Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Safe spaces for philosophers

I'll comment on the controversy involving Swinburne's SCP speech. There are many permutations to this controversy. Let's consider just a few:

1. I expect Rea bit off more than he can chew. I doubt it occurred to him that his apologetic disclaimer would provoke this firestorm. For him, that's just a natural response given the liberal echo chamber he resides in.

This reflects a common pattern. Liberals inhabit a bubble. Self-reinforcing communities. 

It's like stories about school officials who do something predictably unpopular like telling a student he can't wear a patriotic T-shirt or telling parents they can't wave American flags at a football game. The NEA culture is so insular that school officials can't anticipate the utterly foreseeable response. They are constantly blindsided because they don't think like ordinary people. They don't relate to ordinary people. 

2. We're witnessing a predicable development. Although atheists are numerically in the minority, they dominate the power elite. Increasingly they persecute traditional Christians.

As a result, nominal Christians like Rea publicly disown traditional Christians. This is to signal to the power elite that they aren't to be confused with traditional Christians. Unlike traditional Christians, they are on the "right side of history". 

That, of course, leaves traditional Christians isolated and exposed. Nominal Christians desert them and denounce them to the secular authorities. Nominal Christians realign themselves with the power elite by adopting the social agenda of the power elite, and by adapting theology to echo whatever the power elite dictates. It's total assimilation. Just like the Nazi theologians. 

We're rapidly approaching a point where traditional Christians may resume the role of the Confessing Church in Germany under the Third Reich. 

What's striking is how some people (Rea, Timpe, Tom Morris) instantly collapse the moment their moral fortitude is put to the test. They never had the slightest resistance to despotic evil. This is how someone like Hitler can rise to power.

People like this are conventionally virtuous when the culture supports their conventional virtue, but if the tide changes, they change with the tide.   

3. Rea's disclaimer abdicates Christian standards of morality and philosophical standards of critical analysis. The fact that someone was offended by Swinburne defending traditional Christian morality hardly constitutes grounds for issuing a disclaimer or apology. That's not a philosophically or theologically legitimate response. 

That recasts the issue. The germane question is whether a person even has the right to be offended by certain positions. To be offended by something isn't self-validating. It is morally wrong to be offended by some positions. 

The only pertinent philosophical question is whether the views expressed by Swinburne converge on or diverge from reality. Let the chips fall where they may. If some people's feelings are hurt by being told what is real, so much the worse for their feelings. They have no right to feel hurt. Their hurt feelings are intellectually and morally unjustified. 

4. Ironically, Swinburne's position was actually on the soft side. He said it was extrinsically disordered. The traditional position is that it's intrinsically disordered. Moreover, the "disability" framework mitigates homosexual orientation. 

5. Then there's the issue of the disability framework. Swinburne was accused to "dehumanizing" and "pathologizing" homosexuals. 

i) I don't agree with Swinburne's framework in reference to homosexuality. That said, homosexual activists have for many years declared homosexuality to be a genetic condition. If we respond to them on their own grounds, that naturally raises the question of whether homosexual orientation is genetically defective. 

ii) Likewise, transgender activists sometimes claim that gender dysphoria has a basis in brain chemistry or neurological structures. If we respond to them on their own grounds, that naturally raises the question of whether gender dysphoria is (technically) pathological.

iii) Apropos (ii), some people with gender dysphoria undergo hormone therapy and sex-change operations. From their standpoint, that's equivalent to reconstructive surgery or supplements to restore their condition to normal functioning. But that implies the untreated condition is defective. 

iv) It's understandable that people with disabilities are sensitive or sometimes hypersensitive to how their condition is characterized. There is, however, nothing inherently derogatory about noting that someone suffers from a disability. Take a child born with a congenital heart defect who will die young without corrective surgery. If the procedure is affordable, parents have a duty to fix the condition. That's acting in the best interests of the child. 

Take medical conditions like Tay-Sachs, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, cystic fibrosis, and ALS. Should we abandon medical R&D because some people imagine it's "dehumanizing" to speak of disabilities or genetic effects? To the contrary, it's the critics who are promoting an inhumane policy.  

v) Jesus healed people. Does that mean he was dehumanizing the people he healed? 

6. Supporters of Rea and critics of Swinburne complain about the "harm" that gender-normative and heteronormative paradigms have done to LGBT persons. One glaring problems with that complaint is that it's so lop-sided:

i) Homosexual activity is harmful to homosexuals. The homosexual lifestyle is disease-ridden. Just mouse over to the CDC. Homosexuals individually harm themselves. 

ii) Homosexuals harm each other. They transmit STDs. Likewise, homosexual men are at elevated risk of colorectal cancer and colectomies. 

In addition, you have elevated rates of domestic violence in homosexual relationships. Elevated drug use. And so on and so forth.  

iii) Homosexuals harm heterosexuals. For instance, the Catholic abuse scandal is a homosexual scandal, involving gay priests molesting adolescent boys. 

Homosexual activists harm everyone's civil liberties by demanding policies that violate Constitutional rights regarding freedom of religion, speech, and association.

iv) Transgender ideology is harmful to people who suffer from gender identity disorder. They harm themselves through hormone treatment (consider the side-effects) and sex-change operations. Indeed, they can do irreversible harm to themselves.

v) Transgender activists harm everyone's civil liberties by demanding policies that violate Constitutional rights regarding freedom of religion, speech, and association.

Transgender activists put women at risk by demanding coed restrooms and locker rooms. Likewise, there's official pressure to make shelters for women and children accessible to biological men who self-identify as women. Just consider the predictable potential for harm to already battered women. 

And I'm just scratching the surface. 

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