About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I agree with Dobson, sort of
Let me start with my agreement with Dobson, and then we'll get to the meat of the piece. Dobson says that “[political] polls don't measure right and wrong,” and that “voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one's principles.” That, of course, is correct, and I certainly concur with the sentiment that it is corrupt to run political campaigns based on what one thinks people want to hear, as opposed to what one's principles dictate. The best current example is perhaps Senator John McCain, who went from harshly criticizing the likes of Dobson to appearing at their so-called universities to pander for a few extra votes.
Then again, there is a positive side to compromise: unless one wishes to run a fascist state (something that George W. has come pretty darn close to, especially during his first term), then one simply has to compromise in order to build consensus. I've never particularly liked Bill Clinton (too much to the right for my taste), but he surely was a phenomenal consensus builder, until he got a blow job that almost cost him the White House (and yes, Bill, it was sex).
Back to Dobson, who recently authored a book entitled “Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men” -- I guess girls don't matter for people who espouse family values. His op-ed explains what happened at a very secret meeting held last Saturday in Salt Lake City, which was attended by Dobson, Cheney, and other high-level exponents of the neocon/evangelism axis of evil. According to Dobson, the goal of the meeting was to decide what to do “if neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself” to what this lunatic keeps referring to as “family values,” i.e. the “sanctity” of human life and, of course, the institution of marriage.
A shameless use of rhetoric has always characterized politicians, and particularly so those who position themselves on the right end of the spectrum. To define one's opinions as “pro-family,” of course implies that anyone who disagrees is “against” the family, even though I haven't heard anyone, from any political party, running on a platform that includes doing away with the family structure in our society. It is the same trick, of course, that has allowed Republicans to define as unpatriotic anyone who disagrees with their war mongering, or as anti-life anyone who dares questioning the idea that human embryos are “sacred” (funny, in a dark kind of way, how the same people who vow to defend the sanctity of life are usually the first in line clamoring for the death penalty and for starting the next war, on false premises, if necessary).
Dobson states that the outcome of the meeting was almost unanimous: to paraphrase, if neither party will nominate a nutcase, then they'll vote for a third party. Wonderful, be my guest, commit suicide in the way we did in 2000. It's about time.