Of Priests and Oilmen

Pope Francis’s positions have compelled a number of politicians once again to declare themselves Americans first, Catholics second. Rick Santorum, a GOP candidate who has long attributed his staunchly conservative views to his faith, dismissed the encyclical in advance, quipping that the pope should “leave science to the scientists”. (Perhaps it bears noting that the pope trained as a chemist before joining the clergy.)

Religion and politics: The Republicans have a pope problem | The Economist.

The Economist is not the first to report on this problem – The American Conservative has been discussing this at some length, including a damning piece by the devout Crunchy Con Rob Dreher excoriating Jeb Bush for being a “cafeteria Catholic.”

At some point, the Republican candidates for President are going to have to recognize that their messages on climate are looking increasingly like they are coming from the public relations departments of America’s largest fossil fuel producers.

Hollywood and Politics

Anyone who will stand up in front of a group of friends, much less the United Nations General Assembly, and tell others how they should conduct their lives and affairs, all while behaving in a manner inconsistent with his advocacy, is a hypocrite and thus non-credible. That is as true for the family-values touting Republican congressman who bangs his married administrative assistant as it is for a film icon who preaches carbon consciousness while living an flagrantly carbon-spewing lifestyle.
The famous do not get a pass for fame: they get higher standards than the rest of us. That is the price of public influence.

The Value of Diverse Opinions

Democracy depends on having a strong sense of the value of diverse opinions. If one imagines (as the Soviets did) that one already has the final truth, and that everyone who disagrees is mad, immoral, or stupid, then why allow opposing opinions to be expressed or permit another party to exist at all? The Soviets insisted they had complete freedom of speech, they just did not allow people to lie. It is a short step, John Stuart Mill argues, from the view that one’s opponents are necessarily guided by evil intentions to the rule of what we have come to call a one-party state or what Putin today calls “managed democracy.” If universities embody the future, then we are about to take that step.

Gary Saul Morson
Why College Kids Are Avoiding The Study Of Literature
Commentary
July 1, 2015

The Gold Standard for Tolerance

“Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.”

From the Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression of the University of Chicago, now UofChicago policy, via Wondering If I’m the Next Tim Hunt | Alice Domurat Dreger.

If there was ever a gold standard for tolerance, this is it. This should be the standard for all discourse, not just academic freedom.

 

The Double Standard – Development

I live on the coast.
If I protest the construction of a beachside hotel by Marriott on the basis that it will have proven negative effects on the coastline, I am lauded as an environmentalist.
If I protest the construction of an equally-sized low-income housing development for the same environmental reasons, I am scorned as a NIMBY.
The persistence of such a double standard points to one of the current failings in American politics: whether we realize it or not, we are more comfortable resorting to the ad hominem than addressing the argument.