Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Solidarity

My night-time working background noise is generally The Daily Show and Colbert, followed by the overnight replays of MSNBC's opinion-show block, followed by a mad scramble to find something - anything - to watch other than Ed Schultz. Before anyone asks, yes - I get my "equal time" fill of right-wing talkers in daylight hours while I'm driving.

NOTE: Remainder of post involves politics. Don't want to read it? Then don't ;)


I don't watch/read/listen to "the news" for information, I do it because I like hearing things argued out by smart people and because the only way to remain aware of media manipulation of info is to stay engaged with it - block it out for too long, and you forget the two key facts of living an informed life: 1.) That there are such things as objective truths - just very, very few of them; and 2.) that everyone is aiming to "sell you" on something, even the folks who truly believe in their heart of hearts that they are not.

Tonight, though, I'll be paying closer attention than usual to see what - if anything - MSNBC's top guns (Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Matthews) have to say about the public-pillorying of their fellow host Chris Hayes.

For those who don't follow this stuff, over the weekend Hayes brought up for discussion his (personal) discomfort with the way terms like "hero" and "valor" are blanketly-applied to military service in and of itself in the context of the Memorial Day holiday; his overall point being that however duly respectful we are toward military service, the very reflexiveness of that respect makes it difficult to approach questions when/why to use military force with the kind of thoughtful skepticism such grave matters deserve.

The timing is, of course, of questionable tact; but the actual commentary is about as bend-over-backwards and qualifier-laden as a "controversial" statement can be and still be a statement at all - he even concludes with "But maybe I'm wrong about that." This, of course, did not prevent the right-wing media from pouncing on him. They can hardly be blamed for the obvious glee they took in doing so - Hayes' approach and overall demeanor is practically a caricature of what Michael Bay's America thinks of when it sneers about "liberal elitism;" and The Right did it's usual classy job of "taking him down" by inferring that he was effeminate (because, after all, there is no greater sin than to a dumb ol' GIRL!) and chortling about his use of the phrase "rhetorically proximate," the kind of big fancy book-learnin' words that "normal people" would never use.

Hayes has, of course, offered an apology/clarification; which reads as sincere and reasoned but also utterly unnecessary. He didn't say "soldiers aren't heroes," he didn't even issue a statement of anything other than to offer his own personal view - which he admits is difficult for him to grapple with and may well be incorrect! - for discussion. The only thing he did "wrong" was to do this in the context of the present-day American media culture; where nuance and thoughtfulness are four-letter words.

The problem Hayes faces is that we live in a culture that vilifies any approach to the word that does not exist in terms of simple, basic wisdom. We prefer definitive statements of right and wrong or good and evil to nuance and intellectual inquiry. Something is either an absolute good or an eternal wrong; and to suggest that there may be layers or issues of context is to be uncertain and thus somehow weak. It's a strain of anti-intellectualism that taints and corrupts just about every facet of our existence; viewed most-glaringly in the way our allegedly modern culture heaps far greater import on religious "truths" - which are by-design simple, easy-to-digest and require very little mental effort beyond blind acceptance - over scientific facts which are often more-difficult to comprehend.

But it also subtly (yet profoundly) colors they way we approach the rest of the world, and the way the rest of the world approaches us: Far, far too much stock is placed "common sense" and "folk wisdom." We perpetuate the pleasant yet disastrous LIE that "simple truths" that any random dolt can easily understand are innately superior to academic, scientific or merely "complex" solutions that require effort and study to arrive at: The hard, unpleasant fact of the matter is that most of the time the "average joe" and his simple, common-sense answer - however likable and approachable both may be - are going to be wrong; while the "cold" or "detached" intellectual is usually going to be right. Because the world is not simple and grows less so every day.

Folks, when I spout-off about "Thinkers vs. Believers" (and I'm well aware that many take reasonable exception to the terminology which is, ironically, perhaps a bit too simplified for it's own good) this is what I'm talking about. It's this horrible, destructive notion of acknowledging the world as a complex place requiring thoughtful, nuanced solutions that - yes! - are indeed better suited to those of an intellectual persuasion is somehow tantamount to weakness. The idea that simplistic, "right or wrong, black or white" decision making - a fundamentally ignorant approach ill-suited to modern life that too many mistake as some kind of anachronistic masculine virtue - carries some kind of moral righteousness.

One is free to agree or disagree with Chris Hayes or anyone else - for my part, I understand and agree with his overall point while understanding the need for sentiment and symbolism in such matters - but the idea that asking the question or having a viewpoint that isn't 100% binary about such an important issue is everything that is broken and bleeding about American culture handily summarized. Complexity and nuance are not personal failings, they are virtues. "Simple solutions" should be mistrusted and vetted, not deified. Ignorance ought to be a mark of shame, while intelligence and ability to take an intellectual approach should be a mark of great character.

Chris Hayes may or may not have been "wrong," but his willingness to think about it in the first place makes him the innate superior of every "average"-pandering political hack who spent the weekend throttling him. And I hope that other thoughtful people in the media or otherwise on either "side" don't give in to the temptation to throw him under the bus for the crime of being a thinking person in a time and place where that is unwelcome.

79 comments:

Joey said...

Folks, before you start ranting, listen to this.

Bob DID mention the Thinkers/Believers stance was a bit flawed.

He DID accept allowing different opinions to be made by Hayes and others.

He DID criticize the Right's overall eagerness to pounce on this story.

This little summary was brought to you so you wouldn't skip the article entirely to start flaming.

(P.S. Just curious, has the LEFT ever done something like this? This is NOT an invitation to a flame war.)

Joey said...

Oh yeah, before I forget.

He DID mention the stupidity that we must ALWAYS think in terms of black and white, red and blue, 0 and 1, right and left, etc.

I am one of the GREY-minded people who is willing to accept both sides of the story as long as they are logical.

Pat said...

I agree. Too much of the current American political culture is made up of a need to polarize every issue and to show no quarter to your "opponent". People avoid difficult questions or ideas because they don't want to actually argue their beliefs, they just want to state their beliefs.

As for what Chris Hayes said, I absolutely agree. I personally think the American military structure is broken and because of our romanticism of the military life, we act like that's the way it's supposed to be. I hate the idea that before an American can become a soldier, they must first be dehumanized and expected to follow every order given unquestioningly. I hate the idea that in a day and age where most combat has evolved to a point where its done through technology and intelligence, basic training hasn't really evolved with it. I hate the idea that we claim to support and respect and honor our troops, but we choose to ignore what the current military system often does to them psychologically as well as the questionable motives and actions of some military folks involved.

I feel like it's because there was a time in recent American history where American soldiers were treated as awful people because of the issues surrounding Vietnam. I feel like we regret that so much as a society that we've overcompensated by treating every soldier as a hero just because they signed up to be dehumanized.

By default, I have nothing but respect for American soldiers, and if they did something particularly noble or brave, I do consider them to be a hero, but in my opinion, the current military system doesn't want heroes. It wants robots. And when an American soldier does something awful, I don't make excuses for them just because they were only following orders, because we don't use that to excuse Nazis. If a person does something bad, they should be held accountable for it, regardless of whether or not they were a soldier.

I also have issues with how much money we dump into National Defense and how politicians never consider seriously cutting the National Defense budget because they're afraid it'll make them look like they don't support the troops.

I just think we need to stop acting like a person stops being a person when they enlist. They are probably brave for doing it, and they deserve our respect for the risks they take, but if we can't talk about them like they're normal people, the people in charge will just keep putting them in harm's way for no good reason and certain rotten eggs will continue to do despicable things completely guilt-free because "it's war".

Well, those are my two cents anyway.

Anonymous said...

Once again, James saves us from the dreaded Darkseid!

All hail James, stalker- I mean, stalwart hero of the land!

Azuaron said...

"...viewed most-glaringly in the way our allegedly modern culture heaps far greater import on religious "truths" - which are by-design simple, easy-to-digest and require very little mental effort beyond blind acceptance - over scientific facts which are often more-difficult to comprehend."

Bob, Bob, Bob, I don't know if you've read the Bible, but it's about as complex and nuanced as things get; people spend their entire lives trying to determine the "simple, easy-to-digest" truths in there, and die knowing their work is unfinished.

Now, this isn't to say that our culture doesn't latch on to various aspects of Christianity and say, "Aha! This is true!" But our culture is usually wrong when it comes to what the Bible actually says is true because, because they yearn for simplicity, they cherry-pick a verse that supports their preexisting viewpoint regardless of the surrounding context of the statement, or even the original meaning of the words which, through translation and changing of connotation, makes even straightforward passages difficult to navigate.

This isn't any different from other fields of study (I can't be the only one who was taught that Columbus--what a hero!--couldn't get funding because those foolish people thought the world was flat and he'd fall off the edge).

I'd say anti-intellectualism is actually a bigger problem for Christianity than it is for science, since at least scientists aren't likely to be anti-intellectual, whereas Christians are, and interior rot is more dangerous than exterior pressure.

Mister Linton said...

According to Bob: anyone who deals in binary problem solving and issue simplifying worldview falls under his blanket characterization as a "believer". This statement logically defines Bob as a "believer" himself.

Remember in Ep.3 the absolute statement made by Obi-Wan: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes..."

Anonymous said...

To Mister Linton. By saying that only Sith's deal in absolutes, you are dealing in absolutes. Does this make Obi-Wan a Sith?

Anonymous said...

@other Anonymous

Rienier Wolfcastle: THAT'S THE JOKE!!!

Joey said...

You see Steve, Bob deletes your stuff because EVERY time you come here, you repeat the same stuff OVER and OVER again. Namely, Bob is a hypocrite.

If you are going to keep posting here, PLEASE bring something new to the table.

MovieBob said...

@James

You are being deleted because you have nothing interesting to contribute and continue to harass me and colleagues of mine. You are not welcome on this site or any feed of mine. Learn to deal with this.

Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed the idea of a complex belief for a complex world. And whenever asked what my political affiliation is my response has always been, "Anyone who can distill their political and moral beliefs to a single word, deserve to have them described with one word 'idiotic' "

Sure, people want the world to be black and white, because if the world were working perfectly it would be black and white. Bad things would only happen to bad people, good people would never be put in bad situations and there wouldn't be a need for extra consideration on anything. For this reason I find Machiavelli a great source of understanding about the world, honestly anybody who hasn't sat down and actually read his works really should do so.

Billy said...

I love your political commentary, bob, for the exact reason that you're defending Hayes here. Sure, at times you slip into rhetoric that sums up the ideas you have about the world, but you also take extensive effort to define those terms. People who call you a "hypocrite" are merely leaning on an insult in order to avoid the rational conclusions you make about the world. Obviously, sometimes I feel like you run a little too far with the uncompromising ideologies bit, because I have a bit of a different perspective. I do wish people would stop mistaking your heated commentary for stubbornness, and recognize it as what it is; actually being concerned about where the United States is heading.

Anonymous said...

James, why don't you just admit that you want Bob to delete everything he has ever posted and do a Justin.tv stream of him blowing his brains out? Because I seriously doubt somebody as psychotically obsessed as you are would ever stop just because Bob said "I'm a hypocrite". Hell, do you even know what that word means or do you just use it because your favorite shout-down-the-other-person pundit uses it every other sentence?

Billy said...

@James Do you ever try to come up with anything new to say? Bob is right to delete your posts. Reiterating what you've already said every time there's a political post on this blog isn't going to prove any point, or add to a discussion. Why bother?

btw I'm pretty sure when he says it's for his long-term political goals, he means for moving the country forward, not to make himself money or something. This should be extremely obvious.

Thorbs said...

Good, well thought-out post Bob.

As an outsider, one of the most disturbing things about American politics is the obvious anti-intellectualism... voters wanting their candidates to be an average Joe. I'd say I'm NOT an average Joe, in that I'm smart enough to think that someone like me would be fucking useless at running a country!

Oh, and good job on deleting James' comments... there's enough crap on the internet already without his bile adding to it.

James said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It's actually true that Obama's inability to get rid of the runaway executive power that the Bush administration grabbed is depressing, but I don't think that has much to do with the argument about Hayes, which is about how the political discourse in this country is poisoned, and how the blame for that poison falls squarely on the shoulders of the kinds of bullying nitwits that would pillory a thoughtful guy like Hayes for saying something interesting on television. It's not an accident that those people are all conservative mouthpieces. I know perfectly well that there are embarrassing, dogmatized liberals in the world, but those people don't have anyone representing them, whereas there is a whole news network devoted to representing the idiot wing of American political discourse (MSNBC is nothing like Fox, and you know it, hypothetical interlocutor). I am not, by the way, arguing that we need more irrational liberals (check out the Young Maoists sometime if you want a taste of what that would be like), but I am arguing that it would be terrific if we could stop their equivalents from being so annoyingly commonplace.

On a side note, I agree that the Bible is a source of moral complexity...most books that recommend slavery and bigamy aren't that illuminating on the subject.

biomechanical923 said...

@MovieBob


I have yet to see the article or news report calling Hayes effeminate or girlish in any way.
I'm not saying the comment didn't exist, just that I haven't seen it, and would like you to link it if you have it.
I did see one part of an article that called him "effete" not "effeminate". Perhaps that's what you saw, and you didn't catch it because you were reading quickly?

As to the comments made concerning Hayes, and the issue at hand, I really don't have a problem with the concept of calling all members of the military who died in service "heroes". It's a small consolation to the families and communities of the people who paid the ultimate price in service to this country.
Anonymous posted a comment about "believers" thinking in black and white, that there exists particular mindset which rationalizes that bad things should only happen to bad people, therefore retroactively believing that if something bad happened to you, then you must have been doing something bad to deserve it.

The problem is that there are also progressive "believers" who would discount the sacrifices of servicemen and women, believing they deserve whatever happens to them for enlisting. A sort of "Don't cry for dead soldiers, nobody made them enlist"-type of mentality.

Nobody should ever protest a military funeral because they "believe" soldiers are killed because we allow gays to exist. Equally, nobody should ever find the reason they're upset over the image a flag-draped casket was because they believe that "he's just another dumbass that got himself shot"

Anonymous said...

@ Bio

...but there comes a point when military service becomes morally suspect and un-heroic, doesn't there?

I mean, if your army is mounting a campaign of political repression, killing civilians, engaging in ethnic cleansing or systematic rape, etc. it's clear that joining the army doesn't feel like an act of heroism, nor does being a veteran seem like a credit to your character.

I think the American military has largely been pretty stand-up, as these things go...but we *have* committed war crimes, and we *have* engaged in wars that got a lot of people killed for reasons that turned out to be not so stirring after some analysis.

Doesn't joining an organization that engages in that kind of behavior and promising to do whatever you're ordered to do raise questions for any of you? I'm sure a lot of Syrians at Houla, Chinese at Tienanmen Square, and Khmer Rouge thought they loved their country also...but those people aren't heroes.

Heroism isn't just being brave, and it's not just being patriotic, and it's not just being willing to lay down your life for a cause. The cause has to be good, and the way you (and the organization you represent) conducts itself in the pursuit of that good cause has to be honorable. That's why we probably shouldn't just throw the word around casually.

Omorka said...

Signing up to put one's life on the line may be an act of bravery, but I'd balk at saying it's always an act of heroism. Plenty of soldiers have died in stupid wars, for stupid reasons, when kings or dictators or presidents or ayatollahs or CEOs said it was necessary. Their service can be honorable without making them heroes. I'm thinking specifically of WWI here, but there are plenty of other wars and 'conflicts' equally pointless. Equating poor Willie McBride who died for the complex European alliance system in 1916 with the GIs who liberated Buchenwald and lived to tell about it seems to lack a certain moral clarity, to me; the latter is a hero, the former something closer to an honorable victim. (Then we have the Soviet soldiers who died grinding the Nazi army to a halt at Stalingrad. Things just get more complex from there.)

What I'm saying is that labeling all veterans, or even all those who died in military service, "heroes" cheapens the label and isn't necessary to honor them and their courage. The flowers on the grave - or the donation to a veterans' organization - don't care whether the beloved fallen was a hero, a father, a son, a husband, a friend, or just some guy following orders. They're all worthy of being respected and mourned as human beings, just like all returning veterans are worthy of respect and human dignity. Divorcing soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen from the human element (which is part of what calling all of them "heroes" indiscriminately does) ultimately reduces them to cogs in the military-industrial machine, even if we call them by the shiniest names and throw them the nicest parades.

---

Totally aside from that - hey, MovieBob, have you seen Hysteria yet? Any reviewerly thoughts? I'm currently leaning towards seeing it solely for Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Jake said...

@Moviebob
So you saw one article on Breitbart.com and that means "The Right" as a whole agrees with it?

biomechanical923 said...

@Anonymous.

I can respect what you're saying. For example, when you look at all the documented cases of military workers who died doing dumb shit, like crashing two helicopters together, I wouldn't consider them heroes. Maybe my previous post was a bit too general.

As a few others have said, I do agree that some parts of the military worship comes from influences of the far right (e.g. Fox News), and nationalists (e.g. Breitbart). I also think that some of the military worship is a reactionary backlash to vitriol from the far left for demonizing the military.

My apologies if I sounded like a flag-waver before, I might have been partially letting off steam over the disrespect coming from petulant youth in my community saying things like "So what, you were in the military, who gives a shit?"

biomechanical923 said...

@Jake
"So you saw one article on Breitbart.com and that means "The Right" as a whole agrees with it?"
I'm just glad that I'm not the only one who noticed Bob singling out the idiots at Breitbart as a strawman for whatever point he's trying to make at the time.

Scribe of the Order said...

@bio

I would have figured it to be common practice for Moviebob to use strawmen to make his arguments, seems to be all he can do when faced with a force that isn't kitten stranglers united.

Wendy said...

"I get my "equal time" fill of right-wing talkers in daylight hours while I'm driving."

HAHAHAHA! I don't believe a word of that horseshit.

Knowing your political opinion like I do, I doubt you listen to one minute of conservative talk radio any more than I watch the losers on MSLSD, whose ratings are so low they're a statistical zero.

MovieBob said...

So... I'm going to assume that everyone complaining that it was "only" the Breitbart article didn't bother to click the link to the NYMag link that quote several different sites and sources, yes?

Wendy said...

Who cares? You don't like religion or conservatives. We really don't care. We don't like your material because of your political opinion. Why do you even blog about it? You're the Goddamn GameOverthinker, not a host on a news channel.

biomechanical923 said...

@MovieBob
"So... I'm going to assume that everyone complaining that it was "only" the Breitbart article didn't bother to click the link to the NYMag link that quote several different sites and sources, yes?"
You mean the one in which I pointed out that they actually called him "effete" and not "effeminate"? Yes I read it.

I love you Bobby boo said...

Bob are you trolling? :) You silly goose. You silly goose you. I want to give you a big fucking hug right now. This is fucking great. Fuck yes. FUCK BOB I LOVE YOU

Anonymous said...

@Bio

Well..."effete" technically means "tired from having given birth"(the root is from "effetus" in the latin, apparantly) so it's still calling him a girl if you assume that the people using the word are latin scholars and not just going for "weak due to over-refinement", which is how that word is currently understood.

But yeah, I doubt it.

Megabyte said...

How about this, Bob and the anon who does not want to assume a soldier is a hero... someone who signs up for the military is signing up to sacrifice that which those of us who do not either can't or won't... their civilian rights on behalf of the rest of us. And that is exactly why I side with Bio on this one pretty much completely.

Long story short, I think it's more then fair to assume the soldier is a hero for that alone... If someone goes wrong in there, let him fall from the status. Don't hold him up as an example to say "see? THEY AREN'T ALL HEROES" like a 5 year old with an axe to grind against some group of "cool kids" who wont play with him.

Individuals fail and heroes can fall, after all. Hero does not mean superhuman.

Greg said...

James being gone is probably a breath of fresh air for everyone. Even the poeple who dislike Bob or his views on politics are probably relived he's gone as he was making them - no, everyone here look bad.

Nothing wrong with a good debate but it has to be just that; a debate. Not someone just spouting the same insult over and over again.

Anonymous said...

@Megabyte:

I wouldn't wallow in a pile of shit but that doesn't make it heroic. Assuming something is good just because you don't do it is self-loathing.

Soldiers kill people and break things. If there is such a thing as evil, that's it.

Anonymous said...

Bob, I'm impressed - this was one of your better political posts in a while. I don't always agree with you, but I used to love reading your posts anyways. For a while there though, they were filled with some serious blind hatred that just got old and tired. (I'll grant that it probably pretty difficult to keep your temper under control when you're getting personal attacks of your own in the comments.)
Now I can't say I agree with what Hayes said, and lord knows he picked a pretty bad day to say it, but I don't think it was something worth him getting attacked over - after all, he is just as entitled to his opinion as everybody else.

Marcomax said...

I just want to ask everyone to watch the full segment.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/chris-hayes-uncomfortable-soldiers-heroes_n_1550643.html

When I only watched the clip of Chris Hayes statement, I was left a little confused. Watching the full statement posts everything into context. It's not just an off hand remark but a full discussion.

Shark said...

@Wendy
MSNBC's low ratings may have something to do with the network becoming more and more opinionated journalism, just like their right wing counterpart Fox News. Then there's Cenk Uygur and Keith Oblermann going to CurrentTV: a network that's more progressive than MSNBC.

v_opposition said...

Shut the fuck up James. You are worthless and you make any honest criticism of Bob or his opinion's impossible.

You are a borderline obsessive troll. Go somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Actually, James, the way Bob is deleting/removing your comments, I'm betting you'll go away a lot sooner than that. :3

v_opposition said...

@James, really you want Bob to admit being a narcissist? From the guy who's stalked Bob on no less than 3 twitter accounts.

I've never been able to witness this kind of psychosis before, but it sure is chilling. There are a lot of people out in the world that are far worse than Bob. Go bother them.

Anonymous said...

James, if you're so enlightened that you can spend months harassing a Z-list internet celebrity that holds less political sway than Stephen Colbert's toenail clippers, why not set up your own blog to tell us what's wrong with America and how you would fix it? Seriously, go sign up for an account right now, mash out at least a thousand words without plagiarizing anything, and give us the link.

Megabyte said...

@Anonymous:

Please learn to read a full sentence before jumping to conclusions. What a soldier does that is so heroic is give up their civilian rights on behalf of us... civilians. Now unless you think those right start and stop at not wallowing in a pile of shit, you just sound stupid.

Of course that you think a soldier's total job is to kill people and break things just tells me you probably are.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Megabyte, but there's no real way around it: soldiers are made to kill people. It doesn't matter what side they're on, their personal moral code, or their reasons for joining; every person who signs up for military service will be trained how to dehumanize other people (i.e. The Enemy, a faceless evil that can be put onto any other nation/opponent with ease) and then kill them on command.

The entire structure of the military is geared towards training people to turn killing into a muscle-memory action, no more mentally taxing that typing on a keyboard or surfing the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Can you maybe also acknowledge that soldiers also defend the lives and rights of their fellow citizens, that they put their lives at risk to do it, and that they frequently have to sacrifice years with friends and loved ones in the course of doing their job?

It isn't the case that military organizations only do evil things...and the ones I've talked to about violence, while they're happy to be able to fight well and effectively in the moment, tend not to take killing people lightly; in fact, to some degree, part of the sacrifice of being in the military is having to do hard things that nobody wants to do...but I'm pretty happy about the guys who took out Bin Laden, for example.

I guess part of the tension is that the criticism you make is an insecurity for everyone about soldiers, but probably especially them; if they're not heroes, are they monsters? It seems to me that by joining the army, they increase the chance to become either, but most seem to fall into the first category.

Anonymous said...

@James

Internet Troll: someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Just thought I'd clear that up for ya :)

Zeno said...

QMegabyte:
"What a soldier does that is so heroic is give up their civilian rights on behalf of us... civilians."

Maybe all African-Americans should give up their rights and return to bondage. It would be so heroic.

Anonymous said...

"Can you maybe also acknowledge that soldiers also defend the lives and rights of their fellow citizens,"

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Megabyte said...

@Zeno

Can you tell me who they would be doing that for? Or are you just being belligerent because you don't like what I'm saying?

Megabyte said...

@Zeno

Not to mention racist by deciding who should give up anything based on race instead of by personal choice.... seriously, Zeno. That was disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I never understood the hugh admirisation of Soldiers in the American Culture. They are people who choose a way of life with the single purpose of getting more highly skilled and effectiv in killing other Human beeings, Since the US Army is not a Conscribt Army, like our 'Bundeswehr' they even doing this on there own free will. And then somehow they transform to 'Heros' when they are killed by a other Soldier, who is only defending his Country against a foreign invasion.
Its there Job to Kill and to be killed and they choose this Profesion on there own.

"Imagine there is war and nobody shows up?" - Berthold Brecht

Zeno said...

@Megabyte:
"Can you tell me who they would be doing that for? Or are you just being belligerent because you don't like what I'm saying?"

What material existence does the "for" have?

"Not to mention racist by deciding who should give up anything based on race instead of by personal choice.... seriously, Zeno. That was disgusting."

It's your logic, not mine.

Anonymous said...

@Zeno:

"What material existence does the "for" have?"

Easy... who do you think would benefit? Who would they be doing this for?

"It's your logic, not mine."

Really? Are you so sure?

"Maybe all African-Americans should give up their rights and return to bondage. It would be so heroic."

Your words, not mine....so again, way to be racist and belligerent.

Signed, Megabyte (Im at work, and not signing in from here)

Anon1 said...

@James
You know what James, how about you give us your facebook so that we can harass you in front of your friends, family, and co-workers cause that is what you are doing here to Bob.

counterpoint said...

@James,

Why do you care, exactly?

antecedentless said...

Might I suggest subscribing to this instead of listening to whatever crazies the local radio may be running morning?

Also, uh, AceofSpades had an interesting somewhat-related discussion on twitter; he basically blogged one sentence at a time; maybe I'll consolidate it somewhere.

In the meantime; I think he should of rephrased it/give a counter example such as "I'm uncomfortable with Arabs calling fallen soldiers Martyrs"

Ok; I just realized that tweet came off as racist... and to an extent it basically is. My apologies.

antecedentless said...

>May be running in the morning.

Zeno said...

@Megabyte:
"Easy... who do you think would benefit? Who would they be doing this for?"

The morality of an act must be self-contained and inherent in the act itself or it has no morality. Otherwise ignorance on ANY subject would throw into doubt the morality of ANY act. If we can't be certain of our morals we have none. This means that the act of sacrificing one's rights would have to be intrinsically good, which, taken to it's logical conclusion, would mean that the act of giving oneself to bondage is heroic. I chose the example I did because I knew you wouldn't agree with it, and neither do I. Haven't you heard of reductio ad absurdum?

biomechanical923 said...

@Zeno
"The morality of an act must be self-contained and inherent in the act itself or it has no morality."
But that's wrong because acts themselves are not even self-contained.
War (and all of life) is not simply a series of self-contained events, but rather many events are inter-connected by causality, or by an intent to reach some goal.
You seem to be saying that the self-contained act of giving up one's own agency is not, itself, a moral act. This is true, but it fails to consider the intentions behind an act, or the consequences of an act (Teleology).

You can't truly believe that the act of joining the military is just a random act that occurs arbitrarily in a certain portion of the population. There's an intent that goes with it. Namely, the protection of the lives of American citizens, and those of our allies.

Anonymous said...

Though that demonstrates that what soldiers are at best *possibly* heroic. If you join the army because you like guns, that seems more hedonistic than heroic. If you do it because you're economically desperate, that's not heroic, just practical. If you like to hurt people, that seems like the opposite of heroic. If you're, say, giving up part of a career as a professional athlete because you think you have a duty to your country, that starts to sound a little better. So really, when we call people heroes for joining the army, we're just being very optimistic about what's in their hearts.

Megabyte said...

@Zeno:

"The morality of an act must be self-contained and inherent in the act itself or it has no morality. Otherwise ignorance on ANY subject would throw into doubt the morality of ANY act. If we can't be certain of our morals we have none. This means that the act of sacrificing one's rights would have to be intrinsically good, which, taken to it's logical conclusion, would mean that the act of giving oneself to bondage is heroic. I chose the example I did because I knew you wouldn't agree with it, and neither do I. Haven't you heard of reductio ad absurdum?"

So in short, you are backpedaling because you wanted to trap me and it didn't work. Furthermore your reading and comprehension skills are poor enough to be frightening. I GAVE A REASON why joining the military of your own free will is heroic. That reason is that you are giving up your rights on behalf of the rest of us.

All you did was give an example that can not be compared since the person losing their rights is NOT doing so by choice, you can NOT give me an answer to who they are benefiting, and it's based on race (the definition of racist).

Nice to know such mental integrity stands against the people who want to defend this country. Get some stones and actually make an argument instead of being a petulant child who stomps his feet because someone said something he didn't like. Need me to say it shorter? Grow up.

Zeno said...

@Megabyte:
"I GAVE A REASON why joining the military of your own free will is heroic. That reason is that you are giving up your rights on behalf of the rest of us."

And that's what I'm challenging.

"All you did was give an example that can not be compared since the person losing their rights is NOT doing so by choice,"

I said "give up their rights". I don't know how it can be any clearer that it was by their own volition.

"you can NOT give me an answer to who they are benefiting,"

What I'm saying is that the morality of an act is intrinsic to the act itself; That something can't be justified on the grounds that it benefits somebody; The ends don't justify the means.

"and it's based on race (the definition of racist)."

Your point?

"Nice... ...up."

Ad hominem.

Zeno said...

biomechanical923:

"But that's wrong because acts themselves are not even self-contained."

Then how can it be said to be volitional?

"War (and all of life) is not simply a series of self-contained events, but rather many events are inter-connected by causality,"

If all events were determined causally there could be no morality because there could be n choice. Some things must be self-contained.

"or by an intent to reach some goal."

How do you quantify intent?

The How is inseparable from the What(Imperative and Declarative programming). At some point a thing is so far from its ideal form that you can no longer refer to it as such.

"but it fails to consider the intentions behind an act, or the consequences of an act (Teleology)."

Unless you're omniscient you could never be fully certain of the consequences and hence morality(by your reckoning) of an act. That's tantamount to Nihilism.

"You can't truly believe that the act of joining the military is just a random act that occurs arbitrarily in a certain portion of the population. There's an intent that goes with it. Namely, the protection of the lives of American citizens, and those of our allies."

If I accepted that I'd have to accept the same things about "our" "enemies".

Megabyte said...

@Zeno:

Can I just call you stupid and move on? Seriously, you are STILL trying to justify comparing slavery to joining the military.

Yeah, Im just going to call you what you have demonstrated you are... a stupid, petulant, racist, 5-year-old who happens to have picked up a few commonly flung around forums latin phrases.

We are done and good day.

biomechanical923 said...

@Zeno
"Unless you're omniscient you could never be fully certain of the consequences and hence morality(by your reckoning) of an act. "
Unfortunately, that's absolutely correct, which is why people retroactively attribute morality to actions based upon their observed results.

Anonymous said...

"The truth resists simplicity" - John Green

I agree with a lot of what Pat says.

Of course our troops are awesome, but we can and maybe should cut defense, and recognize when troops do bad things.

Or maybe we can take this to an extreme-dark-satirical place: Saying things like "Our troops must not be heroes, because we wouldn't treat heroes like this" and other things that jab at the fucking reprehensible VA problems, but at the same time gives the right fodder.

Jake said...

As much as I really disagree with some of the things Bob has said for the past couple of years, I have to give him credit for thinking Ed Shultz is an idiot.

James said...

Daily reminder: Bob is a narcissistic, intellectually dishonest hypocrite and he can go fuck himself.

Anonymous said...

@ James

I'm sorry Bob didn't call the next day. Let it go.

@ Zeno/Megabyte/Bio

I believe you really meant your example as a reductio, but it came on a little strong. You're also being dogmatically Kantian, which I guess is fine, but most people aren't going to agree with you that only consequences matter and principle is everything.

You're flailing in weird ways. It's not necessary for a there to be a maxim that every person should give up his or her rights in order to be heroic in order for it to *sometimes* be heroic. Nor does it matter whether or not we can *know* a person's intention for the intention to matter morally. There's also a big difference between a good action and a good person, and all of those distinctions are being muddied by this debate.

What about this:

A soldier is a hero IF that soldier joined the army for noble reasons AND if the consequences of that choice were in some sense positive.

So in general, if we believe that most soldiers join the army out of loyalty to/a desire to protect Americans, and we acknowledge that no more catastrophic attacks like 9/11 have happened and that this seems to some extent like evidence that America is in fact protected, AND we are either willing to agree that the thousands of civilians killed in the Iraq war/the people who got tortured/the people who got indefinitely detained/the families of soldiers destroyed by PTSD or by losing a loved one/etc. are necessary collateral damage to the goal of protecting America OR willing to agree that individual soldiers bear no (or only limited) responsibility for any of that, then we can say that most American soldiers are heroes.

Everyone happy now?

Anonymous said...

Correction: "most people aren't going to agree with you that consequences DON'T matter and principle is everything"

James said...

Hey Bob, when are you going to admit that Obama's as bad as Bush & Romney, you fucking sheep? Why are you okay with violating the rights of others if it suits your selfish agenda? Why do you support eugenics?

biomechanical923 said...

@Anonymous
If you replaced the words "Iraq" with "Afghanistan" then I'll agree.

Iraq is an entirely different mess.

KevinCV said...

Hey, James. When are you going to admit that this is Bob's blog and that he can say whatever the fuck he wants on it, regardless of whether or not you agree with it? Plus, why are you even bothering with harassing him?

Now I'm fully convinced that you're exactly like that Tim guy who kept spouting off how much "Metroid: Other M" sucks after Bob defended it amid the controversy. However, he -unlike you- at least had the decency to know when to fold 'em. It seemed like you knew that awhile ago, but now you've fallen back on your old habits.

For the sake of making a REALLY obscure game reference, did Bob put your hamster in the microwave or something? I really wish you'd leave him alone. If you feel this strongly about what he has to say, take the advice other commenters have given you: START YOUR OWN BLOG.

It's that simple. That way, you don't have to infect any intelligent discussion that goes on here with your stupidity and trollish tendencies. Plus, I won't have to be reminded of similar asshats I had to contend with when I used to be a moderator on this now-defunct gaming IRC chatroom. However, I'm hesitant to admit that you're actually quite pleasant compared to the worst of 'em...

James said...

KevinCV: Bob can say what he wants, but I'll call him out when he spews his holier-than-thou "I'm superior to everyone else" bullshit.

Anonymous said...

James,

Isn't it a form of "superior to everyone else" BS when you infect numerous semi-intelligent conversations with the same, redundant statements that contribute nothing? You get off on feeling like you're calling out a pundit/critic/whatever when you're just as insightful as the average youtube commentator (which isn't saying much). For the sake of conversation (if nothing else), learn how to debate properly like an adult before you cast stones at Bob.

ANYWHOOO...

Bob, if you're still reading at this point, I was wondering if you've seen a film called "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers". I felt it was a fairly competent Morgan Spurlock-esque documentary, and seemed to present balanced portions of time to pro-christian and pro-LGBT commentators. I'd advise you give it a look if you haven't already. Thought it'd be something you'd enjoy, especially concerning the recent political climate surrounding LGBT issues. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Zeno said...

"we are either willing to agree that the thousands of civilians killed in the Iraq war/the people who got tortured/the people who got indefinitely detained/the families of soldiers destroyed by PTSD or by losing a loved one/etc. are necessary collateral damage to the goal of protecting America OR willing to agree that individual soldiers bear no (or only limited) responsibility for any of that, then we can say that most American soldiers are heroes."

I can't agree with either of those.

Anonymous said...

Well no, I think they're both pretty tough sells, too.

KevinCV said...

@James

"Bob can say what he wants,"

Well, well. You're certainly making progress...

"but I'll call him out when he spews his holier-than-thou 'I'm superior to everyone else' bullshit."

...and now you're back to where you were before. Here's another idea for you: Actually mount a sophisticated argument instead of resorting to personal attacks and trollish harassment. I know it sounds horribly difficult and mentally taxing, but as they say: "No pain, no gain".

Ralphael said...

Bob, when the first comments on your blog post are.....

1. In your Favor
2. Anonymous
3. REALLY familiar with your past blog posts.
4. Trying to prevent a flame war while still typing words in ALL CAPS (aka passive aggressive bullshit)

We can tell its you under a different name. C'mon Bob I thought you were better than that.

Oh wait, no I didn't.

Anon1 said...

@Ralphael
Please think before you type something that ridiculous.
If you want to disagree with Bob, make a point. But don't just a totally out there claim with absolutely no proof.

Robin said...

I'm late to this particular party, but I've also recently become tired with extremist rhetoric (on all sides), in addition to how amazingly personal and political disagreement quickly degenerates.

As for this issue, I would suggest interpreting the case of "soldiers vs. heroes" in the following light: Many soldiers around the world, from all nations, perform acts of valour and heroism every day. A proclaimed hero performs heroic acts, because a hero performing them defines the acts themselves as heroic. This is, to my mind, a dangerous line of reasoning, because it leads to unaccountability. That's where I think the disconnect is coming from, and it's how I have resolved to see the issue. So, yeah, as you were, Bob.

As for the concern that people prefer their ideas simple and well told, I'm afraid that's a very human condition. We like poetry, and the best speeches are nothing less than that. My concern is the insidious return of some very medieval thinking: if someone disagrees with you, it's because they are inherently mad, stupid or foreign. Rather, if you don't agree with me, it's not due to your logically reasoned inference of personally acquired opinions and facts, rather it's a visible facet of your personal worthlessness.

And that's fucking nuts.

A clever person can have a dumb idea, and just because someone believes something doesn't mean they have/will always believe it. We evolve. We are still evolving. Shutting the conversation down with personal attacks and the digital equivalent of sticking our fingers in our ears is incredibly unhealthy and damaging to all of us, either as individuals and as a society.

And because sometimes, the clever person with the dumb idea is you.