In response to this:
I find the most amusing bit to be that "Worst sin" line; the "confidence" subclause is inaccurate, and the sense of smugness the author perceives seems to be dismay on his part that it has achieved enough coherency of perspective to analyse and try to improve the world by its own values.
I have no idea what a healthy culture (or cultural faction) would look like that has listened to and tried to improve itself by his criticism. Isn't the conservative side of America often derided for its "sense of smugness and superiority"? Isn't that the same criticism that it would also use against any other culture that speaks for its values?
If a set of values that are distant to your own seem to be healthy and perhaps ascendant, it's pretty reasonable to try, consciously or not, to introduce decay into that society or subculture in the hopes that the dice will be rolled again and maybe something closer to you will be rolled up next time (particularly ugly as an idea if you believe your ideals have some kind of natural appeal and other ideals don't). Reasonable at least strategically, that is. This article doesn't look as much like an argument for anything specific as an attempt to introduce that kind of decay.
In reply to: Steve Pearce, complaining about church-state seperation:
I'm not sure what rights you're referring to. You have the right as individuals to pray. I can't say I'm the typical atheist (probably because there is no typical atheist), but I don't want to take away your right to pray. What you're conflating is the right to have the state sponsor your prayer with your right to pray. You never had the first, and I don't think you'll find people trying to take away the second.
For what it's worth, the pledge of allegiance, written by a Christian Socialist in 1892, is "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
If you're so worried about your rights, tell us exactly which rights you feel are being stripped away. Wave your own flag - don't expect the state, which is a government of more than just Christians, more than just those of Abrahamic faiths, to wave it for you.
From: here, a discussion on whether two spaces after a period or one space is appropriate...
Manipulating Israel and their Arab cousins into peace will not take the shape of an alliance with one and conquest of the other. Not all Israelis are the same, and not all Arabs are the same - the sidelining of hawks and sacrifice of the most jingoist elements of each ("all of this is mine and if you're not with me all the way you're anti-me") must happen.
We should not hate Arabs or Israelis, but we should reject and marginalise those who stand in the way of peace (or substitute "I win it all" for peace). Sometimes it's a terrible injustice to stand beside someone no matter what they do. What kind of a world is it where some Jewish or Palestinian leaders can say "restore greater Israel" or "give us all of Palestine back", dooming future generations to continued tension and violence with their approval of every sneaky tactic towards that end (endless expansion of settlements and destruction of crops, continued violence and threats of invasion)?
I think you have a deep misunderstanding of what secular humanism is. It is not a simple commitment to seek some notion of the good, it is rather a specific set of philosophies with a creed. This creed is strongly based on American political conceptions of society.
Please see here for their creed: here
I, for example, am an atheist, I have rejected secular humanism because I don't agree with everything in their creed, and yet I do have strong ideas about the public good. I have my own creed.
I don't think you should identify Secular Humanism as being the single philosophy that could be described as Atheist that tries for ethics, nor that all one needs to be one is to try to live an ethical life.
I would be concerned if Obama were avoiding basketball with females, and angry if he suggested that it is "not a sport for gals". However, we don't know what his social circles are like - people tend to do sports with people they know who are interested and of similar skill levels, and he may not be personally close to any females who play those sports. Personal recreation is not a PR event - people won't go to great ends to be representative in their personal lives.
We should assume it to be innocent unless he says something - I doubt most of us have perfectly statistically even distributions of friends. If we don't have a Chinese friend to go out drinking with, that doesn't necessarily say anything about how we feel about Chinese people.
Over many years, the "is bandwidth/disk space an issue?" argument has repeatedly been proven bad for any wikis where it's dominant - the point of keeping things appropriate is a cultural/content maintenance issue, not a technical one (otherwise, we would not be using a wiki to begin with - every change we make adds another revision and more content for spiders to rummage over). We don't want mission creep - we need to maintain what the project is about, and prevent ego from distracting us from our goals. People and organisations often have a tough time learning how to be good wiki citizens - they have an urge for self-promotion and to effectively advertise themselves and their interests, regardless of the purpose of the site, and when wikis don't regulate that, one ends up with a lot of cruft, a lot of decent content handled inappropriately, and a site that has purpose-drift to the extent that nobody knows what it's about anymore, serving as the homepage for every person, group, and bit of trivia under the sun. I think we should firmly reject that, and restrain our argument to "what do we want the wiki to be about", ideally keeping that fairly narrow.
You're talking as if western libertene thought is a faith. It's another way to run a society, and one that we've probably taken a bit too far (even if its foundations are sound).
We'd probably be better off if parents (opressors!) were to make sure that youth in the US have better role models than our rappers. Consumerism has, at least in some areas, created terrible role models for children and given us a cultural rot that wastes potential of individuals and encourages crime. We may be able to find ways to combat this that are compatible with a libertene culture (with or without the state, we have an obligation to do cultural steering). China's taking a more direct route to fix an obvious problem, while the worst flavours of our political philosophies have a head-in-the-sand attitude, refusing to use the state to do any cultural maintenance/steering/enrichment and refusing to see it as an obligation outside the state. The latter are proposing a suicide pact where they would have us watch as society falls apart because to do anything else would mean not being "neutral".
It's not feasable to make every part of society completely bulletproof, societal trust is part of many areas of this. People keep the trust because they are supposed to and because it'd be a big hassle to do otherwise.
In a neighbourhood, one neighbour may have a shed she doesn't want you playing around in. She might tie it shut with a rope, use a padlock, or even an electronic lock, depending on how much she cares. None of this is meant as a challenge - untying the rope, picking the lock, or messing with the electronic lock are all within the capabilities of some people. It's not cute to say "Your lock was not good enough, that's why I was in your shed".
I've read 2600 for years (it's sometimes interesting when one can get past the juvenile attitude), and know people in the community. The standard preface of "I am just doing this for intellectual curiosity and do not laud nor do things like this" is more legal covering of asses than anything else. In some areas maybe we can't rely entirely on societal trust and it's accidentally helpful to have people prodding at these systems, but they're still a nuisance and I would not trust the community in general to use that knowledge responsibly. I've known too many people who have bad attitude towards society in general and who would take these things as far as they can for personal benefit.
Being clever is great. Being clever in ways that hurt society is not.