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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » old man blogs at cloud (Page 6)

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Author Topic: old man blogs at cloud
Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
So are you up in arms about dry counties?

No. I drink so little that it can almost be said I don't, and even in dry counties it isn't very difficult to find booze if you want it. It is, to me, a small and easily avoidable petty injustice.

But then, it is small, and if would naturally hit neither of his who drink at all or never very much. So instead, let's say the immigrants are Hindu. Beef is forbidden. I suspect suddenly it's not something to be brushed aside anymore, right? Or they're Amish. No more buttons for you.

Or hey, they're against medicine. No more pharmacies. What, precisely, is the difference? *This*, incidentally, is why secularists like myself are so very leery of religious motivations in politics and lawmaking. Because for all the BlackBlades out there, fundamentally decent and thoughtful and non-intrusive, I can find someone who thinks buying booze on a Sunday is really not a big thing, and should be restricted. The difference is, that person *cares*, a lot, and why shouldn't they? God is speaking to them in some way. They care enough to make it a thing, and all of a sudden I have to start justifying my daily life decisions to some god-botherers who shouldn't have any input at all on that part of my life in the first place.

And if I happen to come along a hundred years after the fact and say, "Hey, this is ridiculous, let's throw this silly intrusive law out', I am absolutely certain to hear about how I'm attacking faith and want to eradicate religion from people's lives. Who will skip the part where I want to eradicate it from *my* life and the lives of any who don't want it in them.

Such a reaction is understandable if short-sighted. After all, the county has been dry for generations! Why raise a fuss? Who am I to kick up a ruckus? Well, if that upsets people, that's simply too bad.

And the worst part? That's what happens with something *trivial* like a dry county.

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BlackBlade
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Rakeesh:
quote:
Is there a nation on Earth now, or has there been in history, where religion is in the driver's seat, *and* there was a strong focus on free expression, freedom of religion, and keeping government and religious power separate? We have a hard enough time of that over in the secular world where we are at least nominally outright committed to it. Of the monotheistic religions in all their varieties, how many place individual freedom as their chief virtue? And no, I don't mean 'everyone is free to think about religion in their own way', I mean that same sentence with two key words removed.
Turkey?
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BlackBlade
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Samprimary: Yes, because every church busies itself with building guilded temples, and sending missionaries to Ethiopia to engage in a little cultural assimilation. None of them run soup kitchens, or donation centers, or shelters, or counseling.

Also, you and I both know that charities of religion and areligious natures waste money. It's not like only the theists gleefully waste what they are supposed to use to help the poor. But I'm all ears if you think there is a charity organization that's doing it better than any of the religious ones.

[ April 13, 2014, 12:56 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Samprimary
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yes.
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scifibum
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quote:
It seems like invariably it turns into, "If you can't give me a secular reason for doing something voting for it, running a business according to it, raising children with it means your shoving your religion down somebody's throat, and infringing on their rights." But it never works the other way.
I've made the argument on this site that laws with no secular justification should be viewed as unconstitutional - originally I argued for an amendment to that effect, I think, but MattP pointed out there's an existing standard called the Lemon test that is more or less the same - but I don't think I have taken the position you're describing here.

It's pretty close - that is, I think if there's no valid secular purpose for a law, but there is a clear religious purpose, it's clearly a breach of the "wall of separation" between church and state - but I wouldn't say that anyone raising their children according to their religion, or running their business according to their religion was necessarily infringing on anyone's rights, so what you're describing doesn't match my view or any view that I recognize as common.

A law that simply propped up some part of their religion without any secular justification though? I agree the devil is in the details, but for the most part - those laws are contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the 1st amendment and don't pass the Lemon test.

Dry counties are a good example of a law that has a secular justification even though it's probably religiously motivated. Alcohol leads to intoxication which leads to public safety hazards; there's a pretty straightforward justification there for banning alcohol sales: trying to limit the bad effects of alcohol in that jurisdiction.

In contrast, a law that bans alcohol sales only on Sunday - I have yet to imagine or hear of a secular justification for that.

So I'm a bit MORE up in arms about the latter than the former, even though the latter is not as restrictive as the former and their root causes are probably the same - the former can at least be justified on a secular basis.

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Rakeesh
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Doctors Without Borders-life-saving charitable work where it is most needed, not for profit, and without the dubiously charitable motive of proselytization.
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MattP
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Or, you know, perhaps the most recognized and respected charitable organization in the world, The Red Cross.
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Rakeesh
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I was saving that one!
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CT
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CharityWatch.org has a list of the top-ranked charities on the basis that they "generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, and receive "open-book" status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to CharityWatch."

There are a lot of categories. Skimming through, it seems a good representation of both secular and religious-based charities. I haven't done it myself, but it would be interesting to make a list of the "A" ranked charities broken down by whether their main sites cite affiliation with religious organizations or not.

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Samprimary
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yeah, there are a whole lot of charities — not just the frontliners for charity efficiency, but a whole uncountable number of them — which are more efficient in general simply by institutionally not having the typical cross-purpose of proselytizing and pr fronting a religion. more of them are also open-book and have transparent accounting, which is very important.

moreover, bb, this is getting away from the important distinction that giving money to your own church isn't giving money to charity, it's giving it to a church. many people conflate the two and innately presume this to be inherently charitable giving, because the church spends part of that money on charity, material or organized charitable support.

With the Methodists, that number is roughly around 25-29%. Churches with non-transparent finances that don't even tell the church's rank and file members where the church donations and tithes go are pretty much always way lower than that. But actively religious people try to add their church donations to their charity donations in a 1:1 equation and then present the resulting data as showing themselves more charitable than non actively religious people. Often they couldn't even tell you how much of their church donations go to charity.

When you stop erroneously relying on this 1:1 equation, it isn't the actively religious who are the biggest givers anymore. they're certainly the less charitable in this country with their voting policies when it comes to public welfare systems, even the most directly charitable poverty assistance programs like TANF and SNAP.

Which is a more important consideration, as individual charitable giving is an almost insignificant portion of actual food, housing, and emergency welfare assistance to the poor.

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kmbboots
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Charitable giving is a tricky way to measure generosity to society at large. People give to such a variety of institutions for such a variety of purpose that it is all but impossible to account for all the possibilities. Is a woman who lives on the poverty line and gives a pittance to a local animal shelter more or less generous than a wealthy person who donates large sums to her tennis club? What if that tennis club then holds a benefit gala for needy children in Africa?
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NobleHunter
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kmbboots, I believe the Bible has a parable or two about that.
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kmbboots
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Not quite was I was getting at. It is even more complicated than that. Say if three people of equal wealth both gave the same amount of money to charity - one to his church which does some amount of work with the poor so part of his donation goes to that and part to a new roof and another to his alma mater some of which goes to faculty salaries in public policy and some to a new building and some to scholarships and the third gave that money straight to Heifer International?
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NobleHunter
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Right, it was only a part of your hypothetical.

I wouldn't rate those as equally generous, given the difference objectives of the organizations involved. And it's also tricky when you consider tax benefits, too. Which I think makes some kinds of donations more suspect than others, especially for donations with a PR slant.

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kmbboots
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Exactly. Evaluating donations is complicated enough that any "this group is more generous than this group" statement backed up by the amount of charitable donations is almost worthless.
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Samprimary
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so now in addition to noting how strange and kind of useless it is to generalize the generosity of religious vs. areligious people (despite how often it keeps happening), it's also strange and useless to extrapolate based on total donation value per individual!
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Papa Moose
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Religious or non-religious, I invite you to participate with me! (What a segue, eh?)
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Rakeesh:
quote:
Is there a nation on Earth now, or has there been in history, where religion is in the driver's seat, *and* there was a strong focus on free expression, freedom of religion, and keeping government and religious power separate? We have a hard enough time of that over in the secular world where we are at least nominally outright committed to it. Of the monotheistic religions in all their varieties, how many place individual freedom as their chief virtue? And no, I don't mean 'everyone is free to think about religion in their own way', I mean that same sentence with two key words removed.
Turkey?
Turkey seems an odd response given that an enforced secular society is one of the biggest sources of friction in Turkey. Push back against the secular government is where most of their political strife comes from, so I'm not sure how it could be argued that religion is in the "driver's seat."

More accurately, religion is attempting a carjacking.

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dkw
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How exactly could there be an example of a country where "religion is in the driver's seat" and government and religious powers are kept separate? Does "the driver's seat" here mean something other than governmental power?
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Unmaker
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If the people were primarily motivated by their devotion to a particular faith, but the government was secular?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Rakeesh:
quote:
Is there a nation on Earth now, or has there been in history, where religion is in the driver's seat, *and* there was a strong focus on free expression, freedom of religion, and keeping government and religious power separate? We have a hard enough time of that over in the secular world where we are at least nominally outright committed to it. Of the monotheistic religions in all their varieties, how many place individual freedom as their chief virtue? And no, I don't mean 'everyone is free to think about religion in their own way', I mean that same sentence with two key words removed.
Turkey?
Turkey seems an odd response given that an enforced secular society is one of the biggest sources of friction in Turkey. Push back against the secular government is where most of their political strife comes from, so I'm not sure how it could be argued that religion is in the "driver's seat."

More accurately, religion is attempting a carjacking.

No the problem has been that when pro-Muslim candidates have been legitimately elected to office by the people, the military engaged in a coup and handed the reins back to the corrupt losers.

Turkey only started doing better when free elections were allowed again.

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Rakeesh
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I think you may be blending Egypt with Turkey a bit, BB.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I think you may be blending Egypt with Turkey a bit, BB.

I don't think I am. Look up the military memorandum of 1997 in Turkey. Sorry the Wikipedia link I tried to paste here isn't taking.
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Rakeesh
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I actually thought you meant a plotted coup in 2010, and in any event thought you were referring more to recent history. My bad.

I will say, though, that what looks like a secular government in Turkey is...well, different than what would be considered such here.

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Mucus
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I think BlackBlade might be thinking about Turkey, just from a rather non-conventional point of view.

Normally, Turkey started doing well when the non-religious Ataturk started many of the things that Rakeesh was referring to, splitting out government and religious power by splitting off the caliphate, freedom of religion, etc. In other words, secularism was in the driver's seat.

However, later as pro-Muslim candidates such as started winning elections (i.e. religion getting into the "driver's seat"), things like free expression, separation of government and religious power got rolled back, and Turkey has been going downhill.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Decades ago, during the first rush of oat-fiber madness, the makers of Cheerios reformulated them to include way more fiber than they used to have. This was back when I still ate the occasional bowl of cereal. The sextupling of oat fiber in Cheerios had the predictable effect.

When that was my breakfast, for the rest of the day I dared not stray far from the small room with many water fixtures. You see, I already was "regular," and therefore this massive injection of oat bran made me "frequent."

Since Cheerios remained a favorite snack for parents to feed their toddlers at church, I wondered if the fiber content had any noticeable effect on the tykes; since we did not us Cheerios as a snack food for babies, we could not make firsthand observations.

It is worth pointing out that 365 brand™ Multi-Grain Morning O's™©® are as alimentarily effective as Cheerios. The makers are very proud of their 15g of whole grains per serving, and tout the O's™© as a "good source of fiber."

This, too, is neither praise nor criticism; it is only an observation. However, for those who may not wish to alter the number of Depends they go through in a day, it is also fair warning.

These 365 brand™ Multi-Grain Morning O's™©® are an excellent snack food. Way better for me than, say, chocolate bars or cheese slices, my other favorite non-popcorn snacks.

And if I were ever to go back to eating breakfasts, I would replace my old Crispix with 365 brand™ Multi-Grain Morning O's™©® and not feel myself cruelly treated by corporate America.

As an added bonus, Whole Planet Foundation, which is tagged as the maker of 365 brand™ Multi-Grain Morning O's™©®, is very package-proud of being involved in issuing micro-loans.

Apparently they discriminate, providing these loans only to women -- God forbid a poor man should need a loan to be able to finance a business that would help him feed his family -- but in this imperfect world I can live with that bit of sexism without calling for a boycott.

The point is that eating 365 brand™ Multi-Grain Morning O's™©® is not only a delicious favor to your taste buds and a fine supercharger to your alimentary system, but also a means of providing microloans to many an "impoverished woman entrepreneur."

Delicious, healthy, and righteous; a fine combination.


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BlackBlade
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What would you posit as an easy shorthand for the product?
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MrSquicky
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Relevant Truman Show clip(slight language warning)
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stilesbn
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I thought Sam was taking issue with the parts about micro-financing and sexism. I guess it wouldn't make sense to highlight all the 365 brand™ Multi-Grain Morning O's™©® if that was the point though...
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theamazeeaz
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If you want to know why there are microfinance firms who lend specifically to women, read "Half The Sky" by Nicolas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.

But the TL;DR is that many impoverished men spend their salaries on alcohol before the money even gets brought home to their wives and children, but women will spend the extra money on their children before buying pleasure items, so there's a big push to give women an independent income stream. Also, when women make their own money, their husbands beat them less.

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stilesbn
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I'm well aware of why micro finance loans go to women in general and it seems like a good practice to me even if it is sexist by definition. I was just misinterpreting Sam's post and for some reason I decided to note that in a post instead of keeping the fact to myself.
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theamazeeaz
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This was more of a general "you" directed at the piece, than a "you" in particular.
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Samprimary
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quote:
If you want to know why there are microfinance firms who lend specifically to women, read "Half The Sky" by Nicolas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.
but what about the men?

quote:
What would you posit as an easy shorthand for the product?
I'd have just been calling them Morning O's after one use of the product's full name.

unless someone's cutting me a check, in which case it's up to them what and how many times i must refer to the Mococoa, i guess

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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
[QUOTE]

unless someone's cutting me a check, in which case it's up to them what and how many times i must refer to the Mococoa, i guess

Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz.
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scifibum
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From a review of The Grand Budapest Hotel:

quote:
I doubt that this film will be in contention for any Oscars -- it has been released into the dumping ground where some of the best films are tossed when studio marketing departments decide that they can't sell them either to the public or to the Academy voters.

I think of previous favorite movies like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and In a World, which were completely overlooked when award time rolled around.

But Oscar-bait movies tend to follow formulas; The Grand Budapest Hotel is doing things that are not "certifiably cool." That is, this film required great artistry, but artistry of a kind that Academy voters are generally blind to.

Subtle yet difficult acting performances -- like many given in this film -- are completely over the heads of most Academy voters, though most of them are actors themselves.

But that's all right. American actors are so badly trained -- or mistrained -- that they have no idea how difficult it is to bring off a performance like Ralph Fiennes's subtle-yet-farcical tour-de-force in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

It's too bad that OSC didn't take a minute to review Wes Anderson's career and notice that his work has gotten plenty of attention and accolades from the establishment that OSC wants to criticize here. This comes off as willfully blind.
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theamazeeaz
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I saw both Moonrise Kingdom and Budapest Hotel in theaters. I liked Moonrise Kingdom a lot more, and when it came out there were cries of Oscar Oscar, but it didn't get any nods, so he's got a point there.
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Samprimary
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I have admittedly lost track of the extent of what OSC says hollywood is/does but I am mystified by the proposal that american actors are badly trained. do we mean the american actors besides the ones that make it so that americans are both the majority of the categories of greatest film actors of all time AND greatest film actors performing today? I would seriously like to see a proposal that another country is producing better actors overall because if this is true I don't know of it or where it is shown.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
I saw both Moonrise Kingdom and Budapest Hotel in theaters. I liked Moonrise Kingdom a lot more, and when it came out there were cries of Oscar Oscar, but it didn't get any nods, so he's got a point there.

It was nominated for the best screenplay Oscar as well as the Golden Globe best picture award. It may not have won, but it received accolades.

OSC's worry that the movie he likes won't win an Oscar may turn out to be accurate. The problem is that he equates this to proof that Academy voters aren't as good as he is at detecting good performances, and indeed they are poorly trained.

OK, OK - this is all part of the "Uncle Orson" persona - who reviews EVERYTHING, because he is just like your uncle who has an opinion on EVERYTHING. The sweeping statements are just part of the act.

...it's just that that shtick works better for yogurt than for movies. Because he's an author and playwright and screenwriter, so he is in a position to offer serious criticism. So I expect him to do so. The avuncular, closed-mind tone he takes in criticizing movies always seems a little too sincere, unlike, for instance, a pronouncement that anyone who likes Hershey's chocolate is a hopeless Philistine.

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Samprimary
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yeah OSC is a serious jerk when he calls them hopeless. major strides have been made in getting the UN to recognize Philistine as an independent territory, which is a big sign of progress.
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theamazeeaz
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Didn't realize it had a best screenplay nod. I was thinking more of best picture. They've got five zillion slots now anyway.
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BlackBlade
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Bret Stephens made some interesting remarks in the WSJ.

I'm not which stuff I agree with and what stuff I do not, but I'm amenable to the idea that we must learn how to deal with being offended. I also think schools boycotting speakers is garbage but whatever, we've already had that conversation here.

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Samprimary
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Whoa there sir. Do you have social justice license to post that? I'm not seeing any trigger warnings for your white cishet gender binary enforcing colonialism. I'm afraid we're going to have to take you in, you've been randomly selected for a privilege check.
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theamazeeaz
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That article is about trigger warnings, but then you mentioned "being offended" and speaker boycotts (general ones or commencement ones).

I think they're two separate topics, albeit related ones. I'd rather not try to discuss both at the same time. Do you prefer to talk about one or the other?

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BlackBlade
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My forum posting time has been gobbled up, but I'm willing to discuss either.

Why don't we go with speaker boycotts.

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theamazeeaz
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Okie-dokie. I apologized because for this one I am going to argue against the students (while I would defend trigger warnings). But I've done a fair bit of thinking about both recently.

I got in a tiff about this one recently on Facebook with some alums of my college who, nearly 25 years later, were still very proud of their commencement speaker protest (that resulted in two speakers and the unpopular one stepping up her speech game substantially). Ultimately, even if the people within the college were satisfied with the outcome, the whole incident looked very very bad to national news (I was moved to comment myself because I'd read about the incident from a memoir of someone who interacted with the unpopular speaker during the time of the scandal, and our college came off really bad).

I can see why some students are uncomfortable with certain people who don't share their views, but honestly, unless the person is flat-out disgraced by some scandal, almost any famous person is qualified to give g-rated life advice to their 22-year-old selves, and can make it moderately interesting. Even when you don't like their politics. Graduation speeches should be short, and most are completely forgettable after they are over and all are clichéd anyway. I even say this as someone who spoke at her high school graduation. But I especially say this as someone who got rained on for four hours straight for her grad school commencement. My parents waved as I walked in and then left to go hide in an academic building with a TV somewhere, and medical showed up with space blankets. People walked as soon as they got their diplomas, the weather was that bad. Anyway, these things are simply not as big a deal as people make them out to be.


Students need to realize that graduations are for the parents, and honestly, a lousy speaker is up there with many minor annoyances that trip up bridezillas on their wedding days. My college had student involvement in the selection process, and frankly, people should get involved before the fact, not after it. And I should hope that people educated enough to earn a college degree know to take any speech with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, the outside world needs to realize that whining about the commencement speaker is traditional if the speaker is even remotely controversial. (How does that quote about people being unable to speak without at least one person hating them go?) In fact, students complained about the speaker for my college commencement, it got mild media attention and the speaker called them out for it during commencement. Sure, there are different degrees of whining depending on the person, but it's going to happen, and probably shouldn't be national news.

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Samprimary
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I was ambivalent on the whole speaker thing until someone asked me "well, would you not just feel a little bit chastened if, like, Ann Coulter was your commencement speaker?" — yes, even if she was giving g-rated life advice to 22 year olds, it's still Ann Coulter. made the point that this is a pretty important point in time for many families' lives that should not be given to an overly controversial speaker.

Past that though it's dependent upon who is being removed as speaker, and why, and how they got the post in the first place.

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theamazeeaz
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Heh, Ann Coulter came to campus (not as commencement speaker) when I was an undergrad, thank you College Republicans. I didn't go, but it was a big stink with the whole thing. Her fee was obscene (and the wealthy parents of the students paid quite a bit of it), she started late, and talked for maybe 45 minutes. People talked about the speech after, and I can't remember what she said. I do remember she started off by calling her audience smart (though it was largely comprised of liberal women) and had the common sense not to say certain things at a women's college. I think she knew that she had to make her points in a way to put people who were not on her side to agree with her, though they were largely unmoved.

The best response to having to sit through an Ann Coulter speech is probably just to bring commencement bingo and giggle at the best parts after the fact.

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Samprimary
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That's different than being the commencement speaker, though. And in either case I would think the actual best response is to not sit at such a speech at all and to shame a school for being stupid enough to let someone with a long history of indefensible statements speak at your school.
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theamazeeaz
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It's perfectly acceptable not to go to commencement, but I wouldn't let a lousy speaker ruin my degree party. Laugh about it after. Seriously.

I googled 'Ann Coulter Commencement Speech" and the only article about any school dumb enough to pull that one was dated "April 1". So that answers that one. I'm not sure what university would invite her in earnest, and how many trolls here on the committee.

There's a spectrum of evils a commencement speaker can have and she's on the very far end. Most speakers, even the controversial ones, will be supported by at least some segment of the population, and people can admit that they have recognizable merit for having achieved something, or at least being famous. But she still has a platform because there are people who believe her schtick. I'm not friends with these people, but they do exist.

The protest I had discussed on Facebook was against the wife of a sitting politician. He was neither liberal nor popular and she was known only as his wife. I was in pre-school when it happened, so I don't remember the politician's reign. Compared to what I've heard about the predecessor's terms (and his crazy wife), no one cares enough the guy and his wife in question 25 years later to make any one horrible scandal stick out or make me believe the pair of them did anything but advocate for the other side of the political fence as me in what could be described as an honorable manner. They were not liked well enough to be re-elected.

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BlackBlade
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On the one hand I feel students have the right to inform the school how they want their tuition dollars spent. They obviously don't have legal power to press the issue, but if I pay tuition, I wouldn't want my school to give some of those dollars to say Ted Cruz if he was invited to give the commencement speech. He's a career politician and those dollars will serve to keep him in that capacity.

But on the other, we all lose when the market place of ideas is cordoned off in anyway. I don't trust the masses (in this instance students) to not go crazy with the idea that imperfect people are not worthy to speak at their schools. Michael Moore spoke at my school and there were huge protests. During the speech people stood up and indicated that they were armed and that he should get off the stage. He managed to get through his speech.

I think overall it's safer to allow all speakers to speak rather than trying to use democracy to pick and choose which speakers may speak.

That said, again I reiterate that I don't think there is anything wrong with students voicing their displeasure at a speaker choice or the fee they are asking for.

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