payscale.

Clovis, I won't speak for you, but I haven't given a nanosecond (a little physics lingo here) of thought to bishops, German or otherwise, and don't plan to start now, but you have my permission to speak for me on the subject should you wish to do so.

Harry Eagar said...

I could tell you didn't. I did though.

I think all these superstitions are ridiculous but it is sometimes important to know what they are, who does take them seriously and why.

Therefore, I continue to study religious and similar preposterous beliefs.

erp said...

Mashallah.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

Sorry but I won't help you to learn how to count.

I could. When I was 16 years old I helped a 50-something guy who dropped school to learn all math again from scratch. It was an interesting experience.

But that guy was humble and eager to learn. I am not sure it is your case though.

erp said...

Clovis, staying with the math meme, your reply is tangential.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

How so? Harry keeps defending bogus numbers, what else can I say?

erp said...

How do you know? There may be a New Deal study published in the 13th c. showing that Harry's numbers are correct.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

LOL :-)

You only need to follow his own link, a list provided by the Church itself, but this time clicking on the link "Living Only" (Harry linked the list counting the deceased too, smart move ah?):

http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/bde2.html

You do not even need to count, they display the number right at the end: 145.

And those are counting a lot of retired folks who were bishops elsewhere and are only living in Germany now (notice they cite Ratzinger, and he still lives in Italy!).

Exercise in counting for Harry: try to count the number of non-retired (Emeritus)
bishops of that list.

In Harry's world, the Catholic Church in 1939 Germany would have over six times more bishops than today. I am sorry Harry, Catholicism may be dying in Germany, but not as fast as you wish.

erp said...

Clovis, I know. I saw that page too. We need to go easy on Harry. He must have had a hellacious childhood and can't let go of it.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

If he really needed to study religion in school for 14 years, as he says, I am truly sorry for him. No one deserves that. It explains a lot...

erp said...

Not religion in general, Catholic indoctrination.

Even the number 14 years is puzzling. Eight years of grammar school as it was back then and if he went to a Catholic high school, it would be four more years for a total of 12 years.

Two more in college?

My husband went to all Catholic schools too and he said religion classes as such weren't required St. John's University in NYC where he went. I imagine it would have been the same at other Catholic colleges especially for students from Catholic primary and secondary schools.

It's so odd. Harry rails against his religious indoctrination, yet he's swallowed hook, line and sinker the whole left wing schtick.

It's really incomprehensible to me.

Howard said...

...yet he's swallowed hook, line and sinker the whole left wing schtick.

Bullseye!

erp said...

Howard, you know I've been thinking about Harry's devotion to the sinistral.

I just happened upon that word and given its shared etymology with sinister, I think I will start using it instead of the old worn out words for people of the left.

To my point: I wonder if Harry went to a Jesuit college and that's where he learned about the world according Marx and friends and since it was just as authoritarian as the world he already knew -- only the bad guys were different -- he felt comfortable with it.

Odd he's never answered my question about whether he's conflicted now that the pope is one of his boys.

Peter said...

Harry is like many lapsed Catholics. They may rail against Mother Church, but they consider themselves experts in theology and are instinctively dismissive of non-Catholics, particularly Protestants. It fascinates me. They'll deny the eucharist, the resurrection and even the Deity Itself, but when the heretics show up, they'll fight to the death to defend the One True Church.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, I didn't see your question, but, no, the Roman church is and always has been antidemocratic. I have no interest in its survival.

Peter, while I am dismissive of non-Catholics, that's because I am dismissive of Big Spookery in any guise. I do know what the teachings of Holy Mother the Church are.

It is bizarre to say that restating the published doctrine of the Roman church is defending it. It is what it is. You can find all this in the Baltimore Catechism. Sheesh.

erp said...

Harry, ... so has communism. What's your point?

erp said...

More on Pope Pius.

Harry Eagar said...

Ah, yes, the imaginary plots against Hitler. Again.

Pacelli was so opposed to Nazism that he called for an end to the war when Germany had conquered nearly all Europe.

Clovis e Adri said...

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

erp said...

... and Harry speaking of damned, any comment on the unspeakably vile creature who wrote this. There's nothing at all about her bio on line except that the mayor married her to some lefty money man, but it's not a common name and I'm pretty sure I know her family.

They must be hanging their heads in shame to have produced a monster such as she.

I sometimes wish hell were real, so people like the woman who wrote these words could enjoy its comforts.

Bret said...

erp,

Yeah, she's a bit of a hate spewer isn't she?

The scary part is that the readership must like it, else they'd get rid of her.

Clovis e Adri said...

I've heard before the guy was radicalized by his wife.

Now the most recent theory is he was radicalized by his co-worker being mean to him?

Was the place a no-guns territory? Where is Skipper to tell us the problem was too few guns around?

Bret said...

It is not legal to carry guns into a county building even with a concealed carry permit so it was a "no-guns territory" as you call it.

My opinion is that it wouldn't've mattered much. Coastal California just isn't a gun culture. For example, in a state like Montana, half the people own guns. In California, only about 1 in 5 people own guns and in the coastal communities, even fewer (though San Bernadino is maybe not a coastal community - sorta on the border between the coasts and inland).

So even if it had been legal to have guns in that building, my guess is that there still wouldn't've been many, if any, people with guns. And even less likely that anyone would've had sufficient training and proficiency to reduce the carnage.

erp said...

Clovis, you may not be aware but the military type weapons used were already illegal in California and I think everywhere else in the U.S.

The former next door neighbor who purchased some of the guns checked himself into the booby hatch aka a mental health facility so he is immune to questioning until the docs there say he's cured. Don't hold your breath for that to happen any time soon. PS: He's already lawyered up as are the male perp's local relatives.

The president after no doubt intensive focus grouping came up with a new slogan in the war against We, the People, we now have A New Phase.

Mazel Tov to his wordsmiths. More and even better blather. I'd rather he announced a new FASER and Captain Kirk to go with it.

These killings are not gun related, they are insane hatred related. Did you hear about the knife-wielding guy who cut a London man's throat and hurt two others in the tubes -- he was shouting "this is for Syria."

Islamic terrorism? Nah. Workplace-Commute Violence.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "...the military type weapons used were already illegal in California and I think everywhere else in the U.S."

Yes, but with a caveat. When bought, they were legal. They were then modified. After being modified, they were (and are) illegal.

erp wrote: "These killings are not gun related, they are insane hatred related."

Exactly. Unfortunately, I think the more guns versus more gun control debate is misplaced. A suicidal fanatic is going to be able to get guns and ammo and then create a great deal of carnage no matter how many guns there are available for defense and no matter what the gun control laws are.

That being said, I would like to continue to have the right to defend myself (i.e. the right to arm myself and the right to concealed carry), even if it is a fool's errand. (Disclosure: I don't own guns nor do I have a concealed carry permit - I just want to have the right to do so).

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
It is not legal to carry guns into a county building
---
Is it true anywhere in the US or just California?

---
And even less likely that anyone would've had sufficient training and proficiency to reduce the carnage.
---
Considering the kind of weapons the perps had, and their protective gear, anyone with some usual gun would've been in serious disadvantadge.

To be fair with Skipper though, he would still be in far better position than having no gun at all.




Erp,

---
Clovis, you may not be aware but the military type weapons used were already illegal in California and I think everywhere else in the U.S.
---

At which point the "right to defend myself"(per Bret) turns into "the right to defend myself with (modifiable) heavy military weapons that kill dozens per second"?

Actually, I don't think that's much of a blurred line.



Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Is it true anywhere in the US or just California?"

Probably county by county throughout the US.

erp said...

Clovis, my comment wasn't clear. California and many other states already have even more restrictive gun control laws than the president and the rest of the left are bleating about, so it's a straw man issue designed to redirect attention away from their war on us.

Islamic terrorists are only part of our problems with insane people running around free. We also have people who for various reasons of substance abuse and other factors lost control of the actions and resort to terrible violence and killing for no reason than can be discerned by those not privy to what's going on in their heads.

These people used to be removed from society for the safety of themselves and the public, but during the 60's and 70's, the compassionates emptied out the institutions for the criminally insane and left them to their own devices living on the streets or if they were lucky, in their parents' basements. Family and friends were helpless because other than psychotropic drugs there was no help anywhere. Those drugs were in the most part, completely ineffective even if they were taken as prescribed. Unforutnately the usual case was that they were also abused.

Hench we are where we are now so our president can say that Islamic terrorists are merely buying into our mass killing paradigm.

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erp said...

Double comment genie at it again.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
California and many other states already have even more restrictive gun control laws
---

And yet the guy could get everything he needed delivered by mail, at his door.
Gee, you ought to make the life of those terrorists a bit harder, don't you think so?

Harry Eagar said...

More delusions from erp. There aren't any gun control laws in the United States. If you don't like the local regulations, go over one county. It's like the Turing machine; just keep moving till you get to the county whose sheriff said he wouldn't enforce any gun laws.

I see in today's news that an armed citizen gunned down a man for stealing beer at an Arizona stop 'n' rob. I guess that's what Bret wants top see more of. We all agree beer stealing is a capital crime.

And trials are sooo expensive. Bullets cheap.

erp said...

Harry, counties, cities, towns, states, etc. are all part of the whole which is the U.S. of A. Our side want a lot of autonomy among the different parts. Your side wants the king to make all the rules.

Perhaps the beer burglar didn't heed the citizen's suggestion the he cease and desist. I predict that petty theft in that area will drop like a stone.

BTW - "gunned down" is ambiguous. Did he put a bullet between the thief's eyes or did he merely part his hair? ... and just how much thievery is oke with you? Would it be okay for a citizen to shoot a thief robbing the till, removing cases of beer, backing up his pickup and emptying the freezers. How about relieving other shoppers of their phones, wallets, watches? Raping a child? Where do you draw the line?

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Where do you draw the line?
---

I suppose in Harry's view you draw the line when it happens to be his store.

Harry Eagar said...

Clovis, you are wrong. I wrote the operations manual for our store.

It says, in the event of an armed robbery, do not resist, try to get a good look at the perp if you can. Money can be replaced. Life cannot.

That's the owner's rule but I agree with it.

We believe in the rule of law and we do not worship money.

For what it's worth, the owner, who is also my best friend, is a traditional conservative. Quite far to the right on most issues but strongly influenced on social matters by his Jewish upbringing.

erp said...

Harry, the owner of the store is absolutely correct, but that wasn't the question, was it?

The question was where do you, Harry, draw the line at letting a criminal rob the store when you are armed and proficient in their use?

To answer Clovis' question:

You confront the thief with, stop or I'll shoot;
a. The thief stops, the police arrive and take over;
b. The thief continues to make a getaway, you shoot above his/her head (see a.);
c. The thief still doesn't stop, you fire the gun trying to do the least damage that stops him/her from fleeing. (see a.)

In the case of physical abuse of an innocent, mere shooting is far too mild an action. That requires tortures Dante never thought of applied first.

erp said...

Harry, The king speaks and makes your dreams come true.

I wonder what your boss thinks of it.

Harry Eagar said...

My boss hates guns. His father used to carry a pistol while collecting rent in Harlem -- you know, back in the days when you say things were better. He also hired a bodyguard to accompany him.

Because things were so much better then.

The only thing going armed accomplished was that his father shot himself in the leg.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

In this case, my apologies for the little joke.

erp said...

Harry, Sorry, your boss' father shot himself, but again, that's not the question.

Where do you draw the line re: crime.

Re: Collecting rents in Harlem. You're right that things are a lot better for slumlords now that taxpayers pay the rent directly into their bank accounts via electronic transfers so they are much safer and can blather about hating guns.

Clovis, Joke?

Harry Eagar said...

I draw the line at executing people without a trial. Where do you draw it?

Harry Eagar said...

Apology accepted but it ain't no joke. There really are people who value human life at nothing and property at everything.

Funny thing: if they grab the property, they are criminals; but if they kill people to protect the property,they are 'heroes.'

I either case, they value human life at nil.

Perverted,no?

erp said...

Harry, I'm surprised you support capital punishment even after a trial. Has the narrative on that changed when I wasn't looking?

People who grab things, i.e., commit crimes are criminals and must be apprehended for the safety of the public.

People who risk their lives to apprehend criminals and protect the public are heroes.

Stealing a beer isn't a capital offense. Had the thief stopped when ordered to do so, he or she would probably have been dealt with lightly. The shooter didn't make that choice, the thief did.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] While checking the date of the last execution of a witch in Britain, I was surprised to discover the case of Helen Duncan. http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/Helen-Duncan-Scotlands-last-witch/

It does seem that the evil attributable to religion is hard to eradicate.


While checking Harry's link, I was not the least surprised to find that what it says, and what Harry says it says are two entirely different things:

In one of the most sensational episodes in wartime Britain, Duncan was eventually brought to trial at the Old Bailey in London and became the last person to be prosecuted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which had not been used for more than a century. After a seven-day trial, she was sentenced to nine months in London's Holloway Prison.

Nor, making this a two-fer, is there any mention of religion.

Another one for the Harry's Shenanigans File.

Non-Catholics probably shouldn't play gotcha with me.

Would that you follow your own advice.

[erp:] ... and Harry speaking of damned, any comment on the unspeakably vile creature who wrote this.

Love the name: Ms. Stasi

[Clovis:] Was the place a no-guns territory? Where is Skipper to tell us the problem was too few guns around?

Seems to me there were plenty of defenseless targets in the gun-free free fire zone. Just the way Harry likes them.

To be fair with Skipper though, he would still be in far better position than having no gun at all.

The problem, from the perps point of view, is that in a target rich environment, it is extremely difficult to know which target is going to fire back; in contrast, from the point of view of many targets, the perps are very easy to identify.

[Harry:] There aren't any gun control laws in the United States. If you don't like the local regulations, go over one county.

Bullcrap. Try getting a concealed carry license in California.

I see in today's news that an armed citizen gunned down a man for stealing beer at an Arizona stop 'n' rob.

Would it kill you to provide a link?

So I tracked it down for myself. It seems you have, once again, been very, ummm, economical with the facts.

[Harry:] Clovis, you are wrong. I wrote the operations manual for our store.

It says, in the event of an armed robbery, do not resist, try to get a good look at the perp if you can. Money can be replaced. Life cannot.

That's the owner's rule but I agree with it.

We believe in the rule of law and we do not worship money.


You remind me very much of a sanctimonious pacifist — but I repeat myself. Imagine a community where all store owners are armed, and the zeitgeist is to shoot all shoplifters.

Extreme, sure.

But I'll bet there are darn few shoplifters.

Now, you become the sanctimonious pacifist (but I am repeatedly repeating myself), and decide to assume the supine position, rather than defend your property. Your odds of becoming the target of shoplifters is nearly zero, because you are, like all sanctimonious pacifists, free riding. Yet you will trumpet your presumed moral superiority, heedless of the fact that it has been bought for you by others.

And while you are preening yourself, it would be well to remember how criminal behavior metastisizes. See New York, 1970s to the 1990s.