Canonical

God Fearers
An Open Letter to Christian Readers of Jordan Peterson & Roger Scruton by James Bryson

This should be widely read. It is an astute connection of Peterson and Scruton with current religious, cultural and political issues. The only objectionable error is referring to them as ‘conservative,’ when they are both liberal in the classical sense. Other bits with which one might take issue are matters of opinion. The author’s take is as an orthodox Christian writing to Christians.

The analysis is also interesting because while Scruton and Peterson are both “defenders of the faith,” their defense is often unsatisfying to the orthodox, triggering to the Unitarian wing, and anathema to Liberation Theologists such as Pope Francis.

The orthodox generally focus on Peterson’s refusal to publicly avow Christ as Savior. The latter two groups object to his defense of Western civilization generally.

The orthodox critics make two mistakes here. One, if you want to interest the great unwashed in the possibility of salvation through Christ, how can you object to raising people’s curiosity about the meta-narrative of the idea? Two, if you wanted to preserve the West’s intellectual canon – which is heavily predicated on your faith and inextricable from it – why attack your obvious, and effective, allies? What’s to fear: Doctrinal impurity among those who would otherwise disdain to glance at your religion? Let them come to understand what you helped build before imposing a litmus test.

Feeding a hunger for meaning, demonstrating that people will spend dozens of hours deeply exploring the West’s foundational texts is a threat to those ‘Christians’ who take Christ as optional; to those who believe they can perfect mankind – given secular power. Not to you.

The author largely dismisses such criticism. He does, however, offer his own challenge to Scruton and Peterson:

I promised to say a word about where Scruton and Peterson might be pushed from an orthodox Christian point of view. They do not need advice from me, especially since it’s the authenticity of these men—that they are what they seem and mean what they say—that holds our attention. So I preface these criticisms by saying that I do not think for a minute that they should change who they are or radically alter the course of their arguments. Instead, I suggest that Scruton and Peterson should simply continue to become more deeply who they already are.

This brings me to something Peterson and Scruton have in common: the Kantian “as if.” Peterson says he acts “as if” God exists—that “he’s afraid” he might. This simply won’t do when it comes to God. The way to convince men of integrity and seriousness, like Peterson and Scruton, is to meet them where they are strongest and most convinced—that is, as moralists.

Neither would ever countenance the idea that you should treat your wife “as if” she were your wife—”as if” you had made a promise to love and cherish her until death do you part. Nor should you treat a friend merely “as if” he were your friend. Friendship and matrimony must be grounded in an indubitable reality, or else they are nothing at all. When put to the test, “as if” arrangements will show themselves to be mere fantasies projected onto the screen of unreality. One need only appeal to the pragmatist in Peterson to make the case: How well are marriages doing in our “as if” culture? How abundant is friendship, good will, and respect for the rule of law?

The whole thing falls apart if it’s not real; that is, if it’s not true. No amount of willing or acting “as if it’s true” will do. God must be the ground of all reality through Christ his Mediator—the eternal and incarnate Logos. There is no other way to see and accept the goodness of being that Scruton and Peterson defend. This is something we believe, but it is also possible to know it, just as it is possible to know ourselves even as we are known. This does not demand a leap of faith in an existentially absurd sense—it’s a deeply rational vision, both logically and intuitively, and it is one that we, Scruton, and Peterson already share. But we need to make ourselves continually aware of it. This is what we call the sacramental life.

This is interesting but, for me, unconvincing. “As if” doesn’t seem to me to indubitably apply equally to a wife and to God. One still calls for that willing suspension of disbelief. I also find “How well are marriages doing in our “as if” culture? How abundant is friendship, good will, and respect for the rule of law?,” circular, in context. Peterson and Scruton would certainly answer, “Not as well as they should be,” but that doesn’t prove anything. Nonetheless, it’s the best offering I’ve seen.

Don’t be doubleplus-ungood

An interesting article at Wired, by Nitasha Tiku:
Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech

It is sympathetic to leftist Googlers, and that sympathy seems justified in the case of the doxxing described. However, it fails to mention that among the first things to happen to James Damore was doxxing and defaming from the left. It should be remembered he wrote his common sense, scientifically grounded memo in response to “sensitivity training” mandated for all employees. That the memo couldn’t be tolerated tells us all we need to know about Google culture.

The article ignores the deplatforming and/or demonetizing of numerous center-rightists who offend leftist sensitivities (Dennis Prager, for just one example). That Google can’t see this as a negative reflection on their culture tells us more than we need to know about their culture. Tiku doesn’t discuss harassment of conservatives by the left, which I must imagine constituted a “hostile work environment” long before this SHTF. We get little from her in that regard. We’re meant to think the majority of Googlers were harassed by a tiny group of conservatives, with little to no provocation.

It is further obvious that Google’s culture skews rigidly left based on political donations, its executives’ assistance to Barack Obama, and who the internal activist stars are. It’s clear from their push to hire based on sex, sexual orientation, skin color, and ethnicity that they agree with SJW tropes.

Still, this is a very interesting peek behind the Google curtain. Let’s look at some outtakes.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the former Montessori kids who founded Google as Stanford grad students in the late ’90s, had designed their company’s famously open culture to facilitate free thinking. Employees were “obligated to dissent” if they saw something they disagreed with, and they were encouraged to “bring their whole selves” to work rather than check their politics and personal lives at the door. And the wild thing about Google was that so many employees complied.

Complied???? “Complied” is fulsome BS. They were selected via policies guaranteed to ensure their willingness to complain about any social or political issue that made them want to run to their “safe spaces,” and then sensitivity trained. It isn’t possible for the SJWs to check their identity-group politics at the door in the first place.

The culture was, and is, far from “open.” It is characterized by internecine tribal struggles between privileged, brilliant people with generally very poor social skills, whose idea of free thinking is mostly modeled after 1984 leavened with touches of Rules for Radicals.

[T]o a remarkable extent, Google’s workers really do take “Don’t Be Evil” to heart. C-suite meetings have been known to grind to a halt if someone asks, “Wait, is this evil?” To many employees, it’s axiomatic: Facebook is craven, Amazon is aggro, Apple is secretive, and Microsoft is staid, but Google genuinely wants to do good.

Well, for a given definition of “good.” And that is The. Whole. Problem. “Evil” is whatever does not toe the Progressive line. The motto should have been “Don’t be doubleplus-ungood.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, members of one mailing list brainstormed whether there might be ways to “leverage” Google’s search results to surface ways of helping immigrants; some proposed that the company should intervene in searches for terms like “Islam,” “Muslim,” or “Iran” that were showing “Islamophobic, algorithmically biased results.” (Google says none of those ideas were taken up.)

Didn’t take them up. But they openly considered substituting their opinions as reality because they are so sure of their righteousness and so drunk on their power. No one with a grounded definition of evil, and a gram of introspection, would have dared bring that up unless it was preceded with, “One thing we cannot do…”.

For this article, WIRED spoke with 47 current and former Google employees. Most of them requested anonymity.

Wouldn’t need anonymity if “Don’t be evil” meant anything, would they?

I hate that argument because it’s often applied to fee speech: “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve got nothing to hide.” It’s quite clear from Google’s example that it’s other people who decide whether you have anything to hide. And a lot of those who work at Google want to decide to hide your opinion, or prevent you from forming it, and, at all costs, stop you from expressing it in the first place.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and head of communications Jessica Powell urged their colleagues to consider how they would have reacted if Damore had applied the same arguments to race, rather than gender. That persuaded them: The engineer had to go. In a note to employees, Pichai said he was firing Damore for perpetuating gender stereotypes.

If all else fails, play the race card. I don’t know Wojcicki’s or Powell’s race, but is smacks of cultural appropriation, doesn’t it?

Stereotypes can be valid, or we would see many more whites in the NBA, and many women’s world weight lifting records completely smashed. But, you can’t say those biologically male lifters doing the smashing aren’t really women. The same type of rational arguments DO apply to race. This is not how free thinkers react when there is scientific evidence, presented without vitriol. It is just a replay of the reaction to Murray’s The Bell Curve.

Pichai tried to assure the left without alienating the right. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,”

Well, nobody said that. But claiming someone did indicates management’s attitude, which had to be double-reverse engineered from a faulty understanding of the word stereotype, and a “la la la, I can’t hear you” inspired ignorance. Ostriches.

Two days after Damore was fired, Milo Yiannopoulos, the former tech editor at Breitbart, shared the Reddit collage image with 2 million Facebook followers. “Look at who works for Google, it all makes sense now,” he wrote—as if these eight employees had been the ones who made the decision to ax Damore.

“As if?” They WERE the ones who forced that decision!

At the time, Google was run as a triumvirate, with CEO Eric Schmidt playing the role of resident grown-up. Schmidt argued that if Google stopped censoring search results, it would never get back into China.

The “grownup” is the one who wants to knuckle under to totalitarian demands to suppress information. I.e., to betray Google’s mission: https://about.google/
Google mission

It doesn’t say “except in countries with totalitarian dictatorships, that put millions into re-education camps because of their religion, and want to destroy the capitalist system that made Google possible.” I guess it’s not evil to interpret it as “useful to despots,” though.

“The legacy of the China decision was a giant dose of goodwill from Googlers around the world,” Schmidt wrote in How Google Works; it reaffirmed the company’s principles “governing how all tough decisions should be made.”

Schmidt takes credit for a policy he opposed. If you aren’t evil, it’s an easy decision.

As Google seemed to close in on winning the [Maven] contract, executives from the cloud team pondered how a deal with the Pentagon—especially one that could be linked to autonomous weapons—might reflect on Google’s non-evil brand. In September, a few weeks after the meeting with Mattis, they discussed spinning up some positive PR that would focus on the “vanilla cloud technology” aspects of the Maven contract. “Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI,” wrote Fei-Fei Li, a Stanford professor and Google Cloud’s chief scientist for AI.

Censor search in China and object to a US military contract. Fit those ethics together for me, will you? An ethical approach might have been not to do either one.

HR had become “weaponized,” they said; Googlers on both sides of the battle lines had become adept at working the refs—baiting colleagues into saying things that might violate the company’s code of conduct, then going to human resources to report them.

And what did they expect would happen after the cancel culture they encouraged became commonplace and was rewarded?

In early June 2018, Pichai finally published the AI principles that Google had promised its employees. They included a list of four applications of AI that Google would not pursue, including weapons, technologies that gather and use information “for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms,” and technology “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”

“Don’t be evil” notwithstanding, they entertained a project to co-operate with the Chinese Communists that would shove human rights under the jackboot, and surveillance violating internationally accepted norms. They had to write that down. I guess it depends on your definition of “norms” and “principles.” Is it a norm because China does it to a billion and a half Chinese?

Google asked for chaos, I’m glad they’re getting it. The moral is don’t let a bunch of middle school mean girls run your company via internal social media.

Conflation error

At Quillette, a look at the logic necessitating the internecine warfare between transgender activists and lesbians/gays: It’s Time for ‘LGB’ and ‘T’ to Go Their Separate Ways

A slice, but RTWT:

Gay rights activists simply want society to accept their different ways of living and loving—since gay men and lesbians pursue romantic interests and build families in ways that are at odds with conventional heterosexual expectations. Followers of radical gender theory, on the other hand, demand that we all reject our basic understanding of biological sex in favor of a recently conceptualized abstract notion of human identity.

…[I]n recent years, transgender activists have demanded that sex and gender be conflated, and that the very idea of innate biological differences be pushed into the background. At the most absurd extreme, there are now athletes and scholars who seriously suggest that being male offers no competitive physical advantages over being female, a proposition that even small children know to be unhinged.”

We’ll meet one such ‘scholar’ below.

I think LGB and T have already gone their separate ways. They have no choice, because they can’t both be right about the human condition.

The Other Club has written about the TERF War several times. A couple examples:

“[T]here is some tension (you might say cognitive dissonance) for that subset of those gender feminists (the so-called Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) who want to preserve a traditional definition of the word “female” in the face of trans-sexual attack. And attack is the right word…”

And,

Of course, by “biological determinism” both sides of the TERF war mean to reject the idea that there is a biological difference between sexes. Differences between men and women are determined wholly by social conditioning.

If both sides agree with Dr. Matte that there’s no such thing as biological sex, why do they care who calls themselves a woman? Well, if your biological sex can be determined moment by moment at your whim, what’s the point of Women’s Studies? If it can’t be, what’s the point of Transgender Studies? People’s careers are at stake. So is the basis of their power.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with Dr. Matte,

“Dr. Nicholas Matte, professor of gender studies at University of Toronto, is claiming that biological sex differences are an error in perception which only arises because of the way we’ve been socialized. Sexual identity is, therefore, whimsical. Never mind the 99.7% correspondence between physical characteristics and how people identify as men or women; they’re deluded, it’s just words and experience, nothing objective whatsoever.”

Conflating gender and sex is untenable. It leads to the idea that refusal to date a trans person of the same biological sex makes you a heterosexual bigot, while refusing to date a trans person of the opposite biological sex makes you a gay or lesbian bigot.

Now the feminists are being forced to acknowledge their error in popularizing the idea that the psychological traits of human beings are completely determined by socialization.

76 private showers led the big charade

Harvard says masculinity and testosterone are not ‘connected’

“Harvard University Press International is promoting one of its new books, co-authored by Brooklyn College cultural anthropologist Katrina Karkazis. She’s also a senior research fellow with the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale University.

The book “debunks the commonly held idea that testosterone and masculinity are connected,” according to the academic press.”

Someone should explain that to the people treating female to male trans individuals with testosterone, and the sports authorities who make low testosterone levels a requirement for male to female trans cheaters. It would also help if the permanent developmental effects of in utero exposure to testosterone was explained.

Such explanation might have saved this school district the money spent on this incoherent gesture.

School district to spend $2.4M on gender neutral locker rooms at Pennsylvania high school

“The changes will only impact the high school and will feature 76 private showers and 48 private changing areas.”

If there’s no difference beyond pronouns between transgendered persons and non-transgendered persons, and no biological difference between males and females, one wonders why you’d have to have private showers or changing areas. It’s almost as if they’re acknowledging the possibility of prurience in teenagers.

Prurience, however, is far from the ‘mind’ of facial recognition software.

Facial recognition AI can’t identify trans and non-binary people

“A recent study by computer-science researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that major AI-based facial analysis tools—including Amazon’s Rekognition, IBM’s Watson, Microsoft’s Azure, and Clarifai—habitually misidentified non-cisgender people.”

I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords. They won’t need separate showers.

The KGBT

Beto Targets Tax-Exempt Status of Churches Opposing Gay Marriage

The power to tax is the power to destroy. Beta O’Rourke just invoked that taxation power to threaten every church, college, or charity – any institution – which does not toe what should be now be known as the KGBT Line.

“K” is close enough to “L” for government work.

That’s the work which should be governed by the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

But Progressivism is a religion. It’s being established in order to suppress freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The press is complicit.

Peaceable assembly is attacked by Antifa, academiots, Democratic presidential candidates, and municipal martinets, among others.

The grievances of tiny, vocal minorities – fashionably high in the victimhood competence hierarchy – are being mooted as Federal government policy.

So. A nine year old child was abused in order to abuse the Constitution.

The Progressive audience applauded.